The Mask Behind the Mask: Diamond Rings


Is there any one of you guys from Toronto remembering that kid who wore a tutu on the basketball court in the 90s? No? Well, maybe that exact scene did not really happen back then. But it is certainly happening now: in the sparkling music videos that Canadian artist Diamond Rings has woven from the costume box of his childhood dreams.
Accompanied by face-paint and eye-shadow, sneakers, high heels, and the notorious basketball, Diamond Rings shows off a crisp singer-songwriter voice that switches with ease between a sleek boyishness and that rough but gentle sound you would hardly expect from someone in a cocktail dress. But he adheres to costume: he carefully keeps his voice dressed up with rhythmic electronic beats that are never short of melody.

Purity may not quite seem his thing, but with regard to his music it is surely one ingredient in the mix. “I want songs that could be done stripped down, acoustic, but also could be dressed up”, he says. “I can play at a club with the fog machine and the light show or just do an acoustic show in a basement. There’s something liberating and challenging about that.” An idea that must have come up when the artist was locked in a hospital room during the summer of 2008, and had to play his very first song “All Yr Songs” without a drum kit – because it simply did not fit in there. Diamond Rings continues this duality in most of his creations, combining thoughtful lyrics with a rather upbeat sound. But he is just as brilliant in his more melancholic tracks, such as “Play by Heart”, the first song on his 2010 debut album “Special Affections”.

All Yr Songs by SecretCityRecords

On closer look, Diamond Rings is a daring musical rendition of his own type of cultural studies – albeit a rather glittering one. His alter ego, the 26 year old John O’Regan, holds a degree in Studio Art from the University of Guelph in Ontario, and still performs as the singer of the band Matters, formerly named the d’Urbervilles. The same John O’Regan does not really bother whether the guy who jumps around in a sparkly basketball jersey and calls himself Diamond Rings is the real him, or maybe the other way round. Diamond Rings does not bother either. He transcends borders of identity and gender, trying to be something beyond. He applies one mask after the other, and finally stacks them all on top of each other in an audacious mix, willingly ignoring whether there is a face below. Maybe he sniffs glitter before his shows. Certainly, what he does is some mind-blowing music, but it also is a performative cultural statement. One that will always make your legs twitch.

Wait & See by SecretCityRecords

Diamond Rings is supporting Junior Boys on their current tour through Europe. All tour dates can be found here. On December 6 the journey will also take them to the infamous Berghain in Berlin.