Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, born June 21 1985 in New York City, performs under the stage name Lana Del Rey. Her managers came up with the moniker, which Grant liked because it reminded her of the “glamour of the seaside”.
Grant began writing songs aged 18 while studying metaphysics at Fordham University, New York City and was taught to play guitar by her uncle. She originally performed under names like Sparkle Rope Jump Queen and Lizzy Grant & The Phenomena, playing in underground clubs in Brooklyn.
In 2005, the singer recorded the album ‘Sirens’ under the alias May Jailer. The record remains unreleased, although it was leaked onto YouTube in its entirety in May 2012.
Grant performed at the Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition in 2006, where she first met Van Wilson, A&R scout for 5 Points Records. The following year, she signed a $10,000 record deal and moved to Manhattan Mobile Home Park in North Bergen, New Jersey. She released her first EP, ‘Kill Kill’, in October 2008 as Lizzy Grant. Her debut album, ‘Lana Del Ray’, followed in January 2010 and was available on iTunes for a short time before being withdrawn.
She then moved to London and shortly after uploaded some songs to her YouTube channel, including ‘Video Games’. Stranger Records signed her to release the track as her debut single, which went on to pick up a host of awards including an Ivor Novello for Best Contemporary Song in 2012.
Interscope and Polydor signed Grant for her first album as Lana Del Rey, ‘Born To Die’. The record was produced by a host of names, including Patrik Berger, Jeff Bhasker and Al Shux. It went to Number One in the Official Albums Chart upon its release on January 27 2012 and has been certified three times platinum, having sold over 900,000 records in the UK.
‘Born To Die’ was reissued with a bonus disc, the ‘Paradise’ EP on November 12 2012. In 2013, she contributed a song to Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, ‘Young And Beautiful’. On December 5 of the same year, she released the short film Tropico, based on “the Biblical story of sin and redemption”. An EP of the same name was also released to coincide with the movie.
Del Rey’s third album, ‘Ultraviolence’, was released on June 4 2014 and was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at his Nashville studio, Easy Eye Sound. Paul Epworth, Greg Kurstin and Rick Nowels also contributed to the record. Before its release, the singer described the songs on the album as “low-key and stripped back”. It also went to Number One in the Official Albums Chart, mirroring its predecessor.
On May 23, Del Rey performed three songs at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s pre-wedding party at the Palace Of Versailles. West had reportedly played her song ‘Young And Beautiful’ as he proposed to Kardashian.
In September 2015, Del Rey released her fourth album, ‘Honeymoon’ to critical praise. The album topped the charts in Australia, Greece and Ireland, as well as charting at number two in the US, the UK and beyond. It soon was a fixture in many end-of-year lists, including NME’s where it finished seventh. The following summer she performed at various festivals in Europe and North America to support the album.
In 2016, it was also confirmed that she was working on new music for an upcoming fifth record. In November, she featured as a guest vocalist on The Weeknd’s third album ‘Starboy’, featuring on ‘Stargirl Interlude’ and ‘Party Monster’.
Rumours suggested that the first taster of new music would arrive in January 2017, after the song ‘Young & In Love’ was registered with publishers. In February, she shared the song and video for ‘Love’ and another song ‘Best American Record’ leaked online in March.