By Scott T. Sterling
Deep in the bowels of the StubHub Center in Carson, Lana Del Rey is perched sweetly on a white couch. Fresh from a sold-out crowd thrilling set at the Weenie Roast Y Fiesta 2017, the singer is relaxed and fielding questions from KROQ DJ, Ted Stryker.
During her seven-song performance, she debuted a brand new song, “Cherry,” which is set to appear on Del Rey’s upcoming fourth full-length, Lust for Life (not counting her 2010 eponymous release as “Lana Del Rey”).
It’s an album that Del Rey has relentless teased in the recent months, dropping a clutch of songs—“Love,” the title track featuring the Weeknd, “Coachella-Woodstock on My Mind,” and now “Cherry,” as well as a handful of music videos. It’s also an album that is still without a firm release date (she revealed it’s “coming soon”), and her rabid fan base is chomping at the bit for it to arrive, not to mention schedule a full-fledged North American tour.
Del Rey opened up about a host of subjects, including her experience at Coachella this year, working with Stevie Nicks and how she maintains one of the most devoted fan bases in music.
Your performance already happened. And you feel…exhausted? Relieved? Excited?
I was so excited to get on that stage, and I feel good. It was pretty loud, but I think that everybody was happy, so good.
You have such a great way of having energy that is not contrived.
Really? Thank you.
When you’re making a record, is it a fight within yourself to do a certain thing? Maybe you’re trying to get there, but you feel better in this position—does that make sense?
Like when I’m actually making the record?
The record is kind of the one part of the whole process that I don’t have to fight myself on anything. It can take me a long time to finish a record, but it’s kind of my most comfortable spot. I really just get excited to see what the track list reveals to me in terms of order and different productions.
So even though you go in to make a full album, obviously now it’s easy to make a song and put it out in a matter of a couple of days.
In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time on production, but I did put out a song, “Coachella-Woodstock on My Mind,” which I put out after this year’s festival. It was really cool for me to be able to release it in real time. I don’t think I’ve done that in about six years. Obviously, before I was signed to a label I would just put stuff out. It’s a really interesting time in music where you can do that again, and just see how it goes.
In the first minute of “Coachella-Woodstock on My Mind,” you tell such a great story. Overall, the Coachella experience, specifically that, is positive for you?
Yes. I love festivals. Even today, seeing people get together and sing songs together, it’s amazing and different from everything else. I had so much during Coachella this year. It was such an interesting experience. I love Father John Misty and I love his wife, Emma Tillman. We do so much together, and to see his show go so well and then the next day, having breakfast and hearing about all of the tension that was rising between North Korea and the U.S., and it was a shock to my system.
Is it because all of this fun is happening, and people in Indio are in their own little world, while outside of that, all of the political lunacy is happening?
Yeah. The people I was seeing shows with were talking about it. I know a lot of people weren’t talking about it. I think it was just…that was like a new problem we were experiencing as a country.
Stevie Nicks is part of the new album. Do you tell her what to do? How do you know her, and how did she get involved. What’s the name of the track? We need some information here.
The track is called “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems.” I thought I had finished the album a couple of times. One of those times, I felt like I wanted a woman on the record. I was talking to my producer, Rick Nowels, about who would be great to get on the record. We both could only come up with Stevie. Funny enough, he went to high school with her, and he wrote his first hit with her. I’m so bad I don’t remember what song that was. So he knows her really well, and he called her. They actually started the track in New York at [famed recording studio] Electric Lady, and then she flew back the following week and finished it at our studio. She was amazing. She’s just everything you’d hope she was gonna be. She’s so contemporary and she knows all the new music that’s out weekly. She loved the track and she added so much to it.
I love that she’s done it her own way throughout her entire career.
Stevie Nick’s one of those few people that I know that the muse is the most important thing to her. Her priority is following her muse, whether it’s a 60-date tour or a new record. She’s inspirational like that.
How do you come to work with an artist like the Weeknd, who’s featured on the title track of Lust for Life?
He’s kind of the reason I was ever on the radio. Like six years ago or something, he started posting all my videos on his Tumblr and his social media. From that, DJ Fearne Cotton from BBC Radio 1 reached out and wanted to make “Video Games” her indie track of the week or something like that. The Weeknd has been in touch with me ever since. He’s always been really supportive. We’ve been friends for the last six years. I’ve got a good little group of musician friends in L.A. He’s one of them.
Your fans are quite dedicated. How do you maintain that relationship with your fans where it doesn’t become too close, but still not turn them off?
That’s a really good question. I’ve been really lucky in the way that I dip in and out of being around and in the public. It seems like when I come back with a new song or whatever, a lot of familiar faces, names and handles are still there. People that just like the music. That’s become more apparent as I put out more records. It’s definitely a blessing. I stay in touch with them on social media. It’s whatever feels right.