What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.

I started my first band when I was 14. A few friends at school had started their own band a couple of years earlier, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so just tried to copy them. We weren’t any good, but I started to write songs, and eventually bought a used Fostex MR-8 digital 8 track recorder. I remember spending whole summers in my room recording all day on it, and since then I’ve always loved writing and recording music.

Just over three years ago I went through a really rough visa situation, where I was held in the UK, and not allowed back into the US. Even though my application had already been accepted, I was then denied re-entry without being given a clear reason as to why. I was just told to wait indefinitely until I had an answer, which ultimately took nine weeks. Going through that time was really difficult mentally, as I wasn’t sure if I would even be allowed to return to my home in LA, let alone when. I was in a band at the time, but I said that if I got through it and was allowed to fly back, I would start doing everything myself. I didn’t want to keep relying on other people, as being an immigrant dependent on music work to stay in the country, ultimately I had much more to lose if it didn’t work out. I started work on the album as soon as arrived back in LA, and finished it around two and a half years later. I thought that the name Diamond Shake was better than putting my name on it, as I thought otherwise it might make me sound like an acoustic singer-songwriter and put people off giving it a chance.

Provide us with some info about your latest release…

The song is about being in denial of the hole I had dug myself into, during my mid/late twenties. I would keep saying that I was alright, but continued the damaging behaviour and kept getting worse. The video focuses more on issues with anger, and how even though there are triggers throughout life that set it off, you won’t ever be able to get past it without tackling the root of the problem. If you keep avoiding that, then eventually those triggers multiply, and send you into a full-blown rage. It was made by Dominique Bloink, an amazing animator from France. She has made all my videos so far, and I think this one is my favourite yet.

Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?

I think musically, the biggest influences on the album are Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mr Bungle, and Hans Zimmer. I’ve always loved music with cool, slightly over the top production, and anything with a great groove.

Non-musically, I would say my brother and Howard Stern have probably influenced me the most. They’re both incredibly hard working, driven, and successful, and their selflessness and work for others has made me try and be more generous with my own time. I’ve learned a lot about responsibility from them both too. Very different people with a lot of similarities.

In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?

I would describe it as rock music you can dance to. I think the two most important things for a song are a great groove and great melodies, and I guess those are the things I think a lot of modern rock music is missing.

Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…

Albums:
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
The Beatles, The White Album
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic

Movies:
Pulp Fiction
Whiplash
Trainspotting

Books:
Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume 1

Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?

Studio. I’ve always loved coming up with a song idea and then building it piece by piece, trying new things, and figuring out the puzzle to make it work. I think it’s also because I’ve always been pretty low on self confidence, so being on my own in a studio, instead of being in front of people, has always been a lot easier.

Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

It was December on our recording sessions and we are eating without spoons on recording studio, when a KNIFE appears the video guy took it for himself.

Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?

I think probably the first song off the album, “Let It Die”. Writing that song was the first time that I thought I had stumbled into what type of music I wanted to make. It’s a whole big production with swirling organs and bass lines, funky guitars, gospel choir type backing vocals, and it’s split into two different parts. Once I wrote that, I felt a lot more confident in just going for whatever ideas I had, and seeing where it ended up.

Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?

Dom has just started work on the music video for my next single “Great New Meaning”, which will be out in late June/early July. I’m also recording a covers album that I’ll be putting out in the summer, and then it’s onto the 6th and 7th music videos for September and November.

Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…

I’m shit at these. What’s the worst thing about living in LA? Being away from family in the UK and missing a nephew growing up is pretty tough. It’s been a little harder recently too, worrying about their wellbeing while on the other side of the world, but fortunately technology has helped a huge amount with that.

Curated by: Christos Doukakis

Recommended listening:

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