Juno Award-winning reggae singer, songwriter, producer and social activist Kirk Diamond offers messages of unity and hope in his brand new single and music video for “Let It Be Done.” Following the release of the single, we spoke to Diamond about his experiences of injustice, political unrest, and his hopes for 2021.
Thanks for your time Kirk, how is life treating you at the moment?
Kirk Diamond: “I’m well, the family is well. I’m truly grateful. Interesting times so I do give thanks for being healthy in this time.”
For our readers who may not know a lot about you, could you give us a brief life story?
“Well, I was born in Jamaica. Moved to Canada in the mid-1990s. Fell in love with music here. Before it was just reggae and dancehall, but Canada being so diverse in cultures, music in general. Did everything music-related. Was a DJ briefly. My first tour was as a dancer then my artist career took over in about 2010. Nominated for my first Juno with my best friend in 2015. Won my first Juno in 2018 for my first EP Greater. I’ve performed in Mexico, the UK, Germany, and Jamaica since then.”
You have a new single out, “Let It Be Done,” which, I believe, was inspired by the current political and social climate. What was it that inspired you specifically to write the song?
“I wrote the song because of the discomfort I was feeling. In 2020, having to explain to my son what was happening. Why people are protesting. Add a pandemic and watch the entire world literally shut down. The best way I know how to get my thoughts across is through song and I’m from a family and culture that prays for everything so ‘Let It Be Done’ is my prayer in song form.”
What has your own life been like over the last few months?
“It has been quite busy actually. I’ve been in the studio with my band recording and writing about what we’ve been witnessing and feeling. Summer was different. A lot of outdoorsy activities. Hiking, which I’ve never done before.”
Mental health is another big concern brought up from the lockdown. How have you managed your own mental health through these challenging times?
“It’s a constant battle for me to be honest. To be locked inside has been rough. I usually get an escape mentally from performing. The energy from the crowd, people being together under the banner of love and music. What this does, however, is force you to have to self-reflect. I pray everyone will be ok after this time passes.”
You shot the video for the single in Uganda. What was the thought process behind doing that?
“I shot the video in Uganda because I wanted to show my audience that what we go through here isn’t just an American problem. Injustices happen across the globe. All while letting the African family know that I have them in my thoughts. My music is for them also. Music goes beyond where our physical selves are able to reach. If I can’t physically reach the world, I aspire for my words and message in music too.
Due to COVID-19, I was unable to actually make the trip. So, through a friend of mine, we were able to facilitate the shoot. One interesting thing that happened was a message I got saying if I was in Uganda to shoot the video I might have been arrested for, ‘trying to give hope to the people.’ I found that to be scary yet interesting.”
When life returns to relative normality (whatever that might be) in the future, what changes do you hope to see?
“I hope to see everyone excited to be around each other. No longer taking each other for granted, no matter their colour, culture or class.”
You’ve spoken about demonstrations over the past few months. Have you been involved in any protesting?
“I have. I was at four of them. Brampton, Ontario, the anti-racism protest in the Peel School Board and two other anti-racism protests in Toronto. Protest has to become a lifestyle for there to be any true change. One day, one month or one year of protesting won’t change centuries of oppression.”
What about inequality? What are your own experiences through your personal life and your music of inequality?
“I faced some inequality but those aren’t the ones that stand out to me and made me the way I am. My mother and father have faced so much and to hear their stories hurt deeply. I’ve heard my mom who’s a nurse in a nursing home just cut up by what residents say to her. My dad, due for a promotion, and the person in that position saying he refuses to retire for a black person to get his seat. Just to think about it hurt. They go through that hopefully so I wouldn’t have to or so their grandchildren wouldn’t. So, all of this is reflected in my message through music. Counteracting ignorance.”
Looking forward to 2021, what are your plans as a social activist and as a musician for the year ahead?
“My works are through music. I’ll be releasing music that speaks to it. The importance of unity. 2021 will be my most active year releasing music that I know for sure.”
Looking back over 2020, how would you sum it up for you and your family?
“It was filled with a lot of discussion, hand sanitizers, and masks.”
Thanks for your time, Kirk. Just to finish, on a personal note, what are your hopes for 2021?
“For 2021 I hope we will all be outside and laughing about how crazy 2020 was. I also hope everyone will appreciate the projects I release.”
