imPRESSED is proud to premiere the latest installment of LA producer Diamond Shake’s visual series for his album, From Method To Madness. “Great New Meaning” came at the end of a low period for Diamond Shake’s Matt Hitchens as he grappled with mental health issues and ongoing immigration struggles. (For more insight, read our exclusive Guest Blog here.) Coupled with a beautiful video by animator Dom Bloink inspired by Egon Schiele and sumi-e/ink painting, “Great New Meaning” is one of Diamond Shake’s more poignant turns in a series shaped by Hitchens’ accounts of mental health, addiction, and recovery all while fighting for his rights as an immigrant in America. We sat down with the artist to learn more about the inspiration behind the song, musical influences that inspired his style, and what he has in store for fans next.
First of all, where did the name Diamond Shake come from?
Diamond Shake: “A friend of mine runs his own cannabis company, and one of the strains he used to grow was called Diamond. When Cannabis is dried and then trimmed, it’s collected in three different forms: bud, popcorn, and shake, which is a mixture of keef and any tiny bits that fall off the bud when trimmed. Whenever I would visit, I would always see bags with Diamond Shake written on them, and when I was trying to come up with a name, it fit the criteria of simple and easy to remember.
Who are some of your musical influences who have influenced your style?
“For this album, the biggest influences were Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mr. Bungle, and Hans Zimmer. Anything with a great groove and big, slightly over the top production.”
What’s the story behind “Great New Meaning”?
“The song ‘Great New Meaning’ is about hitting rock bottom and asking for help. For years, I was out of control and had no direction, and had driven myself into a pretty deep hole. Due to a lack of confidence, self-awareness, and responsibility, I had always looked to others to make decisions for me, and guide me through life. Eventually, I just reached my limit and broke down. I started to look into everything I was doing, and the reasons why I was doing it. It also forced me to reevaluate who I had become, what I was doing, and who I trusted. For the first time, I felt that I had at least begun to take the first steps in the right direction.
In terms of the music, the second half of the song was inspired by Hans Zimmers’ Interstellar soundtrack. I loved the idea of looping a chord structure, and then building and adding new parts over the top every time around. The organs as well that he used on that soundtrack was a huge influence and a big part of the sound of my album as a whole.”
How did the visuals for this music video come to life? What were they inspired by?
“Every time we start a new video, I send the song and lyrics to my director, Dominique Bloink, and she takes it from there. The story and the animation style was completely her idea. The only input I had was that when I was writing the second half of the song with the build-up, I had imagined a boat at sea while a giant storm builds around it, and she was able to visualize that and then write a complete storyline around it. This is from her: ‘Stylistically, it was inspired by Egon Schiele and sumi-e/ink painting. I really love the exaggeration of certain features in Schiele’s work, and I took some inspiration for the color scheme from him as well with the muted earth tones. With sumi-e, I’ve always thought there is something really expressive about ink painting and the imperfections and variance that comes with it.”
What’s your favorite lyrical line in the song? Why?
“‘And now I miss each call when all I need’s a voice / and find imperfect flaws in every perfect choice.’ I just think this sums up how I felt while I was going through the lowest points of my depression. I felt isolated and alone but avoided other people, and I constantly found reasons to drive away some really incredible women due to my own insecurities and low self-esteem.”
What message do you hope the single conveys to fans?
“I’m not one to try and push any sort of message onto anyone; I just wanted to try and write a sincere and honest explanation of what I was going through. Ultimately it was a way of getting something positive and substantial out of a long period of real unhappiness, and I think the only way of doing that was to really get into all of it. It has been a sort of therapy in a way, and I am a much happier person since having gotten it all out.”
How does this song represent your album From Method To Madness?
“I think this represents the album pretty well, being a groove led rock song, which then builds into a big cinematic, multi-instrument, gospel choir finale. I’ve always been a bit dramatic so it’s a good fit for me as a whole.”
What can fans expect next?
“We’ve just started work on the next video for ‘The Only Lead’ which will be out in September. I’m also midway through recording a 9-track live covers album, which I’m going to be putting out in August. The album was a big huge production type thing, and so I thought it would be fun to do the complete opposite, and record all 9 songs in one take, live, just me with an acoustic guitar.”
Slightest Clue Release Their Rocking, Five-Track EP ‘Carousel’
Vancouver indie rockers Slightest Clue recently released their ‘Carousel’ EP, inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship.
Vancouver’s Slightest Clue is like the secret after-school project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and dark pop, all bets are off.
Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new EP, Carousel, is inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing track, “Carousel,” marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.
Commenting on the album, the band states:
“The main theme is love, loss of relationship, and connection. The arc of the story is our foreshadowing of the end in our first song ‘These Days’ speaking on the day to day fights and how neither person can seem to get back to a happy place in the relationship. ‘Why Can’t I Call You?’ is the initial spark of infatuation and obsession with someone before you know them. ‘When You Wake Up’ talks of the blissed out honeymoon stage where everything is working and nothing could go wrong. ‘Suit Uptight!’ represents the mounting frustrations and resentments building tension from unmet needs. And finally our closing track ‘Carousel’ is the end and the bittersweet reflection of a cherished relationship that can no longer return.”
Each member, Malcolm McLaren, Hannah Kruse, Sean Ries, and Nick Sciarretta, brings distinct influences and experiences: a stage actor whose playlists go from Talking Heads to Sonic Youth to Björk, a hook-obsessed recovering choir girl, an electrical engineer whose personal idol is John Bonham, and a guitarist who played for (and left) 10 other bands before deciding this was the one for him.
Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’
The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’
It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.
The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.
Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.
1. “Put It Right”
Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”
“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.
“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”
3. “It Leads To This”
“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”
4. “The Frost”
“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”
5. “All That’s Left”
“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”
6. “Now It’s Yours”
“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”
7. “Every Trace Of Us”
“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”
8. “To Forget”
“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”
Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup
Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.
Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.
The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.
Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!
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