It was somewhere around 2am, or 4am, not sure, at the after party in a huge loft in East Vancouver. Surprise guest DJ John O (aka Diamond Rings) and I were talking animatedly about his new album. I was drunk on beer and Grey Goose and he was hopped up on Red Bulls (“YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING WHEN YOU DRINK THESE!” he shouted), and I told him that I felt like a proud mama.
Why? Because I’ve been along for the Diamond Rings ride since the rather quite early days of his creation – though it wasn’t actually so long ago that the guy was dancing in Toronto alleyways, or getting nearly naked next to me at the Biltmore. Wasn’t so long ago this incredibly nice chap from the T.dot was plying his glam Casiotone wares, and dancing like a dork. But all that is what made him compelling. I saw it, and now, finally, so is everyone else. Now he’s playing Leno, walking red carpets, releasing a second album Free Dimensional. And he’s still an incredibly nice chap from the T.dot.
So I told him: “You’ve made a really great pop album and you should be proud. I am, of you.” And I meant it. Take “I’m Just Me”, for example. It’s a great little anthem. It makes you wanna dance and punch the air and be okay with who you are. And at the gig earlier, he whipped it out and the kids went mental.
Plus, how could Diamond Rings not become a pop star? He’s ridiculously pretty and is an 80s-style clotheshorse. For opener “Everything Speaks” he came on stage wearing glow-in-the-dark (like, not coloured – actually GLOWING) sunglasses and a huge flowing silver foil cloak. Through an epic and rocktacular “Wait & See” and brilliant little “Runaway Love”, he donned a white leather studded jacket. For the Desperately Seeking Susan-era “Hand Over My Heart”, the grown up “Put Me On”, “Stand My Ground” and more, he rocked a black wife-beater. At the afterparty he wore a primary coloured jumper that made him look like a 6’5 version of the game “Simon Says.” By the time he got to “All Yr Songs” at the gig, the guys and girls were creaming. Girls in the front row were tilting their necks back and their mouths hung open. When he came to pose in front of us, one tried to latch onto his leg.
But there was something more interesting for me to see emerging from John, beyond the costume changes, the ragdoll dance moves or the freedom he has on stage now with a three-piece backing band. Wait! Izzat confidence?
I mean, sure, the audience woulda thought he’d always had it – it took balls to wear lipstick, silver leggings, “unicorn hair” necklaces, ball caps and play solo during his debuts – but a year or two ago, John was a wee bit more restrained, a little awkward. But now? Confidence growing, slowly. Smiles growing broader.
And while true self-love takes time, I learned that it can sometimes be sped up via the power of Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart”.
You see, when we were all dancing at the afterparty to this almighty classic, I caught John sneaking a peek at himself in the mirrors on the walls. “What do I actually look like when I’m dancing?” you could imagine him asking himself. “DO I LOOK OKAY? FUCK YEAH I LOOK OKAY!” Then he laughed, spun around and kept dancing.
Because, yeah, John O looks and sounds great right about now. \m/