Photo Credit: Matt Sav
Confused as to why someone from Australia would travel all the way to Washington to record an album, the penny pincher in me was relieved when Jacob Diamond set me straight. He did not fly around the world and then some. Instead, he recorded his latest, Goodbye Gondwana, in Western Australia where he was “incredibly inspired by nature during the writing process.” He added, “There is a lot of imagery associated with earth and dirt and continents and water in the music. But the recording process was mostly stressful, to be honest! I could barely focus on the beautiful surrounds because there was a lot to be done in a short space of time!”
Despite how distracting nature could be at times. Jacob Diamond managed to deliver an album that delivered more than meets the eye and then some. Which is where we start this overseas conversation of sound.
Kendra: They say not to judge a book by the cover but I do, can’t help it. So when I clicked play I expected you to serve up some electronic glam but instead, I got sincere harmonies. A pleasant surprise that made me wonder who you grew up idolizing musically and stylistically?
Jacob Diamond: I like appearing like a glam electronica artist, then proceeding to unleash straight up folk. Gets them every time. Anyways, the first act I was really obsessed by was The Beatles. Unremarkable, I know. I listened to their greatest hits over and over, reading the lyrics on the liner notes as it played. Eventually, I fell in love with Joni Mitchell via James Taylor and the other great confessional singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s. I also love Ravel and Saint-Saens and Bach. and musicals. I’m obsessed with Stephen Sondheim. And MF Doom. Pretty all over the shop, really…PS I hope that all these English idioms aren’t distancing your Dutch speaking readers too much.
Kendra: You have this sense of underground pride that I respect. Do you feel like artists can lose some of their artistry when they push themselves too far into the mainstream?
Jacob Diamond: First of all, thanks. That does seem to be a heavily discussed trajectory: an artist’s early material being fearless/reckless/fun, and eventually winding up soulless. BUT, I think that is more representative of listeners taste’s changing more slowly than an artist. I have little to no interest in making mainstream material. So I’m happy in the undergrowth and hope I never lose that sense of adventure. I think some artists are just more interested in reaching loftier, more commercial heights and are more comfortable adjusting their material to reach them.
Kendra: You’ve mentioned that your religious upbringing played a hand in writing this album. Many who come up with religion that goes down a creative path as adults tend to stray away from it. What about your past made you keep it a little closer than most?
Jacob Diamond: I am among those who have strayed! My experience with religion influenced my art in the same way that any significant childhood event would. It’s kinda in every part of your psyche. There’s no better way to expose the beauty and the ugliness of organised religion then by being indoctrinated in it! I kept finding religious images and terminology coming out in my music, and I’m proud that I didn’t try to censor those things. I think it has enriched the world of the songs.
Kendra: So it was close to midnight and I could not stop listening to “Mary & Augustine.” There was something about the melody that reminded me of classic ’70s TV. With that, if you could write the soundtrack for any show currently on the air, which would it be and why?
Jacob Diamond: I’m glad “Mary & Augustine” was on midnight repeat! I really don’t watch much current TV…but I like the glam electronic vibes (obviously – see press photo) in the Stranger Things soundtrack? So maybe that! My other TV obsession is The West Wing, so perhaps I could rewrite that score next? Again, unremarkable.
Kendra: You may not watch too much as you’re always out and about on tour. You’ve even got one coming up in June. Do you feel more at home on the road than you do in the same four walls day after day?
Jacob Diamond: Hmm. I love touring, but I think I love it because it’s temporary. It’s kinda like a working holiday. But I’m not sure how I’d go if I was on the road constantly. Sometimes you just need to avoid scurvy and to have clean clothes, ya know?
Kendra: Okay so new album, June tour, what’s next?
Jacob Diamond: I’m hoping to record and release more music before the end of the year! I’ve also joined another band with a considerably heavier touring schedule than me, so I think I’ll be playing some shows!