There’s a kind of surrender to this thing that is changing you… even if your neurosis is always close by
A passionate explosion of energy opens Los Angeles-based D I A M O N D S’ debut single, “My White Diamond” as frontman Joseph Gárate surrenders himself. “You’re a fire, and your smoke, well it’s burning me,” he exclaims dramatically in the song’s entrance. It’s amazing how our thoughts and emotions can consume us – how another person can indirectly take over our lives. Call it love, call it obsession, call it passion – there exists, for all of us, this ‘force’ can eat a person from within, totally taking over the mind and body. “My White Diamond” explores the peculiarity of such a force, examining its impact from the first-person perspective.
come on out, come out my darling
come on out, come out for me
there’s a storm of love that’s brewing around you
and there’s music under your feet
I am only a worm
Listen: “My White Diamond” – D I A M O N D S
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “My White Diamond,” D I A M O N D S’ first-ever release. A quartet comprised of singer, songwriter, and stage performer Joseph Gárate, drummer Anders La Source, bassist Andrew Narvaez, and guitarist Dominick Costabile, D I A M O N D S formed in late 2015 around a shared interest of “passionate, existential pop.” Indeed, “My White Diamond” is as much a love song as it is an ode to the lover’s pain and vulnerability. When we love, we hurt. Gárate attacks this subject head-on, fully engulfing himself in the sort of blinding passion that allows you to elevate another to sacred levels whilst throwing yourself aside.
come on out, come out my sweetheart
come on out, come out for me
I would pluck you from the vine to have you
I’ll have you in my arms when I sleep
I am only a germ
If you come up short, I would open my lungs
If you come up short, I would cut out my tongue
If you come up short, I have two lungs
If you come up short, it’s in the back of my tongue
If you can’t get straight, I would open my veins
I feel no pain
Emotion spills out of Gárate’s lungs, pouring over his words like boiling water from a cauldron. He projects so sincerely and authentically from dark depths of the soul. To give so much of oneself is as beautiful as it is horrifying: “If you come up short, I would open my lungs / If you come up short, I would cut out my tongue,” sings the D I A M O N D S bandleader in an almost sinister, foreboding manner. His lyricism is reminiscent of The Doors’ Jim Morrison: Beautifully poetic, hauntingly pure, and unfathomably dark.
run to the ocean
run to the beach
you are majestic in the night, my white diamond
majestic in the night for me
but i am still just a worm
“This song is at its core about something beautiful, but to simply listen to someone describe something beautiful isn’t interesting,” explains Gárate. “What drove me to write these words is the anxiety and paranoia inspired by the subject matter. That’s what feels interesting. That’s what feels real.” Spine-tingling chills invoked from D I A M O N D S’ performance will leave one thinking about the impact of their own emotions, and their susceptibility to those feelings, long after this song is over.
It’s hard for most acts to make an impact right from the start, but D I A M O N D S’ single immediately hits home. A solid debut should make the listener pause, both from a musical and a lyrical perspective. “My White Diamond” encourages deeper listening, begging to be heard on repeat as you decipher the layers of Gárate’s evocative expression and introspection. Enjoy Atwood Magazine’s premiere of “My White Diamond,” and discover more about D I A M O N D S and their debut via our exclusive interview below! For a newcomer with one song to their name, there’s a lot to love about D I A M O N D S.
MEET D I A M O N D SAtwood Magazine: The energy builds fast in the intro. Why explode into the song like that?
Joseph Gárate: This song has a very matter-of-fact quality to it that we couldn’t ignore or play down when we were putting it together. The feelings that are expressed emotionally and musically require us to fire on all cylinders, so… we just do. Sometimes a song will just present itself to you in a very clear way. With this one we needed to put out this noise and this energy right from the start because it felt right. It would have been disingenuous to pace it out so as to build to some sort of expressive crescendo. The song does have an emotional arch but it’s subtle and requires a certain amount of energy, even at the very beginning.
What does it mean, to you, to be “just a worm”?
Gárate: Even though it may sound self-effacing, sometimes you feel like nothing is more important than who or what you’re singing about and you’re humbled by it. You feel like it may be too precious in your hands. Somehow you understand the gravity and the beauty of what you’re dealing with but you don’t have the foggiest idea what to do when faced with it. It puts you in your place. You feel like something small, like a worm.
Sometimes you feel like nothing is more important than who or what you’re singing about.
The image of a “white diamond” traditionally represents purity and matrimony. How do you feel you skew that image in this song?
