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Lana Del Rey
Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
June 21, 1985 (age 31)
Lake Placid, New York, USA
Malibu, California, USA
Robert Grant Jr. (father)
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Elizabeth Woolridge Grant (born June 21, 1985, in New York City, New York), better known by her stage name Lana Del Rey, or previous stage names such as Lizzy Grant or May Jailer, is an American singer-songwriter, model, artist, and musician. She was born to her mother Patricia Grant, and father Robert Grant. Though born in New York City, she was raised in Lake Placid, New York. She has two younger siblings: Caroline "Chuck" Grant, her sister, and Charlie Grant, her brother. She has been performing professionally as Lana Del Rey since 2011.
Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant to her mother and father in New York City, New York on June 21, 1985. Her father, a former Grey Group executive copywriter turned web developer, and her mother Patricia Grant, a former Grey Group account executive raised her in Lake Placid, New York for the majority of her youth, along with sister Chuck and brother Charlie. Her father, who worked as a major executive, began investment in web domains in the late 90s, and as a result became a self-made entrepreneur. Though her family was well off, Del Rey has stated that her father was never a millionaire and that they never lived a wealthy lifestyle.
From an early age, Del Rey had alcohol dependancy issues. At the age of fifteen, Del Rey was sent to Kent School, a boarding school in Connecticut after conflict with her teachers and mother back at home. While at Kent School, she met recent Georgetown University graduate and teacher Gene Campbell, who introduced her to various artists and writers such as Tupac, Walt Whitman and Vladimir Nabokov and would be a major influence in her music later on in life.
Career beginnings and Sirens
After returning to New York at 18 years old, Del Rey began studying metaphysics at Fordham College. It was around this time when she quit drinking due to an incident where she lost her parents car, however, without drinking, she felt "out of sync" with campus life. She began making social connections to other musicians who encouraged her to experiment with music. After learning six chords on guitar from her uncle, she began writing music. On learning guitar, she said "I realized I could probably write a million songs with those six chords". The result of her writing was the production of her first album, Sirens. The acoustic album, written entirely by Del Rey under the stage name "May Jailer", was the beginning roots of her musical life and showcased a more fragile and peaceful take on her voice and sound.
She began playing songs in various underground clubs in New York in 2005, and continued writing and performing for the next few years. Her stage name changed many times through this period, beginning with "May Jailer", evolving into "Lizzy Grant & The Phenomena", shortly becoming "Sparkle Jump Rope Queen", and eventually becoming Lizzy Grant. She graduated from Fordham College with a BA in philosophy. Halfway through college, Del Rey received a $10,000 record contract, with the money she rented a $400 a month trailer in New Jersey and began her music career.
Lizzy Grant era
- Main article: Lana Del Ray (album)
Soon, after recording a demo EP, No Kung Fu, Del Rey began work on her first studio album. She sent the EP to various producers with the intent on finding someone to work with her, and after listening to her tracks, David Kahne agreed to collaborate with her. The two began recording in 2008 and recorded every day for three months. Her first EP was released after they begun their sessions, Kill Kill, which included three tracks - "Kill Kill", "Gramma", and "Yayo". The three songs off the EP would later be included in her debut LP, Lana Del Ray. Del Rey had recorded the album previously with her then-boyfriend Steven Mertens but his contributions were ultimately scrapped. The album was released by 5 Points Records on January 5, 2010, to iTunes and Amazon. Shortly after this, it was removed and Del Rey bought the rights to the album back from her label after deciding to proceed with a different musical aim. The record was removed from all circulation, but a re-recording of the song "Yayo" appeared later on Paradise.
