Marina ready to sparkle in her one woman soap opera
It's Tuesday when I speak to Marina Diamandis – the 26-year-old one-woman show that is also known as Marina and The Diamonds. She's a singer/songwriter and The Diamonds are not her backing band but rather her fans.
The day of the week might be inconsequential to most people but for Marina, who has a neurological condition called synaesthesia where she associates musical notes, numbers and days of the week with colour, "Tuesday is green".
The Welsh-born half-Greek songstress is preparing for her second gig in Bristol as part of her tour to showcase her latest album Electra Heart. Her first gig was back in 2010 when she performed to a packed audience at Start the Bus.
She says: "The tour is called the Lonely Hearts Club and it's all about heartbreak. It's not parodying it... but it kind of is. It can't get away from it with songs like Homewrecker and Bubblegum Bitch in there. It's supposed to have a pop soap opera feel."
To complete the scene her stage is set with a 60s and 70s Motown vibe – fluffy pink rugs, a hat stand for outfit changes and a chaise longue.
Marina and The Diamonds was created in 2005 when Marina taught herself piano after numerous failed auditions to make it as a singer. She was a MySpace generation DIY powerhouse who hand-made and sold her own CDs to Rough Trade until being signed to Warner Music Group's 679 Recordings in 2008.
Acclaimed overnight as an intriguing, confrontational and theatrical amalgam of Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, she was nominated in 2010 for both the Brits Critic's Choice Award and the BBC Sound of 2010 – in which she came second to Ellie Goulding.
She says: "It's funny because I was really quiet at school and it's not like I always wanted to be a performer. I learned the violin when I was seven and I played the flute to grade five. I lost the flute on my way home from school one day so I had to quit those lessons. Flutes were expensive and we couldn't afford another!
"I suppose my interest was gradual. I wanted to be a pop star – that was my dream goal. I just found that with songs I could express myself more than I could with anything else. For me dance is not the same and with acting it's someone else's words. With singing it was more direct."
So it was that Marina came to find herself standing up in a pub in Camden, London, singing on an open mic night.
She says: "I did a lot of gigs like that and it was only when I started to produce my own music that things started to happen. But the industry is so competitive I got into this intense state of mind. I didn't want to do it and fail. If you don't believe in yourself no one else will. I'd do it all again tomorrow – I was very fearless."
Marina started penning her second album just weeks after she had completed her first, although it has been 18 months in the pipeline.
She says: "I wasn't totally happy with my first album. Sometimes there's a pressure if you have a really good album because you don't know how to better it. Because of the way I came about as an artist I was pegged as a bit of a left field artist. But I wanted to be a pop star. So after it came out I started work straight away and I wanted this album to be bigger and better.
"The theme wasn't there in the beginning and I hadn't even met the person who inspired me."
Electra Heart represents a series of female archetypes through which Marina projects a series of meticulously-realised female characters as a foil for telling her story, the one about mismatched lovers.
"Electra Heart' is an ode to dysfunctional love," she explains.
"I based the project around character types commonly found in love stories, film and theatre. I guess it was a way of dealing with the embarrassment that, for the first time in my life, I got 'played'.
"Rejection is a universally embarrassing topic and Electra Heart is my response to that, creating character types to enable me to express personal experiences I would never confess in real life. Weakness and defeat in love are things I don't particularly want to talk about, so I guess I've written a whole album about it.
"Whatever an artist does not want to admit, that is what the artist writes about. It's a very frank album but hopefully funny too."
And coming back to Bristol, to perform in the O2 Academy, Marina recalls how different it will be from her first gig in the city.
She says: "I suppose Bristol, like Cardiff, has a bit of a hometown feel because it's so close to where I'm from. I feel I'm performing the best I've ever done and I'm enjoying it so much I hope the audience does too."