Interview – Diane Birch

Having spent her childhood in various cities across the globe, it’s no surprise Diane Birch can dig acts like The Cure and project a soothing jazz voice. As the singer-songwriter confessed to us, she embraces all types of music, making her no different from today’s pop idols and thousands of listeners.

Since summer is upon us, have you found a new vintage hat to sport during the sunny days that lie ahead?

Yes. I found an old 70’s straw hat at a thrift shop in Portland that’s perfect for shielding the sun out of my eyes!
 
Individuals often relate fashionable pieces like bowler hats and fedoras to soul musicians. Why do you think that is?

I guess I can only speak for myself in saying that hats have always represented me well as an individual. Even when I wasn’t focusing on music I wore them and have always viewed them as a classic staple. I guess jazz musicians have often been known to wear hats but now they’ve become modern trends.
 
Do you think artists focus too much on tying their image with their music?

Not at all. I think image is a huge part of music culture. I view image as an extension of the individual’s creativity.
 
But it seems like everything these days has to have a label. Take your MySpace page for example as it has the quote “That Piano Girl”. Are you comfortable with that moniker?

Well I coined that phrase for my page about five years ago. I don’t really go on MySpace that much anymore so I haven’t really updated it in a while. But I guess I’ve never taken those kinds of things very seriously (laughs).

As a talented pianist, how would you describe the relationship you have with the piano?

It was the first instrument I learned to play. The piano was and still is my first love. It was my source of freedom as a kid and the vehicle to my dreams.
 
It’s interesting some of your earlier influences include artists like The Cure and Joy Division. How did you make the transition from listening to those musicians and then performing soul tunes splashed with a bit of pop?

My musical tastes are all over the map. I don’t have any specific genres that I stick to. I guess I just finally identified what came naturally to me and what I was good at even though I may be into totally different kinds of music.
 
Do you think the world will ever see a famous musician release an album that’s not just one musical style, but an assortment of genres?

Yes, I think there are many artists like that out there today especially since today’s youth have so many different influences. It’s pretty hard to just be one thing anymore.
 
Many know him as a Disney musician who only knows pop tunes. Since you opened for his side-project earlier this year, is Nick Jonas much more than what people perceive him as?

I thought he was great! I wasn’t very familiar with his music or projects before the tour with him, so it opened my eyes a bit to his world. Even though it’s quite different from my own, there is a lot to be said about his abilities.

What’s one artist you’re ashamed to admit you listen to?

Being ashamed of my musical pleasures is something I’ve grown out of. I now embrace everything that I’m drawn to even if it may have a kind of negative social cloud hanging over it. If it’s good, I like it and don’t really care how it’s perceived. Although now that you ask, I guess Enigma is the only thing I can think of that would walk a fine line (laughs).
 
Songs like “Fire Escape” seem melancholy but are enlightening in an emotional kind of way. What influenced you to write that particular number?

I was iChatting with a friend of mine for about 20 minutes, talking about trivial things when he casually wrote that his father had passed away that day. I was so stunned at his strength I didn’t know how to react. It was like someone slapped me across the face. After we got offline, I turned my chair around and I wound up writing the song.
 
Is songwriting more about finding yourself or opening up your heart?

I think it’s about both. It’s really an all encompassing thing to express yourself. I think if you do it honestly, you will achieve all of the above.
 

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