Boston-raised Los Angeles-based rocker Diamante is just coming off the fresh release of her critically acclaimed sophomore album, “American Dream,” which is now available on all major platforms at the following link. I caught up with her to talk about the album, as well as the writing process, and what she thinks the future holds for touring.
Thanks for speaking with me. The new album is out today; congratulations! And the album currently has more streams than your previous album, that’s been out for three years. That’s got to be an amazing feeling.
Yeah. It’s funny because I didn’t notice that stream count until yesterday, and it wasn’t available until yesterday. And I saw that and I almost fell out of my chair. I was like, what? There’s no way!
I’m sure it was a complicated process of going through and releasing this album as an independent artist; instead of having the album put out by a label. What do you think are some challenges that you experienced with this new album?
I would say that both ways of releasing an album have their own set of challenges. And for example, when I was with the label, I think my biggest challenge was getting enough of a say and kind of being told what to do because it was my first record. And when you first sign with a label, and it’s your first album, you do really have to play by their game and please everyone else and make sure that you’re doing a good job.
So there’s that kind of pressure. But this time around with the independent record, it was a whole different kind of pressure because it was really just me operating as my own record label. So if all goes, poorly it’s my fault. And there’s no one to blame but me. So there was a lot more pressure in that sense, but I had so much fun creating this record that I didn’t really feel that as much this time.
As you said, there had to be some positives to it. You don’t have to answer to anybody else, it’s your decisions with things, and you have more independence with it. Do you think it was less of a headache working without the restrictions of a label and being able to have that creative freedom?
Yeah, absolutely. Especially because on that first album, I didn’t get to pick what songs made the album, which songs didn’t make the album that I maybe really loved, who I could write with, who I could even collaborate with, in what order the songs came out. The timeline of the songs coming out.
So like nothing, whereas this time around, I had all the say, it was so much fun getting to decide what this album was going to sound like and how I was going to tell my own story.You talked about embracing your vulnerabilities with this album, what did it mean for you in terms of songwriting? And how did that change from the last album to this album?
I would say that it meant everything this time around because I describe American Dream as my sonic autobiography. Every song on this album is true life. It really did happen to me down to the very detail of the lyrics. Everything in these songs are really just diary entries really that I’m just putting into song form.
And it was all about telling the story of my life. These last three years, the good, the bad, the ugly, every facet of that. Whereas, like on that first album, I never really wanted to show the bad sides of me. I described that first album as being an introduction to me as an artist because it was really about me just getting my name out there.
I was very new. Many people didn’t know me or my music, but this time around, my goal was to introduce Diamante the human being, and have people who listen to this album after they listened to it go, okay This is her.
It almost feels like a concept album in the sense that it’s telling a story or a journey as the first half of the album; it seems a little bit darker and then a few fun tracks in the middle and then eventually taking a positive turn towards the end. Did you go in having a linear story in mind or is that just how the songs happened to fall?
It’s so funny because I first started writing for this album, maybe two years ago. And around that time I was going through something that was heartbreaking. I was in a lot of pain. I felt a lot of betrayal and not a lot of closure.
I just felt like I had to write just to get it out. And nobody was even telling me to write for the next album. I was just doing it organically because it was something I needed to. To get past this feeling and past the situation. That’s why the front half of the album is very much about heartbreak and, and being in pain and having low self-esteem and then hitting rock bottom.
But then, over time, I started regaining my confidence, remembering who I was, having better self-esteem, and just surrounding myself with better people. And then eventually meeting someone falling in love and without realizing it, I was writing these songs in chronological order. And so that’s why when it came to building a tracklist for the album, I placed it purposely in the order that the songs were pretty much created because I was telling this chronological story.
You’ve worked with producer Howard Benson on multiple records. Now, what would you say is something special that he brings to your songs?
