It isn't exactly a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation. But Marina Diamandis' new Electra Heart effort — her second as chart-topping U.K. outfit Marina & the Diamonds — was clearly a mad-scientist experiment of sorts. Heartbroken by a dead-end relationship that gradually whittled away at her identity, the gorgeous Greek/Welsh diva decided to create an alter ego.
She cut and dyed her long auburn tresses into a bleach-blond bob, adopted a campier thrift-store/prom-dress-y wardrobe, and began analyzing her breakup through the catty eyes of said character, which she christened Electra Heart. Robert Louis Stevenson would have been justifiably proud of his latest test-tube baby.
Diamandis also changed her sound accordingly. In aggressively bouncy dance-pop anthems like "Primadonna," "Power & Control," "Lies," "Homewrecker" and "Bubblegum Bitch" (which she says she actually penned while wearing a skin-tight, bubblegum-pink PVC dress to get the right vixen-ish vibe) she employed an array of top-shelf producers, like Dr. Luke, Liam Howe, Greg Kurstin and others to recreate the sonic perfection of one of her idols, Britney Spears.
"I love bubblegum pop, and Britney's first album is the mecca for that," enthuses the coliseum-voiced singer, whose 2010 debut The Family Jewels had bounced eclectically through rock, folk and bubbly synth-pop. "I even love all of her classic B-sides on her Japanese albums."
So was the artist's ex truly as diabolical as the new songs suggest? Diamandis thinks about it for a minute.
"Well, sometimes, I'm like, 'Oh, maybe I'm a bit harsh on him — he's not that bad of a guy,'" she sighs. "But then I'm like, 'Who would write a whole album about someone and make up a fictional character just to be able to talk about what happened?' So he obviously was a fucking idiot. So I guess I just fell in love with the wrong kind of person, someone who ... who just didn't love me. I'm not going to tell you who it is, but hey — fuck him!"
When the couple first met, the relationship was red-hot. But it cooled unusually fast. "Things start to slip and you start to accept things that you would never do in the past," Diamandis recalls. "All dependent on this person's power over you. He wouldn't even hold hands in public, and then one day he pushed me away because he ran into a friend in the street, and I just thought, 'Oh my God — This. Is. Over.' I didn't even call him — I sent him a text saying 'It's over.'"
A longtime Marilyn Monroe fan, Diamandis sought both anonymity and power in becoming a blonde. She barely recognized herself in the mirror — her friends and family were likewise thrown for a loop.
"It was some kind of freedom symbol for me, and when you want to disconnect with who you are and a certain chapter in your life, it's perfect," she says of her new look. "Plus, it offers you a second layer of looking quite sweet and innocent, when really your message is something quite to the contrary. So singing 'Homewrecker' and 'Bubblegum Bitch' as a blonde is a lot more satisfying for me than if I was a brunette."