What is your name and role within Diemonds?
My name is Priya Panda and I’m the lead singer, co-songwriter and driving force behind the entity that is Diemonds.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
We’re from Toronto, Canada and we are lucky to live in a city with a rich musical history with tons of cultural icons but that’s also had a badass underground punk, rock and metal scene over the years. For all of us, the availability of and accessibility to live music changed the entire course of our lives. Being able to see every single type of band imaginable in the most multicultural city on the planet is a really cool, unique way to grow up experiencing music.
How did Diemonds form?
I started Diemonds in 2006 when I tried to get my closest girlfriends Meghan Carlin on guitar and Karly Chambers on drums to jam with me in the earliest incarnations and we found our bass player Gabe Knox to round out the lineup. It was a lot of fun but it was short lived and we recorded two demo songs. I wish I could find them! The band really formed when I met C.C., who ended up becoming the lead guitar, on a tour bus in NYC. We bonded over hair metal and a year later ran into each other in Toronto. We started partying together and writing songs together. He brought in his closest friend Alan Riches on drums and our original lineup was born. And featured me C.C., Alan, and Gabe.
We’ve had a lot of lineup changes over the years because Diemonds is an entity and an idea, not just about the individuals in it. I’d like to give a shout out to Daniel Dekay, Paul Mancuso, Vassil Mester, Tyrone B, Tommy Cee, Kyle Lecourt and everyone else for being a part of the gang over the years. It’s been a crazy ride so far.
You’ve just released your new self titled album, where and when did you record?
We recorded it in our hometown Toronto at Vespa Studios which is owned by Harry Hess from Harem Scarem.
Who did you work with on the album?
We worked with a team we’ve trusted in he past: Eric Ratz, Ryan Jones, Harry Hess and a lot of pre-production/demos with Dajaun Martineau. Our manager Dan Hand was a massive help getting this project off the ground. Thanks a lot to everyone.
What influenced the sound and songwriting for this album?
Honestly, life. We have been through an INSANE amount of ups and downs with this project. It has very much informed how we see the world and create. This album is melancholy mixed with hopefulness and melody. There was no plan for the album other than good songs so you’ll hear pop punk rock and metal all mixed into this 100% pure Diemonds 80s influenced sound.
How do you usually go about songwriting? C.C. tends to present riffs but this time he worked on a lot of tracks with Toronto producer Dajaun Martineau to really drive the songwriting. I would come in to create and then finesse vocal melodies and lyrics and work together on killer harmonies. However, many of the songs written during the demo phase didn’t make the album.
Right at crunch time, a month before recording, I had the wicked chance to write with a songwriter from Boston named Michael Woods – dude is unbelievably talented. I wanna live inside his head. Anyways 4 songs we worked on with him ended up on the record.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
You have toured with Slash and Kiss amongst others, what do you find most challenging and rewarding when touring?
Meeting fans is the most rewarding. Singing 17-20 shows in a row can be rough and taxing. It’s not for everybody but goddamn is it for me!
How did you first start playing music?
Honestly, I’m not a born musician or anything. I work really, really hard at it. I started the band technically in 2005. Prior to that I’d had classical Indian singing lessons as a child and basic piano lessons. I also played flute in middle school and rocked the woodwind ensemble. Actually, I’m picking it up again and I love it.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
We just shot a music video for our single “Our Song” with the talented Skye Sweetnam of the band Sumo Cyco and we are probably gonna release some back catalogue stuff and hoping for some sweet shows to come down the pipe.
I’ll also be doing more music. I don’t like to stop.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
My favourite food is mozzarella sticks with marinara, arugula, and bubble tea. And I pretty much live at the Bovine Sex Club on Queen St in Toronto. Come find me.