Now Jamming: “Albuquerque”
Currently: On Tour Nationally “
“That’s when I was like, ‘Okay. I’m going to try this, and I did it,” mused folk/rock singer-songwriter Diana DeMuth, recalling her daring dive into the music scene a little over a year ago. Now in the middle of a national tour that she planned herself, twenty-one year old DeMuth is the definition of the driven, independent artist so prevalent in today’s music industry. Yet DeMuth isn’t just following a dream, she’s creating her own opportunities.
DeMuth has always been drawn to music, and in a way music has always pursued her. It all started in the fifth grade when a guitar teacher encouraged her to start writing songs to showcase her voice. “I went home and wrote this horrible song. That was kind of the beginning of it,” she laughed. After writing that first song, she was hooked. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
Her sound has a thoughtful sort of playfulness to it. DeMuth’s earthy voice dances around the simplistic tracks with a delicate sort of ease. The sweet spot of her music resides in the ebb and flow of her resonate voice. The arrangements themselves are a bit quirky, yet find their home in a soft rock foundation with a folky twist. While DeMuth’s music naturally emanates a mellow vibe, her lyrics are anything but passive. Taking cues from Leonard Cohen and Conor Oberst, DeMuth likes to lay the soul bare with complexities of the mind and heart. “My mind goes about 4000 miles per hour,” she explained. “I’ll experience something and just because it’s the way my brain works—it’s always larger than life.”
Although she’ll never talk about it, DeMuth was a 2013 contestant on major network series The X Factor. On a whim during a layover in Colorado, DeMuth auditioned for the show eventually making it through the celebrity judges round in front of Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears and into the top fifty. While the audience and the judges fell in love with her voice, the show wasn’t the direction she wanted to take. “It was definitely interesting,” said DeMuth, “but the problem that I had with it is that it didn’t really speak to what I do. I’m not a cover singer.” The fear of losing her artistry to the label of a cover singer tinged the experience of the show. However, she doesn’t regret her time there. “I’m glad I did it because it helped me realize that if you put yourself out there, it can work out,” she stated.
With this realization to guide her at the crossroads, DeMuth dropped out of college her sophomore year to fully dedicate herself to following her dream. She started to put herself out there. Her first endeavor: Write an album from start to finish and release it on her own. This turned into a project called “Albuquerque,” which became her debut album. For the album she worked with producer Alain Mallet, who’s worked with the likes of Paul Simon and Jonathan Brooks. For about a year the two worked tirelessly on developing DeMuth’s characteristic sound. DeMuth would bring song after song to Mallet who would in turn listen with a discerning ear for the potential of the production. After careful consideration, they created an album where no two songs are the same concept and many push DeMuth out of her ballad-centered comfort zone. This collaborative sound blurs the lines between genres as DeMuth’s soulful, candy-coated voice fills out the sound.
As a new artist, it’s an exciting and daunting undertaking to take on the music world. Then, especially as an independent artist, it’s hard to break the surface of the music industry’s tastes and preferences. The music industry likes what it likes, and it’s hard to get industry professionals to take an artist seriously if the artist hasn’t already “made it” in a sense, and DeMuth is no exception. “People not taking me seriously is the hardest part of breaking into the music industry. I’ve come to realize thought that it’s really about getting up, playing and letting people see for themselves,” DeMuth said.
Daily, DeMuth lives this principal out in her professional life. Touring is her way of making herself known in the music world, of making those crucial connections. So far her career has focused on small victories and making it past the crossroads. Step number one was finding Alain, an experienced professional who’s opinion has weight for DeMuth. Step number two is honing in on her live musicianship and showing the music industry that she’s not all talk. As she looks towards the future, DeMuth commented, “I used to say ‘living my dreams’ was what it meant to me to make it, but now I really just want people to know me. I don’t want to be famous with the paparazzi and such. I just want to be able to announce a show a few days out and have people show up anyway.”
The life of an independent artist is hard. There’s no way around it. Some days are worse than others, but every day is worth it in the end. DeMuth’s not worried, “I think music speaks for itself.”
DeMuth’s album released March 17th 2015 and is available for streaming through her website or for purchase on iTunes. Check out “Albuquerque” out now, or check out her tour dates on her website.
Words and interview by Haley Buske
Photo by Christopher Macken