Mummy Diamonds latest release “One More Chance” is a haunting 80’s new-wave inspired project that touches on troublesome personalities, the addiction to drama and how sometimes we find ourselves being the motivator of the toxicity.
“The first lyric that we wrote for it was ‘beg for the fire…’ It’s meant to be about that person who is always wanting drama, or creating chaos. That person who’s addicted to friction and neither of us can stand that personality, and maybe sometimes it’s one of us!” – James Stein, Mummy Diamonds
“A lot of people these days are grappling with whether to persevere or jump ship, to burn it down or repair it. Just like them we’ve gone through these things. ‘One More Chance’ is personal, but at the end of the day it kind of doesn’t matter. It’s art. When you make music, people are going to relate to it however they wish” – Shanna Stein, Mummy Diamonds
Formed and based in Los Angeles, Mummy Diamonds is James Stein and Shanna Stein. MD was formed during a week-long getaway when their good friend and collaborator Zachary Busby was traveling from Delaware. As lifetime artists of various mediums, James and Shanna were embarking on a fresh musical start. They had begun writing and recording all new material unexpectedly congruent with that fateful visit from Zachary.
Maintaining yet building upon signature stylistic elements from James and Shanna’s past musical endeavors, MD represents artistic evolution. Blending a unique combination of musical elements from genres such as alternative, dream pop, island and folk combined with cinematic inspired haunting vocals and harmonies, Mummy Diamonds’ music is acoustic-based with wavy space synths, romantic guitars and grimy bass and drums. MD creates an oceanic vibe that can evoke a kaleidoscope of emotions for the listener. An empathic, spiritual vibe for all moods from romantic to introspective, sexy to macabre, Mummy Diamonds’s music always still somehow manages to uplift and remain life-affirming and hopeful.
Arizona alt-rock band The Technicolors have returned with the release of their latest single “Nightvisions.” The track is a psychedelic blend of retro rock and pop melding together to form a sultry, energetic groove that nods to 80’s new wave and dance-funk. Along with unveiling “Nightvisions,” the band has announced the release details for their forthcoming LP, Cinema Sublimina, which will be released on October 22, 2021. “Nightvisions” will be accompanied on the album by the band’s leading singles “Howl” and “Dress Up For You,” which they released earlier this year. Check out the visualizer, directed by Eric Halvorsen,for “Nightvisions” here.
When discussing the concept behind “Nightvisions,” vocalist and guitarist Brennan Smiley shares:
“We had just returned from being on tour in Brazil, where Austin [Scates] and I had extended our trip after the shows to stay on a farm with some friends. We all ended up back in the studio two days after returning to Arizona, in hopes of capturing some of that dynamic shift between a place so vibrant and unfamiliar and the desert, where we all grew up and that sensation of being on your toes is often hard to come by.
The song is sort of a cacophony of synthetic city lights and moonlit escapism and it definitely tells more of a story than originally intended, which seems to be a common theme. Wrote that one from scratch in the studio in a day after a sort of panic-failure of two different songs not working and all of us feeling pretty ‘stuck’. Sean had the riff – as soon as he started playing Scates sat down at the drums, started hitting this metal stool next to the kit as a part of the groove, Nico came in with his part, Bob rolled tape and it all went from there. It’s too bad we hadn’t been fighting before it all happened because the whole thing felt like a terrible outtake from ‘That Thing You Do’ or something.” – Brennan Smiley of The Technicolors
Since introducing themselves in 2012, Arizona’s The Technicolorshave woven a luminous sonic tapestry of fuzz-fueled riffs existing somewhere between the gloomy echoes of 90’s Britpop and the snake-charmed stars of the Sonoran desert. The band’s vast and diverse catalog is highlighted by a slew of critically-praised singles, including: “Space Cadet,” “Tonight You Are Mine,” “Neon Roses,” and “Songbird.”
The band has been fortunate to share the stage with an impressive roster of genre-spanning artists including Matt Maeson, The Maine, Turnover, The Wrecks and Psychedelic Furs.
Be sure to check out the official visualizer for “Nightvisions,” and stream the new single on DSPs everywhere. The forthcoming album, Cinema Sublimina, will be available worldwide on October 22nd of this year.