Born to Die era
- Main article: Born to Die (album)
Later in 2010, Del Rey began work on her major-label debut album Born to Die. She and Justin Parker began working with each other at this time. She dyed her naturally blonde hair auburn in 2010, and began releasing self-made videos featuring noir cinema clips interlaced with her own videos, made on her Apple computer, in mid-2010. She posted "Video Games" to her Youtube channel on August 19, 2011. The song and video immediately began to garner attention from music critics, who hailed the fragility of her voice and the songs production, and she was signed to Stranger Records the next month. The song was released as a double A-side along with "Blue Jeans" on October 16, 2011. Soon, Del Rey signed with Interscope Records and Polydor Records and began recording Born to Die for release in early 2012.
Interscope and Polydor introduced Del Rey to various producers, including Rick Nowels and Emile Haynie. She began recording both older songs and new material for the album, and "Born to Die" was released on December 30, 2011, as the second single from the then-untitled album. Del Rey began promotion of the material soon after being signed, and performed in many intimate venues and shows. She made her U.S. television debut on January 14, 2012, alongside Daniel Radcliffe on the comedy show Saturday Night Live. The performance received polarized reviews, with some calling it the "worst performance in SNL history", while some attributed Del Rey's stage presence to stage-jitters, due to the fact that it was her first performance on American television.
Despite the mixed reception of the album, it performed well commercially, especially in non-US territories. The record was the 3rd best selling of the year in the UK.
- Main article: Paradise (EP)
In an interview with RTVE on June 15, 2012, Del Rey announced she has been working on a new album due in November, and that five tracks have already been written, two of them being "Will You Still Love Me When I'm No Longer Young and Beautiful" and "In the Land of Gods and Monsters" and the other track titled "I Sing the Body Electric" which was performed at the BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend. In an interview with Tim Blackwell for Nova FM in Melbourne, Australia, Del Rey added that her upcoming November release would not be a new album but an EP, which she described as the Paradise Edition of Born to Die. On September 25, 2012, Del Rey released the lead single "Ride" to critical acclaim. The EP was released November 9, 2012 with 8 tracks and one bonus iTunes exclusive track, "Burning Desire".
In June 2013, Del Rey began filming the Anthony Mandler directed short film Tropico, which she called a "farewell" to the Born to Die era. The short film was premiered at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California on December 4, 2013, and released to YouTube and VEVO on the following day. At the premiere, Del Rey announced the title of her second full length major label album Ultraviolence. The short film received mixed reception.
- Main article: Ultraviolence (album)
Del Rey had been working on her Born to Die follow up album since its release, but felt there was no real substance until November 2013 when she sat down with melodies and lyrics she had been working on and wrote the album. Over three weeks in Electric Lady Studios in New York, Del Rey recorded the album with Rick Nowels. By the end of the session the album was complete. However, shortly after Dan Auerbach and Del Rey met in a club and decided to work together. A week later Del Rey rerecorded the entire album with Auerbach using a Shure SM-58 microphone and a live band.
In interviews around this time, Del Rey talked about the development of her album, playing tracks, such as "Black Beauty" and describing the album as dark and spiritual. After "Black Beauty" leaked, Del Rey said "I do feel discouraged, yeah. I don't really know what to put on the record. But I guess I could just put them on and see what happens" leaving the fate of the song on the album uncertain. She added, she was working on Ultraviolence "until my record got leaked last week, 'cause my life is like completely invaded. But yeah, I'm writing songs that I really like right now. They're really low-key and stripped back, all sort of West Coast inspired."
"West Coast" was released as the album's lead single on April 14, 2014. It recieved critical acclaim and performed modestly on the charts, entering the Top 40 in many countries. A music video was released on May 7. "Shades of Cool" was announced to be the album's first promotional single and was released on May 26. The music video for the track premiered on June 17. "Ultraviolence" was the next promotional single followed "Brooklyn Baby" which was released on June 4 and June 8 respectively. A snippet of a music video for the song "Pretty When You Cry" was released through Del Rey's Instagram on June 16.
"Ultraviolence" was released as the album's second single on August 18, 2014 with a music video featuring Del Rey as a bride released on July 30. On November 21, 2014, "Black Beauty" was released as a single exclusively in Germany alongside a remix EP.
