Music Industry Insiders On The Creation Of Lana Del Rey
The debut of Lana Del Rey's "Born To Die" at #1 on many nation's iTunes charts confirms her successful adoption by the mainstream. Yet many still focus on a variety of claims regarding how she came to be and who influenced her transformation from Lizzy Grant to Lana Del Rey. In recent weeks multiple insiders have come forward to share their accounts of the creation of Lana Del Rey.
Interestingly enough, all the insider accounts I'm finding agree that Lana Del Rey was strongly in charge of her image from her days as Lizzy Grant through her evolution into Lana Del Rey and that she is a talented young musician. These voices include 5 Points Records owner David Nichtern, New York hip hop producer Blockhead, rapper and DJ Princess Superstar and Interscope A&R exec Larry Jackson.
LANA DEL REY – A FILM BY INTERVIEW MAGAZINE
David Nichtern signed Lizzy Grant to a multi-record deal in 2007 on his label 5 Points Records. Her full-length debut, "Lizzy Grant a.k.a. Lana Del Rey," was released on January 5, 2010 but then pulled a few months later as part of a separation deal:
"There's a lot of misinformation that I've read that's dead wrong…It's a little bit of a lesson for me. Nobody even fact-checked. For example…that whole thing that she was backed by her millionaire dad is a bunch of crap…"
"We wanted to develop her so we signed her to a multi-record deal. Then we went out scouting for producers…[David] Kahne (Paul McCartney, Regina Spektor, the Strokes) was one of the first few people we reached out to and he responded very, very quickly…We gave him a deal to make the record…[the press] said the budget was $10,000, which is false…It was an all-in budget of $50,000. And we also gave her a significant advance…"
"I laugh pretty hard when someone said she was put into an image. There's no way you can do that with her. She's very headstrong and knows what she wants."
"Now, I can only base this on my brief experience with her, but there is no doubt in my mind that that girl is talented. I've worked with all sorts of people over the years and she was one who stepped into the studio with a game plan and the ability to knock it all out in one take…"Lana Del Ray" was a character and those lips were part of that plan."
"The thing is, I've read a ton of shit about people saying this character was manufactured but that's bullshit. Sure, it's not her real name but the idea behind that person was in Lizzy before I even met her. Hell, just how she was dressed coming into the studio was enough for me to know that. She looked like a pinup model straight out of the trailer park…"
"All the detractors saying she's some made up by the machine pop star are full of shit. While it's impossible to keep the businesses hands out the pop when creating a pop star, the roots of where this all comes from are firmly inside of Lizzy Grant."
Jessica Hopper quotes numerous people including Princess Superstar who worked with Lana Del Rey in early 2010, a year before her deal with Interscope:
"I've never understood this controversy about whether she is real or fake…All artists have a persona…She's not put together by some company. These are her songs, her melodies, her singing — she's always had this '60s aesthetic."
Larry Jackson, Interscope Executive VP of A&R, described their first meeting prior to her March 2011 joint deal with Interscope and Polydor:
"It was very unusual…We sat for an hour and talked, without her playing any of her music. Just conversation, honing in on the philosophy of what she was doing, what she saw for herself – I was captured…The only Svengali in this thing is Lana."
Hopper also steps back and gives a pretty damning assessment of music bloggers' delusional overreach regarding their role in the creation of Lana Del Rey:
"She played daytime industry showcases at overlit venues in Midtown for years, taking meetings at majors since mid-2010. These are the steps you take when you want to get over as a pop artist, not get noticed by Matador. Blogs and tastemaking websites just assumed that they noticed her first, when, in fact, they were two years behind a pack of lawyers and A&R scouts, eager to sign an artist who was pre-formed, a total package."
In closing, as Blockhead put it, "I wish her good luck and think motherfuckers need to let her breath a little."
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.