Like all great things in life, Diamond Rings, –the musical alter ego of John O- took time. After spending the majority of his adolescence exploring the wonders of team sports, John O began a new journey, one that included collecting vinyl records and learning GarageBand on his friends Macbook.
Upon his graduation from the University of Guelph, John O started conceptualizing a magnificent musical image. The result would eventually become known as Diamond Rings, a one man show that incorporated elements from numerous genres to create a unique concoction of emotionally raw glam-pop.
In terms of personal esthetic, the outward appearance of Diamond Rings is synonymous with the music itself. Much like David Bowie or Madonna, John O has created a cultural icon where you can’t think about the music without first appreciating the personality who created it. Diamond Rings is a bleached blonde goddess; an androgynous character that is relatable across multiple demographics. Bros’ love him, teen girls love him, single moms love him, hipsters love him and yes, the gays love him, too.
In 2010, things started to really happen for Diamond Rings. He played at Winnie Cooper’s No More Strangers one-year anniversary party in March and released his debut album, Special Affections, a few months later. With its sparkling sythns and self-reflecting lyrics, Special Affections caught the attention of critics, music lovers and fembot Robyn, who Diamond Rings would tour with during the winter of 2011.
A lot has changed for Diamond Rings over the past two years, and it shows on his latest record Free Dimensional. Regardless of the reason or muse, it seems that Diamond Rings is at a much better place, both creatively and personally. While less aggressively downbeat than his previous effort, Free Dimensional shows that Diamond Rings is anything but stagnate, presenting 10 electro-dance tracks that are perfect for a mid-week rave or turnt-up house party.
Along with the new album, Diamond Rings is currently on a headlining tour with a new 3-piece band. He’ll be stopping by Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver on November 17 with Gold and Youth. A few $15 advanced tickets are still available online or at Red Cat and Zulu Records. You don’t want to miss this, or my interview, which is posted below.
Where are you right now?
We’re traveling in the van somewhere between L.A. and San Francisco.
What’s the last song you listened to?
Embarrassingly enough, it would probably be my own song. We played (Jay) Leno last night and I just watched the playback of the show. I haven’t listened to anything else yet today; I’m trying to give my ears a break before the show tonight. The last song that wasn’t by me would have to be the new Tensnake single called “Mainline”.
What’s your favorite snap-back or fitted cap?
I just got a really awesome Raptors hat at this store in Los Angeles that I like, it’s a custom design. I’ve got my own snap-backs now for this tour, which is wicked. We sell them at the shows and my band wears them on stage with me.
What are your favorite snack on tour?
Cliff Bars, carrot cake and oatmeal raisin are my favorite. Stuff like that is really good during the day, most of the time the food you get on tour is shit.
Name three things you can’t live without on tour?
Definitely my laptop, my cobalt e-reader and my track pants. You gotta be comfortable.
If there was a time machine and you could be transported back to 1985, what’s the first show/concert you’d go to?
I would go to Chicago and hit up a house party, either that or a Detroit techno rave.
Who’s your celebrity spirit animal?
It’s probably a mix of attributes from people I tend to gravitate towards, but maybe Grace Jones.
I was going to say Kylie Minogue.
Lets go with your pick, that’s better.
How has your stage show changed since you’ve incorporated a live band?
Considerably I guess, it’s more dynamic in a lot of ways, there’s more action. Performing with a live band frees me up to really lose myself in the music and interact with the audience more.
Are there more theatrics now?
When I was performing solo it was almost more theatrical because I had to compensate for the lack of the band. I had to over amplify what I was doing in a lot of ways. With the band the theatricality comes less from moving around/acting and more in the way of costuming and the way everyone looks. The band has a uniform and I have a different outfit every night.
You played the No More Strangers one-year anniversary party at Funky Winker Beans in Vancouver, who should play Winnie’s 5 year anniversary party?
I’ll play it! Me and Kylie Minogue.
You experimented with hip-hop on the new record, what rappers are you currently into?
I’m into Drake insofar as he’s doing really good things for Toronto as a city, but I don’t really identify with too much contemporary hip-hop. Most of my influence comes from Euro-Dance and House music and the way those genres incorporate rap as a textural element. I think that just has to do with my love of Dance music, a lot of rap music I find difficult to dance to, or at least in the way I like to dance.
What kind of dance moves can we expect at Fortune Sound Club on November 17?
Frantic improvisation. That’s usually my style. It’s nothing especially calculated, I just like getting up and feeling it.
There’s no choreographed dancing?
I’ve got a few go-to actions. Most of the time it’s just about being in the moment and having fun. I’m not a professional dancer, – I would like to be and it’s something I’m working towards- but until then, I’m just gunna go for it.
If you were a professional dancer what artist would you want to tour with?
I think Janet Jackson would probably be number one. Justin Bieber would be cool too, he has some moves.
Interview by @clarkbs