She spills the beans on life’s loves with Mark Koh…
ight when I first received news that I was to interview DJ Diamond, I shuddered with excitement, recalling a distinctly inebriated night at the Red Sea in Western Australia back in 2002 with a naked deck surgeon and my Victoria Bitter running dangerously low. Or was it a deejay going dangerously low on me and I was naked? Whatever it was, DJ Diamond never performed in Australia and my drunken antics were in fact with some random member of Red Sea’s barstaff.
DJ Diamond however, did perform at KM8 one lovely summer day in Sentosa. I had met up with Andrea Billman, Diamond’s manager earlier in the day with the rest of her entourage and enjoyed the efficient service of the KM8 staff when they served up sizzling wedges, pizza and chips. Peter Yu of the iLLers hip-hop crewe was with me enjoying a Kilkenny while the fashion conscious had Coronas instead. Diamond was dressed in a short pink dress instead of the expected two-piece and truly shook that thing between each song, mouthing the words.
Her set consisted of funky house numbers to vocal trance, which is truly her passion.
The lazy Sunday crowd took to their feet at around 8pm with the energetic blonde bombshell doing well to keep the beats flowing as the sun set deep in the ocean. It was a rather melodic set punctuated by interesting occurrences like the drunk, tattooed British tourist that insisted he knew the Playmate/DJ/Producer and proceeded to attempt to pour liquor on both her and her manager before security stepped in.
A Frenchman was pretty persistent with his head thrashing in front of the console before she finally relented and took a picture. Water from the VIP pool splashed onto her vinyl at one stage and she had to desperately wipe away the droplets before she could mix in. It was a certainly an enjoyable evening, but at 3pm the following day, I had her all to myself at the Gallery hotel…
GASHAUS: When did you first start performing?
I have been performing since I could walk. I always have been very dramatic according to my parents. My father was a magician. I wrote my first play when I was seven or eight years old.
GASHAUS: What name did your father go under?
GASHAUS: Just Doc?
Just Doc. He is a sixth degree black belt in Aikido and was also a firefighter when I was growing up. He was a strong role model.
GASHAUS: And you guys were touring around?
We didn’t really tour, just went around doing gigs. I’m very comfortable being on stage.
GASHAUS: My real question was when did you start DJing?
I started DJing close to 6 years ago. Close to year 2000.
GASHAUS: And how old were you then?
That’s a good way of trying to find out my age (laughs).
GASHAUS: (She’s smart) Yes… why… you got me there…
I’m 36 (laughs) yes I only picked up DJing when I was 30. I’m comfortable with my age, there’s nothing wrong with it.
GASHAUS: When you started DJing, were you into trance or house?
Very, very vocal trance. All my music is very uplifting.
GASHAUS: What about hard trance? Freeform?
Yes, I actually went into very Hard Trance. Like Banging. Hardcore. But that didn’t last very long because not many people want to hear that. Some places in the world where I played, they like it hard and fast, like Africa (grins) they really like that kind of thing there. I heard the same about Australia, I would love to play there. I heard its amazing.
GASHAUS: You vary your sets depends on the region you are in…
Yes, I want to make sure people are happy. I started out too hard yesterday and I had to slow things down because it’s a beach vibe and all.
GASHAUS: So… what record labels do you favour?
Paul Van Dyk is my God. Magic Music, Nukleuz. But its not the label, it’s the artists that are more important.
GASHAUS: Who are your influences?
For the harder stuff it would have to be Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk
GASHAUS: You are concurrently a playmate, a producer and a DJ. In what order do you prioritise these roles?
DJ, Producer, Playmate. I was a DJ before I became a playmate and I became a producer thereafter, in that order.
GASHAUS: Do you think you have an edge because of the Playmate background?
It definitely helps for marketing, but it also hinders, it’s a two edged sword. People don’t take you seriously. I have to prove myself. Like alot of other women in every industry.
GASHAUS: What do you think of other entertainers who use their playmate status to push their careers?
You cannot have a Playmate status without being in the magazine first (smiles). I don’t see anything wrong with using the tools that have been given to you have to market yourself if it doesn’t hurt anybody. If men can do it, so can women…
GASHAUS: Why DJ, why not live music?
I don’t know how to play any instrument! (laughs) I’m also only into electronic music. It’s a great combination of being on stage and playing what I love for other people. It makes sense to me.
GASHAUS: Have you worked with any musicians before?
Mostly Drummers. Casey the drummer, Gabrielle and a couple of others but I don’t know them that well.
GASHAUS: What do you think of the percussionists that played with you last night?
They are amazing, especially those guys from Wicked Aura. I have not worked with such talented players. They knew exactly what they were doing. They could underplay, they could overplay, I was really impressed! One gentleman, Budi, now, he was fantastic.
GASHAUS: How come there isn’t any percussion work in your album, Shine?
Most of what I play is funky house or trance. Alot of the percussion work I use in my music would be tribal. I would be using a percussionist for my new track.
GASHAUS: What is this track called?
I need my Thump. I not sure if that is going to be the title, but we are working on it. I just did the vocals with my little sister Maxe Starr last week.
GASHAUS: Do you think there’s a career in music for Maxe Starr?
I do but she doesn’t (laughs). She’s studying Law, quite a smart kid. She’s very theatrical and dramatic. She does it because we like working together as sisters.
GASHAUS: Now for some production questions. What BPM do you normally work at?
Funky house at 135. Yesterday I brought it to 132. When I do trance I do it at 140. When I really want to bang it up, I go up to 145. I rarely get
GASHAUS: What production software do you use?
Ableton Live, Recycle, Reason. One of my musical partners uses Protools and Reason. I’m teaching myself Reason at the moment actually.
GASHAUS: Would you pursue a Paul Van Dyk remix?
Of course. That would be the ultimate goal. Like a dream come through. I admire his work so much.
GASHAUS: What do you think of Funky house in Asia?
Funky house goes everywhere. As much as I’ve seen, everyone is accepting it. Electro is getting big too.
GASHAUS: Where are you touring after Singapore?
Canada, China, Philippines, Spain, Canada again. There are talks of Dubai and I was supposed to be Lebanon this week but something’s happened there. I would love to go everywhere… India, I’d love to go India…
GASHAUS: Are you glad you chose this line of work?
I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
GASHAUS: Don’t mind me asking, what is your real name?
Nicole Conners. People call me Dee.
GASHAUS: Why the name Diamond?
It just came to me. Something flashy, something strong. It made sense to me, it was the first thing that came to my mind. I love it!
GASHAUS: Who was the first management firm that got you on board?
One world Entertainment and then Boston and Billman here.
GASHAUS: Is your label ‘Bella Music’ only for girls?
Only for girls? (laughs) If I heard any music which is good, I’ll put it on.
GASHAUS: Well, it sounds like quite a feminine label name!
Because I’m Italian, I chose the name Bella Music which means ‘Beautiful music’. Not only women can produce beautiful music, men can too.
GASHAUS: Last question: What do you think of Singapore’s entertainment scene?
I’ve been to Singapore three times already. Indochine – Micheal Ma’s place, that was great. I have found that the people in Singapore have been very upbeat, very positive, full of energy, very accepting of music and very warm… I love coming back here. I absolutely love coming to Singapore. I made some fantastic friends here. I would come back here over and over if I could.