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Marina and the Diamonds, really just Marina Diamandis, was born in Wales to Welsh and Greek parents in 1986, although she has often claimed to be from Ancient Greece. After dropping out of four different music courses at four different universities, Marina decided to make her own way in music, and began writing her own unique brand of left-field pop songs under her new stage name. Early on, she claimed that her inspirations were Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani — who she often covered at live gigs — but her songs have a soulful edge pointing to a deeper source of influence. Her piano/keyboard-driven songs vary from melancholic ballads to out-and-out glam-pop, but her unique voice and melodic style are omnipresent in her music. Essentially a solo artist, Marina wrote the bulk of her early material alone, arranging it for a band to ensure her live shows carried the full energy of her studio recordings. Quick to distance herself from comparisons to the rest of the female solo artists who broke through in 2009, Marina was also open about voicing her opinions on more established musical peers including Lily Allen and Kate Nash. In interviews she often showed a dislike of being grouped together with other emerging artists, especially when she had nothing in common with them except gender. The variety in her music made it hard to classify or pigeonhole, and comparisons were made with artists as diverse as Regina Spektor and Elvis Costello. The startling “cuckoo!” refrain of “Mowgli’s Road” and the introspective balladry of “Obsessions” could not be more different, but it was the ever-present charm in Marina’s music that brought her cult success in the early part of her career. Her first single, “Obsessions/Mowgli’s Road” was issued by indie label Neon Gold in the U.S., also home to electro-indie Americans Passion Pit, and was followed later in 2009 by The Crown Jewels EP, which contained three new songs, including an electronic remix of fan favorite “I Am Not a Robot.” After playing the exhausting British festival circuit in the summer of 2009, Marina briefly retired to the studio to polish off her debut album, 2010’s The Family Jewels, before quickly hitting the road again. – Jack Semmence, AllMusicGuide.

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