In celebration of the release of her third album, we revisit some of the unpublished quotes from her interview with Complex magazine that took place May 12, 2014, on the roof of Brooklyn’sWythe Hotel. Read them below.
On Doing “Ride” With Rick Rubin
I was writing that Paradise edition, and originally was writing it as a follow-up record, but nobody wanted to release something eight months later. It ended up being a re-release-slash-second edition, and I loved this demo I did with Justin Parker, who I wrote a lot of things with like “Video Games” and “Born to Die,” “National Anthem,” and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton at EMI hated the song. So I think him and Rick had been talking and Rick was like, “What’s going on with Lana? Can she come over, I hear she’s in L.A.” I think I had been over to say “Hi” to him first. Just to say “hi.” We took a walk in Santa Monica—he takes the same walking route every morning. Then a few weeks later I brought him “Ride,” and he really liked it. Working with him was good, I was still in my old car, my old Mercedes that was barely making it down that hour-and-a-half drive down to Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, and it was really good. He has this sprawling lawn with all these bunnies and palm trees. He was very relaxed. It was good.
On Being a Fan of Rufus Wainwright
I love him. I had this terrible experience with Rufus Wainwright actually. I was like, a long time fan of him and his sister. It’s actually why I signed with my initial label, 5 Points Records, because the boss there, David, was great friends with Loudon, their father. I thought that was amazing. Anyways, I had been waiting to meet him for a long time, and I was singing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, I think two years ago. I had a really bad show. I couldn’t hear anything on stage because my in-ears stopped working. I was having a moment backstage and Rufus came to say “Hi,” and I was trying to compliment him in between stifled sobs. I think he thought I was insane.
On Being a Fan of Martha Wainwright
She’s one of the few females I totally relate to.
I love the way she uses her voice in a way that kind of explains things. The words aren’t the only things that tell a story, it’s her inflections too. That’s why I really like Cat Power. She’s my biggest female inspiration in a way. I signed with my first manager because he was managing Martha six years ago, Peter Leak, and I always hoped I’d meet her. Hers was one of the few shows I saw at the Bowery Ballroom.
On the Most Important Person She Ever Shared a Cigarette With
Probably my manager, who is still my manager, Ben Mawson, over the last four years. He doesn’t smoke anymore, but he used to smoke more than me and drink 12 beers a day. I met him, he told me to just come to London and I did. I just went and met him. I think they were at Shoreditch House, so we went on the roof and had a cigarette. He felt like I was really worried about everything, and he told me that he had a plan and that everything was going to go OK and not to worry. He was very aggressive, and he was such a believer. So probably with Ben, I guess.
On Making Art Vs. Satisfying the Major Label Machine
I came in in a unique position in that “Video Games” had so many views, and that was the reason why Jimmy Iovine at Interscope and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton at Polydor had called me on that day and wanted to revisit the record and hear it again.
So I got signed on great terms because the discussions we were having were that it was always going to be my way. I liked coming from this DIY place where if I had a single that they really felt like they wanted to put money behind or promote—I liked knowing it was an option that I could make my own video at home for it, like I did with “Video Games.” Eventually I tired of that, graduated to working with other people. But in that way I was in a really good place after the record was done with its cycle.
I think the label was half-and-half on this record [Ultraviolence] because there were a lot of jazz undertones and West Coast references. I think they were happy that I was happy with it and that I made it. I don’t think they felt like there were singles that could work at radio. And I kind of felt that, because I have such a good relationship with Jimmy and Ferdy. I’ve been working, “working” [makes air quotes], singing, for years. So the people I’m closest with are like my product manager and the video commissioner, because they’re really good girls. The A&R guys—Larry Jackson and John, if I go out at night I probably go out with them. We’re pretty flexible with each other, but it always come down to differences. For example, the bonus tracks on this record I didn’t feel like had any relation to the atmosphere of the record itself. I think iTunes was like, “You would have trouble promoting a record if it didn’t have a deluxe edition,” so, there’s stuff like that.
On the Worst Relationship Advice She Ever Received
That love doesn’t come easily and that relationships are supposed to be a struggle. I think that everything else is so hard that hopefully love is the one thing that actually is the fun part of it. [I] have had some very practical, down-to-earth advice about love that I choose not to follow. It’s the same with money too. You’re supposed to work your whole life, work really hard for everything you get. I think maybe a better strategy is to just fall in love with what you do and hope that whatever you make from that monetarily is enough to have an easy life.