SHE doesn’t have a lot of luck, that Marina Diamandis.
There were Marina and the Diamonds, huge hit in hand, poised to release a second album and embark on a sell-out tour... when the lurgy struck.
Out went the promotional schedule and a bunch of shows – including a Leadmill return, restored to this Saturday.
As a trader in bittersweet missives, the Welsh miss has taken it in her stride with a smirk.
“It started right at the launch of my album,” she confirms of the vocal cord drama.
“It also affects your speaking voice so it just aches all the time. It definitely made me think about how I treat my voice; that I can’t just go out and get trashed and expect to be fine. I am like vocal warm-up queen now. Great fun.”
Not least as said new album Electra Heart is something of a bigger work-out than Marina’s début The Family Jewels.
“You’re singing totally new songs. Even in the beginning with the first album I remember I had trouble singing some of the songs.
“Then you kind of adapt and work out how to sing them best. Some things you just can’t recreate without damaging your voice. It’s been a huge learning curve.
“It’s classic Marina, actually. You wait all your life for something and then something f***s up as soon as it comes. It’s always something.”
Ready to leap off the top board, someone took the water away and the tour had to be rescheduled. But at least people have had longer to learn the lyrics.
“It was really amazing the first night. It was so good to have an actual show with production. I never really used to have anything other than what the standard indie band had. Now I have a full-on motel that appears on stage every night. It’s built around the idea of being in a motel or a living room, so we have a hat stand and TV, chaise lounge and a massive neon sign.”
It fits with the imagery currently being inhabited by the now blonde star, who has a bit of Jackie Onassis thing going on in some of her press images, suggesting she’d visualised the package when she was building the album.
“It’s weird because the first album I definitely didn’t; the songs were based on being in an introspective kind of place at the time. With the second album I was in America for a lot of the writing. That’s definitely directed the visuals and a lot songs were more directed by a photo I had seen or what I was wearing that day.
“Bubblegum Bitch, for example, only got written because I’d bought this cheap and nasty pink PVC mini dress. I was wearing it in the studio that day and on the table was this book called The History of Bubblegum Pop...then I started writing. It’s much more geared and directed by the visuals this time.”
At the heart of the record are the familiar subjects of love and relationships, but Marina comes at them from a frank, often curious, sometimes dysfunctional angle – having been ‘played’ herself - that lifts her music well above landfill pop status.
She swam strongly with the worst of them with lead single Primadonna, however, a clear statement of intent and a canny product of controversially choosing to work with pop producers Dr Luke, Rick Nowels, Liam Howe and Greg Kurstin who cite Katy Perry, Madonna and Lily Allen among past clients. They injected bounce into Marina’s often blisteringly honest story of identity, love, rejection, doomed romance and hope, all tinged with humour and British eccentricity.
“I don’t know how other artists work but when I start writing, sometimes you don’t know why you’ve done it or why you’re doing it. With Electra Heart I wanted to talk about the fear of falling in love and being with someone, the fear we all have and everyone can relate to but no one really wants to admit.
“I thought it an interesting point of view to write an album from as regards to writing about love but not writing a typical love song or ballad that we’re used to.
“It’s a more realistic, caustic and humourous view of love. I wanted it to be a funny album. It’s definitely a niche album in that sense; on the surface it can look very bubblegum pop which is kind of what I wanted, but I wanted to be subversive in a sense, so lyrically it’s really bitter and filled with dark humour which is my speciality.”
Maybe that combination of fun and brains is what led to Coldplay asking Marina to open their recent massive stadium shows.
“There’s such snobbery with pop music and it seems like since Lily Allen and Lady Gaga came around people became more forgiving and pop was cool again. There’s still a huge snobbery: when people knew I was working with Dr Luke they were ‘Marina’s sold out and she’s gonna become totally boring’ .
“But my fanbase hasn’t changed completely. I’ve lost a few really left field fans, but I’ve gained a lot more younger fans which I really enjoy and with the Coldplay audience...it’s more live in the sense I haven’t got backing tracks any more so new songs like Starring Role and Living Dead really seem to connect with those audiences.
“If you’re a 13-year-old girl you might hear Primadonna and read it in a totally different way whereas a 21-year-old might be, ‘it’s actually about not accepting anything accept for the best in a relationship and not being second best’. That’s how I interpreted it when I was writing.”
Either way Marina seems not to be bothered about whether people get the point straight away.
“I don’t really care. If the songwriting is good enough it doesn’t really matter if you take it at face value or read into it another way.
“I wish I wasn’t like this and then people on a commercial level people would get into my songs much more quickly. That’s the beauty of pop and that’s the aim of pop, but for me I don’t really find something interesting unless it has multiple layers. So that’s just how I write and probably always will.”