A big thanks to Anna and Sean of Diving Station...
for telling me about the new single, Film, and its story. I ask how the Manchester-formed band got together and what sort of music inspire them; Anna and Sean pick their favourite albums and recommend some rising artists to look out for.
I ask how it feels having their music backed by some big names in radio and whether there are gigs coming up; who they’d support on the road given the choice and what comes next for them – the guys each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Sean: Hey! Not bad thanks. This week has been spent prepping for the single release and trying to get our head around summer festival/gig dates, which is super-exciting but a little head-achey.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Anna: We are Diving Station. We make ‘Harp-Driven-Dream-Pop’. We write story songs, Shoegaze chants and what I like to sometimes describe as ‘bath music’.
How did Diving Station get together? Did you all know each other from way back?
Sean: We all met at university in Manchester, studying music at the RNCM. It started with our drummer Barny asking around for people with a similar music taste. We made friends over our love of Bombay Bicycle Club, CHVRCHES and Foals. From then, we had a few rehearsals, the first of which resulted in a ten-minute jam of what became our first ever song, Turn Off. Four years later and here we are!
Film is your new single. What is the story behind it?
Anna: Film was born out of a poem I wrote about feeling lost within yourself and the importance of acknowledging that. Writing has always been a catharsis to me, and here I used it to extradite the stuff I was bored of carrying around. Lines such as “Throw me a bone; I’ll chase it” - and the repeated tagline of this song: “It’s fine, I’m told” - are a comical comment on societies’ blatant and relentless urge to turn a blind eye when things get even slightly difficult. However, I want it to mean whatever people want it to mean for them: don’t let me and my crap sway you!
Your E.P., Feather Mouth, has gathered huge acclaim. What does it feel like getting support from big names in radio, for example?
Sean: Getting support from the likes of Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson from BBC Radio 6 Music was huge for us. I still feel excited when I think about it now, though equally exciting is just knowing people have heard and enjoyed the songs we wrote as friends at uni. We owe a lot to the hero that is Ryan Paul from BBC Introducing Manchester who has sent our music around the BBC relentlessly since its release.
The band is based in Manchester. How inspiring is the city and its people to you?
Anna: As a band, we come from all corners of the United Kingdom: Edinburgh, the Isle of Man; Reading and Stockport. Manchester is where we met and I think for all of us it feels like the first place we all chose to adopt as our own. To me, Manchester is an honest, humane and also quite a hard place to live. I am very inspired by the people of this city and how down to earth they are. We explored this in our song, When I Arrived It Was Raining, off of our last E.P.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Sean: Playing at Bluedot Festival a couple years ago was a stand-out for me. It was the first ‘proper’ festival we’d played and the little things, like getting AAA stage passes, proper toilets and a buggy to get our gear to the stage, was such a novelty for us!
Which albums from all of music mean the most to the band (and why)?
Anna: As a Desert Island Discs collector, I have been working on this for a while. I will give you my top-three:
Karine Polwart – Faultlines
She taught me the importance of writing through observation and her music reminds of home and growing up on the Scottish music scene.
Nina Simone - The Very Best of Nina Simone
A compilation seems like cheating, but I learnt to sing by listening to these Jazz standards and copying them; Nina herself is truly the very best.
Corinne Bailey Rae – Corinne Bailey Rae
This was the first album/C.D. I ever bought; I must have been about nine or ten. They’re just bloody great songs.
Sean: My favourite albums change all the time, but there’s a few that have stuck since I first heard them. Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps must be one my most-played albums in full since I’ve been alive - and it’s not even been out two years! From my teenage years, Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans was definitely one of the first that made appreciate the album format and the beauty of listening to it from start to finish. Every song on there is great, but they also have their place in creating a perfectly-paced and hard-hitting piece of work.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Anna: Hmmm. Well, I guess our collective favourite band would be Dirty Projectors and that would be a pretty ridiculous experience for us. In terms of a rider, it would probably be something like: all the necessary ingredients for a hot toddy; three fish suppers and one halloumi supper from Manchester’s Leo’s Fish Bar; ten packs of sweets (for Barny, our sweet-toothed drummer); one big, fat hypoallergenic cat.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Anna: Never ever compare yourself to other artists and, for God sake, don’t Google how old they are. It takes time and everyone is different. The best advice I have gotten this year was to make goals based solely on the progression of the music and not on the progression of the project…and that has really helped.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Sean: We’re playing a fair bit over summer. You could catch us at the Toad Hall Stage at Glastonbury; The Tramlines Fringe and the BBC Intro Stage at Bluedot. After that, our next headline gig is at YES, Manchester on 3rd October. There’s also talk of a Leeds headline show and some tour dates around that…
What is a typical gig like for you guys? What might we expect if we come and see you perform?
Anna: That’s a funny one because a typical gig for us might be very different to a typical gig for the crowd. I’d hope you would find in it something fun, intimate and relaxing. But, come along, decide for yourself and let me know afterwards!
What plans does Diving Station have for the rest of the year?
Sean: Outside of the gigs, following our latest single, Film, we’ll be releasing a second single, Honeybees, with the headline gig in October. Apart from that, we’ll be writing away and prepping for more releases in the New Year. We’ve also been talking about having a writing retreat in the countryside sometime; to get some focused time away from the busyness for a weekend or so...
IN THIS PHOTO: Rozi Plain
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Sean: We went to see Rozi Plain on her tour for the release of her latest album, What a Boost, which was absolutely magical. Another recent discovery has been ALASKALASKA, who Anna went to watch at YES a few weeks back. They’ve just released an album and it’s been on-repeat on our band Spotify playlist since.
IN THIS IMAGE: ALASKALASKA/IMAGE CREDIT: Elliott Arndt
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Anna: Music takes up a lot of our lives and that sometimes does become a bit of a chore no matter how grateful we are for it. I love hopping on my bike and going for a wee cycle through town. This always sorts me out. Other than that, I have recently gotten into pottery and find that to be a nice way to be creative away from music!
Sean: At the moment, it’s pretty much full-pelt music all the time. It seems to be the only way we can sustain it at this stage. For me, anywhere outside and more natural feeling than the city centre makes me feel best. A trip to the Peak District is a dream day off!
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Anna: To Be Remembered - ESKA
Sean: From - Big Thief
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