In November, 2014, rumours circulated about Del Rey's involvement with Tim Burton's Big Eyes, culminating in the revelation that she had recorded two songs for the film, a titular track, "Big Eyes" and another called "I Can Fly" written with Dan Heath and Rick Nowels respectively, the latter song of which earned Del Rey a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Original Song".
On December 1, 2014, a tour supporting the album was announced as the Endless Summer Tour with 17 dates in North America. Del Rey featured in Emile Haynie's album We Fall, co-writing and providing vocals for "Wait for Life".
- Main article: Honeymoon (album)
The successor to Ultraviolence was first mentioned in a radio interview in June, 2014, by Del Rey who explained she had a concept for an album titled Music to Watch Boys To that she was developing. In October of the same year, she expressed interest in working with Giorgio Moroder, an influencial disco producer. In an interview with Grazia in December, 2014, she announced she had already written 10 tracks for the album, was working with Mark Ronson and expected the album to be out after her Endless Summer Tour in late August, 2015.
Del Rey confirmed the title of the album to be Honeymoon in an interview with Billboard at the start of 2015. She explained that 9 tracks were completely finished, and she was "looking for a few more songs to tie everything together".
On July 14, 2015, Del Rey uploaded the audio of the song "Honeymoon", the title track from the record, on her personal YouTube account. The video shows Del Rey relaxing in the hills of California for about 30 seconds, and then it transitions into to the lyrics of the song. At the end of the video, Del Rey adds in some vintage clips. Despite it's early release, "Honeymoon" was not available for purchase on iTunes until September 9, 2015, when it was released as the second promotional single from the record.
On August 4, 2015, Del Rey announced the lead single "High By the Beach" on her Instagram, and that the track would be released on August 10, of the same year. The track leaked on August 7, 2015 onto YouTube and the social media platform Tumblr before the official release on Del Rey's YouTube account on the promised date of August 10. It received general appraise from the public, especially due to the fact that Del Rey explored the sound of "trap." The official music video for the single was uploaded to Del Rey's VEVO YouTube channel on August 13, 2015.
On August 20, 2015, Del Rey announced the track listing of Honeymoon via social media. The album went up for pre-order the next day, and it included "High By the Beach" and the first promotional single, "Terrence Loves You".
The last single from the record was called "Music to Watch Boys To". On June 4, 2015, model Jake Mast tweeted that the music video for the song he had filmed with Del Rey earlier in the year was for the track and would be released in June, however, by the end of the month, no video had been released. On September 1, 2015, Del Rey posted a photo depicting the behind-the-scenes of the music video for the track on Instagram. A snippet of the song was featured alongside excerpts from "Terrence Loves You", "Freak" and "High By the Beach" in an album sampler released September 8, 2015. On September 9, 2015, Del Rey posted the official artwork of "Music to Watch Boys To" on social media sites along with an announcement that the track would premier later that day on Beats 1 Radio. On September 11, 2015, the single's official audio was uploaded to Del Rey's VEVO YouTube channel, and the song was also on iTunes. On September 30, 2015, the official music video for the song was uploaded to Del Rey's VEVO YouTube channel.
On February 9, 2016, Del Rey hosted a premiere for the music video of her song "Freak". It was located at The Wiltern, in Los Angeles, California. The video debuted via Del Rey's VEVO on the same date.
Fifth studio album (unknown era)
In October 2015, Del Rey announced that she planned writing material for her new record. She stated that she wanted the upcoming record to have a "pop-friendly" and "New York style" sound, and to be a little harder, faster, more upbeat, and less dreamy. In January 2016, Del Rey was nominated with the "Favorite Female Artist" award at the People's Choice Awards, and she also received a BRIT Award nomination for International Female Solo Artist, her third nomination in the category and fourth overall.
