Marina and the Diamonds

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Marina and the Diamonds
Marina and The Diamonds.jpg
Diamandis in 2012
Background information
Birth name Marina Lambrini Diamandis
Born (1985-10-10) 10 October 1985 (age 29)
Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, Wales
Genres Indie pop, new wave, electropop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards, glockenspiel, Casio VL-Tone, organ, ukulele
Years active 2005–present
Labels Neon Gold, 679, Atlantic, Chop Shop, Elektra
Website marinaandthediamonds.com

Marina Lambrini Diamandis (Greek: Μαρίνα-Λαμπρινή Διαμαντή; born 10 October 1985),[1] better known by her stage name Marina and the Diamonds, is a Welsh singer-songwriter. Born in Brynmawr and raised in nearby Pandy, she performed for choir productions in her childhood. In 2009, Diamandis came to prominence after being ranked in second place on the Sound of 2010 poll organised by the BBC.

Her debut studio album The Family Jewels (2010) incorporated indie pop and new wave musical styles, while her follow-up record Electra Heart (2012) integrated prominent elements of electropop. The latter project debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, and introduced Diamandis to several international markets. She has described herself as an "indie artist with pop goals" and often analyses components of human behaviour in her music. Diamandis is additionally recognised for her retro and cartoonish fashion styles.

Life and career[edit]

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

"I created the name 'Marina and the Diamonds' 5 years ago and I never envisaged a character, pop project, band or solo artist. I saw a simple group made up of many people who had the same hearts. A space for people with similar ideals who could not fit in to life's pre-made mold. I was terribly awkward for a long time! I really craved to be part of one thing because I never felt too connected to anybody and now I feel I have that all around me."

– Diamandis describing the concept behind the stage name "Marina and the Diamonds", 2010.[2]

Diamandis was born in Brynmawr in Wales,[3] and grew up in the nearby village of Pandy.[4] She has one older sister.[4] Their mother is Welsh, while their father is Greek.[5] Diamandis has been diagnosed with synesthesia, and consequently associates particular colours with musical notes and days of the week.[6] In her childhood, she attended Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls,[7] Her parents separated when she was 16 years old; she initially moved to Greece with her father, then returned to Wales two years later.[4] Diamandis first began writing music when she was 18 years old; she moved to London to attend dance school, but quit two months later.[8]

Diamandis later travelled for several unsuccessful auditions, including opportunities with the musical for The Lion King and a boy band organised by Virgin Records.[9][10] In 2005, she created the stage name "Marina and the Diamonds";[2] after coming to prominence, "the Diamonds" was established as a reference to her fans, instead of her backing band.[11] Diamandis self-composed and produced her earlier demos with GarageBand,[9] and independently released her debut extended play Mermaid vs. Sailor through Myspace in 2007.[12] She came to the attention of Neon Gold Records' Derek Davies in 2008, and was hired as the supporting act for Australian recording artist Gotye. In October, Diamandis finalised a recording contract with 679 Recordings (eventually renamed 679 Artists), a subdivision of Warner Music Group.[12]

2009–10: The Family Jewels[edit]

Diamandis performing at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh, November 2010.

Diamandis' debut single "Obsessions" was released on 14 February 2009 Neon Gold Records,[13] while her second extended play The Crown Jewels EP followed on 1 June.[14] That summer, she performed at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend,[15] the Glastonbury Festival,[16] and the Reading and Leeds Festivals.[17] In December 2009, Diamandis was ranked in second place on the Sound of 2010 poll organised by BBC, behind English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding.[18] "Mowgli's Road" was released as the lead single from Diamandis' debut studio album on 13 November 2009.[19] It was followed by "Hollywood" on 1 February,[20] which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[21]

Diamandis' debut studio album The Family Jewels was released on 15 February 2010;[22] it debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 27,618 copies,[23] and was eventually certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry.[24] Atlantic Records signed Diamandis to Chop Shop Records in the United States.[25] Through the label, she released her third extended play The American Jewels EP on 23 March,[26] and later released The Family Jewels in the United States on 25 May.[27] The latter project debuted at number 138 on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 24,000 copies.[28][29]

"I Am Not a Robot" was serviced as the third single from The Family Jewels on 26 April, after originally being included on The Crown Jewels. Diamandis commented that she decided to re-release the track because "people seem to empathize and relate with the song, regardless of gender or age."[30] The song peaked at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart.[21] "Oh No" followed as the fourth single from the record,[31] and reached number 38 in the United Kingdom.[21] The fifth and final single "Shampain" peaked at number 141 on the UK Singles Chart, consequently underperforming by comparison with its preceding singles.[32] To further promote The Family Jewels, Diamandis embarked on The Family Jewels Tour, which visited Europe and North America throughout 2010 and 2011.[33]

2011–13: Electra Heart[edit]

Main article: Electra Heart
Diamandis performing at Michalsky StyleNite of Berlin Fashion Week, 2012

In summer 2011, Diamandis and Swedish recording artist Robyn performed as the opening acts for American recording artist Katy Perry's California Dreams Tour.[34] On 30 September, Diamandis released the track "Radioactive" through the iTunes Store;[35] it peaked at number 25 on the UK Singles Chart.[21] Her second studio album was preceded by its lead single "Primadonna" on 20 March 2012 in the United States,[36] and was later made available in the United Kingdom on 6 April.[37] The song is notable for being Diamandis' highest-charting track on the UK Singles Chart, where it reached number 11.[21]

