Instantly recognisable for his K-pop aesthetics both musically and sartorially, Blood Diamonds aka Kansas-born LA-based Michael Diamond's powder-pink hair and unabashed pop sounds have got him involved with the likes of Grimes and Ellie Goulding, as well as supporting Ariel Pink (Illuminations Festival on 9 Nov). After releases on record labels Transparent, The Pop Manifesto, and 4AD, Blood Diamonds will be playing East London's Birthdays on 12 November. Check out his exclusive mix for Dazed here, as an insight to his eclectic tastes...
Dazed Digital: You grew up in Kansas, did your surroundings inform your music tastes or development in any way?
Blood Diamonds: Yeah it was kind of a good environment to discover interest in the normal. For example, drumlines are a huge deal in the midwest and as far as musical impacting experiences go, it was a big deal. I was kind of obsessed with the idea of getting to high school and being a hardcore drumline member, but unfortunately I somehow ended up at a school without a drumline or a music program, which got me started seeking alternative outlets.
DD: What was your first encounter with things like K-pop? What do you think are the biggest differences in musical characteristics between Korean pop and Western pop?
Blood Diamonds: First time I heard K-pop was probably a Girls Generation video someone posted because they thought it was funny, but I was really into it. Something about the shameless influence of dance music and the over the top complexities of the melodies made me fall in love almost instantly.
DD: You're studying for a degree in video game design? Is there a strong relationship between the way you work between video and audio in your creative processes?
Blood Diamonds: Studied... yes. It was one of those experiences that just kind of came out of nowhere, it was a very last minute decision to go to make video games in fucking Canada, but I'm so glad did. It taught me so much about digital work ethic and the importance of always doing what you love. I think that's the most important part of video games and music. If you are wholeheartedly having fun with your work, you will never work a day in your life.
DD: Having worked with a lot of girly vocals from the likes of Charli XCX, Ellie Goulding, & Grimes, what has been your most memorable experience? Who would be your dream collaborator, alive or dead?
Blood Diamonds: Haha! Yah I'm currently working with males as well. The first time I worked with Claire [Grimes] was memorable, like we played both our first shows together at a dive bar in east Vancouver and kept in touch until finally we hung out. I lost track of time and she had no phone so she slept on my door step for a good half hour before I came out and found her. We preceded to drink more than we should have and whilst doing so, recorded "Phone Sex". Later that night we went to a party and walked into the dj playing "Vanessa" and then my song "Heart", we just both stared at him... haha. He looked up and realized the comedy of the situation and gave us a bar tab and then we got these two girls we didn't know pretty drunk. That was like the best birth of a friendship to date. I would really love to do a record with Steve Reich.
DD: What are you most looking forward to next?
Blood Diamonds: Well I just got into London now and really looking forward to all the European shows.
Blood Diamonds Tour:
06 Nov Manchester, Soup Kitchen - Beta Clubnight
07 Nov Reading, Oakford Social Club - BBC Introducing Event
08 Nov Glasgow, Mono
09 Nov London, York Hall - Illuminations Festival
10 Nov Bristol, Fear of Fiction Festival
12 Nov London, Birthdays (buy tickets here)
13 Nov Stockholm, Landet
14 Nov Berlin, Berghain
15 Nov Madrid, Sala Nasti
16 Nov Paris, Social Club - Furie Presents
17 Nov Amsterdam, De Nieuwe Anita - Subbacultcha Party