Lana Del Rey Talks “Lust for Life,” Avoiding Cultural Appropriation, and Getting Political

For six years now Lana Del Rey has attracted and foiled critics with pop music that does not sound like any of her peers. The mild, smoky voice, the judicious use of rap production, the juxtaposition of classic American images and sounds with hyper-contemporary, crass language, from these elements Lana makes music that feels at once familiar and strange.

Lust for Life is her most ambitious album yet, and as Lana explains in her third Complex cover appearance, it emerged from a period of self-examination that, when it ended, left her “looking at everything else” the world has to offer. Hopeful and questioning, the album engages with the tumultuous and oftentimes terrifying politics of 2017 on songs like “God Bless America—And All the Beautiful Women in It” and “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing.” Elsewhere, this more expansive worldview means features from artists like Stevie Nicks, Playboi Carti, Sean Ono Lennon, and ASAP Rocky. “I was ready to have some of my friends jump on the record,” she says,”[and] they were all naturally a little bit lighter than me.”

Lightness is, in some ways, the operating principle for Lana Del Rey right now. At 32, her career is no longer “guesswork,” the way it was when she first began. The questions of authenticity and agency that greeted her upon arrival are irrelevant. There's only Lana Del Rey.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Photography by Timoth Saccenti, Earrings by DJULA, Ring by Lynn Ban, Dress by Maria Lucia Hohan
Purchase the Lana Del Rey cover poster here

You were living in New York when you put out Born to Die and I know that you went from being like normal New Yorker who rides the subway to Lana del Rey who's on Page Six and is the subject of long thinkpieces in the Times.
That was fucked up. It just changed it. I remember I was working somewhere else and I was on my way back from there and I was getting on the 6 train, and TMZ was behind me the whole time.

On the train?
Yeah, I had run into this camera-man. It was the first time I had seen a paparazzi, but he wasn’t taking pictures, he was just filming. I don’t even know if I had ever seen that before ‘cause it’s someone with a VHS following you around.

Was he trying to talk to you?
Yeah, and I was answering and I sounded crazy. I went down and got my ticket, swiped it, waited for the train. I looked behind me, the guy had got a ticket too, and he was waiting too. I was like, Wait, is this real life? Honestly from then on one of those guys I had seen that day was just always there. I thought to myself, I think I gotta move somewhere.

Your first three covers are all fairly serious, sort of oscillating between kind of almost sad and maybe a little bit aloof on the Honeymoon one. This is the first one where you’re smiling.
Well, the Honeymoon cover I thought was more just casual. I felt like I was in a more casual space. But this was definitely in an even more lighter space altogether. My sister, Chuck, shot it, but we shot it in the parking lot behind the scenes of my “Love” video. We didn’t know if we were going to get the cover but we definitely knew I was gonna smile. We took a couple frames, and we developed it that week, and I felt like that was the one.

For being a fairly dark time to live in the world, it’s kind of interesting that this is actually your most optimistic work, at least in its titling and its imagery. What’s the genesis of that?
Well there was a little bit of a shift in me naturally. I felt like I had kind of said a lot and done a lot through the records. I was ready to have some of my friends jump on the record [and] they were all naturally a little bit lighter than me, so that was kind of happening in my world. I felt like two years of recording really dark tunes would not be fun.

You do touch on problems of the world and politics in this work in a way that your previous albums did not. Was that a conscious decision?
On the last records I needed to look inward to figure out why things had gone so far down one path, and then I kind of came to the end of my self-examination and I naturally was looking at everything else. But, of course, all my experiences and romantic relationships and stuff are still peppered in to some of the songs on this record. Also, with Obama as the president, me and everybody I know, I think we felt very safe and protected, felt like we were being viewed the way we wanted to be viewed, in terms of the world. So there wasn’t as much to say except, like, look how far we’ve come and it’s getting better, getting even better. I feel like there was quite a shift.

Dress by Maria Lucia Hohan, Earrings by DJULA, Ring by Lynn Ban

With this record you have infused more politics than ever before. I think it’s not necessarily a political record, but it is a record of the day. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that you have a decent number of sort of middle American fans for whom Trump’s inauguration and administration is not problematic. How do you negotiate expressing your own honest feelings about these things, and do you think about whether or not it’s going to piss them off, or is this something that has inspired ire from people who at one point were in you core?
You don’t negotiate when it comes to your work or your art. You stand totally firm and take the consequences. In terms of losing fans I don’t care. Period. [Laughs.]

