Marina And The Diamonds Biography
Her name, "Marina and the Diamonds", consists of Diamandis' first name and the translation of her surname which means "Diamonds" in Greek. "The Diamonds" is often mistakenly believed to refer to her backing band (similar to Florence and the Machine). However, it in fact refers to Diamandis' fans: she explains this on her MySpace page by saying "I'm Marina. You are the diamonds."
Diamandis' musical style ranges from keyboard-based ballads to more up-tempo new wave-style songs with full band backing. She has cited a wide-range of influences such as Daniel Johnston, Blondie, The Distillers, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Nirvana, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Yann Tiersen, Britney Spears, Elliott Smith, Dolly Parton and Madonna.
Marina Diamandis was born in Abergavenny, Wales to a Greek father and Welsh mother and raised in the village of Pandy with her parents and her two younger sisters. She attended St. Catherine's British Embassy School and Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls, where she said she "sort of found [her] talent there." When her parents separated, Diamandis moved to Greece when she was sixteen years old to live with her father but returned to Wales two years later. After dropping out of university, Diamandis moved to London at the age of eighteen where she attended dance school for only two months. Following this, in 2005 she took a one year singing course at the West London Music School, "Vocaltech". She went for many auditions including the West End musical, The Lion King. Diamandis admitted that she auditioned for a reggae boy band in 2005 to try and make it into the music business. She said she was "delusional with drive" and ultimately decided to dress up in male attire to try to amuse Virgin Records (who held the audition) to sign her, but she was unsuccessful. However, she was called back by the record label a week later. Diamandis has a synesthetic condition which involves seeing musical notes and days of the week in different colours.
Early career: 2007—2009
Early demos of Marina and the Diamonds' songs were self composed and produced on the Apple software application Garageband. Through Gumtree she found someone to produce a few tracks, for which she paid £500. These ended up on her debut extended play Mermaid Vs. Sailor EP which was released on 23 November 2007. The record was created on hand-made CD-Rs by Diamandis and sold through her MySpace page. An estimated seventy copies were sold overall.
In January 2008, Diamandis was first discovered by music scouter Derek Davies of Neon Gold Records. Davies booked Diamandis to open for Australian singer Gotye later that year where Warner Music Group first saw her and ended up signing her in October 2008 to 679 Recordings.
Diamandis' debut single was a double a-side consisting of "Obsessions" and "Mowgli's Road" which was issued on Neon Gold Records in the United States on 19 November 2008, followed by her second extended play The Crown Jewels EP on 1 June 2009 featuring her second single "I Am Not a Robot". Her first major label single, a re-recording of "Mowgli's Road", was released on 13 November 2009 under 679 Recordings in the UK and through Atlantic Records in the USA. On 7 December 2009 she was listed on the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, and on 7 January 2010 it was announced that she had taken second place.
The Family Jewels: 2010—present
Marina and the Diamonds' debut album The Family Jewels was released on 22 February 2010. It peaked at number five in the UK Albums Chart and was certified silver in the United Kingdom days before its release. A re-release of "Mowgli's Road" was released as the album's lead single on 13 November 2009. However, the song "Hollywood" was released as the first major single from the album on 1 February 2010. A re-release of "I Am Not a Robot" on the 26 April 2010 became the album's third single. Diamandis said she decided to re-release the song because "people seem to empathize and relate with the song, regardless of gender or age." "Shampain" will also become the album's fourth single on 28 June 2010. She embarked on her first headlining tour on 14 February 2010, consisting of forty-nine dates around the United Kingdom, Ireland, mainland Europe, the United States and Canada.
Early on in 2010, Diamandis has been collaborating with producer Benny Blanco and guitarist Dave Sitek in Los Angeles on new material which she describes to be "a really great opportunity for me as a songwriter. [We are] such a weird threesome - a combination of super pop and really indie". She hinted towards a possible re-release extension of her album in the near future, similar to Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster..
In March 2010, Atlantic Records signed Marina and the Diamonds to Chop Shop Records in the United States. Prior to the album's American release on 25 May 2010 Diamandis released her third extended play, The American Jewels EP, digitally and exclusively for the United States on 23 March 2010. Diamandis made her North American debut on 14 March 2010 through a series of performances.
Marina and the Diamonds was nominated for Critics' Choice at the 2010 BRIT Awards and came fifth in SHREDnews' "Ten Artists To Watch in 2010" list in March 2010.
Musical style and influences
Marina and the Diamonds has been influenced by a wide-range of musicians from PJ Harvey to Britney Spears. Diamandis has also noted Daniel Johnston as one of her major influences saying:
He really opened me up to a whole new world of music and a whole new perception of what an artist is. For me, he really encouraged me because if you think of someone who has been spoon-fed pop, up until twenty-one years old, and you hear someone like Daniel Johnston you're like "God, this is terrible, but I love it." It sounds like a child has made it, like, the production is so all over the place. He's obviously got something very captivating here yet he doesn't fit the normal mould and people still love him. I thought "if he can do it then [so can I]," that's when I started to produce things myself and play live, even though I wasn't even great on the piano. It's all about emotion and if you have heart, people connect to that.
Diamandis calls herself a "DIY musician" and describes her sound as an alternative to mainstream pop music. In an interview with ClashMusic Diamandis said that she does not come from a musical background and explained “I probably have a bit of a different sound because I don’t really know what I’m doing”. Lyrically, she says her music analyses people and that if she wasn't a musician, she would be a psychologist.
Critics usually catalogue Marina and the Diamonds as a new wave pop artist. The Guardian calls her "an indie artist with pop goals". Although Diamandis has urged that she never tries to sound like any other artist or copy a genre of music, she has been compared to a variety of artists such as Kate Bush and most commonly Florence and the Machine. PopMatters commented on her vocal delivery and attitude saying it "has a tendency to overshadow the music, which is often melodically inventive, but we are rarely given the chance to realise this." The Guardian's Paul Lester wrote that "her songs are hard to fathom. They veer between simple keyboards-based ballads and more upbeat and catchy, quirky new wave-inflected numbers enhanced by bass, guitar and drums."