Marina Lambrini Diamandis (born 10 October 1985), known by her stage name Marina and the Diamonds, is a Welsh singer-songwriter and musician. In 2009, she was ranked for second place on the Sound of 2010 poll organized by BBC. Diamandis released her debut studio album The Family Jewels in 2010, and launched her second full-length Electra Heart in 2012.
Diamandis' musical style ranges from keyboard-based ballads to more up-tempo new wave-style songs with full band backing. She has cited a wide range of influences such as Daniel Johnston, Blondie, Kylie Minogue, The Distillers, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Garbage, Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Britney Spears, Yann Tiersen, Elliott Smith, Dolly Parton,Fiona Apple, Shakira, and Madonna. Her stage name consists of Diamandis' first name and the translation of her surname, which means "Diamonds" in Greek. "The Diamonds" are not her backing band,but a reference to her fans.
Diamandis was born Marina Lambrini Diamandis (Greek: Μαρίνα-Λαμπρινή Διαμάντη, pronounced [ðʝaˈmadi]) in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales. Her father is Greek and her mother is Welsh,and she was brought up in the village of Pandy with her parents and her older sister, Lafina. She attendedHaberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls, of which she said "I sort of found my talent there... I was the one who always skived off choir, but I had an incredible music teacher who managed to convince me I could do anything."When her parents separated, Diamandis moved to Greece when she was sixteen to live with her father, and attended St. Catherine's British Embassy School, in Athens but returned to Wales two years later.
Diamandis moved to London at eighteen where she attended dance school for two months.Following this, in 2005 she took a one year singing course at Tech Music Schools. Diamandis enrolled in a music degree at the University of East London, transferring in her second year of studies to Middlesex University, but later dropped out. She went for many auditions including the West End musical, The Lion King. Diamandis admitted that she auditioned for a reggae boy band, held by Virgin Records, in 2005 to try to make it into the music business. She said she was "delusional with drive" and ultimately decided to dress up in male attire to try to amuse the record label to sign her, but she was unsuccessful. However, she was called back by the record label a week later.
Diamandis has a synaesthetic condition that involves seeing musical notes and days of the week in different colours.
In 2005, Diamandis created the name "Marina and the Diamonds".When describing the origin of the name, she said: "I never envisaged a character, pop project, band or solo artist. I saw a simple group made up of many people who had the same hearts. A space for people with similar ideals who could not fit in to life's pre-made mould. I was terribly awkward for a long time! I really craved to be part of one thing because I never felt too connected to anybody and now I feel I have that all around me."
Early demos of Marina and the Diamonds' songs were self-composed and produced on the Apple software application GarageBand. Through Gumtree she found someone to produce a few tracks, for which she paid £500.These demo tracks are on her self-released debut EP Mermaid vs. Sailor which was released on 23 November 2007. The record was created on hand-made CD-Rs by Diamandis and sold through her MySpace page. An estimated seventy copies were sold overall.
In January 2008, Diamandis was first discovered by music scouter Derek Davies of Neon Gold Records. Davies booked Diamandis to open for Belgian-Australian singer Gotye later that year where Warner Music Group first saw her and ended up signing her in October 2008 to 679 Recordings. Diamandis' debut single was a double A-side consisting of "Obsessions" and "Mowgli's Road" which was issued on Neon Gold Records in the United States on 19 November 2008, followed by her second extended play The Crown Jewels EP on 1 June 2009 featuring her second single "I Am Not a Robot". Her first major label single, a re-recording of "Mowgli's Road", was released on 13 November 2009 under 679 Recordings in the UK and through Atlantic Records in the USA. On 7 December 2009 she was listed on the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, and on 7 January 2010 it was announced that she had taken second place.