It’s been almost three years since DIANA released their critically-acclaimed LP, Perpetual Surrender, but the wait for new material has come to an end with the release of their most recent single “Slipping Away.” Their first release since their debut, the track comes from sessions that will make up DIANA’s second album, and the enthusiastic response to the track has already marked the as yet unnamed LP as one of the most anticipated releases of the fall.
DIANA’s Kieran Adams has described “Slipping Away” as a song about self-discovery, which has been something of a recurrent theme for the band in the time since the release of their first album, a period during which they have, according to singer Carmen Elle, been “learning how to be a band.” The album was among the most celebrated releases of 2013 but, while the band’s members had been involved with other projects prior to DIANA (Elle touring as a member of Austra, and Joseph Shabason playing saxophone for Destroyer), the record was the effort of a band that barely existed, DIANA having essentially been formed as Perpetual Surrender was being written and recorded. The album was conceived as a one off recording project, a constructive way to use studio time that Adams and Shasabon had on their hands, and the excitement that greeted “Born Again,” the first track released from the album, was completely unexpected, propelling them to a place they had never planned on going.
“That the first single got the attention that it got was really sudden and surprising to us” says Elle. “At that point we’d never played a show or jammed or anything. We made a record in a really staggered way, where I only joined the band at the very end, and then we were suddenly getting emails from record labels who wanted to sign us. We put a song on the internet and people went fucking nuts, but that wasn’t supposed to happen at all.”
For Adams the experience was equal parts exciting and enervating, as he and his bandmates attempted to harness the momentum that had been generated by music they had no idea how to play live. “It was a big shock, and then we were purely responding to that for a while,” he says. “We didn’t have an opportunity to figure out what was natural to do. Everything felt very stressful because it wasn’t coordinated at all and we were just trying to catch up and figure out how to move forward.”
The release of the LP, the attention it received, and the touring that followed, were in a sense the band’s foundational experience, and in the time since, DIANA have, for the first time, had a chance to reflect on who they are as a band. The deliberate approach they have taken to these sessions was informed by that period of introspection, resulting in a process that Elle describes as “very architectural” — a process of building frameworks around which they could explore ideas that more often than not would obviate the need for the structures that underpinned them.
“It’s like the ship of Theseus,” says Adams, “where piece by piece the whole ship is replaced and at the end the question is: is it the same ship? Do the pieces that have been taken away somehow leave a mark? Those frameworks impart a tone so perhaps the resonance of that tone is still there even after the pieces are gone. That’s very much what it was like working on this record. We had to find these songs.”