(Text in greek)
The diamond of alternative pop music in London.
If you listen to her talking, already from her first words you understand her relationship with Greece. The Greek-Welsh Marina Diamanti, is a promising musician with a Greek father and a Welsh mother. Although her Greek is broken, with her beloved grandmother Labrini Diamanti (yiayia, like she says with her English accent) she has the same relationship that we all maintain with our grandparents. And even more: although her grandmother would never get the microphone to sing pop melodies with an electronic base, like the granddaughter Marina, that is whom she owes her stunning voice that can catch high notes. “She has the most beautiful voice I've ever heard”, she says, adding humbly: “Much better than mine”. In Marina’s mind there coexists the dream of her grandmother that did not come true: to become a singer. “She gave me all the determination, courage and hope to succeed”, she says.
Having lived just two years in Greece when she was a young girl, and later in Wales, where she attended a girls’ school, she spent her last two school years in Athens, attending St. Catherine's British Embassy School. In 2004, just when she finished school, she left alone for London without any experience with the microphone, with only luggage a raw voice and the desire to make music. So far she has managed to play in the most important festival of the world, the Glastonbury festival, to gain attention in online communities and the foreign music press -and compose wonderful songs.
“I was very shy as a teenager. I was too ashamed to tell my family that I wanted to deal with music. I had never sung in public. I had not written any songs. I did not play the piano until I was 19. I started playing with an old keyboard that we had in my family for 14 years. It was a gift from my grandfather. My parents wanted me to go abroad, but they hoped that I would study something more “real”, perhaps Business Administration. “I did not tell them what I intended to do. Afterwards, I realized that probably they would be supportive since the beginning, because now they do it with all their heart”, she says. When she arrived in London she started dance classes and briefly studied music technology, but something told her that she had to concentrate on the creative part and not on technical issues”. I did a lot of concerts, but none of them gave me the boost I wanted. The solution came from Myspace, I met a manager who helped me, but later our paths were separated”, she recalls. To find a record company that suits her, she made 14 appointments. “I'm fussy and I want things done in my way - since they concern me”. And as far as a new song she says: “I deal all the time with practical issues now. I do not have the time to live something else that I can tell through a song”. It should be noted that her first single “I am not a robot”, which talks about how nowadays we forget our human side, got attention from the very first moment like a few of its kind and became a topic of discussion in all foreign blogs. Who is Marina? Is it a band or a solo? The name Marina and the Diamonds comes from the surname, Diamanti. Basically she is a solo artist although on stage she appears with a band. On the video of “I am not a robot” she appears covered with paint that shimmers in bright colors or with her face painted all black. She knows well how to use her image in order to impress. “I was always interested in combining music and picture. I consider it very important for the pop - electronic music to have a strong image in concerts. On the other hand, even if I have been influenced by musicians, I would say that I get more inspired by fashion designers, such as Vivienne Westwood. I do not listen to music a lot; I feed my imagination mostly through magazine pages. I feel that there, there are no limits, rules, and so truly new ideas come out. This is my goal: to create images through music,” she says.
The first who used videos so much was Michael Jackson. How did Marina feel when she learned about his death? “I listened to his music when I was 4-5 years old. I am not deeply influenced by him, not consciously, but only at the level that he influenced the course of pop music. Whenever I read about him, I felt sorry, because obviously he had a very troubled life. I felt sad that he died but I was not surprised. He seemed very ill for several years. And on the other hand, I was glad that finally all the scandals around him would stop”, she notes.
Her music was influenced by “Distillers, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Daniel Johnston, No Doubt, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. My father listens to Greek music all the time. For me Socrates Malamas and Haris Alexiou stand out. Some people say that my melodies are special. If so, this is surely due to the Greek music that I have listened to, and has passed unconsciously in the way I write”, she says modestly.
But it is not only the Greek music that has passed in her mind. “What I like is that Greeks are more politically savvy and react to what is happening to them. My father made me since I was young to read “Kathimerini” (daily press) and he always encouraged me to protest about what annoys me”, she says. There is also this special relationship she has with her beloved grandmother Labrini. “I see her every year that I come to Greece. Her voice is always in my ears: Marina, do you want leeentils?” she says in Greek.