The final product Electra Heart is a concept album lyrically united by the ideas of "female identity" and "a recent breakup".[38] Diamandis created the titular character "Electra Heart" as a protagonist for the project; she portrays the personas "Teen Idle", "Primadonna", "Homewrecker", and "Su-Barbie-A", which represent several female archetypes of stereotypical American culture.[39] The project was released on 27 April 2012,[40] and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 21,358 copies.[41] It became Diamandis' first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom,[42] although at the time it was additionally distinguished as the lowest-selling number-one record of the 21st century in the country.[41] The album was eventually certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry for exceeding shipments of 60,000 units.[43] Furthermore, it became Diamandis' highest-charting release in the United States, peaked at number 31 on the Billboard 200 upon its release in the country.[28]

"Power & Control" was released as the second single from Electra Heart on 20 July,[44] although it peaked at number 193 on the UK Singles Chart.[21] Later that month, it was announced that "How to Be a Heartbreaker" would be released as the second single in the United States and the third single in the United Kingdom. Diamandis commented that she had written the track while Electra Heart was being pressed in the United Kingdom, and consequently missed the cut-off for initial inclusion on the record; however, it was featured in the revised track listing for the American version.[45] It peaked at number 88 in the latter country.[21] Throughout 2012, Diamandis travelled for The Lonely Hearts Club Tour, her second headlining concert tour, and Mylo Xyloto Tour headlined by Coldplay, for which she served as an opening act.[46] On 8 August 2013, Diamandis released a music video for the previously unreleased title track "Electra Heart";[47] it depicted the death of the character, and symbolically ended the promotional campaign for Electra Heart.[48]

2013–present: Froot[edit]

Main article: Froot (album)

After spending one month in New York City, Diamandis announced that she had begun writing material for her upcoming third studio album in February 2013.[49] It has been confirmed that one of the producers for the album is David Kosten.[50] In July 2014, Marina posted a snippet of an unnamed song.[51] In September 2014, she shared a part of her new song "Froot" on Instagram. The song was released on 10 October to celebrate Marina's birthday and announced to be the title track.[52][53]

Artistry[edit]

Musical style and influences[edit]

"[Daniel Johnston] really opened me up to a whole new world of music and a whole new perception of what an artist is. For me, he really encouraged me because if you think of someone who has been spoon-fed pop, up until 21 years old, and you hear someone like Daniel Johnston you're like 'God, this is terrible, but I love it.' It sounds like a child has made it, like, the production is so all over the place. He's obviously got something very captivating here yet he doesn't fit the normal mold and people still love him. I thought 'if he can do it then I can,' that's when I started to produce things myself and play live, even though I wasn't even great on the piano. It's all about emotion and if you have heart, and people connect to that, they see right through us."

– Diamandis describing the inspiration she received from Daniel Johnston's musical style.[54]

A self-described "DIY musician" and "indie artist with pop goals",[54][55] Diamandis considers her music to be "alternate pop".[56] Whereas The Family Jewels incorporated prominent elements of new wave music,[57] Electra Heart was heavily inspired by electropop musical styles.[58] Diamandis opined that the United States was more welcoming of said musical transition than the United Kingdom, and suggested that the American audience embraced the humour behind the latter "tongue-in-cheek record".[59] She has jokingly stated that "I probably have a bit of a different sound because I don't really know what I'm doing!", referencing her lack of formal musical training.[60] Diamandis' lyrical content typically analyses components of human behaviour; she has noted that she would have become a psychologist had she been unsuccessful in the music industry.[61]

Diamandis' vocals have been compared to those of Karen O, Regina Spektor, Kate Bush, and Florence Welch.[60] When reviewing The Family Jewels, Joe Copplestone from PopMatters noted that her vocal delivery occasionally overpowers the "inventive" melodies showcased in her songs.[62] Paul Lester from The Guardian suggested that Diamandis' musical direction is "hard to fathom", given the frequency with which she alternates "simple keyboards-based ballads" and "quirky new wave-inflected numbers".[63] She has cited Brody Dalle and Britney Spears as her musical influences,[56][64] Leigh Lezark, Gwen Stefani, and Shirley Manson as her style icons,[65] and has expressed a particular interest in Daniel Johnston and the lo-fi production he uses.[54]

Public image[edit]

Diamandis is notable for her "experimental" clothing;[66] she has described her fashion styles as "vintage, cheerleader and cartoon",[67] and has identified Sofia Loren and Gwen Stefani as her fashion icons.[68] As part of Selfridges' "Sound of Music", Diamandis designed her own window display for the London Oxford Street branch in May 2010,[69] and additionally appeared as a "live mannequin" for the display.[70] In November, she was featured on the website for the British edition of Vogue, where she contributed to the "Today I'm Wearing" column that month.[71]

Other ventures[edit]

On 11 August 2013, Diamandis launched her own fashion line, 11 Diamonds. Her first line of T-Shirts were designed in collaboration with DEER DANA, Francisco Canton, and Yippy Whippy, and distributed by Diamandis' label, Neon Gold Records.[72]

Discography[edit]

Tours[edit]

Headlining
Supporting

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2010 BBC Sound of 2010 Sound of 2010 Second place [18]
2010 BRIT Awards Critics' Choice Nominated [74]
2010 NME Awards Hottest Woman Nominated
2010 BT Digital Music Awards Breakthrough Artist of the Year Nominated [75]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best UK & Irish Act Won [76]
UK Festival Awards 2010 Best Breakthrough Act Nominated
4Music Video Honours Hottest Girl of 2010 Eighth place
Box Biggest Breakthrough of 2010 Tenth place
Virgin Media Music Awards Best Newcomer Won [77]
2011 Glamour Women of the Year Awards Best Band Nominated
2012 NME Awards Hottest Female Nominated [78]
Attitude Magazine Awards Best Music Award Won

References[edit]

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External links[edit]