Saturday, March 30, 2013
Carmen Elle of Diana: photo by Michael Ligon
For all the criticisms directed towards Canadian Music Week / Canadian Musicfest, some of which I must agree with, I've taken it as a challenge to sift through the schedule and choose acts who are mostly unknown to me, that pique my interest and will hopefully deliver if I do end up checking out their set. I was less inclined this year to doing the festival hardcore but was more focused on catching at least a few acts a day. I took in the festival from Wednesday to Saturday and managed to catch a number of bands that really delivered the goods.
The festival kicked off quietly on Tuesday March 19 but was in full gear by the night after which is the night choose to begin. Although originally I had plans earlier in the evening to check out Swiss singer-songwriter Heidi Happy at Supermarkert, I had a change of heart and decided choose locals, Diana, instead. Fortunately, I had come early (although, not too early) enough to get in with my media wristband with no problems and without lining up in the cold. There was a bit of confusion (to put it politely) with a scrum of media wristbands, myself included, not initially being let in to the venue itself, but after a few minutes, things were sorted out and we were let in. Four-piece outfit Diana were a mysterious band that I believe quietly surfaced last summer but then started to build some hype around the time I went to CMJ in New York City in October. Diana were apparently at CMJ but I didn't even know who they were. Now I'm more in the know, aware that the band consists of Carmen Elle (Army Girls), Kieran Adams (Warm Myth and Bonjay), Joseph Shabason (Destroyer), and Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras), and with a background like that and with what little I'd read about them, I was immediately interested even though I don't think I'd heard a note of their music. The band's soulful, electro-pop made me think of a cross between M83 meets Wham, with the band's drum / bass / guitar foundation augmented with their scintillating melodies, supple drum-pad electro-beats, whirring Roland synths and the occasional saxophone. Amidst stage light hues of mostly red and blue, the band were interesting to watch, most of it due to frontwoman Carmen Elle's subtle swagger onstage. I hadn't quite connected with the guitar / drums, pop-rock duo-ism of Carmen's other project Army Girls, but her current participation with Diana, I can wholeheartedly say I enjoyed immensely. They're apparently working on a album to be released this year - as to when it'll be released, isn't known - but they do have a vinyl 12" of their song "Born Again" which is available for order (check out their Soundcloud page below).
Photos: Diana @ Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Toronto (March 20, 2013)