A prominent player in the new wave electro synth genre, The New Division, alias of John Glenn Kunkel, has already released three critically acclaimed albums and four EPs. He is able to combine the themes of happy and sad into one piece of music in a way that works so well, with melodies that get stuck in your head in the best way. He answered some questions for Cliché about his writing process, interest in juxtaposition in his songs, and how working on other projects allowed him to come back to The New Division with a fresh take.
Watch The New Division’s latest music video here:
Cliché: Can you talk a bit about the instrumentation that you choose to use? What does your creative process look like when writing your music?
The New Division: 90% of everything I do is “in the box,” meaning I work almost entirely in Ableton with a wide range of synthesizers, samplers, and effect plugins. The only things I do outside the box are vocals, guitars, some drum elements, etc.
It changes but one thing that’s always remained consistent about my creative process is I write a lot of demos – and I mean a lot. For every LP or EP that I write, I usually end up with about 50 to 100 demos, out of which only 6 or 12 are selected as the ones that will make it on any given record. Some of these demos either end up as b-sides or they end up being used for other projects. Others will probably never see the light of day.
As far as how I approach writing – generally speaking, I love starting with synth lines rather than drums as I’m much more melodically driven, as opposed to being beat driven. I love trying out ideas as fast as possible. The moment I lose inspiration or get stuck on an 8 to 16 bar loop for too long, I lose interest and move on to starting another idea. It’s a bit ADD, but it keeps me excited, and I’d rather be working on something I’m in love with in the moment rather than be bored with fixing a kick or a snare for 2 hours.
Did you always know growing up that music was what you wanted to pursue, or did you ever consider any other careers?
Yeah, I always knew from a young age that music was my thing. There’s a picture of me when I was about 3 or 4 years old picking up a guitar and trying to play it. It was something that I always had an affinity with – definitely god given.
When I was in college, god, I considered everything. From being a nurse to becoming a lawyer. I did work as a political consultant for a while after college and did government relations, but neither of those things were ever going to cut it for me. I was making music on and off the job constantly.
There tends to be a juxtaposition in your music between somewhat somber lyrics, and upbeat beats. What is your motivation behind this?
I think it’s a bit reflective of my personality. I don’t know if being a Gemini has anything to do with it – I don’t really believe in that sort of thing – but I’ve always felt drawn towards music, and specifically, artists that can blend happy and somber elements into one piece. I think that’s why I was always attracted to New Order. They had these songs that felt dark but could sometimes contain an emphatic message, or they could write a happy-sounding song that was dark lyrically (Love Vigilantes). That always fascinated me and I think to some extent I’ve tried to blend those elements into my own sound.
Your video for your song, “Jealous,” just came out recently and reading the comments for it on YouTube, people are loving it! What was your inspiration for this music video?
Well, given that I didn’t write it, it’s hard to say, but I know that the director, Brad Bischoff, who by the way did an amazing job with the rest of his crew, mentioned it was really how he felt the song came to him visually. Granted, the story blends a lot of different themes but I suppose the main one he wanted to portray is best described in his own words, “the static study of isolation contrasted with a dizzying handheld series of intimacy.”
In an interview last year you discussed how you feel more pressure now writing as The New Division than when you first started and how you thought you might need to work on some new projects. Since then, you collaborated with James Meays of Missing Words on the Moonraker EP. Would you say that you still feel that pressure now or is it feeling more natural again?
That pressure has definitely been relieved. Around the time when that interview came out a lot of bad things had recently happened which were all related to the inner workings of trying to get the previous record released. I was feeling pretty discouraged by a lot of stuff that was going on which placed me in a negative state of mind for quite some time. I really needed to step away from writing as The New Division, which I did, and focused on a few other projects in the meantime. Moonraker EP, albeit not the most successful project I’ve worked on, was incredibly fun and I loved every minute of it. It helped me focus on music that wasn’t exclusively my own and it was a lot of fun to work with James on that record. Ever since then approaching music for The New Division feels like the days when I first started.
What’s been your favorite city to perform live in? Do you have a favorite venue?
I think New York’s Rough Trade was really exceptional. This last tour we played a lot of great cities but few could top that one off.
My favorite venue is the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. It’s the right size, right sound, and after you’re done playing your hotel room is only 100 feet away.
What can listeners expect from you in the near future?
I have a new LP coming out this year which will feature 10 songs that draw inspiration from some of my earlier work but with a very distinct modern sound. As with every new record you put out, this one will be my “favorite.”