"I didn't become a singer because I loved singing or thought I had a good voice," explains Marina Diamandis. "I wanted to be an artist and have a job I could invest my ideas in."
On her latest album, Electra Heart, Diamandis, who performs under the moniker Marina and the Diamonds, is doing just that. Standout songs like "Bubblegum Bitch" and "Teen Idle" are unpredictable and brainy. They're also polished and radio-friendly. And despite her modest claims to the contrary, her hauntingly operatic voice is good -- very good, in fact.
But no one will mistake Diamandis for her one-time tour-mate Katy Perry. "It's paradoxical to be a DIY artist with big aspirations -- those two ideas tend to go completely against one another," she says. "But, I'm trying to package something that has the ethos of an indie artist in a way that more people can enjoy it."
While she's already a superstar in Britain thanks to the success of her 2009 debut album, The Family Jewels, which went gold in the U.K. and won her an MTV Europe Music Award, it's Electra Heart that will most likely make her famous worldwide.
It's an odd fate for a girl who grew up scared to sing in public. "I decided at 14 years old that I wanted to be a singer," the Welsh-born Diamandis says, "but I did nothing about it for a long time, I didn't even sing in front of anybody until I was 19. I was quite a late starter."
Diamandis first performed at London open mic nights after days spent auditioning for prefabricated girl groups and musicals. Once, she even dressed up as a guy to audition for a reggae boy-band, hoping to catch the record label's attention -- but to no avail. So, she taught herself piano and began to pen her own tunes.
It was those raw, vocally acrobatic early songs that landed her a record deal and catapulted Diamandis into the inner circle of super-popular Brit songstresses like Florence Welch and Ellie Goulding.
"I'm not sure whether any of my ideas are unique," she says, "but I think my music challenges the way people see themselves and understand what they want out of life. It's projecting onto them what I'm trying to figure out."
Stylist: APM at Mandy Coakley Represents
Hair: Darren Evans at Mandy Coakley Represents using UBER hair care
Make Up: Niamh Quinn using MAC
Photographer's assistant: Alex Forsey
Special thanks to Spring Studios London
Marina wears a top by Vivien of Holloway and skirt by Emilio de la Morena.
This story was published on June 10, 2012 2:39 PM