Gárate: I don’t know that I do skew it… it’s funny… I’m glad you’re asking this question because I never really thought about it representing those things explicitly… it was just an image that came to me in a strange way, in a way that a lot the imagery I’ll use does. It just felt right… it came into my body… into my gut… and it seemed to say more to me when I uttered it than many more words would have. Purity and matrimony isn’t far off. The song isn’t about getting married or anything quite like that, but I do feel like it deals with some of the same feelings one might feel when they take such a step. There’s a kind of surrender to this thing that is changing you… and even if your neurosis is always close by… it’s a positive feeling… it feels important.
There's a poeticism beneath these lyrics that goes well beyond the song. Is this typical for your songwriting?
Gárate: Yeah I guess so. I don’t want to be poetic. I would never think to write words like these down and present them apart from the music I’ve attached them to, but I guess they come out a certain way. Sometimes what comes out is … odd… but the words tend to come from being in the moment and being in this dream state that I’ll gravitate towards when I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll go back and edit myself if I feel like the words are just “too much” or that they don’t really land, but that doesn’t happen often.
Why choose to release this song first? What is its significance to the band?
Gárate: The song is special in that it’s a true collaboration between myself, Anders La Source, and Andrew Narváez. They put the music together and I loved it. This freed me up to bring something to it in a different way, I didn’t build it from the ground up, as I most often do with our material. Perhaps that’s why there’s an odd freedom in the words and in the singing. I hate to say this because it is the first thing we’re putting out, but it’s slightly more upbeat than much of what we do – but its “poppy-ness” felt right to us. I love bands like The Smiths and The Cure so it felt natural, as a chronically melancholic person and lyricist, to help make a song that was danceable and in major key. Our producer Norm also loved it. So, here it is!
It felt natural, as a chronically melancholic person and lyricist, to help make a song that was danceable and in major key.
A song using “diamond,” and the band name “D I A M O N D S.” Why? What's the relation?
Gárate: The song and the lyric came first. We had written the song and had been kicking it around before we had officially put this band together and given it a name. I had a running list of names that I was considering including “My White Diamonds” or “My Diamonds.” I guess I was sort of continuing the thought from the song… I liked the idea of diamonds. I like how it felt when I said it or thought of it. I liked the idea of the music being cold, shiny, or shimmery. Then I had to consider that it was easy to write, to say, and to remember – unlike my name, which we were simply using at one point. It felt simple and still evocative of several different things without being too specific… which was fine with me. Naming a band is a terrible process. There isn’t any real connection beyond that, it’s all sort of abstract and unrelated. I guess the word “diamonds” just does something to me when I say it – when my head is in a certain place – which is why I chose it for the lyric as well as the name of the band.
Why the spaces in-between letters? Other than aesthetics, how does this set you apart?
Gárate: I like how when you come across it in print… You have to stop for a moment. You have to take an extra beat to figure out what is being spelled out. I think I/we are attracted to things that are kind of off or unusual. Naming a band “diamonds” isn’t all that unusual, but displaying the letters in such a way messes with it a little bit. It gives the name I kind of bigness, an epic sort of feeling which feels appropriate for whatever reason. It almost looks cinematic to me. I feel like a lot of people are using the spaces now, and I kind of understand why. It looks beautiful. It feels modern and yet vague enough so as not to be too specific. Even though I know I’m not the first person to do it, when I started it didn’t feel cliche … oh well! I know these are all aesthetic reasons… If there’s any relation to the music or the brand of the band I would have to say – even though I’m not sure I like saying it – that there is a weight and a gravity to the music we make. Our music is big and expressive a lot of the time. I write about heavier things because that’s whats on my mind… the band brings the songs to life in an incredibly expressive way that has a wide range of dynamics. I don’t think the music ever really sounds disaffected or blasé. It’s not that I’m avoiding those feelings. That’s just not our natural state. So the way the name looks kind of epic feels natural.
There is a weight and a gravity to the music we make.
There's a deep, internal need in your voice - one of yearning, of emphatic emotion. Thinking back to your recording session, what drove you forward when making this song? What was your light?
Gárate: I think what you’re referring to drives much of my performing. A lot of what sparks the writing is anger, or fear, or anxiety. This song is at its core about something beautiful, but to simply listen to someone describe something beautiful isn’t interesting. What drove me to write these words is the anxiety and paranoia inspired by the subject matter. That’s what feels interesting. That’s what feels real. I like that aesthetic contrast, too. Life is complicated and violent after all. I think this performance style is just an extension of who I am and a result of just living in this world and seeing things the way I see them. The music is also an inspiration. I’m connected to the music. The guys play it beautifully and passionately. It complements and reinforces the images that come to mind when I’m singing and, conversely, the music sounds even better to me when I lay my own meaning on top of it. It’s cyclical in a weird, expressive way.
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cover photo: D I A M O N D S © 2016