The last two albums, Honeymoon and Ultraviolence, it seemed like you concentrated on making stuff for yourself, and perhaps for your core audience. With this record, it at  appears that there is a more expansive ambition.
I would consider it as a not turning away from the possible bigger-ness of it, compared to the other two. Before, I felt maybe I wanted to be more protective of my own space and stuff with the last two records.

Was that a reaction to the success of records like the remix to “Summertime Sadness”?
I think it was a reaction to more people knowing who I was right away. So I was like, Let me just check myself and get myself into a place where I’m sure I like what I’m doing, and I know I like the production. With the “Summertime Sadness” remix, I had told you before, I didn’t hear that song until it was on the radio and I came back from a show in Russia, and I heard it on the radio. I mean, obviously in general I like to have my hands all over the production.

Was that a weird feeling to like—
It was a weird…

Is it weird also that it’s probably—
That it’s a huge song?

your biggest hit?
Really? You’re gonna say that?

I mean, radio numbers at least.
No, you’re probably right.

Probably not your most important song, but…
I think “Video Games” is right up there. I was more sensitive about it then because when you’re new you’ve got so much to prove. You don’t have that many chances. That’s real. I’d consider it at the time just being careful. You know, in terms of collabs or sponsorships or whatever.

Top by Bottega Veneta 

Is it freeing now to feel that you can do whatever feels good in the moment?
Yeah. It is actually.

Do you feel like that played into the larger ambition of Lust for Life?
Rocky’s on the record, and when he’s in town and I’m here, I’m just down at the studio anyway. Or the same with Abel, you know? I’ll just go down and listen to what he’s working on. I realized, Why do I not have my friends on my record? It was pretty natural but I guess with Abel, everything he does now is so big, so at another time maybe that would’ve felt like a little bit scarier or something, but now it just feels right.

What do you mean?
Well, he’s super out there and he’s got a lot of radio stuff so I don’t know if I would’ve known what to do with a big radio song. I’m not saying I have one on this record…

But if you are to have one, you feel confident that it would be exciting?
That I would be happy, yeah.

David Byrne from the Talking Heads wrote an amazing book about the history of music, and he goes into the significance of radio in how songs are formatted, and the idea that it’s like three minutes with three hooks and a bridge—there’s nothing in nature that says that that’s how music should be composed. It’s strictly about how radio programmers want to get three songs per commercial break, so that has sort of trained the artists to work within those confines. 
For sure. And they’re not terrible confines to work within. It’s kind of fun to make a short song with a cute chorus. But I think if you’re writing it yourself it’s important to have half the record at least where you’ve got a little bit of your life in there, or a little bit of an opinion. I think if you’re really good you can do both. I was thinking of Bob Dylan.

Dress by Maria Lucia Hohan, Earrings by DJULA, Ring by Lynn Ban

What is the measure of success for you?
The one thing that stayed the same is, for me the measure of success with the record is just that it gets finished. [Laughs.] For real.

Did Sean Lennon make the record?
He made it.

I saw that you took these pictures with a horse, but it was not a horse that was coming out of a pond on his estate, so I didn’t know if that was like a subliminal shot.
It’s not, no. Horses have just been a random theme somehow. He ended up producing the track we made, “Tomorrow Never Came,” and that’s the only track on the record that I wrote over the last two years that I didn’t feel like it was mine. I  felt like I had written it for someone else, which I… I’ve never really felt like that. Then I was looking at the lyrics and I had a lyric about John Lennon and Yoko, so I called Sean and asked him if he would do a duet with me. He said that he was his dad’s biggest fan, so it would be really natural.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that almost all the people that you work with are men. Is that something you ever think about, or that bothers you?
Well, it’s weird because the people in my close production life are men. I guess I’m thinking of like Rick [Nowels] and my two engineers, Dean Reed and Kieran Menzies, who have changed my whole musical life and my sound and my records. But in my personal life, there’s just so many women. Well there’s not many female producers, for sure. There’s some great female songwriters though. That’ll probably change.

When you think about yourself as a songwriter, how do you think you’ve changed from Born to Die days to what you’re writing now?
Maybe just the ability to integrate my own experiences with what I’m observing. To be able to reflect back, like a good mix of inner world, outer world.

Toxic relationships were very much the fuel of a lot of the writing on those first albums, as you have moved to a sort of happier, more solid place, perhaps making better life decisions—

How do you think about your romantic life, and how do you think about it within the context of your songwriting?
I feel like in this record there’s—with the songs that are “love songs,” or about relationships, I feel like I come off almost more annoyed about the way things are going rather than like, “Oh, poor me.” There’s like a moving that I get from my own stuff, because sometimes my own stuff is a little bit revealing to me, you know, about myself.

