After A Change Of Heart, Marina Reclaims The Diamonds For about two years, Marina Diamandis donned a platinum-blonde wig and became Electra Heart. But the pop singer has ditched her alter ego for a sound and persona that's all her own.
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After A Change Of Heart, Marina Reclaims The Diamonds

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After A Change Of Heart, Marina Reclaims The Diamonds

After A Change Of Heart, Marina Reclaims The Diamonds

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Channeling your art and music into another kind of identity is not unusual for a pop artist. Lady Gaga changes costumes and assumes different characters almost nonstop. Musicians from Beyonce to David Bowie have produced under names meant to be their alter egos. But what happens when that different identity doesn't fit anymore? Is it so easy to shed?

Our next guest went through this process. She's back to her old stage name of Marina and the Diamonds, but for about two years, Marina took on a different persona - the dark brunette donned a platinum-blonde wig and became Electra Heart. Here's a track called "Primadonna," from an album that debuted at number one in the UK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRIMADONNA")

ELECTRA HEART: (Singing) Primadonna girl, yeah. All I ever wanted was the world. I can't help that I need it all...

MARTIN: Electra Heart may have had her moment, but now Marina Diamandis has ditched her alter ego for a sound and persona that is all her own. Marina And The Diamonds has a new album out called "Froot." Marina joins us now from our studios at NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.

MARINA DIAMANDIS: Hello. Thanks you very much for having me.

MARTIN: So I'm going to start by asking you to walk back in time a bit and tell me about this person, this character, Electra Heart.

DIAMANDIS: Electra Heart was a character which I created very publicly. I was continuously in this blonde wig, (Laughter), and very kind of '50s suburbia getup. But in terms of the production and the way that the vocal was produced, I didn't feel that it represented who I truly was.

MARTIN: It was your music, but you wanted some distance from it.

DIAMANDIS: Yeah, definitely. And it's something that really worked for that album but not something that I think I will do again or will need to do again.

MARTIN: Let's talk about the new album. It's called "Froot."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FROOT")

MARTIN: Before we talk about it, let's listen to a little bit of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FROOT")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) I've seen seasons come and go from winter sun to summer snow. This ain't my first time at the rodeo.

MARTIN: Yeah, that sounds different than Electra Heart. (Laughter.) What does froot mean?

DIAMANDIS: In that song, in the title track, I use froot as a metaphor to describe how I felt at that point in my life, which was kind of ripe - like ripe and ready and very much prepared to enjoy my life. And I think that relates to how I felt as an artist, which was that I now feel like I'm fully realized as an artist and that I know what my identity is.

MARTIN: OK, let's listen to another track off the album. This is the opening song. This is called "Happy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) I found what I'd been looking for in myself, found a life worth living for someone else. Never thought that I could be, I could be happy, happy.

MARTIN: Those are earnest lyrics in an endearing way.

DIAMANDIS: Yeah. It's kind of - it's relief writing a song like that that hasn't got like, sarcasm or cynicism or anything like that. It's more just simply expressing how you feel. But also, thematically, I think it was important for me to state from the beginning of the album that I'm in a very different place now.

MARTIN: So the next song I'm going to cue seems like a counterpoint to the song we just heard - maybe not, I don't know. I'll ask you. Let's listen to the track called "I'm A Ruin."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M A RUIN")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) I'll ruin, yeah I'll ruin you. I've been doing things I shouldn't do.

DIAMANDIS: This was written about five months after "Happy." So "Happy" was very much about personal things but also a little bit informed by a relationship that I had. And then "Ruin" was written about the aftermath of that relationship. And sometimes even when you love someone, you shouldn't be with them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M A RUIN")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) ...When nothing was right and nothing's wrong. You still can't look me in the eye...

MARTIN: I want to ask you about inspiration. You moved to London from your hometown in Wales. You were 19 years old. And I understand it was a move to make it in the music business. You wanted to do this. But you didn't have a plan so much, not a whole lot of connections, just this drive to make it happen for yourself. What was it that motivated you so back then, and how has that changed from what pushes you now?

DIAMANDIS: I can't really explain or label what it was that pushed me. But I think I had a very, very deep instinct like nothing I'd ever had before and nothing I have now. I was very, very kind of deep in my gut instinct that I should do this with my life. And in terms of if that same feeling inspires me today, it doesn't really. I wanted to express myself, and I didn't feel I could do that in real life.

MARTIN: I want to end with a song called "Blue." Let's listen to a little bit of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLUE")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) Gimme one more night, one last goodbye. Let's do it one last time. Let's do it one last time - one more time.

MARTIN: It sounds like you are content in this moment with where you're at.

DIAMANDIS: Oh, I am. Yes, I am.

MARTIN: Electra Heart, it brought you a different kind of fame. It brought you a different kind of fan base. Do you think they've come with you - the fans that came to you because of a Electra Heart?

DIAMANDIS: Yeah, I do actually. I think a lot of them have, which is amazing because for me, the concept of a 14-year-old girl hearing "Primadonna" on the radio and maybe just listening to Top 40 music, and still following me when I continue with "Froot" is so cool. Like, it makes me feel so confident. So I feel very grateful for having Electra Heart.

MARTIN: Marina Diamandis of Marina And The Diamonds. Her new album called "Froot," spelled F-R-O-O-T is out this month. Marina, it's been so fun to talk with you.

DIAMANDIS: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLUE")

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS: (Singing) Gimme one more night, one last goodbye. Let's do it one last time. Let's do it one last time - one more time. I'm sick of looking after you. I need a man to hold on to.

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