Starting in December 2015, Del Rey began announcing festival dates across Europe, Canada, the United States, and Mexico to promote Honeymoon. She performed at these festivals throughout the summer of 2016. She also officially revealed that she's begun working on her fifth studio album, just six months after releasing her fourth. It has been claimed that one of the producers for the album is Justin Parker.
Del Rey's sound has been dubbed "Hollywood sadcore". Her music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of 1950s and '60s Americana. Rolling Stone noted that Del Rey enjoys playing the role of lounge singer. Time said the solid core of her sound was "movie music", laid out over-top a hip hop vocal cadence. Attributed to many styles, Del Rey's sound has been tagged broadly as a sort of dream pop or baroque pop linked to various forms of rock, indie music, and trip hop, and often touching on styles such as hip hop, trap music, and psychedelic rock on particular releases. Of Born to Die, indie music journal Drowned in Sound wrote, "She likes that whole hip hop thing though, has this whole swagger thing going that not many girls like her got", adding that it sounded like a poppier Bond soundtrack. In "National Anthem", "Off to the Races," and "Diet Mountain Dew", Del Rey employs this alternative rapping technique. Under the stage name Lizzy Grant, she called her music "Hawaiian glam metal", while the work of her May Jailer project was acoustic.
Del Rey has been described as a "self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and "Lolita lost in the hood". Del Rey has also been called "a torch singer of the internet era" and "the anti-Gaga." Following in the shadow of artists like Prince and David Bowie, Del Rey chose her musical identity because it "reminded [her] of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue".
Del Rey has attributed her work to various stage names including Lizzy Grant, Lana Rey Del Mar, Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, and May Jailer. Settling on Lana Del Rey, the singer claims she selected the name because it was beautiful. First mention of the name Lana Del Rey came from her Spanish-speaking Cuban friends.
Del Rey possesses an expansive contralto vocal range, which spans three-plus octaves and has been described as captivating and highly emotive, being able to transcend from sounding high and girlish in her timbre, down to a low and jazzy sound with great ease, although both these areas of the voice can be conflicting in the contrast of their sound, initially polarizing opinion. Following the release of Ultraviolence, which was recorded live in single takes and lacking Pro Tools vocal editing, critics fell into favor with Del Rey's vocal ability, praising her large range, increased vocal confidence, and uniquely emotive delivery. When recording in the studio Del Rey is known for vocal multi-layering, which, as it has been noted, is difficult for her to replicate within a live setting, especially with the lack of backing singers to fill out the original vocal style. Stage fright has also been noted as a major contribution to Del Rey's struggles with live performances. However, journalists noted in 2014 that her live performances had increased exponentially in confidence. Billboard Magazine deemed the Coachella debut of West Coast to be a "star-making performance" and lauded the singer's vocal abilities. Contemporary music critics have called her voice "smoky", "gravelly", and reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe.
Del Rey stated the use of her lower vocals on the tracks from Born to Die, claiming that "people weren't taking me very seriously, so I lowered my voice, believing that it would help me stand out. Now I sing quite low... well, for a female anyway".
"I sing low now, but my voice used to be a lot higher. Because of the way I look, I needed something to ground the entire project. Otherwise I think people would assume I was some airhead singer. Well, I don't think... I know. I've sung one way, and sung another, and I've seen what people are drawn to", she said on the topic.
Amongst her musical influences, Del Rey cites several artists, including Elvis Presley, Antony and the Johnsons, Frank Sinatra, Eminem, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Father John Misty, Bobby Vinton and Kurt Cobain. "[I really] just like the masters of every genre", she told BBC radio presenter Jo Whiley. Her favorite artists include Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen. She covered Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" in 2013. She also cited "strong female characters" such as Courtney Love, Stevie Nicks, and Joni Mitchell as inspirational.