I would say it’s the wisdom above all that he has given me these past five years. The first album, he was telling me, there’s a really small chance that this album even sees the light of day. I work with a lot of artists and albums that they never can release. So just brace yourself for that possibility. He was the one who always, from the beginning, pushed me to be vulnerable in my songwriting and write from that uncomfortable, painful place, because that’s where I think the real magic happens in a song.
And that’s when people who listened to the song are able to relate to it and say, wow, you know, I went through something exactly like that. Or I had that feeling, and I didn’t know how to put it into words. And you did that for me. And so he definitely, always taught me to do that, but this last album, vocally, when I was in that booth, he would always push me and push me and push me to go past what I was even comfortable with.
I’m so glad he did that because there would be times where I would do like a lyric or a sentence, and he’d say, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe one word that came out of your mouth. Do that again. And so I love being pushed in that way. So Howard and Neil, who also produced this album were huge forces in helping me grow as a songwriter and a vocalist.
Plus, they probably had experience with you before. So they kind of knew what buttons to push per se.
Yeah. I mean, Howard and I have built such a great repertoire that we definitely are comfortable now. He’s always been straight up with me. Like, no, this song sucks, that wasn’t a good take, which I love about him. But this time around, I think the album process was so much more collaborative and we are really a team.
How have you felt about the feedback from the singles, specifically ‘Ghost Myself’, because it feels like many fans have an emotional connection to your lyrics, as in, they’re not alone with going through the same feelings, just like you just said. I’m sure for you that it’s vice versa.
It’s been so incredible, especially because I just feel this overwhelming amount of support because they know that I’m doing this on my own. I don’t have this gigantic team behind me. They’ve never been more supportive. I’m so grateful to them and “Ghost myself”, especially the comments I get on that one are like, man, I have felt exactly like this where I wish it could be anyone, but me. And to me, that’s the most gratifying, fulfilling thing that can come out of making music.
I ultimately want people who hear my songs to be able to get through the other side and be better for it. So it’s been incredible. It’s been amazing and I’m just so overwhelmed.
The album features a beautiful cover of Iris by the Goo GOO Dolls with you giving it a hard-hitting makeover. What made you want to cover that this song and how did working with Breaking Benjamin come about?
Iris has always been my favorite song ever since I was little. I would play it all the time. I would always sing along to it and I’ve always wanted to cover it, but I was always told no. So I figured now that I have nobody telling me no, that this would be the perfect time to release the cover I’ve always wanted to do.
And Neil actually had the idea to make it a duet, which I thought was so cool because I’ve heard so many covers of Iris, but I’ve never heard it done and in duet form. So I started thinking, who would, I want to sing on the song with me? And I thought of Ben because we had toured so extensively for two years, pretty much straight.
I always made the joke that I was really only touring with Breaking Benjamin! I really got to become friends with Ben and the rest of the band. And so when I had this idea, all I did was DM him on Instagram. I was like, hey, I have this idea. I want to cover this song. And I’d be so honored if you would sing on this song with me.
And he said, yes. And I was like, yeah. Okay. I wasn’t expecting that, but let’s go! And I flew to Reno where Breaking Ben was playing a show, and on the day off we recorded the vocals for the song on his tour bus. So it So cool.
So it was a bucket list, and you got a fun story out of it.
Your music is diverse. Your upbringing led you to love anything from pop stars like P!nk to rockers like Guns N’ Roses – Do you consciously try to blend the pop and hard rock world with your music to kind of fit that pop metal fusion category that’s becoming really popular? Or is this just a result of you making music from the styles that have influenced you?
I think it’s more than the second one. I feel like really the first kind of music I grew up on was that early two-thousands pop-rock. Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Katy Perry. I was always singing along to these women and I always gravitated towards women with like this grit in their voice. I always thought it was so cool. I think just the singing along to them over the years, I started emulating that a little bit and learning how to do it myself.
Then I discovered Haley Williams, that brought me to like Lzzy Hale and Taylor Momsen. And I was like, Oh my gosh, these women are so cool. Then when I was 13, that’s when I discovered like classic hard rock. Cause I did the school of rock camp where we got to cover Led Zepplin and Blondie and Black Sabbath. And that opened me up to an entirely new universe as well.
