by Courtney Heffernan
VANCOUVER – The connection shared between the three members of DIANA is a deep one. Vocalist Carmen Elle, keyboardist Joseph Shabason and drummer Kieran Adams are in separate places in Toronto when they connect via Skype with BeatRoute.
“Our band is getting a bit more vocal with regards to our personal politics,” Elle says. “If not in our lyrics and interviews, then at least in how we are conducting ourselves in the world and on stage and in the way that we’re treating other people.” As the intricacies of their dynamic unfold over the course of the call the band’s collective humour and honesty is what shines the brightest.
Shabason says that over the past few months DIANA have been “enjoying the album and the upcoming tour [without] not stressing too much about it.” Following the August 2013 release of their debut, Perpetual Surrender, and the runaway success of single “Born Again,” DIANA took their time working on their follow up album, Familiar Touch. Six months after its release, Elle says Familiar Touch is “maybe the only album I’ve made that I really, really like.” Shabason agrees: “It made me feel proud that I don’t know any other albums that really sound like it. It’s exciting to me that we made that album.”
It’s no coincidence that DIANA are proud of their latest album. Shabason says that a lot of the creative process around making Familiar Touch involved “learning from the mistakes of the past album, wanting to make something that was a lot more cohesive.” Much of the cohesion in the album’s sound has to do with the dynamic within the band.
Familiar Touch was a more collaborative effort than their debut. Adams says of the creation process, “All three of us [were] involved the whole time… DIANA seems to be the space where we all come back together.” By contrast, Adams and Shabason largely wrote Perpetual Surrender before Elle joined the band. In the years since their first release Adams says, “We all know each other quite well and have a whole series of feelings about each other, which are still evolving and, I think, improving… Even that evolution throughout the making of Familiar Touch was part of what went into it.” The result is a multifaceted album with an even richer sound than their previous effort.
Despite the pride they feel in their completed album, DIANA admit their creative process was fraught with insecurities. Elle, who is known for speaking candidly about mental health and her struggles with anxiety, says, “There’s usually a crippling self-doubt that comes with making music. At least for me, I have that.” While Adams and Shabason are quick to joke about their own insecurities, Shabason admits, “Even thinking [now] of the last album and how proud of it I am, I remember when we first finished. My only thoughts were, ‘This sucks.’ When [I] have perspective and look back at the times that [I’m] completely filled with self-doubt, it’s staggering how little faith [in myself] I sometimes have.”
Following their tour in December 2016, DIANA are touring Western Canada and the United States in June and July as a seven person band made up of the musicians they worked with on the record. While Elle admits it can be stressful to play as the headliner she says, “It’s amazing to be in a room where the people that showed up, showed up for you.” She adds, “No matter where you’re at you always [think], ‘I could be more successful, I could be doing more.’ So it’s nice to have a moment when we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re doing okay.’”
DIANA perform at Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver) on June 26.DIANA, Fortune Sound Club