Dress by Maria Lucia Hohan

With a lot of artists who write very personal stuff, when they get to this point in their career it sometimes gets more difficult to unearth and reveal those things because of success and fame and the work.
That’s so true.

Do you feel like it’s a greater challenge now?
Yeah, but I’ve never been somebody who turned away from really hard work. I’m always looking to put the footwork in. Like with the mixing, if it takes eight months I will mix for eight months. If the master doesn’t come back right I’ll find someone else to do it. With the personal stuff I mean, if I feel like I’m just not getting it right I’ll just keep on trying different things until I feel like I’m hitting my stride in that department. I don’t know, finding your own path is not for the faint of heart. It’s the harder path. It’s easier to just keep doing the same shit over and over again and then be surprised when it’s still the same results. Somehow that’s easier than just doing something different.

A lot of what got written about you in the beginning, and in a somewhat real way, you had developed a character. I imagine a large part you, and then perhaps something that’s imagined. As you’ve gotten further and further into your career do you feel like the lines between those things have changed or blurred?
I mean, that’s what most of the thinkpieces are about. You know, there’s a lot of stuff I could’ve not said in the songs and I said it anyway. It didn’t always serve me to talk about some of the men I was with and what that was like, and then not comment on it further. So that’s some of my experiences and where I lived and what it was like. It would’ve been easier to just not say that and then deflect all of the questions about it afterwards.

So do you think that was sort of overstated?
I didn’t edit myself when I could have, because a lot of it’s just the way it was. I mean, because I’ve changed a lot and a lot of those songs, it’s not that I don’t relate but… A lot of it too is I was just kinda nervous. I came off sort of nervously, and there was just a lot of dualities, a lot of juxtapositions going on that maybe just felt like something was a little off. Maybe the thing that was off was that I needed a little more time or something, and also my path was just so windy just to get to having a first record. I feel like I had to figure it out all by myself. Every move was just guesswork.

It’s kind of funny because you were in your mid-twenties when you sort of came out and I do think if you look at artists that dropped their first albums between like 25 and 27, whether it’s an Eminem or Jay Z, it’s like, if you looked at their work at 22—
Yeah, exactly. It’s different.

It would’ve been very raw and unfocused. There was no Slim Shady for Eminem at 22, but at 26 he had the full 360 package.
Jay Z talks about that too, like how he really, really lived by the time he was 26. There was a real perspective he was coming from. So, yeah, it’s a real age where…

You can put together a project that's more fully formed.
Right. And my perspective was fully formed, it just wasn’t a great outlook. It’s not so much a persona question with me, it’s just more like what was going on with that girl, you know? Like, where was she coming from?

Earrings by Maxior, Jacket by Maria Lucia Hohan

There’s been an inordinate amount of conversation around the idea of cultural appropriation, and Katy Perry kind of stepped right in it with her performance on SNL. You have moved fairly organically from the singer/songwriter world into hip-hop, and back out and back in without much commotion. Why do you think that is?
I never feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be, you know? No matter who I’m with, I’m always still doing my own thing. I can’t remember the last time I was in a club or somewhere and felt like, Man, I’m not supposed to be here. I’ve been kind of doing it for so long I feel like everybody I’m friends with, everyone I know just knows I’m all about the music.

Do you have any consideration for the critics and all of the sort of dissection for your art at this point?
Yeah, sometimes. I have a song called “Get Free” which closes my record, and it started by, it told my whole story, I guess, and my thoughts on where I want to go next; and then I realized, I actually don’t want to tell my whole story, I don’t want to talk about it. 

How do you negotiate what you keep for yourself and what you are ready to share?
Sometimes I just can’t resist to just tell it like it really is for myself and the way that I feel.

Photography: Timothy Saccenti/Styling: Brett Alan Nelson/Hair: Anna Cofone /Makeup: Pamela Cochrane

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Tiësto & Paul van Dyk Are The Most Traveled Musicians Of All Times

One of the major differences between EDM acts and other acts, be it rock or country or rap or whatever, is the amount of touring that goes into their performances. While major rock groups like the Rolling Stones and Muse will embark on epic world tours in dozens and dozens of cities, they generally happen at most once a year – likely less than that. Dance music acts, on the other hand, travel constantly due to residencies, tours, support, and one-off shows that you might never even hear about.

Because of this, two EDM acts have been tagged by Travelbird as the most traveled musicians of all time. Those two acts are Tiësto & Paul van Dyk.

Over the course of his career, spanning over two decades, Tiësto has reportedly traveled over 1.5 million miles, two hundred thousand of which were just in the last 12 months alone. That adds up to the equivalent of 62.53 revolutions around the world, or 6.52 trips to the moon.

