With almost nine hours left of her road trip from Oklahoma to California, Del Rey answered Antonoff’s questions about her year-long journey between releasing Norman F—ing Rockwell!, her sixth studio album which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, to wrapping up Chemtrails. But as she took a trip down memory lane, Antonoff inquired about how she brought Joan Baez with her onstage for a special duet of Baez’s hit “Diamonds and Rust” last October.
“On the last tour, we went to Berkeley and I really wanted to do ‘Diamonds and Rust’ with Joan, and she was kind enough to accommodate me. Nobody necessarily wants to show up to do a giant show for 15,000 kids at Berkeley, but she told me that if I’d drive out 80 miles from Berkeley, then we could practice at her kitchen table, and if it was good, she would do it,” the 35-year-old singer-songwriter recalled. So that’s what I did. She corrected me on all my harmonies, and by the end, it was great.”
But the real kicker was what happened after their scream-worthy performance. “Then we went out clubbing to this Afro-Caribbean two-step place and danced all night. She f—ing outlasted me,” she said.
As the “Doin’ Time” singer ties the loose ends of her current project that’ll be released at an unknown date this month, she discussed two of the defining tracks, “White Dress/Waitress” and “Chemtrails over the Country Club.” She started the first while playing the piano at The Muppets creator Jim Henson’s studio, where Antonoff noted they were “being watched over by a giant Kermit.”
“What I like about that song is that for all of its weirdness, when you get to the end of it, you understand exactly what it’s about. I hate when I hear a song that has a great melody, but I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Del Rey said of “White Dress/Waitress.” “In the grunge movement, a lot of the lyrics were super abstract, but the melodies and the tonality were such a vibe that you felt like you knew exactly what the singer was thinking. Nowadays, you get a beautiful melody but you don’t really know what the person is talking about, or if it’s even important to them.”
And the latter titular track doesn’t signal where she’s been before, but where she’s headed and who’s been by her side along the way, from her girlfriends to her siblings to her dogs, cats and chickens. “‘Chemtrails‘ is the title track because it mentions them all and it mentions wanting so much to be normal and realizing that when you have an overactive, eccentric mind, a record like Chemtrails is just what you’re going to get.”
Del Rey plans to drop the single “Let Me Love You Like a Woman” ahead of the album, which she teased in an Instagram video last Tuesday (Sept. 1) that she filmed on the set of the “Chemtrails over the Country Club” music video. She’ll also release her debut poetry book Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass on Sept. 29.
Read the rest of Del Rey and Antonoff’s Interview cover story conversation here.