DIANA | Photo: Laurie Kang
DIANA took the indie music scene by storm in 2013 with their debut album Perpetual Surrender. Almost by accident, the band achieved enormous critical and commercial success without ever even playing live together. Formed out of the desire to make use of excess studio time that drummer Kieran Adams and saxophonist Joseph Shabason had, Carmen Elle joined what was conceived as a one-off recording project. They never expected their collaboration to explode like it did.
After posting their album on SoundCloud, the first single, “Born Again“, blew up. One after one, singles from Perpetual Surrender became hits, making DIANA one of the most exciting new indie bands of the year. Suddenly, this one-off recording project was now a band being courted by record labels and booked to tour. DIANA signed to Jagjaguwar and by 2014, Perpetual Surrender had been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.
The whirlwind of the album’s success propelled the band through a long period of extensive touring and promotion so it’s no surprise that when the time came to begin constructing their second album, they packed up their gear and retreated to a Quebec cottage to write and record what would become Familiar Touch. This time around, DIANA was a fully formed band who had an established fan base and a history of critical praise. They took their time. In stark contrast to the two weeks of studio time that gave birth to Perpetual Surrender, the band spent over five months meticulously writing and recording their sophomore record.
After completing Familiar Touch, DIANA experienced another landmark moment in their career that would further cement their bond as a band. After presenting the finished album to Jagjaguwar, they faced creative differences resulting in the band leaving the label and signing with Culvert Music. Familiar Touch, in its unaltered form, was released last month and has been received with enthusiastic reviews championing DIANA’s vision and belief in their album.
While DIANA’s accomplishments are what most musicians dream of achieving, the nonstop pace of capitalizing on success can often feel like a struggle. Carmen Elle opened up to Stories Behind The Songs about DIANA’s triumphs and challenges over past three years, showing the grit it takes to succeed in this industry. Before heading out on tour, Elle revealed to SBTS how the band really felt about their first record, her battle with being a musician while coping with touring anxiety, her unique approach to songwriting, the process of creating and defending Familiar Touch, and the whirlwind that has been life in DIANA.