A typical Diamond Rings show is an incredibly unique musical and visual experience. As a solo artist, it’s just Diamond Rings up onstage in all his glam rock magnificence, flitting between his laptop and the microphone, deftly mixing, tweaking and performing all at the same time. But for his new release, Free Dimensional, things are a bit different: this time, he has a band.

“The live shows are going to be a lot more engaging and a lot more powerful,” John O’Regan, the artist better known as Diamond Rings says.

This is a more polished and confident Diamond Rings than the subtly ambitious performer we saw on Special Affections. Just like the music on Free Dimensional is a heightened and refined version of the sound we heard on his previous record, so, too, is the man captaining the ship. He is emerging from the rough, if you will, into the sparkly glam rock-filled future of Canadian pop music. “There’s a lot of genre hopping and maybe the distance that existed between the songs of this album and the last one is more pronounced. But, in a lot of ways, I think its more nuanced as well,” he says about the release.

Eloquent and well spoken, you can sense that O’Regan is thoughtful and particular about the nuanced image he presents to the public. Diamond Rings is a performer who challenges many heteronormative assumptions about contemporary male pop musicians with his David Bowie-esque persona. “Part of the fun,” he says, “is walking that sort of line between all things… between gender or between genre, that in my mind is really exciting and charged with a lot of energy and a great part of what Diamond Rings is.”

Diamond Rings isn’t so much of an alter-ego for O’Regan, its more like he’s just dialled up his personality to 11 when he’s on stage. Like a masked superhero, O’Regan’s still there, he’s just a little bit subtler than the onstage character we see. While pop music occasionally sacrifices lyrically honesty for a catchy hook, the music of Diamond Rings illustrates an innate lack of self-censorship that transcends the common trappings of the genre. Diamond Rings never sacrifices his artistic integrity for the audience or for the music. It’s like he sings on the pop-infused track, “Runaway Love,” “I wanna be the light to your dark, I wanna shine like gold.” Diamond Rings just wants to sparkle.

It’s so much more than gold tights and rainbow makeup to him, it’s about connecting with the audience in a honest and meaningful way, where there is a palpable transference of energy between the performer and audience. “What I’m doing comes from the heart and comes from a place that’s honest and real,” he says about his music. “It’s about meeting up there under the lights and taking a risk and hopefully inspiring other people to do the same.”

It’s that vulnerability with which audiences really connect — that sense that, above all, they are experiencing something truthful and honest up on that stage. This is what Diamond Rings delivers in Free Dimensional. Covering relatable themes of love, positivity, self-empowerment, self-expression and heartbreak, Free Dimensional is a brash, fun and confident release that will sure to also provide an equally amazing live show with the new and improved performer.

Free Dimensional was released on October 22 (Secret City). Catch Diamond Rings on November 16 at Club 9one9 (Victoria) and November 17 at Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver).

By Christine Waiand
Photo: Norman Wong

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