Comparatively, Paul van Dyk has traveled 1,442,933 miles; 115,968 of those miles were in the past twelve months. However, van Dyk famously suffered a crippling injury last February when he fell off stage at an ASOT show which caused him to cut out a large portion of his travels. We expect that his numbers for the last year would be significantly higher if not for that accident.

Tiësto & Paul van Dyk beat out world-famous musicians like Bob Dylan, Metallica, and Aerosmith for the top two spots – and their touring in the last 12 months is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, as well.


Image via

This article was first published on Your EDM.
Source: Tiësto & Paul van Dyk Are The Most Traveled Musicians Of All Times

The Grammy’s 2017 Winners List (Updating Live)

The 59th Grammy Awards are happening this very minute, and we’re pleased to present the winners in one convenient place.

We’ll be updating live for all categories, so be sure to check back as the night rolls on. So far The Chainsmokers and Flume are representing wins for Electronic Dance Music, and we’re anxiously awaiting Daft Punk and The Weeknd to take the stage later this evening.

Best pop solo performance
WINNER: Adele, Hello
Beyoncé, Hold Up
Justin Bieber, Love Yourself
Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece (Idol Version)
Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman

Best alternative music album
22, A Million, Bon Iver
WINNER: Blackstar, David Bowie
The Hope Six Demolition Project, PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

Best rock album
California, Blink-182
WINNER: Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage the Elephant
Magma, Gojira
Death of a Bachelor, Panic! At The Disco
Weezer, Weezer

Best metal performance
Shock Me, Baroness
Silvera, Gojira
Rotting in Vain, Korn
WINNER: Dystopia, Megadeth
The Price is Wrong, Periphery

Best rock performance
Joe (Live From Austin City Limits), Alabama Shakes
Don’t Hurt Yourself, Beyoncé feat. Jack White
WINNER: Blackstar, David Bowie
The Sound of Silence (Live on Conan), Disturbed
Heathens, Twenty One Pilots

Best rap song
All The Way Up, Fat Joe & Remy Ma feat. French Montana & Infrared
Famous, Kanye West feat. Rihanna
WINNER: Hotline Bling, Drake
No Problem, Chance The Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
Ultralight Beam, Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream

Best rap/sung performance
Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar, Freedom
WINNER: Drake, Hotline Bling
D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty, Broccoli
Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream, Ultralight Beam
Kanye West feat. Rihanna, Famous

Best rap performance
WINNER: Chance The Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz, No Problem
Desiigner, Panda
Drake, feat. The Throne, Pop Style
Fat Joe & Remy Ma feat. French Montana & Infrared, All The Way Up
ScHoolboy Q feat. Kanye West, That Part

Best R&B album
In My Mind, BJ The Chicago Kid
WINNER: Lalah Hathaway Live, Lalah Hathaway
Velvet Portraits, Terrace Martin
Healing Season, Mint Condition
Smoove Jones, Mýa

Best R&B song
Come and See Me, PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake
Exchange, Bryson Tiller
Kiss It Better, Rihanna
WINNER: Lake By The Ocean, Maxwell
Luv, Tory Lanez

Best traditional R&B performance
William Bell, The Three of Me
BJ The Chicago Kid, Woman’s World
Fantasia, Sleeping With The One I Love
WINNER: Lalah Hathaway, Angel
Jill Scott, Can’t Wait

Best R&B performance
BJ The Chicago Kid, Turnin’ Me Up
Ro James, Permission
Musiq Soulchild, I Do
Rihanna, Needed Me
WINNER: Solange, Cranes In The Sky

Best americana album
True Sadness, The Avett Brothers
WINNER: This Is Where I Live, William Bell
The Cedar Creek Sessions, Kris Kristofferson
The Bird & The Rifle, Lori McKenna
Kid Sister, The Time Jumpers

Best latin pop album
WINNER: Un Besito Mas, Jesse & Joy
Ilusión, Gaby Moreno
Similares, Laura Pausini
Seguir Latiendo, Sanalejo
Buena Vida, Diego Torres

Best country album
Big Day In A Small Town, Brandy Clark
Full Circle, Loretta Lynn
Hero, Maren Morris
WINNER: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, Sturgill Simpson
Ripcord, Keith Urban

Best country song
Blue Ain’t Your Color, Keith Urban
Die A Happy Man, Thomas Rhett
WINNER: Humble And Kind, Tim McGraw
My Church, Maren Morris
Vice, Miranda Lambert

