Lana Del Rey has an impressive following within the ASMR community. Thanks to the singer’s signature breathy speaking voice, her recorded interviews have been spliced together to make ASMR compilations that are admittedly difficult to turn off. So should you ever find yourself on the phone with her, prepare to enter a state of total, uninterrupted Zen.
“I was going to create my own fragrance just for fun,” says Del Rey in her characteristically captivating tone when we reach her in L.A. “Literally the next week, Gucci asked me to be the face of theirs, so I took it as a sign.” The new iteration of Gucci Guilty, called Pour Femme, is more complex than the original while still maintaining the sense of playfulness the Italian brand is known for. (Jared Leto fronts the male version of the scent, Pour Homme.) “It reminds me of something I’d have worn in high school,” she tells us—and means it as a compliment, explaining that it’s the type of fragrance that makes its wearer feel adventurous, thanks to a bold blend of citrus, pink pepper, lilac and patchouli.
Below, thirty-three-year-old Del Rey discusses filming the campaign video, her upcoming album and living like a YouTuber.
What does Forever Guilty mean to you?
“When I was talking to everybody while we were filming the commercial, we were [saying] how fun it is to have a fragrance that makes you feel adventurous and bold. I also think it’s important to have something that makes you feel feminine. A spirit of adventure comes to mind.”
Is scent is a big part of your day?
“Scent is a big part of my day. Living in California, I love when I can tell that it’s spring and you can smell the flowers in the air. You can tell what season it is by what the flowers are doing. I kind of have a process when I write: If I’m writing at night, I take a bath, I put on my favourite lotion and my favourite perfume. I have a process for getting ready for the day too. You take a shower, wash your hair, put on your daytime perfume. For me it’s part of my routine. It symbolizes like, ‘Ok we’re getting the day started.’”
How did you first meet Alessandro [Michele, creative director of Gucci]?
“He got my phone number and we started talking on the phone a couple times a week. This was before the perfume. He was friends with a couple of people I knew and he was telling me that he really loved the music and that he played it while he was doing little renderings and drawings of new collections. I told my manager that I was so amazed to have someone like him, who’s endlessly putting out collections, listen to my music on repeat. I was just really honoured about that. Then we started talking about inspirations in general. It’s funny, we’re similar but we’re different. We both have a fantastical point of reference. But I do when I’m actually going out, he’s more day to day. He’s like ‘more is more’ and I’m like ‘less and less…until I become invisible.’ [Laughs] Then we started talking about him making me something for the Grammys and the Met Ball, and then we shot the video like last January. At this point we just kind of chat about whatever.”
What was the direction Alessandro gave you for the video?
“He story-boarded out the entire commercial. From 0 to 60 seconds. He had everything he wanted down to a T. So I knew what we were going to do. He told me his inspiration for the shoot was his strange idea of Hollywood, coming from Rome where he works. I just thought that was really cute because like, who doesn’t need a bit of Hollyweird in their life?”
What was it like working on set with Jared [Leto] and Courtney [Love]?
“Well I couldn’t believe Courtney was there. She called me like four days before to tell me she was going to be there and I just got such a kick out of that because I really love Courtney. I’d met Jared a couple times before but I didn’t really know what that was going to be like. I definitely grew up watching him on My So Called Life. I was excited. He was pretty quiet for most of it, until I freaked out because we had to slow dance. And then he came to life. He was funny. Alessandro wanted us to do a choreographed slow dance, and I don’t really ballroom dance. [Laughs] So [the final cut] is like an eighth grade sway.”
How is your resolution to live like a YouTube vlogger coming along? What inspired that resolution and what appeals to you about that lifestyle?
“Oh my god, my resolution is going so well. So much better than I thought. I was like partially kidding, but not really. Yeah, it’s actually going excellently. I’ve been working out every morning at 10am. That was one of my lame little resolutions. Seeing my girlfriends a lot more, cooking in an Instant Pot. Everything’s great, it’s going swimmingly. I’m a pretty cerebral person and I find I write better when I keep it simple. It takes a lot for me to keep my feet on the ground and left to my own devices, I would just be working out melodies or sitting at home, contemplating the reality of things. So I like to bring everything back down to earth, go to the gym, all that stuff.”
