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Music article by Charlotte McManus
Filling dancefloors with his woozy, blissed-out soundscapes and tropical-print production, Vancouver-based electronic artist/producer Blood Diamonds (otherwise known as Michael Diamond) currently stands head and shoulders above his competitors (well, he is 6”9). Now, with upcoming EP Phone Sex (said to be the result of a night partying with frequent collaborator Grimes) all but ready to drop, we talk to Mike about the Canadian music scene, Ke$ha and where he’d be without the Internet.
Tell us about your upcoming Phone Sex EP release. How will it compare to your previous work?
The obvious difference is that it’s a real release, and has a sick featuring, with a single (‘Phone Sex’) with Grimes, and two more originals. The 12″ will also include remixes from Unicorn Kid and Jensen Sportag, among others, and will be out this summer. One of my favourite designers, Josh Clancy [of electronic duo Elite Gymnastics], did the artwork.
You’ve done a few collaborations with Grimes now – how did you two meet? What is it about her artistically that means you both work well together?
I met Claire at the very first Blood Diamonds show, in Vancouver, December 2010. She played before me, and it was amazing. I wasn’t 100% positive on her age as she was wearing Skechers (or some s**t like Skechers – New Balance maybe?), and her dad was in attendance. She introduced herself after the set with a super enthusiastic smile, and then disappeared. Several months later, I saw a post on Arbutus she wrote about me, and we started exchanging DMs – thousands of messages later, we finally hung out, and partied our livers and brains into a heathenistic oblivion. There’s something so natural when we work on a track – we could do it for days on end without sleep or exterior human contact.
You were originally born in Kansas City. How would you say the Canadian electronic music scene compares to that in America? Are you received any differently there?
I can’t really speak to America as a scene. Kansas City had pretty dull music scene when I left; a bunch of retired hardcore kids with kaoscilators who heard a Crystal Castles record three years too late. The first Blood Diamonds events in Vancouver had bigger and bigger turnouts – something that would never happen in the Midwest.
It’s definitely the case that Canada has some really exciting artists putting out sounds at the moment (including The Weeknd, Purity Ring and Drake) – are there any others we should be listening to?
There’s a group called Blue Hawaii on Claire’s home label Arbutas who I’m really into, but I haven’t seen a lot of press or attention given to them. Their track ‘Blue Gowns’ is amazing. BRAIDS is really cool too, and kind of underrated. If you’re into noise art s**t, I would suggest checking out Myths – super cute.
You’ve had names like Deptford Goth and Clique Talk (now called The Drum) remixing your work in the past – is it ever hard to relinquish creative control of your work to other artists?
I’m at the point now where I still have some control over who remixes my work. It’s usually artists I respect for one reason or another, and I’m always excited to hear their vision. ‘Relinquish’ would be a good name for an anime full-length film, maybe about the ocean disappearing or something.
Having built up a large part of your career through the Internet, where do you think your music would be without it?
I would be hustling tapes or CD-Rs. I mean, some people do that regardless of the Internet, but I’m into that shameless IRL hustle s**t. If I were to really analyse the impact of no Internet, there wouldn’t be artists who inspired my production, there wouldn’t have been any way for me to learn how to produce in the middle of Missouri… the list goes on. A lot of artists wouldn’t be where they are today without the Internet.
Would you ever be tempted to go into pop production? If say, Britney or Ke$ha called up tomorrow and asked you to produce a record with them, would you?
Yeah. I just bought a Ke$ha CD, because I’m into the production on some of the tracks – that style of production is what Young Jeezy’s records are to the rap world. If I had my pick of the crop, I would much rather produce Katy Perry or Alicia Keys; none of that Ke$ha backwater bulls**t. I’m a superstar… ha.
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
I’m in the studio working on the Blood Diamonds full-length, recording it in the smallest hotel room in Vancouver – it’s f*****g crazy. Hopefully will come out before 2013.I’m also going to Tokyo with Claire, making a ‘Phone Sex’ video, moving to LA with the IXIXI superstar crew, doing some North American dates this summer…. and producing other artists, if I have time.
You can listen to more Blood Diamonds at soundcloud.com/blooddiamonds.
Music article by Charlotte McManus