Lana Del Rey recalls horrendous early label deal in emotional awards speech

The singer thanked her management for getting her "out of a deal I made for 11 records for nine grand while I was working at a restaurant and living in a trailer park"

Lana Del Rey was the recipient of Variety‘s Decade Award yesterday (December 4), receiving the title at its Hitmakers brunch in Los Angeles.

After being presented the award by producer Mike Dean, who she collaborated with on recent track ‘Wildflower Wildfire’, she thanked many of the people who helped her on her journey in an emotional acceptance speech.

“My managers helped me up the stairs,” she said. “I still haven’t mastered the art of walking in heels. I’m super grateful for them, Ben [Mawson] and Ed [Millett], and for this award. I’m really glad that they’re here with me.


“They picked me out of the bar scenes, lounge singer scenes that I was singing in for about eight years before I met them. They got me out of a deal I made for 11 records for nine grand while I was working at a restaurant and living in a trailer park. Ben did that in one hour and then the next day he flew me to London and let me live with him. In a year, I wrote ‘Video Games’, and I was ready to make good records, I was ready to make a lot of records.”

Thanking Variety for the acknowledgement, she continued: “I’m really always grateful for any acknowledgement and also super grateful for all the criticism – I get a lot. What’s good about it is I really believe what’s reflected back to you is in some way a mirror to what’s going on in your inner life. It’s given me a huge opportunity to look inward and to look at my family of origin and look at my lineage, see what’s going on up there.”

Del Rey then took a moment to pay tribute to her grandma. “I want to take a minute and think about my grandma, who fell ill two days ago,” she explained. “Any of the lightness and funniness and goodness in me I pretty much specifically got from her, so I’m really hoping she takes a turn for the better back in the North Country before I get there.”

She continued: “I’ve been very lucky to follow my muse for the last 18 years, since I was 18. Sometimes that has taken me super far away from music into other mediums and other job opportunities that have nothing to do with the arts at all. I’m very flexible and what I’ve come to understand is that if you follow what you’re interested in, you’ll end up being the most creative in that field.

“Even if you get a nine-to-five after you got the decade award, you need to do what feels right. I always like to say that the way I live my life is my poetry, my lovemaking is my legacy, and I get to make music in between.”


In September, Del Rey deactivated all of her social media accounts, citing that some of the things she’s currently working on “require privacy and transparency”.

She assured fans that although she was leaving social media she would continue to work on her spoken word albums, her other music projects, and her poetry.

Meanwhile, she also recently revealed that a stipulation in her will prohibits the release of posthumous music by the singer-songwriter following her death.