South African quartet Diamond Thug take us to ethereal heights with their new song ‘Cosmic Dreamer’, out now via Phonofile. The band has experimented with everything from electro-pop to psychedelic rock, while their previously released song ‘Eclipsed’ saw them adding a more danceable angle to their sound.
Following the success of that track, on ‘Cosmic Dreamer’ the band comes off as confident and comfortable, offering a sparkling dream pop tune that leaves a lasting effect, full with swirling guitars and Beach House-esque vibes. Described by the band as being about the “expedition of a traveler yearning to drift out of the space they occupy”, the song certainly does take you on a trip to space itself, as notable production details and backing vocals contribute to the celestial atmosphere while a driving rhythm gives the song a needed steadiness.
Chantel’s sweet vocals manage to establish a strong presence among this cosmic chaos, delivering memorable melodies and using the galaxy as a metaphor for human emotion. It’s a space we sure hope to find them again in the future, but we also can’t wait to hear what more surprises the band has in store.
GIGsoup caught up with Diamond Thug to talk about the track, their upcoming debut album, and future plans.
How did the band form?
Danilo: I met Chantel at a festival in 2012 and asked if she wanted to make hip hop. We got together wrote some songs, which never really turned out to be hip hop and started performing. Adrian joined the band after watching our first show and asking if we wanted to add a guitarist, at the time we performed with some session musician friends. I think the story of how Teddy joined us is really the best of the bunch. We had just played a show at a pretty big local festival called OppiKoppi. As I put my bass down I saw this big bear/wookie-like creature approaching me. It spoke: “Quick! Hug me and pretend you know me. I’ve told security that I’m your cousin.” Naturally, I obliged and later over beers we discovered its name was Ted and it was a pretty rad drummer.
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Do all of you have similar influences?
Chantel: I guess yes and no. We share a lot of common influences and love a lot of the same artists, but we also have our own taste. For example, everyone loves bands like Tame Impala, Foals and Radiohead. But then as individuals we all have our own specific taste, I don’t think it’s something that’s unique to us a band, but we definitely find that it helps us write in a more creative way. We hope that we’re mixing up our influences enough so that none of them are too obvious.
You’ve experimented with different sounds throughout the years. How do you feel about this new direction that ‘Cosmic Dreamer’ takes? Is this a place you feel comfortable at?
Chantel: Yeah, we’ve really taken our time to find a sound that we’re excited to share with the world and our last two singles: Eclipsed and Cosmic Dreamer, have elements to them that push a direction, but I think upcoming singles might give our listeners a little more of an idea of what will be our ‘sound’ and what sounds are more specific to each composition.
Danilo: As to whether we’re comfortable with where we’re at, again I think it’s more of a yes and no answer. Yes in that, at least to us, these latest compositions really capture the feeling we were trying to convey. And no in that we never want to feel too comfortable in a sound. We like trying new things and we don’t want to become restricted in genres because people expect a particular thing from us. We can’t wait to start writing again to see what comes out.
The track seems to blend both musically and lyrically your ambition as a band as well as a spacy atmosphere. Is this something you wish to explore further?
Danilo: Well, Cosmic Dreamer is the second single off of our debut album, which we’re releasing early next year. The first single was named ‘Eclipsed’, so I guess it’s safe to share that the album ties the cosmos into its imagery throughout.
Chantel: We’re lucky to have found ourselves in a space where we seem to be quite in tune with each other in terms of the feelings we’re experiencing and the imagery we hope to evoke through the music we are making. We’re super glad you’ve noticed that, because we’ve wanted listeners to feel the cosmos in both our lyrics and music and we want listeners to experience that sort of wonder and awe that we have for the cosmos.
What was the process of writing the song?
Danilo: All the songs we’ve been writing recently have varied in their process, but generally and specifically for Cosmic Dreamer, we start with an initial idea that leads our minds racing down potential paths. I think in this case it was Adrian’s synth line that started the track, but it could have been his guitar. We then workshop ideas in a live environment until a direction starts taking form and it goes from riffs to a song.
Are you excited about your upcoming South Africa shows?
Chantel: Yes. We’ve got some really big festivals coming up and some smaller more special shows too. Playing in Cape Town has always been tough for us because venues are few and far between and it’s a pretty small scene. Earlier this year we decided to be proactive and start throwing a few special events and it’s really paid off, our last three shows have sold out. I think crowds have responded well to both our new music and to the effort we’ve tried to put into building some shows. We’re also excited to tour internationally next year. We’re looking into options around, so maybe you can come to a show soon!