Paradise Lost: An Interview with Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey: I haven’t talked to an American journalist in, like,
Really? I don’t count, though, because I’m an
Me too. I think America is amazing for its landscape and its
history. California is beautiful, New York is beautiful, but when
you’re a gypsy at heart, it probably suits you to be traveling.
You think you’re a gypsy?
I don’t feel that way as much as I used to. I actually don’t feel
that way that much anymore, but when I was younger I used to really
want to have an unpredictable life where I could feel free and
travel anywhere I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. I actually
really like California now, although I’ve never lived there before.
I like the idea of living in one place now.
So how important is it to have total control over your
image, especially today?
It’s important—really important. It’s hard, though. It’s gotten
totally taken away from me. I don’t have that much control because
things go viral really quickly. I went from having no real fan base
or interest to having a lot of really skewed interest and
criticism. But for the majority of eight years before that in New
York, I sang to the same people in the same bars and had a pretty
comfortable experience doing that. That’s not really possible for
me anymore, because bloggers are really influential and people are
really influenced by reviews and five star critics. And those
people are really influenced by images, and what they see quickly.
Also, a lot of what’s been written about me is not true: of my
family history or my choices or my interests. Actually, I’ve
never read anything written about me that was true. It’s been
When did you realize that it had gotten out of
The first day that anyone ever wrote about me, as soon as I put
“Video Games” up. Everything they wrote was fucking crazy. Like
about my dad, about me, like having millions of dollars, and all
this shit. I was like, “Really? I thought I was supporting
everyone!” [laughing] Everything was not true. As soon as the
first person wrote about me, the articles became just blatant,
all-out lies. I consider it slander. If I cared more, I’d kill
Obviously you will know that in preparation for this
interview I read a lot of that stuff.
Yeah, but none of it’s true.
Because there does actually seem to be a disconnect
between your public image . . .
And who I am?
And the private life you talk about.
There is a disconnect, yeah. I spent the last ten years in
community service and writing folk songs. I don’t give a fuck about
what I look like. Saying I came from billions of dollars is
crazy. We never had any money. I feel, as a person who grew up
reading about and being inspired by other figures with integrity,
to kind of be turned into the antithesis of that is not what I
It’s the way it’s going right now, but I deal with
it as it comes.
Let’s go back to what you said about doing community work.
Social work involves working with people that society has forgotten
or left behind, or who simply can’t function in normal society. It
usually involves reintegration . . .
I’m not a trained social worker. I’ve been sober for
so it was drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
It was more traditional twelve-step call stuff. Just people who
can’t get it together, me and groups of other people who have been
based in New York for a long time working with people who need help
and reached out. It was about building communities around sobriety
and staying clean and stuff like that. That was my focus since I
moved to the Bronx when I was eighteen. I liked music, but I
considered it to be a luxury. It wasn’t my primary focus: the other
stuff was really my life. But no one ever . . . it’s not
No, it’s really interesting. So your social work was based
on your own experiences?
Yeah, because I was an addict who got clean.
As a teenager?
So obviously it must have informed your
Yeah, it’s been my main influence, I would say.
Well, I watched the video for “Ride”, and I was truly
fascinated. To me, it felt so ‘wrong’ on so many levels, but that
also made it truly transgressive because mere hedonism or being
rebellious is no longer transgressive.
Yeah. Like, I remember it was the San Francisco Chronicle or
whatever who wrote this huge thing about me being an anti-feminist.
But the thing is, I don’t really have any commentary on the
female’s role in society. It was the same with my first song that
got big, “Video Games”. People had criticisms about it being
submissive and whatever, but nothing I ever wrote had a message. It
was just my own personal experience, and it’s the same with “Ride”.
I believe in free love and that’s just how I feel. It’s just my
experience of being with different kinds of men and being born
without a preference for a certain type of person.
that is my story in finding love in lots of different people, and
that’s been the second biggest influence in my music.
I was taken aback by how affected I was by the “Ride”
video, because I felt it was really saying something important, in
a sense. Talking about internal darkness, but not only accepting
that within yourself, but the line in the monologue where you talk
about actually being in a position to explore that—it’s very brave,
Thank you. Well, one thing you learn when you do get sober is that
complete surrender is the foundation for all good things to come.
And I feel like that idea translated to all aspects of my life.
When you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen to you or
what your career’s going to end up like and you’re just really open
to anything, then you don’t really have anything to lose. A lot of
different people come in and out of your life. And it’s really fun
to say yes, and it’s really fun to be easy about everything and
just let songs come to you and let people come to you. And it is
free, in a way.
Let’s go back to what you were saying about not
necessarily having a message, because American themes and imagery,
like the American flag, feature prominently in your videos and your
music. Although to my mind, it could be seen as a dark side of
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love any fucking film or book that
wasn’t based around the underbelly of society. I’ve always loved
that. But on the other hand, I’m kind of simple in the way that I
love the movement of a super-eight flag waving in the wind. The
same with the palm trees and that sepia color of the fifties film.
Like a lot of my choices had to do with the grade of the film. It
was that simple, purely aesthetic. Same with my interest in
photographers and things like that. A lot of it is just the look of
it. I just like it.
Do you consider yourself patriotic?
You were still living in America when Obama took over. Did
that change things for you?
The first election? I was happy for the American people because he
was a symbol that they needed to feel better.
Do you have opinions on healthcare reform or . .
I have a lot of political opinions.
Yeah? Let’s hear some of them.
I get a lot of grief for just talking about my own musical choices.
I don’t usually talk about my views these days that much on
Do you consider yourself to be political?
Well, it’s complicated because everything has changed for me.
Before I had no money. And now everything I make, I lose. So I
don’t have money again, because I lose half. Healthcare reform—that
needed to be addressed. I still don’t have health insurance because
I haven’t been back to the United States since the time when I
couldn’t afford healthcare because it was seven hundred dollars a
Okay, let’s talk about feminism. What’s your take on
To be honest, I don’t really have one. I have a great appreciation
for our world’s history. I learn from my own mistakes, I learn from
the mistakes we’ve made as a human race. But I think we’ve
gotten to a good place as women and we’ll just keep naturally
progressing. That’s kind of how I feel about it.
Is it true that you left the US because you felt oppressed
and unloved by the American media?
[laughing] Well, no one was really asking me for interviews, so
there wasn’t really a reason to stay. Musically, I wouldn’t really
work there because I wouldn’t know where to sing. I had a million
shows lined up here, so that’s kind of why I went. And I didn’t
really have any shows there. I mean, I could play on Sunset Strip
and stuff. I could go back to New York . . .
I’m sure you could line up some shows now. How does moving
abroad affect the way you feel about America or being
I think that my love for America has now become contained to
the more specific things I appreciate about it.
up the coast from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara—simple stuff like
that. In terms of what I maybe thought it stood for, I don’t
You’ve already said that a lot of the imagery was driven
by aesthetic choices, but how did exploring the dark side of
America affect the way you explore the theme of
That’s a good question. I actually find myself not going back to
those themes in my writing in the last thirteen months.
So I suppose that’s something we’ll see the result of
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s kind of pushed me back to really
early influences. I still love the way I felt when I first found
Allen Ginsberg and how much he painted with his words. And he was
influenced by the American underbelly, but now, rather than me
being influenced by my passion for the country, I just feel good
when I listen to Jim Morrison. I feel good when I go
back and read some of the Beat poets. But other
than that, I don’t feel like, “Rah, rah, America!” Fuck that shit
OP Note: I just included interesting tidbits because the
full interview was rly long. Interviewer in red, interesting LDR
quotes in large print. The whole interview is worth a read and
disappointing as an American Lana fan, tbh