So because it’s always been these two worlds, I think when it comes to making my own music, I love pulling from both of them and, and creating the sort of hybrid genre.
You just announced that you’re going to be playing Inkcarceration fest in Ohio, which has a fantastic diverse lineup of bands, like Halestorm, The Hu, and everything in between. How excited are you to get back on stage, especially someone like you that’s toured so extensively?
I’m so excited and it’s always like, knock on wood that this actually goes through because if the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed anymore and everything is so unpredictable. But with this festival, especially, I remember I would see them post lineups of you know, the shows in 2019 and 2018 and I’d be thinking to myself like, wow, that looks so cool. I would love to play that one day. And so, here we are. I finally get to say that I’m going to be able to play it. And yeah, that lineup is insane. I’m so excited.
You’ve toured with some amazing acts. The first time I actually saw you perform was, I think it was called the disrupt tour, or it was some festival with Breaking Benjamin, but Chevelle played, which is like my favorite band, but you open up and that’s how I discovered you.
I was like, wait, who’s this chick with blue hair, like she’s awesome. And you had this amazing stage presence. What are some of your fondest memories that you have sharing the stage with some of these huge bands?
Oh my gosh. Oh, there’s so many. I would say I think playing Bridgestone arena will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the very first arena stage that I ever stepped onto. And ever since I was eight, nine years old, that’s what I’ve been dreaming about. , I was going out with Bad Wolves, signing our duet song together, but they brought me out on this tour with Fiver Finger Death Punch and Shine Down and Shine Down is one of those bands that I would sing along to since I was 13.
So like here I am stepping onto this arena stage opening for Shine Down in Nashville and I will remember that day before ever. Cause I was freaking out.
Bridgestone’s a great place to play venue. Do you think that the pandemic has left a lasting change on the music industry, such as live streams being more common now? Or do you think it’s for the better or for the worse?
I think it’s, it’s a little bit of both because this year, everything has been turned upside down and flipped on its head. It really forced a lot of artists to have to get creative, including me. In 2020, I decided to put on two live stream concerts because I couldn’t go out there and play shows and I was going crazy. I was like, I need to play a show. I need to play live music. I need to interact and connect again with my fans.
I want to be able to talk to them. And so I think in a way this year because we had to get so creative and, and think of new ways to do things that we couldn’t normally do, we developed new ways of streaming performing live.
And so I think going forward, I could see a lot of bands and artists still doing live stream concerts for say, fans in Thailand or Tokyo, if they’re not able to go in person and play those places like I haven’t been to yet. That makes sense for me, but, you’ll get a better sense of the real thing there. However, there’s no comparison to the real show. So I can’t wait to get back to that.
May has been a really big month for you. Not only did you release your new album, but you also graduated college, so congratulations! How does it feel to accomplish that?
It feels so good, especially because it took me six years and. I’m so glad that I didn’t stop or quit because while I was doing it, I was feeling discouraged because the people I started out with had already gotten their degrees and graduated, and I was still like so far away, it seemed. But that was because I was going on tour and then I would come back and I do semester of school.
And then I leave again for a tour, and that was my life, the last three, three years. This last year I wasn’t on tour, I was able to just go full time and, and finally, finish it. So it feels so good to be done.
That’s awesome and amazing. Thanks again for speaking with me. We’re really looking forward to, catching you on tour! Hopefully that you’ll come to Michigan.
I love Michigan. The Michigan, Detroit, Chicago area.
We absolutely love you. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with the fans?
Just that the album is out. You can go listen to it right now. I’m so proud of this body of work. I want to say thank you so much to everyone who has been so supportive of me, especially this last year and a half, and that I have some really cool surprises coming up.
I shot some music videos for this album that have not been at least yet. I shot three of them in three days. So it was, it was a lot, but they’re really awesome. They are so different from one another. And I described them as many movies, so I can’t wait for everyone to see them!