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Videos: Diane Birch, still in her pre-disco stage

When teen star Nick Jonas first announced that he'd be touring with former members of Prince's New Power Generation, there was one quick way to know that his side project was more than just child's play. One need look no further than his choice of an opening act in Diane Birch. The young Brooklyn singer with an old soul had been gradually winning a following on the club circuit, playing to a far more adult crowd than the one typically screaming out their voices at the Jonas Brothers.

"I definitely had to raise my game, I've realized," Birch said."It's really important that you have this kind of energy, because playing to all these fans who don't really know my music as well, you have to keep their attention level. ... You don't want someone to be yawning." 

Pop & Hiss spoke to Birch when she performed at Spaceland in September, and she stopped by The Times' offices on Wednesday to perform a few songs, including her latest single "Valentino," above. Her debut, "Bible Belt," pays homage to the sounds of the South -- "Photograph," for example, sways from a comfortably floral orchestration to a full-on gospel coda, and famed gospel-soul singer Betty Wright was an executive producer.

Working with Wright is one of the many topics Birch touches on in the interview below. Based in Brooklyn, the mid-20s artist was raised with a conservative religious background -- her father is a well-traveled preacher -- and much of "Bible Belt" deals with rebelling from that sort of background. "Don't Wait Up," for instance, is a bluesy romp that reminisces about Birch's days as a teenaged goth, albeit with graceful backing vocals fit for a church choir.

Birch is in town for one more sold-out show tonight at the Wiltern, opening for Jonas and his new band the Adminstration. It's a homecoming of sorts for the artist, who did some time living in L.A. and working at hotel bars before relocating to Brooklyn. But it's not a time she remembers fondly.

"When I lived in Los Angeles, it was kind of the dark period of my life," she said. "I guess I felt pretty misunderstood. I felt I didn't know where I fit in any category here." 

Expect Birch's genre lines to continue to blur. Asked on the way out of the interview what her next album may sound like, Birch quickly said, "Disco is the way to go." While one shouldn't necessarily expect a full-on dance record, Birch did clarify. "More funky," she said. "Funky and dark."

In the meantime, watch Birch perform "Ariel" from "Bible Belt" below:

--Todd Martens

Videos by Tim French and Don Kelsen.

Comments () | Archives (7)

I'm not against anyone doing what they want to do creatively, but it seems like people are really stretching for new genres (dark funk, goth gospel, electronic pan flute, etc). She's a pretty white face to make music that has already been done accessible to the hipster set. Is it really needed? How many more Zooeys or Inaras do we need and how ridiculous do the genres need to get to stay new? Overkill.

i saw diane burch at the wiltern on jan. 26th. she is amazingly talented. i bought her album there and haven't stopped listening to it. the whole world needs to know who she is because there's no one else like her! she's got so much soul it's crazy. love you diane!

You are 100% correct. I mean really, we don't have anymore room in this world for talented people. She should just hide herself in the closet, and never make another contribution the rest of her life. In fact everyone should do that so they could be just like you.

Great interviews...so many genres inform and flavor her music - that's what makes her so unique. I've been listening to her songs for months -- still deep and satisfying, and great to sing with. Love your work, Diane!

diane is a nice person good w people a great dresser w her own evolved style
a voice sotra nashville but urban post apolyptic jonestown
grape flavored good contrast mix for teeny tour w nicj=k jonas
lookie little girls
this could be you --some listened ----
i drove thru the fog to see /hear / her
and was glad i did

Man, today everything is deconstructed and examined to the point that its hard to see how one could just enjoy a thing. Anthony is certainly entitled to his opinion, but what does he say here... "she's a pretty white face", her music has already been done or is derivative, "Is is really needed". He should have just said what kind of music he wanted or likes and left it at that... as it is he sounds like a race-baiter and a gloomy soul. Diane is an origjnal talent and the fact that her music reflects a certain era or genre means it is just that, evolved from a particular influence...BFD. See it for what it is and enjoy (or not).

a friend told me a new live clip is gonna be posted on http://www.radiomontecarlo.net tomorrow
let's stay tuned!


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