Best country duo/group performance
Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King, Different For Girls
Brothers Osbourne, 21 Summer
Kenny Chesney & Pink, Setting The World On Fire
WINNER: Pentatonix feat. Dolly Parton, Jolene
Chris Young With Cassadee Pope, Think Of You

Best jazz instrumental album
Book of Intuition, Kenny Barron Trio
Dr. Um, Peter Erskine
Sunday Night At The Vanguard, The Fred Hersch Trio
Nearness, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau
WINNER: Country For Old Men, John Scofield

Best contemporary instrumental album
Human Nature, Herb Alpert
When You Wish Upon A Star, Bill Frisell
Way Back Home: Live From Rochester, NY, Steve Gadd Band
Unspoken, Chuck Loeb
WINNER: Culcha Vulcha, Snarky Puppy

Best dance/electronic album
WINNER: Skin, Flume
Electronica 1: The Time Machine, Jean-Michel Jarre
Epoch, Tycho
Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future, Underworld
Louie Vega Starring … XXVIII, Louie Vega

Best dance recording
Tearing Me Up, Bob Moses
WINNER: Don’t Let Me Down, The Chainsmokers feat. Daya
Never Be Like You, Flume Featuring Kai
Rinse & Repeat, Riton featuring Kah-Lo
Drinkee, Sofi Tukker

Best music film
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Steve Aoki
WINNER: The Beatles: Eight Days A Week The Touring Years, The Beatles
Lemonade, Beyoncé
The Music of Strangers, Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
American Saturday Night: Live From The Grand Ole Opry, Various Artists

Best music video
WINNER: Formation, Beyoncé
River, Leon Bridges
Up&Up, Coldplay
Gosh, Jamie XX
Upside Down & Inside Out, OK Go

Best contemporary christian music album
Poets & Saints, All Sons & Daughters
American Prodigal, Crowder
Be One, Natalie Grant
Youth Revival [Live], Hillsong Young & Free
WINNER: Love Remains, Hillary Scott & The Family

Best gospel album
Listen, Tim Bowman Jr.
Fill This House, Shirley Caesar
A Worshipper’s Heart [Live], Todd Dulaney
WINNER: Losing My Religion, Kirk Franklin
Demonstrate [Live], William Murphy

Best song written for visual media
WINNER: Can’t Stop The Feeling! Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Walt Dohm, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kunal Nayyar
Heathens, Twenty One Pilots
Just Like Fire, P!nk
Purple Lamborghini, Skrillex & Rick Ross
Try Everything, Shakira
The Veil, Peter Gabriel

Best score soundtrack for visual media
Bridge of Spies
Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight
The Revenant

WINNER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Stranger Things Volume 1
Stranger Things Volume 2

Best compilation soundtrack for visual media
WINNER: Miles Ahead
Straight Outta Compton
Suicide Squad (Collector’s Edition)
Vinyl: The Essentials Season 1

Best musical theater album
Bright Star
WINNER: The Color Purple
Fiddler On The Roof
Kinky Boots

Album of the year
25, Adele
Lemonade, Beyoncé
Purpose, Justin Bieber
Views, Drake
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson

Record of the year
Hello, Adele
Formation, Beyoncé
7 Years, Lukas Graham
Work, Rihanna feat. Drake
Stressed Out, Twenty One Pilots

Song of the year
Formation, Beyoncé
Hello, Adele
I Took A Pill In Ibiza, Mike Posner
Love Yourself, Justin Bieber
7 Years, Lukas Graham

Best new artist
Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance the Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Best traditional pop vocal album
Cinema, Andrea Bocelli
Fallen Angels, Bob Dylan
Stages Live, Josh Groban
Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Willie Nelson
Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, Barbra Streisand

Best pop vocal album
25, Adele
Purpose, Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande
Confident, Demi Lovato
This Is Acting, Sia

Best urban contemporary album
Lemonade, Beyoncé
Ology, Gallant
We Are King, King
Malibu, Anderson .Paak
Anti, Rihanna

Best rap album
Coloring Book, Chance The Rapper
And the Anonymous Nobody, De La Soul
Major Key, DJ Khaled
Views, Drake
Bland Face LP, ScHoolboy Q
The Life of Pablo, Kanye West

Best rock song
Blackstar, David Bowie
Burn the Witch, Radiohead
Hardwired, Metallica
Heathens, Twenty One Pilots
My Name is Human, Highly Suspect

Best country solo performance
Brandy Clark, Love Can Go To Hell
Miranda Lambert, Vice
Maren Morris, My Church
Carrie Underwood, Church Bells
Keith Urban, Blue Ain’t Your Color

This article was first published on Your EDM.
Source: The Grammy’s 2017 Winners List (Updating Live)

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