"I put a lot of self-reminders in my work": Lana Del Rey on the secrets of her brilliant new album

Today (March 19) marks the release of Lana Del Rey’s incredible new album Chemtrails Over The Country Club. 

In the new edition of Music Week, we welcome the star to our cover as she  – alongside her team at Tap Music, Polydor and Sony Music Publishing – guides us through the follow-up to 2019’s critically-acclaimed, No.1 album Norman Fucking Rockwell!.

“In terms of the music, I had a good start for the style of where I was going that was a continuation from my last record,” Lana told Music Week. “This one felt more like a trudge rather than a joyful spring-of-the-step walk through that I had in the last record which is OK, that happens sometimes. But I do believe an artist’s creations are a manifestation of what’s going on inside, so I think it was a reflection of being at a standstill within myself in terms of trying to figure out what my next move in life was.”

Chemtrails is an album full of standout moments, one being White Dress – you can read the story of how it was written here – while another is Dark But Just A Game; a slow-burn meditation that sees Lana sing, ‘Don’t even want what’s mine, much less the fame.’ But is it meant as a message to her audience, or as a reminder to herself?

“It’s both,” she explains. “We all need our own little self-reminders. I put a lot of them into my own work to look back to. The chorus in that song is, ‘We keep changing all the time, the best ones lost their minds but I’m not gonna change. I’ll stay the same.’ It’s interesting as I think about my own lyrics [and] when I look at that phrase, I think I’ve developed such a serious inner core that there’s no way I could ever really change and, fundamentally, I feel so good and firm in that goodness. The dichotomy is that, at the same time, I’m a very sensitive person with a somewhat delicate disposition that comes from my upbringing, so while I’ll never change fundamentally, there’s a lot I’m going to have to do to stay the same and stay cheerful.”

Chemtrails’ credits alone make for interesting reading, too, especially in a day and age where MW’s last deep dive revealed that today’s chart-toppers require an average of 4.77 songwriters per hit. Lana seems to epitomise the singer-songwriter approach of yesteryear, working with a cadre of close collaborators. The record sees Lana team-up with super-producer Jack Antonoff, the legendary songwriter Rick Nowels on the exquisite acoustic track Yosemite plus Zella Day and Weyes Blood are recruited for the album’s parting note, a dazzling cover of Joni Mitchell’s For Free.

In our cover interview, Lana gave her own thoughts on the ever-spiraling amount of songwriters on today’s biggest songs.

“For as much as I know about my own process and what I’ve heard about other people’s, I think everyone is just so different,” she said. “I actually am seeing a lot of singer-songwriters coming out now that just have one partner/additional writing credit, but I genuinely love it both ways. I think it mostly depends on what kind of music you’re writing.”

“I’ve certainly worked with a lot of producers over my lifetime,” she continued. “I’m not opposed at all to having a lot of collaborators, in fact I think that’s what makes so many modern albums amazing, and my old favourite Motown albums that have so many people and band members involved. I’m only just now breaking into being open to working with more people. I’ve always had only one partner – Rick Nowels for many years, Justin Parker for many years, and now I’ve been lucky enough to work with Jack for the last few. Everybody’s different but, for me, my first 10 years of writing were more like journalling so I needed to hash things out with just one person who could put the right bottom underneath my top melodies and words.”

Chemtrails also comes hot on the heels of Lana’s 2020 poetry book/spoken word LP Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass, and she opened up on how poetry has affected her songwriting.

“I think what writing poetry taught me was that people can come in and out of hitting their stride,” Lana told Music Week. “The trick is ignoring when folks point that out. I also realised in that time how much overthinking was affecting my work and how important it was for me to just step into action. I heard once that wisdom is knowing sooner what you already know and would do something about later. So for me, that had nothing really to do with my writing but more with my life, my clarity of writing that book really showed me how many things needed to change at some point. And inevitably, just by having that hyper-awareness, my music will hopefully get better and better, or at least stay good.”

Subscribers can read the full Lana Del Rey cover feature here.

Photo: Cody Osbourne


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