- CAMPUS LIFE
On your new album, how did you find the balance between writing songs that are really personal while still making music that was poppy and danceable?
I don’t know if I did find that balance. I tried at much as possible to do that, for sure, but if anything it’s about staying true to my vision as an artist, and staying true to the kind of sounds and experiences I want to curate for the listener. I really love dance music and pop music, and I really love anything with a message that is clear and direct. I think the album is my attempt to create that world for my fans.
When you write songs, how much of the content comes personal experiences and relationships, and how much do you just make up?
You write what you know. Obviously, certain elements are dramatized or sort of hyped for dramatic effect. But I think Diamond Rings has always been an outlet for me as a person. I used to detest those kind of songs when I played in punk band and rock bands, and the kind of music I make now was the furthest thing from what I wanted to do. I think I’ve found in recent years that, not only is a real and honest emotional song hard to write, but it’s also the kind of music that really connects with people. My experiences are my own, but I think they are also the experiences of a lot of other people as well.
Are you still performing as a one-man show, or have you put together a band for your current tour?
I’ve been performing with a band now for the past month and it’s been great. It’s been a new challenge. First performing solo was a challenge, but I got quite good at it and it started to get quite boring. So it’s about finding new ways to keep it not only exciting for me, but for my fans as well.
Do you find any major differences when you perform with other people on stage as opposed to solo?
Definitely. The main difference is that it gives me a lot more freedom to move and engage with the audience, and to engage with the song itself; to dance, to laugh, to smile. [I can] do all of those things that aren’t staring in to a laptop computer or playing a keyboard and being stuck behind stationary instruments. I think back to the old show, and I think it was really important at the outset to make people aware [and] showcase the fact that I’m capable of playing more than one instrument. I’m capable of handling myself on stage like a producer or a musical director would for a large group. At this point, I think what’s most fun for me and the audience is seeing me lose my shit and have a good time.
How much is image a part of what you do?
It’s intrinsically important. I don’t really distinguish [music from image] when I think about crafting an album, producing a video, or performing live. We are a very visual culture, and we are becoming even more visual; audio/visual in a way. If the two don’t really inform one another, it’s preposterous. Given that reality, to prioritize or favor one over the other is just to really miss out on a lot of exciting opportunities to further engage people with the work. I have just as much fun getting ready for a photo shoot as I do working on new songs, and that’s always the way that it’s been. That’s always how I’m going to work. You could be an artist and just draw in black and white, or you could buy a pack of sixty [crayons] and just go crazy. The latter is what I want to do.
How much of your own ideas go in to your music videos?
Everything I do is the result of fairly intense interaction with the director and the production team and anyone else involved, and I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Videos are really important, and to just hand something off to someone else would be kind of the equivalent of writing some lyrics and a chord progression, and giving it to someone to produce a song with. I would never conceive of doing that, and it’s the same with my work with video. I’m more than happy and enjoy working with other people and [their] ideas, but at the end of the day it’s got to be the result of a dialogue and group process.
Should fans be expecting a Diamond Rings appearance at SXSW this year?
[Laughs] As of now I don’t have anything in my calendar for 2013, but I took last year off to finish this record. I’d love to say that the idea of being in Texas during a Canadian winter is very appealing. I don’t want to be in Montreal recording in March again.
Diamond Rings plays the BLUE STAGE at Fun Fun Fun Fest today (Friday) at 3:20!