Kaotican Alphabet

Marina and the Diamonds interview

We chat to one of Coldplay's main summer 2012 support acts

Welsh/Greek singer Marina and the Diamonds has supported Coldplay at several of the European stadium shows and will join the band for more dates in Europe and North America this summer. We caught up with her at the Emirates Stadium to find out a bit more about her.

Hi Marina, how are you?
Pretty good, thanks! It’s been kind of a strange summer, because I had a vocal fold haemorrhage, so the Coldplay shows have been the first time I’ve been singing for quite a while. So that was a bit of a nightmare, but there’s been many nice things happening as well.

Like seeing your second album, Electra Heart, enter the UK charts at Number One.
Yes, absolutely!

For those Coldplay fans that haven’t heard of you, how would you describe your music?
Um, well the second album is a dark electronic pop album.

Sung by a lady who doesn’t appear on stage with any actual diamonds.
Indeed. I don’t even own a real one.

Do you not?
No. I don’t feel you should buy them yourself. You have to wait for a boy to buy you one.

So, how has the first-leg of the tour with Coldplay been?
Pretty good. Turin was the only tough one – because they were all chanting "Coldplay! Coldplay!" I guess they were excited! But apart from that, it’s been amazing. Zurich was particularly incredible.

Playing a support show is never easy.
Yeah, it’s a challenge. For me you do it because you want to be a better performer and have that challenge of trying to convince people all over again.

You’ve had big crowds to play to – people seem to have been getting in early for these shows.
Exactly. Most of them are almost full by the time you go on.

Do you perform differently for this sort of show?
Yeah, you do. You’re more self-conscious in that you feel you have to show people that you’re really good and get them interested quickly. And also because your technique is meant to expand for all the people so that you can reach the furthest person away. But the learning curve hasn’t been too intense, because I did an arena tour with Katy Perry last summer. At those shows, you were just staring out into a black hole. With the stadium shows it almost feels smaller, because you can actually see everyone!

Ah, so that tour sounds like good practice.
Yeah, incredible. I think the art of being a performer is learning to adapt to a 200-person gig and maybe a 60,000-person gig. I think that’s a real skill.

And have the Coldplay crowds been good listeners?
Yeah. Zurich were a lot more familiar with me, I think, so for songs like Radioactive and Primadonna they were actually jumping up and down! And other songs from the new album have been going down really well too.

It must be a great testing ground to see that number of people reacting to your music in front of you.
It is, actually. And Primadonna has actually gone down really well everywhere, which I maybe didn’t expect, cos it’s quite a girlie song.

So, have you met the Coldplay chaps?
Yes, I’ve met all of them now. They’re just really lovely. Actually, it’s a real testament to the band that all the crew are really nice people too. You can always tell what an artist is like from the crew they have. Everyone from the catering guys to the production manager on this tour has been really nice and helpful.

How have you been getting around between the shows?
On a tour bus. Which is good, although I think sometimes on the long journeys everyone starts to feel a bit caged in!

What’s the longest journey you’ve had?
I think it was 14 hours. Not as bad as going across America, but still long enough to get through like four seasons of Mad Men!  

Had you seen Coldplay play before this tour?
I don’t think I had, actually. Maybe at a festival. But I think it’s hard not to be a fan, because their music has such huge reach. It sounds really basic, but it’s just such good music. They’re brilliant songwriters.

Have you been impressed by the show?
Oh, it’s incredible. Katy’s was amazing in a different way, but I think Coldplay’s is definitely the best band show I’ve ever seen. They put in so much effort to ensure that everyone has the night of their lives.

Do you know how you came to be on the tour?
I’ve no idea, actually. Jo Whiley told me ages ago that Chris liked Obsessions from the first album, but that’s all I knew of.

What else have you got coming up this year?
I’ve got my second single coming out, and then my own tour – which is called the Lonely Hearts Club – starts in the UK in June. That goes to America in July. And then I’m back with Coldplay in America and Europe from the end of July. And then the European Lonely Hearts Club starts after that.

Are things going well for you outside the UK?
Yeah, it’s starting to go really well in Germany. And America is starting to look very interesting, which is exciting.

Is the album coming out everywhere?
I think so, yes.

We always ask the support acts in these interviews for their favourite Coldplay song.
Can I say two?

Of course.
Well, I love Yellow because the position it’s written from is really unique – in that he’s writing it in the present, but in the past: "I wrote a song for you, and it was called Yellow". I always thought that was smart. And it has such beautiful, vulnerable lyrics, which is kind of rare for male-fronted rock bands.

And the other one?
Violet Hill. I think melodically it’s quite different to their other songs, and the pace of it is quite unusual. I thought it was a really interesting first choice of single for the last album.

So, do you feel you’ve learnt much from your few weeks with Coldplay?
Definitely. Watching Chris as a frontman is really interesting. I love it. And one thing which has really made an impression on me is that they’re not posturing at all. They just genuinely love it and they want to make people feel that it’s been worth the money for the ticket. You can see that that’s really important to them. It’s pretty inspiring, actually, to see a band at this level that still feel that way.

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