Diana Anaid is back. It's been nearly twenty years since her epic hit "I Go Off", but her goal is still the same - to offer healing to the disempowered.
If you were around in 1997, there is no doubt you remember one of Australia's greatest hits at that time, I Go Off. The song was written and performed by Diana Anaid (or Diana Ah Naid as she was known back then). The raw vocals, lyrics and sound were so fresh compared to what was happening in the music scene back then (RnB, boy bands, grunge). So when the song landed a spot in triple j's Hottest 100, it became a launch pad for Diana's indie-rock musical journey.
Diana was born in Newcastle, but grew up and is still settled on the north coast of NSW, and has released four albums since. Her sound is indie-folk-rock if you want a genre, but the spirit is honest, heartfelt and pleads with listeners to, well, listen. Her music has been described as feral-folk, and it is safe to say that she was a feminist leader in Australia, with comparisons to PJ Harvey and Ani Difranco. Over the years, she has achieved US Billboard Top 40 placement as well as five ARIA nominations. Now, Diana's latest album My Queen is testament to the fact that her energy, empathy and heart is just as strong.
Diana took some time to chat with Music Love about the new album, how the Australian industry has changed over time, and how her quest to help the disenfranchised hasn't changed in fact, it burns stronger than ever.
What does music mean to you?
Music to me is all about healing, and making a connection. The songs that pull us through hard times, are the ones I aspire to write. The songs that got me through my childhood, are the ones I hold closest to my heart “take a sad song...and make it better.”
Tell us about the new release, My Queen.
My Queen has eleven songs on it that rip my heart out. It took me quite a few years to write and record these personal songs about death, love gained and love lost, child abuse, small town prejudice, domestic violence, exploring sexuality, past loves, and my inspiring transgender sister. It is quite a ride from start to finish, each song leading into the next on a journey of exploration and transformation, crafted to uplift and embolden the listener; and for me it is my empowering tool kit for survival that I am offering to any who need it.
We have to talk about I Go Off which is one of the greatest Australian songs in its time. How was that ride?
Well thanks very much, that is quite a compliment! I Go Off was such a vocal cord ripper! I had to have surgery to remove a cyst on my vocal cords that had appeared almost overnight after recording that song. The surgery on my vocal cords made the I Go Off ‘ride’ a bit less fun that’s for sure! It’s hard to believe how much my music has changed and developed over the years, but my aim is still the same - to offer healing and cathartic music to the sad, lonely, ripped off and disempowered.
You've been around a long time. What's the biggest change you've seen for Australian women in music?
Unfortunately I haven't seen a HUGE improvement in the last twenty years. In my experience women are still generally disadvantaged when compared to men in the Australian music industry, but even small steps towards equality help to take us out of the dark ages.
Did you ever want to walk away from music?
Sure. It definitely is a rough ride and sometimes it feels like you're drowning, but I am kept afloat by the love I get from fans and music peeps, and I hope I inspire people to follow their dreams.
Who are your favourite women in music?
I'm inspired by people like Ani DiFranco and Courtney Barnett, strong role models who have created a cottage industry around themselves and their music, authentic and real musicians who are releasing music through their own labels, managing themselves, and advocating for important issues.
Advice to your younger self? (If you don't mind the cliched question!)
Don’t pluck your eyebrows girl! Bushy is better!!
What was the last thing that blew your mind?
Getting the Adam Ant support for October, what a blast!!!