The Western Civilization – ‘Fractions of a Whole’ [Album Review]
The Western Civilization delivers expressive vocals and a wealth of stylistic aromas with an existential richness on ‘Fractions of a Whole.’
It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Applied to Texas-based indie-rock outfit The Western Civilization, the adage refers to the chemistry between Rachel Hansbro and Reggie O’Farrell, a chemistry on display in their recently released album, Fractions of a Whole.
Speaking about the album, Hansbro says, “The new songs were inspired by the amazing people who are part of my chosen family. Reggie has always been good at reminding me of the positive things. (He is) another voice saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.’”
Reggie O’Farrell and Rachel Hansbro first met while playing in separate bands. A friendship developed, resulting in two albums and performances at the Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, Halifax Pop Explosion, and, most importantly, an artistic alliance that survived a variety of obstacles.
Revolving around Hansbro and O’Farrell, The Western Civilization is a collaborative project with a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators who expose the actuality of Aristotle’s dictum.
The album opens with “Noctambulism,” a floating, folk-rock song with hints of Americana flowing through it. Driven by a sparkling piano topped by the voices of Hansbro and O’Farrell merging, the melody wafts and undulates like drifting clouds across the sky.
High points embrace “Bible Verses for Kids,” which reveals elusive Celtic flavors, a bit like The Cranberries. A rolling snare gives the rhythm a galloping motion as layered harmonies infuse the lyrics with choir-like textures verging on grandness.
A personal favorite because of Hansbro’s deliciously casual vocals, “Fool” resembles a child’s nursery rhyme reimagined as indie-rock – dreamy, drawling, almost discordant vocals riding over loose, garage rock harmonics. The imperfect, raggedy feel of the tune makes it wondrously genuine and gratifying.
“Proselytism,” the closing track, travels on light, migrant surfaces as Hansbro’s soft, breathy vocals imbue the lyrics with subtle, eccentric whimsy, a kind of didactic reflection.
Expressive vocals, along with a wealth of stylistic aromas, invest Fractions of a Whole with an existential richness.
Fractions of a Whole Track Listing:
2. Stitches (read our song review)
3. Bible Verses for Kids
4. She’s by the Sea
5. If You’re Lucky
7. My Mess
8. The Snake and The Saint
9. The Ocean’s on the Rise
Run Time: 42:18
Release Date: February 16, 2024
Record Label: Independent
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!
George Alley Shares Single & Video for “Just Leave Me Dreaming”
George Alley shares his latest single, “Just Leave Me Dreaming,” and it is accompanied by a stunning music video to support.
George Alley is a Philadelphia-based multi-media artist whose music has been the center of his work as a composer, performer, professor, journalist podcaster, choreographer and curator. He is sharing his latest drop single, “Just Leave Me Dreaming,” and it is accompanied by a stunning music video.
First forming a band in high school with Frank Musarra of Hearts of Darknesses, whom he continues to collaborate with on this upcoming album, Alley has been releasing singles, performing and using his original music for performance and dance pieces as part of his company Alley Ink. Performance has informed his work either in his music video collaborations with Adam Peditto or as a curator for 5 years of the Philadelphia Multimedia Arts Festival Collage.
He is a frequent music contributor for the UK-based LGBT pop culture Loverboy Magazine. Interviewing a variety of notable musicians. As well as a podcaster for the top-ten iTunes comedy podcast “I’m Going to Kill You!” And The pandemic cast “Queerona.”
As a professor, he teaches courses on punk and creativity. This work informs his music through an emphasis on the DIY ethos and the philosophies of chance, spontaneity and assemblage.
After the release of a digital-only remade version of his 2017 single, Just Leave Me Dreaming, this February. Alley will be releasing his self-titled debut album, George Alley, this spring. Produced by Ian Romer with additional production from Frank Musarra, it also features musical contributions from Norma Alley (vocals), Eric Coyne (cello), Sasha Ki (violin, viola), Russel Kotchner (violin), Jack Reilly (drums), Alec Spiegelman (saxophone), and Branson Yeast (cello).
To accompany this release, a 5-song concert has been filmed and will be released along with 3 promotional music videos. A collectible run of 500 albums will be available on “transparent root beer” vinyl pressed by Gottagroove Records. Find more information and performance dates on George’s official website.
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