Fredrik Etoall Caroline Hjelt, half of Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop,…
- Posted on Jan 17th 2011 10:30AM by Richard Trapunski
Ross Gilmore, Redferns
"The thing is, it's not easy to break in America because it's so massive," Maria Diamandis, the UK pop singer-songwriter at the heart of Marina and the Diamonds, tells Spinner. "If it's too British-specific then the sound doesn't travel. But I do think if your music is suited [to American tastes] then you will break."
Putting aside her pronounced British delivery, Marina and the Diamonds' debut LP, 'The Family Jewels' has an infectious, hook-laden pop sound that should resonate across the Atlantic just fine. It just looks like she'll have to wait a little while longer before she can put that to the test in a live environment. Having cancelled her North American tour -- originally scheduled to kick off this month -- in order to record new material, Diamandis now has to stick it out in her motherland until she relocates to America in October.
It's a bold move for a darling of the UK music press, but Diamandis knows that when she finally does hit the US, there will be no shortage of inspiration to fuel her obsession with American celebrity culture, best exemplified by the refrain from her hit single 'Hollywood': "I'm obsessed with the mess that's America."
"I think what fascinates me is the contradictory element of the culture," she says. "Things like beauty and success and youth are glamorized and prioritized far more than things that actually matter, things like, 'Are you a nice person?' or 'Do you help out?'"
That's not to say her fixation is all negative. In fact, despite her assertions to the contrary, Diamandis is embracing the glamour of celebrity culture by posing as brand ambassador for cosmetics giant Max Factor.
"I'm full of contradictions, myself," she admits. "My parents are divorced, so I've been brought up by two very different people in two very different cultures, Greek and Welsh. I definitely don't feel British, and I don't think my music sounds particularly British, either."
That hasn't stopped the typically overzealous music press from brandishing hype upon Marina and the Diamonds. A favourite of the NME, her exploits have been known to end up as headline fodder, even as she derides tabloid-style music journalism. Over the summer, for instance, the magazine ran a piece about Diamandis' angry reply to a rude fan's bottle-throwing.
"I do love the NME, but that's such bulls---," she says. "As much as I love them, they really like to hype things up. I didn't get bottled, or hit on the head or anything. I just saw a bottle flying and said, 'If you're going to throw s--- at me then you can get out!' It's just common sense, nothing that should be making headlines."
Considering the fanatical quest for musical fame that got her here -- one that included dressing in drag to audition for a boy band -- it's strange to hear Diamandis shy away from the spotlight. But the pop singer's aversion isn't to attention, it's to the vapidity of celebrity culture.
"I love attention, as long as it's for something positive," she says. "I'd love to get attention for stuff like writing a wonderful song. But I don't want to be acknowledged for who I date or what I wear. That's not what it's all about."