DIANA opening for Trust and Eraas at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (February 22), 9 pm. $17.50. RT, SS, TW. See listings.
As we settle our bar tab, Diana cofounder Kieran Adams's phone rings. He listens for a moment and then laughs. "What kind of vehicle did we just buy?!"
He's talking to his bandmate Joseph Shabason, who's just purchased a band van so they won't have to keep renting.
Ordinarily, that move might seem premature for a group that's only played a handful of shows. But the Toronto four-piece is leaving for a tour soon, opening for big-leaguers Tegan & Sara, including their July 6 show at Downsview Park with Fun.
Not only are gig offers pouring in, but Diana also just signed to one of the most prestigious indie labels in the world.
"I think I'm allowed to say, ‘Yes, there is a label involved,' and it's a really great label that we all love."
Neither Adams nor Shabason, who between them have played in Destroyer, Bonjay, Warm Myth, Thunderheist, Sarah Harmer's touring band and others, had big expectations for Diana when they started writing material for their upcoming debut album.
"Me and Joseph had got a grant to do an album with another project of ours, Everything All the Time. But we'd lost focus about what that music was supposed to sound like. When it came time to record, everyone was too busy, so we decided to fold the project and start from scratch."
They sequestered themselves in a cottage with a bunch of vintage electronic gear and slowly crafted a collection of slinky synth pop gems. It isn't dark electro dance, though: Diana have more in common with the laid-back summer-day funk of the Tom Tom Club, embellished with smooth sax and even some Robert Fripp-inspired guitar heroics.
The finishing touch came when they recruited vocalist Carmen Elle, who's played with Austra, Donlands & Mortimer, Army Girls and as a solo act. (They've also since added bassist/guitarist Paul Mathew.)
"Initially, Carmen just came in to sing on one track, but she was perfect. Her interpretation was dead on."
They were excited about the results, but there was no line of label reps knocking on the door. Not yet.
"There really wasn't a plan. We just figured we'd put the music out there online and someone might want to release it. Maybe we'd be able to do a tour or something. We've all played enough to know that you can't count on these things."
A few days after posting songs to SoundCloud, they were already racking up substantial plays. As various international blogs started giving them love, the buzz snowballed, and they started getting high-profile gig and record deal offers.
"What was funny to me was that after a month of getting great blog press, we had all these publicists contacting us essentially offering what we were already getting on our own."