Steven Morgan 30/08/2009
Steven Morgan got in touch with Hsin Yi Chang (vocals) and Vincent D (Synth / Bassist) of the chaotic electro trio Glass Diamond whose 8-bit punky electro has been tearing up numerous venues around the capital recently. They're unafraid to experiment with avant-garde soundscapes and are as happy throwing raw aggression against childlike melodies as hitting four to the floor and proactively getting an entire room dancing.
How did you come up with the band name?
HYC: 1. It's to do with Kabala Power Number. ("Glass Diamond" is a number 1, I like the power which give to this name, but none of us is religious).
2."Glass Diamond" is low class, fake diamond, it's like our sound: Pretty / 8-bit sampler / colourful / and no one will died from it.
What genre of music do you consider yourselves to be?
VD: I don't think of us as any genre at all. We don't tend to write pop songs so this gives us more freedom to sonically take songs where we want. Speaking for myself, I like to think our different songs illicit different emotions in people. When played live, "Let's Rap" has a really mean, phat rave beat on it, while "there is only love" has a dreamy, hopeful melancholy in the synth and vocal line. Playing in London we've seen a whole heap of bands playing a set of songs of the same genre, tempo, and sound, singing songs about relationships. Big deal, guys!
HYC: Experimental Pop.
Who are your major influences?
VD: I try and create the sort of sounds I'd like to hear a band play live, Keyboard Patch wise-Daft Punk, Justice, Mr. Oizo, Health, Crystal Castles. Bass-wise I'm influenced by loads but bands I grew up with remind me why I started playing bass: Rage Against The Machine, NOFX, Rancid, Coheed & Cambria, and Bring Me The Horizon. A strange mixture for sure, but as we're not following anyone else's blueprint we can draw in elements from just about anywhere if it fits the mood of the song. P.S. I am sick and tired of bands playing it safe and listing the same boring bands as their influences: The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stone Roses etc. It's so OBVIOUS.
HYC: Velvet Underground, Debussy, Bj√∂rk, Portishead, Radiohead, Massive Attack.
How did the EP recording go?
VD: "In the old days we used to have to have to go to studios, now we make them on computers!" We're all involved in creating sounds, drum parts, and synth lines and we're emailing parts to each other all the time. Once all the parts are at Hsins home studio, she disappears for days and the tracks magically appear on Myspace. The studio blueprint is dead! Why would you pay £500 a day to record half a song?!
HYC: C.D.R. (Chris Robinson, drums) will sent me drum parts he create, Vincent will sent me the idea of synth, then I cut the files, mash up with samples....and we also collaborate with other underground musicians as well, such as "Adam Smith", and "Laugh Last".
When and how is it going to be released?
VD: We've got about 15 tracks recorded now so for the rest of the year we're playing the tracks live and seeing which ones get the best reactions before we decide where and how to release it.
Is there going to be a lead single from it?
VD: Ha, we're kinda having problems with that in that we don't write pop songs, even the indie labels that are talking to us would feel "more comfortable" if we released a lead-off track for Radio etc. At this point, having just been played on that Skins-esque Myspace TV show "Freaks," it would probably be "There Is Only Love" but we love some of the newer tracks so more likely to be one of those. I would say the single too is dead but I found out today 3OH!3 have sold 3 million singles so far, I can't believe it!
How did the Gary Numan date come about?
VD: The Internet's still kinda mind-blowing as a window on the world, every single day emails just fly in from nowhere from people asking us to play various things or have tracks featured on online TV shows etc. We're still a fairly young band and only now after all this work has the project started to grow its own legs-we're not asking to play shows anymore, people emailing us from all over. It's nice.
HYC: I emailed Oxjam ask for gigs 6 month ago, Promoter Peter Newton who organize Xposed at O2 Academy Birmingham, used to work for Oxjam. He ask if we can play, so it how it all come from.
When did the band form?
VD: We'd been in touch swapping songs and finishing our set for months before we'd even met, and have spent most of 2009 in sweaty, cheap, sweat-on-walls rehearsal rooms damaging our ears and getting everything perfect. Then the gigs started and they started to get so crazy so quickly we felt a freedom to experiment and do whatever we wanted during the sets-peaking at our show at The Square Festival in Wales last month. Hsin ran offstage screaming into a loudspeaker and left me kinda alone on this huge stage just riffing Led-Zeppelin esque riffs on a wobbly stage amp, before somehow returning with 6 men dressed as Sheep who formed a human pyramid onstage while we played "Nude On Mars." The photographers were strobing the stage at this point, and as I gazed to the back of the crowd, on the very edge, there was a family of four watching with their arms crossed. I'd love to have heard their thoughts on the bizarre things going on on this stage on a farm somewhere in Wales.
What inspired you to make music together?
VD: Nothing directly, it just felt right when I heard it. It wasn't like "we all like electronica. Let's form a band." Our musical backgrounds could barely be more different-the only thing we have in common is playing heaps of gigs in previous bands, easily 300 between us. And now this strange new project that none of us have done before. It's nice when we're walking out of a practice room to hear some bearded indie band tell us we sound like " Bj√∂rk on acid." People will always put a handle on things and lazily say we're like Crystal Castles as of our live setup and a couple of songs which vaguely resemble their electronica. It's not a bad thing but not really accurate with where we're trying to get to.
HYC: I went on CDR's myspace page by accident, I love the music he makes and I'm looking for drummer. Vince join us a bit later, as he love the music we make.
Your live shows are hugely entertaining affairs, how important is the live show to what you do?
VD: The most important thing for us from day one has always been the live show to be as dynamic and different as possible. We're not trying to be moody, deep electro indie shoegazers-I'm inspired by the high-energy Punk Rock shows I went to growing up, Chris (CDR) has a background of drumming at Drum N' Bass raves up and down the country, and Hsin regularly played to thousands in her last band "KBN" all over Taiwan. We played this gig last week where, as always, me and CDR started the set with synth and drums, when Hsin ran by me in her outfit I did a double take, she was kinda dripping in the colour red from head-to-toe with an insane burkha-style motif covering her face, and was already climbing the amp. I was thinking "this is the sort of live show I'd love to watch! Awesome!"
HYC: I like to create something unique, interesting, as I get bored so easily. It's not too much about entertain other people, it's about entertain myself really. I get so excited just to think about what I'm going to do on next show.
What's the ultimate plan for the band?
VD: Another interviewer asked us this already and I always said I see us in five years playing in the world's first completely electronic stripclub, but Hsin said this was an awful idea and asked the guy not to print it, haha...We're not precious and take nothing for granted, we hang out with the people who come to see us at the shows and festival, and we've always wanted our music to reach the widest possible audience, though we don't know how to write pop songs so we'll never change to "that sort of thing." We just wanna play all over Europe and the rest of the world. This strange Polish guy who was filming us recently gave me his card and said "most cameraman work 24/7 for your band, I work 25/08!ha!ha!" and 25/08 is kinda how much we're working on this project to get to where we wanna be. Just realised I've riddled this interview with band clich√©s, and I'm very wary of this following the Raygun Youtube Interview everyone's talking about...A quick listen on our Myspace will dissolve any thoughts of us ending up as the next them.
HYC: To do what we love, live the life we want, and surround by people who also love what we create."