Tell us what we can expect from your upcoming album.
“Well the three songs I have out now, they’re my favourites. That’s why I put them out. I don’t have any big plans to like, have a mega record launch. It’s done, I just don’t know when I’m going to put it out. My process was really easy-going. I wasn’t actually planning on writing [an album]. I only had two songs written and then I met Jack [Antonoff] last December. We started sitting down and I’d sing him a couple bars and he would play a couple bars. Eventually we just started making song after song. It’s a really thoughtful album. It’s not too bombastic, sonically. It’s very easy-going and I have a couple more songs I’m gonna release before [the album is out]. It’s very pretty. I’m just happy it came out easily with no pressure. Jack is really good in that way. He’s the most easy-going producer I’ve ever met. I think sometimes it’s hard if you’re trying to go for a really big song because I just don’t really work that way. He was good at just leaning back and letting whatever came out of each session come out. It’s really important to work with somebody who says yes a lot and is open to more experimental sounds. I got lucky with him.”
How did the making of this album compare to the others? Was there any change to your creative process? How did working with Jack influence that process?
“It was my most chill recording process. Born To Die was like, an on-fire recording process. I was living in London and going to see a different producer in Brighton or Glasgow or Ireland every day. Just everywhere trying to put all my thoughts down. This time we were recording just a few miles from my house. So I felt really spoiled to be able to go grab my own coffee and spend a couple hours [in the studio]. I think for that reason I really like the tone of this record. But Ultraviolence, that was a pretty chill record-making process too. I usually try to make videos for my favourite songs. Like last year I put out a video for a song called “White Mustang,” which I’m pretty sure nobody heard. But I loved that song and video. I like to just put out my favourites and not worry too much about how far it’s going to travel. I think with this record I have the least like, plan, I’ve ever had. I definitely don’t feel like there’s a plan. Or that there needs to be, which is kind of fun. I feel like the music goes where it’s supposed to when it’s not shoved in any direction. I’m a little bit of a purist that way, much to the dismay of everybody I work with.”
What inspired you?
“Even though I record close to home, I write a little further away. I always go like 80 miles north or south of LA and just have my own thing going on there. I had a couple of towns in mind when I’m writing, a laid back vibe, some of my friends. A lot of the songs are just a day in the life. There’s a little bit of a nod to cultural things but not really in a big way. I think the melodies are some of my best, which is good because that’s something you can’t force.”
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What can you tell us about the book of poetry you have coming out? What type of poetry is it? How did you come to the decision to put this out there?
“I wasn’t going to but I actually started writing without even planning on putting anything out. I’m always a little hesitant when people do crossover things. But I had a lot of time this summer where I was just sitting down and writing these longform, seven-page poems and I was a little bit surprised. I felt like they were coming from a different source of inspiration. I don’t know if it’s because it was so unstressful, those few months, but as I was looking at them in October, I was like, ‘These are really good’ so I decided I was either going to put them into a book or do a spoken word type thing. A two hour like, not an audiobook, but basically an audiobook. I think the people who like my music would really like the words. It’s interesting because you can tell it’s written by the same person. I wouldn’t say it’s better [than the songs] but there’s definitely more layers to it. I’m interested to see where it goes. I’ll have to figure out whether I want to do it in a big way or like a soft release.”
How is it different than writing a song?
“Usually when I’m writing music, it always feels the same. It’s always felt the same, since I was young. But when I was writing these poems, it kind of felt like it was coming from either a different place of wisdom or experience. Even the phrasing is really different. Like it’s more classic. I’m even trying to remember how I learned different stanzas and ways of phrasing things. I’m like, ‘Did I learn that in my 11th grade poetry class?’ And then I realized when I was younger I always wanted to put together a book of poems and I’d forgotten that I ever wanted to do that. I’m hoping that it happens in the next six months or so.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.
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