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Life Is Strange – MARINA

“It was quite earth-shattering,” Marina Diamandis tells Apple Music. “The feeling of not knowing what you want to do with your life is terrifying. And I’d never had that before because I had the luxury of being very focused for 10 years.” The singer-songwriter is describing the career knife-edge she found herself on following 2015’s Froot. Fortunately, an extended hiatus allowed a musical recharge, and with her streamlined stage name and double album, we’re all witnesses to a glorious pop return. “I’m at peace with myself,” she says. “I feel less nervous than I’ve ever felt. And besides, when you’re uncertain, you don’t have anything to lose.” Here, she takes us through both sides of her opus: the radiant pop of LOVE and the darker, more introspective FEAR.

“Handmade Heaven”
“Because of climate change conversation and how we all become more and more digitally attached, I think people are suddenly becoming more aware of the natural world. And I think that’s quite odd and intense. I’ve had a feeling of longing, or regret that nature isn’t a larger part of my life.”

“I spoke with every producer specifically about wanting to have space on this record, because my past work hasn’t had a lot. I think also when your mind is clearer you write sparse, simple songs. I also really like how the song celebrates the hard work that goes into a good relationship.”

“Orange Trees”
“It’s easy listening. I’m actually kind of addicted to it. I wrote it with a Swedish artist called Erik Hassle. I haven’t always enjoyed that process in the past, because I was always so nervous about songwriting with other people and it was such a solitary pursuit. But that fear has gone now.”

“I wrote this with my boyfriend [Clean Bandit’s Jack Patterson]. It’s got beautiful, quite classic melodies. I didn’t know what I was writing it for, I just knew I wanted to do another session with Jack, as we hadn’t since we had met and written [2017 single] ‘Disconnect.’ It’s lovely and jubilant—it’s just a beautiful love song. I’m very open to collaborations now, but for some reason people don’t really approach me. We reached out to several people for this album, actually, but they all said no!”

“Enjoy Your Life”
“This is an anti-perfectionist song. I’m a massive list-ticker, and one day I realized I was never going to tick everything off my list because the next day new things always appear. Life is not perfect, and you shouldn’t try and make it so. The weird thing is that when I wrote this—and a lot of the songs here—I was in such an unhappy place. I’d completely lost my bearings. So I was writing this song as a message to myself. These are self-motivating songs for me.”

“The ethos of the song is about being true to your nature. I imagined singing it with friends for some reason.”

“To Be Human”
“This is my favorite track on LOVE. It solved a big subject that I was trying to get my head around. Again, going back to that chapter where I didn’t understand life and what my purpose was anymore. And this song took ages to write—like, four months between writing the verse and the chorus. I just didn’t know what I was trying to say. I was just trying to paint a picture and show that we are all very similar but we’re living in a political time where we’re actually being divided constantly. I think it’s an awful way to look at humanity.”

“End of the Earth”
“This feels cinematic to me. I was writing it in mind for a film, but once I started writing it I decided I needed it on the record. It feels like the sister track to ‘To Be Human,’ I think. Driving home that message of unity.”

“Believe in Love”
FEAR is a lot more uptempo than LOVE. It’s also a lot darker, electronically. I went with this song first because for me there was so much fear attached to being in love. And I think when you really meet someone who’s special or right for you, you have to deal with all those things from your past and not ignore them. I wanted to open with this to link love to the fear you have within relationships.”

“Life Is Strange”
“I wanted to get across that it is OK to feel uncertain. That uncertainty can feel ominous and awful and actually way worse than dealing with the Terrible Thing.”

“This is actually the first track that I wrote for this album. This was before I had decided to quit. ‘Karma’ and ‘You’ were also written before that time, and after I had written those songs I felt certain I was just going to give them away because they’re good songs. But then post-quitting and getting back into it, I stripped them back to piano songs before re-producing them and falling back in love with them. ‘You’ is about someone who was a bit of s**t, but—spoiler alert—they do redeem themselves.”

“We had written this on the back of a discussion we were having about music industry individuals that were falling from grace. Since that point, there’s really been an explosion of cases and experiences that followed the Harvey Weinstein situation. I didn’t really think about that in relation to the song for a while, but then when we were reproducing it, it felt so strange. It was interesting going back to the songs, actually. The original production on ‘Karma’ sounded like *NSYNC. It was actually really sick. But, alas, it didn’t suit the record!”

“Emotional Machine”
“I wrote a version of this song shortly after Froot and I loved it, but it was a bit of a mess. I took it into a session with [New Zealand electro pop siblings] Broods, and we rewrote the pre-chorus, sorted out the chorus and Georgia [Nott, Broods’ vocalist] lending her angelic voice to the backing vocals and chorus. I came to co-writing in a really nice way, actually.”

“Too Afraid”
“I wrote this about not being able to make the jump to make changes. But I have made changes since, and it’s probably thanks to this song. It’s also about how city life can be tough, even for people who love cities. It’s relentless, especially if you’re in a stage where you need more peace. But I’ve got a very ideal life setup now where my partner and I live between London and Los Angeles, and that’s totally reinvigorated me.”

“No More Suckers”
“This is basically a vent. I brought this one to my friends and we were talking about how there are always people in your life who will take advantage of you constantly—and often they’re not even realizing. There’s a line in there about messing up my towels, which I love, and I must credit my writer friend Alex Hope.”

“Soft to Be Strong”
“This talks about fear in love, and how that fear can finally dissipate. The sentiment in the song is that when it comes to relationships, and also life, there’s a lot of strength in being soft. Growing up, I was given the impression that it was the opposite—that to be loved in a relationship you have to be tough. Being soft is actually a lot stronger. Putting the other person before yourself is a really nice sign of strength in a relationship.”