By Scott T. Sterling
Talking to Lana Del Rey about her music is like trying to grab smoke with your hands.
Her contemplative nature makes her muse on tangents, from Elon Musk to the Jesuits to the Laural Canyon sound of the ’70s when trying to put the meaning and inspiration behind her songs into words. All the while, she remains open and honest.
During a sit-down interview in a quiet studio at KROQ in Los Angeles (a Radio.com station) Del Rey’s demeanor in person was disarmingly relaxed and quite charming. Some critics have been quick to dismiss her as an inauthentic fabrication, but as she talked about her new album Ultraviolence (due out June 17), she came across as someone in complete control of her music and rapidly accelerating career.
How did the album come to be called Ultraviolence?
I think the album was called Ultraviolence before I even had the songs. That’s because I just really love words. I’m kind of inspired by just a one-word title. For this one, I had a motif of hydrangeas in mind. Mainly because these flowers I love are in shades of blue and violet, and when I was talking to (producer) Dan (Auerbach of the Black Keys) about inspirations and color tones, this sort of high violet vibration was on my mind. Maybe because blue is connected with jazz and also sorrow.
What inspired the album’s first single, “West Coast”? It definitely expands the dimensions of your sound.
“West Coast” as a demo sounded really different, and I never felt like it got where it was supposed to be until I met Dan Auerbach. I was telling him that I was really interested in…that my heart was in jazz, and my mind and my roots were in jazz and that I wanted to make a record that was sort of this mix of beautiful jazz undertones and a West Coast fusion, kind of inspired by the Eagles and the Beach Boys and this sort of Laurel Canyon revival thing that was happening in the ’70s. So I went to Nashville and he reproduced “West Coast” and yeah, I don’t know…I loved it.
Dan said that everything on the record, all the songs have this kind of narco-swing. So whereas the beat and the verses on “West Coast” were really direct, the chorus naturally slipped into this half-time beat. I just remember everyone at the label being like, ‘God, it’s getting slower at the chorus?’ And we were like, yeah!