I’ve seen hundreds of live in-studio performances in my years as a radio DJ.
It’s the very rare musician who can come in with just a guitar and vocals and make me swoon with their melodies.
On November 27, 2010 I had just spent the day previewing music for my radio show. That morning I had found new songs by a rainbow-painted rock player with a deep masculine voice named Diamond Rings. The hooks were strong and impactive.
As I pulled up to the station I saw the same tall man disappear into the studios, guitar on his back. I had no idea he was playing that day.
Within minutes he was on the air, playing one of the finest acoustic sets I have ever heard or seen. In this video of that same session recorded live at KEXP radio, notice how strong the melodies are coming from both his guitar and voice.
Diamond Rings’ humble flamboyance is also notable. Relatable. You can tell it took him a long time to be that brave.
Diamond Rings new single “I’m Just Me” seriously hits the spot. With warm melodies and lyrics that are urgent and honest. The full record comes out this fall and hopefully it will all be just as danceable and deep.
Artist/musician John O A.K.A. Diamond Rings grew up playing piano, the saxophone and basketball in the suburbs of Toronto. After high school he moved into the city to go to art college and gradually amped up his musical explorations.
2009′s “All Yr Songs” was a homemade video where John dressed androgynously and expressed his feelings about his big move to Toronto. The songs “Wait and See” and “Show Me Your Stuff” followed with videos as well in 2010, earning him a strong online following.
His first full-length Special Affections dropped that October. The best track was ”Something Else.” Diamond Rings’ mix of masculine and feminine brings to mind gender-bender greats Bowie, Grace Jones and Iggy Pop.
Tune in to Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM in Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian, documentary producer and DJ, she’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries and written scripts, lesson plans and features for Experience Music Project, University of Washington and NPR. Thursday, August 23rd Michele spins dance sets of soul and electronic music for Uptown Motown at Electric Tea Garden in Seattle.