Toronto-born John O'Regan is most known by his artistic name, Diamond Rings. The 27-year-old singer and songwriter has released two albums, Special Affections (2011) and Free Dimensional (2012).
Diamond Rings sports a rather unique persona, highlighted by his noticeable talent for writing songs, formulating music and diverse way of fashion.
Recently, Campus Circle conducted a phone interview with Diamond Rings, who talked about his passion for music, fashion, social media, Free Dimensional and his hobbies.
Campus Circle: How did you first discover your passion for music?
Diamond Rings: My first real experience with music was listening to a Bruce Springsteen album in my parents' basement when I was 5-6 years old. That wasn't when I decided I wanted to do music and perform, but it was my first emotional experience with music. I didn't start performing until much later.
CC: What have been some of your musical influences over the years?
DR: Springsteen and all kinds of stuff that my folks were into. They weren't die-hard music fans by any means, but I think a great deal of what we grow up with sort of informs what we like later on in life. I didn't really start to get serious about music until after high school and that's when I started getting into new wave, house, funk, rock – all that kind of stuff – the last few years. And when I was working on this album, I really began to engage with Top 40 music. Now, my tastes are more towards electronic, dance, house and techno.
CC: How did your artistic name, Diamond Rings, originate?
DR: I wanted something that encapsulated a variety of things. Diamonds do that. They are glamorous and shiny, but they are also hard rock.
CC: Is there a concept behind your latest album, Free Dimensional (2012), or did everything just come together spontaneously?
DR: There is no particular theme, other than embracing my contradictions as an artist and a person and me writing a whole bunch of different songs – trying really to trust my own vision and my own instinct when writing and trying to take risks and challenging myself to be many things rather than just one thing. That has always been my goal, and hopefully in this album these things are more pronounced.
CC: Where do you draw your inspiration when writing your songs?
DR: It comes from the world of music around me: from a lot of great sounds and great ideas floating around on vinyl, cassette, CD and online. It can be something as simple as hearing a snare drum that I really like; it evolves. Stuff like that just comes, and I try to just let my influences shine through. And when it comes to writing songs, I draw from personal experiences because it's easier to write about what you know.
CC: Tell us about the lyrics for the song “I’m Just Me.”
DR: It's a love song about self-discovery; it's about letting go of inhibitions and trusting in someone else – someone else's love above all else. Love and trust are themes constant in my work, because I think they're things people can relate to.
CC: What about “Runaway Love”?
DR: Same thing. Classic love story: meeting someone and feeling so much for them, and that you want to escape your surroundings, your shitty neighborhood, etc., just to be with that person. In rock, I think it's a common sentiment that's special and relatable.
CC: How important is fashion for you?
DR: It's very important to me, and I treat it like I treat the songs and my music and other things I like. I try to combine those things, and it ultimately resembles a unique and interesting image. I like what I like and try not to think too much about it beyond that. As far as transcending, I think that's a good way to put it; it's something very empowering to become something more than yourself – believing in yourself to the point where you can transcend your being. You become something more fantastic and more special; it's one of the things I like about live music. It's very rare to get that opportunity to do that, and I really enjoy it.
CC: What's your take on social media?
DR: I use Facebook and Twitter, and I'm involved. But as an individual, outside of the profession, I don't care for it that much at all. I'd much rather interact with my friends and family face to face or over the phone than via email. But as an artist, it serves a very important purpose; it's definitely a way to stay in touch and share a bit more of myself than I would otherwise by just performing and doing albums. You can use it how you want. Some are very active and involved; others aren't. And it's about finding that balance for oneself, and I'm not on Twitter all the time. I try not to offer my opinion unless I feel my opinion is actually warranted, valid or interesting. I don't want to be that guy who just shares an unlimited string of consciousness.
CC: What advice can you give the youth out there who might want to embark in a career within this industry?
DR: Keep working. Keep writing. That's the most important thing, and you can't lose sight of that. I wouldn't say ignore the Internet, but don't get yourself too wrapped up in it. Don't read into what people are saying about you, good or bad. As long as your work is honest and real, that's the main thing – not the blogs, critics. None of that. It's okay if people don't realize right away what you're doing. A lot of times, getting recognition at an early stage can be bad, because most artists need time to find themselves and consistently re-evaluate who they are and what they're doing.
CC: What brings you the most joy in your career?
DR: I guess the fact that I can wake up every day and just focus on what I really love, which is music. I'm not saying I love every aspect of what I do; that's impossible. But at the end of the day, my vocation as an artist is a goal I've had for quite some time, and I try to achieve it to some capacity, and that makes me feel good. Not too good because I'm always trying to do better and improve.
CC: What are some of your hobbies?
DR: Reading, galleries and museums. I like to stay in touch with that world of visual arts. I like to get a little cerebral. Sometimes, especially now, music is such an on-demand and in the moment thing. I don't know if it was always like that, but sometimes it's just nice to sit down with a book of many pages and engross oneself that way. I like to keep my Internet time to a minimum. But, that said, I love looking for new tracks and DJ-ing – just listening to music and learning about art.
For more information Diamond Rings, visit diamondringsmusic.com.