Radar Band Of The Week No:62 – Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey

She’s got Jagger’s lips, Nancy Sinatra’s hips… and one of the songs of 2011

“Are you for real?” Following the insane online success of menacingly sad ballad ‘Video Games’, that’s the main question that Lana Del Rey – aka 24-year-old Lizzy Grant – is getting asked this week, as legions of press invade her swanky west London hotel room. For anyone who’s heard ‘Video Games’ and its B-side, ‘Blue Jeans’ (a ‘Wicked Games’-esque tale of lost love), they’ll want to know the answer too. The glossed-over past as Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, tales of moonlighting as a trapeze artist in Alabama, of multiple reinventions for a stab at the big time and those lips (she’s never had work done, she says) – it’s hard to know quite what to believe about her.

Clutching a cigarette between two-inch blue fingernails, Lizzy’s more timid than the sultry webcam clips of her singing in the promo for ‘Video Games’. Blinking under heavy lashes and auburn curls, she laughs when NME asks about the rumours. “I’m not a trapeze artist! Though I was born on the day of the worldly rapture, June 21.”

An unhappy, closed-off “cerebral” girl at school in remote Lake Placid, Grant escaped to New York aged 18 to study metaphysics and pursue her dream of being “part of a high-class scene of musicians”, working random Craigslist jobs to fund it. “I would move people, paint houses, wear sports jackets for pictures in truck magazines. It felt like fighting for survival for such a long time. No money, no place to live – I’ve been in more dangerous situations than other people,” she says, cagily.

After a shelved album with producer David Kahne, a show at CMJ two years ago got Lizzy a British manager, who said the UK would adore her. He was right – she’s just signed to Interscope/Polydor, ‘Video Games’ is creeping up the Radio 1 playlist, and a London date sold out in 30 minutes. “When things go absolutely nowhere for so long, you can tell when the energy is shifting around a project,” she says, tying a knot in her vest. “Things really have changed. It’s weird. I’ve been like… ‘Is this real?’” You and us both, Lizzy. We can hardly believe our luck. Laura Snapes

Need To Know

For Fans Of: Chris Isaak, Cat Power
In The UK: Lana Del Rey plays London’s Madame Jojo’s, October 5
Buy It Now: ‘Video Games’/ ‘Blue Jeans’ (out October 17)
On NME.COM: Hear both of the above tracks
Believe It Or Not: Lizzy’s good pals with Marina, who she met over Twitter and bonded with over a love of American culture.

This article originally appeared in the September 24th issue of NME

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