Marina goes for world domination 

Marina Diamandis is an inexplicable pop-cultural phenomenon.

As a child, the Welsh-Greek-descended beauty — whose dazzling debut as Marina & The Diamonds, “The Family Jewels,” just scaled the UK charts — recalls being “an average music listener — I never really explored anything further than what radio and TV gave me.”

But at 24, she’s grown into a unique powerhouse diva who eerily resembles actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and trills her offbeat originals like old Stiff Records stalwart Lene Lovich wrapping her pliant pipes around opera.

Even onstage she’s a trendsetter, sporting classy dresses instead of GaGa-kooky costumes.

Diamandis, who plays The City on Thursday, certainly has a quirky vision.

Quite literally, it turns out. She happens to be afflicted with a rare form of synesthesia that allows her to equate melodic notes with colors.

“That’s how I see music and how I write songs and lyrics,” she says. “And I’ve got it for people, as well — I see colors for people. And oddly enough, I think that’s why I write songs well, because I have trouble expressing myself in normal situations. Making a song is so much easier, and that’s how I communicate best.”

How did this Londoner get diagnosed? “I think it first came up in a program that I saw about people seeing different days of the week as different colors,” she says. “And I remember turning to my sister and saying ‘Well, everyone has that! And they have it for numbers too, right?’ And she said ‘Absolutely not!’ Then when I asked loads of other people, it became clear to me that not many see the world like that. But I don’t think about it too much — I just feel like it’s natural.”

“Jewels” opens on a brazen note, with Diamandis cheerily trilling her way through an autobiographical “Are You Satisfied”: “Everybody said ‘Marina is a dreamer’/People like to tell you what you’re going to be/It’s not my problem if you don’t see what I see.”

She goes on to express her disdain for showbiz (“Hollywood”), reaffirm her determination to stay true to her creative credo (“I Am Not a Robot”),  and — in her new single “Oh No!” — map out her plan for world domination.

“I can never describe why I did this and why I’m so determined,” says the do-it-yourself artist, who, without management, spent four demo-mailing years meeting with countless, mostly baffled label execs.

But synesthesia helped guide her. “So I want my music to be a whole sensory experience,” she says. “A whole world for people to climb into.”  


Marina & The Diamonds

Where: Popscene, 330 Ritch St., San Francisco

When: 10 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $12


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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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