Catching Up With Diamond Thug

Diamond Thug have just released their debut EP, ‘Monday Will Have To Wait’. Simon caught up with Danilo Queiros to chat more about the band, the EP and the industry.

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Congrats on the release of your EP. What can fans expect from ‘Monday Will Have To Wait’?

Thanks Simon. For us ‘Monday Will Have to Wait’ is the culmination of three years of development both as musicians and a band. As the title suggest, it’s sort of reminiscent of a Sunday evening, there’s highs and lows, excitement and discontent, anxiousness and happiness. It’s the feeling you get when you hear that Carte Blanche theme song come on, or when you get home from a great Sunday roast and realise the week is coming.

However I guess as the name also gives away, that it’s about not wanting that week to start, or not wanting to grow up and get in line, not in a punk rock way, but just in the typical Millenial way I guess.

In terms of quality, it’s definitely the best quality music we’ve released. We went all out on ensuring the EP was well recorded, mixed and mastered, so that it could be the most honest reflection of what we do live!

Of course we had some luck through winning a recording session in Boston, USA  through the Converse Rubber Tracks Program, where we recorded ‘Mind’s Eye’ and ‘Long Way’.

Diamond Thug has continued to evolve over the years. How would you describe your sound right now?

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We’ve been in our current four-piece format for about a year now. Each time a member joins, it’s two huge steps backwards, but in the long run we believe we leap forward.

We’re writing music that sits between Alternative Pop and Indie Rock, for us Chantel’s voice really ties it all together, which allows us as a band to explore more genres without losing our ‘sound’.

We’re definitely composing stuff that is more interesting dynamically, with big builds to climaxes and then sudden drops to silence and we’ve had a huge focus on doing everything live, which makes our performances more interesting. 

There’s a whole lot of live looping of guitars and synths, layering of sounds to give more depth to our soundscape and using the technology at our fingertips to help us write something a little bit different to what other people are making.

Each member has invested in instruments, pedals and toys that enable us to tweak our sound to exactly what we want. Obviously we’re still learning and the sound will continue to develop, but for us the big focus is being a great live band.

I think it’s vitally important as a band to never stop evolving, to never be afraid of saying: “but what if I did this instead”, that’s how the best music is written, by people taking chances and doing things they don’t normally do. 

You’ve got quite an extensive tour lined up for the launch of your EP. Where’s your favourite place to perform in SA?

Each city is unique in its own way. Cape Town is our home town, so a good show in Cape Town is always a treat for us, but there’s something special about being in another city and having people enjoy your music.

Crowd’s appreciate you a little more when you’re on tour because they don’t know when they’ll be able to see you again. And that’s the same for bands that come to Cape Town, like Shortstraw, Sol Gems and Desmond & the Tutus.

Smoking Dragon was probably our favourite show last year, it’s a beautiful festival in The Drakensberg. Joburg always treats us well, our events up there are always well attended and the crowds are always super supportive. 

We’ve also had some rad experiences in Pretoria and will be playing our first show in Potch this tour, so that might turn into our new favourite!

But to actually answer your question, for us playing music in places music isn’t usually played is definitely on top of our list. 

We like to invite our audience into a space and really give them a holistic experience with our shows, the venue is a huge part of every show and I think bands often don’t take into account how important an interesting venue can be. 

Events like Park Acoustics really get that right, so we love playing there.

This year we played in a courtyard at The Castle of Good Hope, on a production we put on with the Short & Sweet team, integrating music and film! 

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Our EP launch tonight is in an industrial loft above Truth Coffee Roasting (left) and we haven’t been this excited for a show ever, I don’t think. 

It’s always more expensive and more effort to put on shows like that, but audiences appreciate it when you try to give them a new experience and put in effort for them, and that’s something we’ve learnt recently and hope to build on.

What do you think the state of the local music industry is at the moment?

That’s a tricky question because on the one hand I can’t remember a time when SA music sounded as on par with ‘international’ music as it does now, but we know how difficult it is for a band or artist to actually make music a professional career . 

I also think it’s a very different story when you talk about SA hip hop and house compared to SA indie and rock. I’m going to speak on the indie and rock scene, because that’s what I know about.

There are some bands playing locally that I’ve watched open for ‘international’ bands and thought to myself, I actually preferred the local band, that used to surprise me, but not anymore. 

I think there are a lot of awesome people really putting in effort and money to support local acts, which is so rad and as a band there’s no one you’re more grateful to than them. I’m sure most of your readers fit into that category, but there are also a lot of people who never bother to listen to local music and don’t even know what’s available or where to watch bands, besides for the major festivals.

That’s a problem because it often forces artists who want to make music into a career to have to leave the country in search of a little financial security. In some cases the bands and artists relocate, as was the case with Petite Noir, Alice Phoebe Lou Kongos and Civil Twilight, and probably a lot more. In other cases it forces artists to leave their already functioning, quality acts to pursue solo careers in more receptive markets. Examples like James Tuft of Holiday Murray, David Thorp of Gateway Drugs/Beach Party, and it might end up happening with us. 

A lot of acts need to make themselves successful in overseas markets before they can come back here and be treated as an artist of international quality, and that’s wrong. The most damaging sentence to the local industry is: “they’re really good for a South African band”. So in summary I’d say the SA music scene is blossoming across the board, from hip hop to rock, house to pop, we’ve got some great talent performing weekly at clubs near you, but the industry definitely needs more people to come out and support local music. 

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Catch Diamond Thug on tour:

4 February ­– Aces n Spades w/ The Liminals

20 February – Aandklas, Stellenbosch w/ The Liminals

4 March – EP Launch in Cape Town above Truth Coffee Shop, Buitenkant Street.

11 March – EP Launch in Durban, The Winston

13 March – Fourways Farmers Market, JHB

18 March – Mieliepop Festival (https://www.facebook.com/mieliepop/)

20/21 March – The Good Luck Bar, The Sheds, 1 Fox St, Johannesburg

24 March – Arcade Empire, Pretoria

27 March – Outland Festival (https://www.facebook.com/OutlandFest/)

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