Lana Del Rey’s tremendous sophomore LP Ultraviolence debuted at #1 last month and has remained near the top of the charts ever since, but new information about the album’s creation suggests Del Rey had to battle to get it released at all. In quotes excerpted from Rolling Stone’s new cover story, Del Rey and producer Dan Auerbach detail the friction with Interscope executives that almost got the album shelved. Here are some choice quotes from Auerbach:
There was a lot of bullshit I’m not used to. The label says, “We’re not going to give you the budget to extend this session unless we hear something.” And we send them the rough mix and they fucking hate it and they hate the way it’s mixed. And it’s like, “Thanks, asshole.”
I think Lana put her foot down. Maybe it’s normal for her, but it’s not normal for me. Really rubbed me the wrong way. I got really defensive because I thought it was bullshit.
The story I got told is that they played it for her label person and they said, “We’re not putting out this record that you and Dan made unless you meet with the Adele producer. And she said, “Fine, whatever.” And she was late to the meeting, so while they were waiting, the label guy played what we recorded for the Adele producer and he said, “This is amazing, I wouldn’t do anything to change this.” And here’s the kicker: Then all of a sudden, the label guy said, “Well, yeah, I think it’s great, too.”
On the other hand, Auerbach had nothing but good things to say about Del Rey:
Every criticism that I’d ever heard about her was proven wrong when I was in the studio with her. From how great the songs were to how confident she is as a musician to her fucking singing every song live, with a handheld microphone and a seven-piece band. I mean, get the fuck out of here, who does that? Nobody does that, there hasn’t been a number one pop record that was recorded like that in forty, fifty years.
Del Rey acknowledged that Ultraviolence was in limbo for about six weeks last spring and added her two cents:
I mean, I think there were people they wanted me to work with. I don’t know who they were. When I said I was ready, they were like, “Are you sure? Because I feel like you could go further.”
Interscope head John Janick offered his perspective on the conflict:
I had heard about some back and forth regarding the music. But from the moment I met Lana, I’ve been of the mindset that she has an instinct that is pretty dead on and as an artist, she is fully formed. She knows her vision and her audience, and it’s up to us to follow her lead on that.
Interscope founder Jimmy Iovine chimed in too:
On this album, in my opinion, you didn’t want her to try to do something. I felt she hit a bull’s-eye. Everybody’s saying to me, “We need a single,” calling me from Europe. I said, “You don’t need anything.” It’s a very coherent body of work, and thought any other conversation was a distraction.
Obviously there’s some Rashomon action going on here. Regardless of how it all shook out behind the scenes, though, in the end Del Rey got her way and the listening public got a fantastic album. Read more excerpts from the story at Rolling Stone, though the most intriguing preview you’ll find might be this tweet from writer Brian Hiatt:
An early moment from my eventful conversations with Lana Del Rey: pic.twitter.com/TWtFuv4InV
— Brian Hiatt (@hiattb) July 16, 2014