The Toronto four-piece may not be royal, but they are the ultimate people’s band. Diana was never intended to be a band. There would be no tours, no promotional activity, just a recording project culminating in an album. That was Kieran Adams and Joseph Shabason’s plan, until the people spoke – or rather listened – and coerced them into giving more.
“It was purely just me and Joseph, who’ve been friends for a long time, wanting to continue our music-making together with a new sound,” explains Kieran. “It’s always surprising when people take an interest with that kind of volume.”
“We were genuinely shocked when the SoundCloud generated the first 10,000 plays,” admits Carmen Elle, a figurehead of the Toronto music scene who the boys, along with bassist Paul Matthew, had invited to sing on the project a few months earlier. “Kieran took me out for coffee and said, ‘I just want you to know, for some reason, people are listening to this song.’”
With the soft-focus elegance of ‘Born Again’ – the first thing they posted online – it’s no wonder Diana caught people’s attention. A slinky, luxurious piece of summer dream-pop, its jazzy undertones and ’80s inflections are reminiscent of chillwave and blog-pop. Crucially, though, it excels in a genre many people have grown tired of. On their striking album ‘Perpetual Surrender’ (out August 19), currents of experimentalism ripple between straight-up pop hooks.
“Me and Joseph made a commitment to each other that we would just do what we were excited about,” Keiran says. “It wasn’t a super-specific thing – just pop music that’s accessible but still exposing people to new things.”
Despite the debut album not being available to buy yet, in the year since its completion Diana have been working on its follow-up, with all four members contributing to the writing process. “The first album was written before they even contacted me,” clarifies Carmen. “But now we’re all able to come at it from an equal footing. I’m very curious to see how it comes out.”
From modest aims to embarking on album number two in just over 12 months, Diana could be one of the most fortuitous new bands to emerge from Toronto’s prestigious music scene. They’re certainly one of the most exciting.
Need To Know
Based: Toronto, Canada
For Fans Of: Toro Y Moi, Gayngs
Buy It Now: Debut album ‘Perpetual Surrender’ is released on August 19 on Jagjaguwar
See Them Live: Diana return to the UK to support Austra at London’s KOKO on November 25 with more dates to follow
On NME.COM: Listen to an exclusive remix from Four Tet
Believe It Or Not: Carmen’s overriding memory of the band’s first trip to the UK is our street food. “It’s so good!” she gasps.