Last summer, Marina Diamandis made a callout on her social media for new female collaborators. Tweeting out a set of pink-hued selfies to her 2.6 million followers, the Welsh pop artist formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds wanted to know whom she should be paying attention to as she began to think about her follow-up to 2019’s Love + Fear. “Who are your favourite female producers, writers and artists right now? I’m creating my next project…and this story can only be told by women,” the caption read. “I’m looking for you.”
As the first single off her fifth studio album due later next year, “Man’s World” was written by Diamandis and brought to life by an all-female creative team. Produced by Jenn Decilveo (Bat for Lashes, Hinds) and engineered by Emily Lazar (Sia, Clairo, Haim), the soaring pop anthem has Diamandis declaring, “I don’t wanna live in a man’s world anymore,” against a fluttery mid-tempo beat. It sounds as big as the topics she’s singing about, namely the persecution of women and other minority groups throughout history: “Burnt me at the stake, you thought I was a witch / Centuries ago, now you just call me a bitch.”
The accompanying video is similarly evocative, featuring Diamandis and a cast of female and nonbinary performers outfitted in billow-y, boldly colored costumes. Helmed by Alexandra Gavillet and filmed throughout the Simi Valley desert, “Man’s World” weaves sun-kissed visuals with a sociopolitical message for one of the most compelling clips in Diamandis’s decade-plus career. Since her idiosyncratic Family Jewels debuted in 2010, the singer-songwriter has attained one of pop’s most devoted followings, buoyed by gems like the TikTok-approved “Primadonna” and anti-Tinsletown satire “Hollywood.” “Man’s World” advances her sound further, while retaining the ethereal hooks that have sustained Diamandis as one of the most consistently innovative acts in alt-pop.
In advance of the release of “Man’s World” today, Diamandis caught up with Vogue to discuss how the new single came to be, the neoclassical painter whose work inspired the video, and what fans can expect from her forthcoming album.
Take me back to the origins of “Man’s World.” Was it inspired by any particular idea or event?
I wrote it last summer in August. I’d already decided I was gonna write this new record alone, and the process felt like a reaction to what I had previously released, which is often the case. Each record I do is sort of like the opposite of the previous one. At the time I was mostly inspired by the shifts that are happening for people who are discriminated against. The original idea for the song was to write a snapshot of how women and LGBTQ+ individuals have been subjugated and discriminated against throughout history going back to the Salem witch trials, where any person who was deemed abnormal or slightly alternative was singled out. Those kinds of patterns are still present in society. That’s something inspiring to me and worth writing about.
Did you always plan to release it after the election?
I finished the song in February and had planned to release it at Coachella, which is hilarious to think now.
There are a lot of songs in your catalogue that are directly sociopolitical, and “Man’s World” reminded me a lot of the way you wrote about rape culture in “Savages.” How do you balance the subject matter of a song like “Man’s World” within a melodic pop structure?
I like building a visual world for the listener to dip into even if the song itself is about a more weighted subject. In terms of what I wanted to convey, I think there’s always been so many different ways to humiliate minority groups in order to stop them from gaining power. For women, that always seems to be by discrediting their work or picking something out about their physical appearance or lifestyle. I see a lot of that as an artist, and I’ve been on the receiving end of that a lot.
Was that part of why you wanted to work with an all-female team on this particular project?
It just felt necessary. I’d been reading this book, If Women Rose Rooted, and just really thinking about women’s stories and how important it is for women to actually tell them. It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m hiring women who represent what I like talking about. “Man’s World” was an opportunity to do that.
How did you link up with Jenn Decilveo as producer?
I was connected to her by my friend Derek Davies at Neon Gold Records. I was looking for a producer and had loved some of her previous work. I’m just lucky it worked out because it’s always a bit of a gamble just going into the studio with someone new. But it was very natural from the start. It was a very instinctive process.
Women currently make up only 2% of producers and 3% of engineers across popular music. Why do you think this industry has been so slow to recognize women behind the scenes?
In my own experience, one of the reasons I think there are so few female producers is because female artists or songwriters don’t get credit. It’s a very interesting thing that I’ve had to navigate. On the first record I got no production credits because I didn’t even think to ask for them, but the fact is that I helped shape every record and I was precious about getting each song to the shape that I wanted it. If I hadn’t been in the room, these records would’ve sounded very different.
I could see the lines getting blurred when there’s enough people in the studio throwing out ideas.
There’s such a blurred line. Obviously you’re hiring a producer, but that doesn’t mean that your contribution is nil. My experience has varied along the way because on the second record I didn’t really have a role in the production since I was working with massive pop producers. You were hiring them to give you something that you thought you couldn’t produce, which was, like, radio hits in America. Then with Froot, I tried to scale it back and coproduce with one guy. But I think a big part of it is women don’t think they have the right to ask for a credit that symbolizes or represents their contribution. It’s up to us to ask for the credit.
What can you tell me about the concept behind the video for “Man’s World”?
It’s the first one I’ve ever been credited with creative directing and writing the story for—again, I’ve done this role before, but it’s one of those basic things where people think the artist didn’t do it because their name isn’t always on it. I came up with the treatment in March, then sent it to Alex, and we developed it more together. I’ve been inspired by this artist who made these neoclassical paintings in the late 1800s named John William Godward. They use these very modern color compositions like mint green with chartreuse or magenta. That was the center of the whole video and the main visual inspiration.
Who designed the costumes?
They were all custom-made by Olima. He had previously done a lot of my touring costumes but for this shoot, I knew from the start we needed to create our own looks. I wanted the look to kind of accentuate any body shape as well.
Is “Man’s World” an indicator of the musical or thematic direction we can expect from the new album?
Yes it’s definitely an indication of where the record’s going. But it’s a surprising record sonically. It feels rich and warm. Thematically it’s definitely sociopolitical but there’s a real broad message in terms of the themes I’m writing about. It’s all very hodgepodge. The way I write isn’t conceptual anymore, it’s just what’s happening at that moment in time.
You said earlier that each record is sort of the opposite of the previous one. What feels different this time around?
Love + Fear was such a different record and it was highly collaborative on the songwriting front, which is what I needed at the time. At that time in my life, I just felt very unsure about everything. I was coming off two years of just feeling very depressed in ways where I started to doubt my decision-making. But I feel very different on this record. I think I’m much more confident and my life’s more balanced. I’ve made several changes in my professional life and that always translates to the art, if you have a team facilitating your ideas and helping you create what you want. I feel in control. It feels so liberating and strengthening not having to fight with your label to hash out your ideas.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.