Janis Joplin's live version of "Summertime" from the Cheap Thrills compilation album is one of Del Rey's favorite songs. Del Rey has also cited "Time of the Season" by The Zombies and "Hotel California" by The Eagles as favorites and inspirations. Her favorite films, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and American Beauty have also inspired her musical style. Inspired by poetry, Del Rey cites Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg as instrumental to her songwriting. Specifically, she enjoys the chapbook "Leaves of Grass" by Whitman and the poem "Howl" by Ginsberg. Her song, "Body Electric" from her third EP, Paradise, alludes to Whitman in the lyric, "Whitman is my daddy". The song's chorus of "I sing the body electric" is a direct reference to his poem "I Sing The Body Electric". She recited Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" for the French fashion magazine, L'Officiel Paris.
Del Rey stated that she suffered from alcoholism at a young age, but has been sober since 2004. In September 2012, she told GQ:
"I was a big drinker at the time. I would drink every day. I would drink alone. I thought the whole concept was so fucking cool. A great deal of what I wrote on Born to Die is about these wilderness years. When I write about the thing that I've lost I feel like I'm writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life. My parents were worried, I was worried. I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else. I was like, 'I'm fucked. I am totally fucked'. Like, at first it's fine and you think you have a dark side – it's exciting – and then you realise the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it. It's also a completely different way of living when you know that... a different species of person. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me."
Having been labeled as antifeminist multiple times in the past, Del Rey dismissed feminism in June 2014, telling The Fader: "For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I'm more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what's going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I'm like, god. I'm just not really that interested". She also defended herself against the accusations of antifeminism, saying "For me, a true feminist is someone who is a woman who does exactly what she wants. If my choice is to, I don't know, be with a lot of men, or if I enjoy a really physical relationship, I don't think that's necessarily being anti-feminist. For me the argument of feminism never really should have come into the picture. Because I don't know too much about the history of feminism, and so I'm not really a relevant person to bring into the conversation. Everything I was writing was so autobiographical, it could really only be a personal analysis".
Del Rey currently lives in the Los Angeles area of California, United States. Del Rey was in a relationship with photographer Francesco Carrozzini from June 2014 to November 2015, but due to disagreements on settling down together, the two broke up. She was also in a relationship with Barrie James O'Neill from August 2011 to June 2014. The two had been engaged, but they ultimately decided to end their affair (because they had a "dark" relationship, Del Rey claimed). She previously had a relationship with Steven Mertens who produced her first record Lana Del Ray prior to David Kahne's involvement, as well as an alleged relationship with a music industry executive. It is unconfirmed if she is currently in a relationship.
Del Rey has multiple tattoos, including the word "paradise" and an "M" on her left hand, "trust no one" and "die young" on her right, "Chateau Marmont" on her left arm, "Whitman Nabokov" on her right arm, "Nina Billie" on the left side of her collarbone, and "Whitney Amy" on the right side of her collarbone.
- Main article: Lana Del Rey discography
- Young Like Me (2005)
- From the End (2005)
- No Kung Fu (2007)
- Kill Kill (2008)
- Lana Del Rey (2011)
- Paradise (2012)
- Tropico (2013)
- Born to Die Tour (2011-2012)
- Paradise Tour (2013-2014)
- Endless Summer Tour (2015)
- Festival Tour (2016)
- Main article: Lana Del Rey videography
Awards and nominations
- Main article: Awards and nominations received by Lana Del Rey
Del Rey has accumulated 14 awards from 53 nominations since her major label debut, including winning an Ivor Novello Award for "Best Contemporary Song" with her single "Video Games" in 2012, receiving Grammy Award nominations for "Best Pop Vocal Album" with Paradise, and "Best Song Written for Visual Media" with "Young and Beautiful" in 2014. In 2015, her song "Big Eyes", which featured in the film of the same name, was nominated by the Oscars in the "Best Original Song - Motion Picture" category. Also in 2015, Del Rey won the MTV Europe Music Award for "Best Alternative", and in November, 2015, she won the "Trailblazer" Award provided by the Billboard Music Awards. In February, 2016, Del Rey received the "Best Female Artist of the Year" award from The ELLE Style Awards by ELLE Magazine.