While some of us have been trying to use the pandemic time to, say, learn a little more Italian via phone apps, Diane Miller has continued to be a driving force in the MPLS + STPL music scene. The Current’s Local Show host releases her new EP Earth to Diane this weekend with similarly creative contemporaries Crescent Moon + Big Trouble and MAKR at the 7th St Entry. We check in to see how she packs it all in.
DISPATCH: People don’t realize how much actual work goes into making a full album. How was the process for you? How did you handle the pros-cons of doing a solo hip-hop EP? Was COVID a help or hindrance to give you the time to do it?
Diane Miller: It was a pretty drawn out process because I worked with different producers and engineers on each song. So there was a lot of back and forth communication. Different studios. Different composers. Different instrumentalists. Different ideas … There isn’t much cohesion to the album. It’s almost like a mixtape. But I love it. It’s great to hear my voice juxtaposed with different artists. COVID of course helped give me more time to write and develop my craft a bit more.
It always takes me a long time to put out records. I always have some sort of other full time job that gets in the way. Luckily, I was awarded the McKnight Fellowship for Musicians. That greatly helped me set aside space and time to write and record. I dunno how I could’ve done it. Recording and marketing music is so damn expensive.
In a lot of ways your music is a big ol’ mix of musical styles, from rapping to your evolving guitar playing. How do you approach making music from these different angles? And how will it translate to your stacked live show with special guests Crescent Moon + Big Trouble and MAKR?
I just love so many styles of music and have a hard time sticking with one sound. I am also not trying to emulate any one artist in particular. And that’s very intentional. Originality is perhaps my pinnacle value when it comes to making art. I sort of just express what comes out of me and then team up with musicians I admire. I love to collaborate with people I respect and look up to. I learn so much from each person I perform and/or record with. Naturally, they influence different sides of my personality to emerge.
I’ve never been much for following trends. If anything, I like to run in the opposite direction of trends or delve into old trends. It makes me sound like I am “above it”, but if anything I just simply couldn’t sound trendy if I tried. Perhaps others might disagree. But humor is one of my ways of dealing with the fact that my music might always be an acquired taste. I run with the fact that I am a bit of an outcast with an edge. I am shameless about mouthing “fucks” and “shits” in my lyrics. I express deep, dark emotions. I explicitly express my sexuality.
Crescent Moon + Big Trouble and MAKR are the perfect openers. I’ve known these artists for years and greatly respect their work. They also toy with the genre of alt hip-hop, kind of like me.
Is your cool mom, who you have performed with, on the new album?
Haha, no. I should put her on an album. We sing together like angels. People seem to cry every time we sing together. I also really value my family and where I come from. My mom is a personality … and an ingenious cook. She’s my hero in life.
In addition to being super busy with, oh, hosting The Local Show on The Current, and performing RATM tributes, you also spend a fair amount of time back in North Dakota for shows. What keeps taking you back there?
Music has really become my life. There’s just no escaping it. It’s what I seem to understand, and it’s truly a gift. I’m very fortunate to be able to make art that other people enjoy, and help support other musicians in their journey. And I’ve been able to live a cool life, performing on a variety of stages and meeting a lot of amazing, talented artists. Minneapolis keeps me here because the community greatly values its music scene. There is such a wealth of talent and resources here. And it’s not too far from home.
As Readers can imagine, you’re super plugged into the music and events world here in MPLS + STPL—what’s your read on the scenes right now with surges and show cancelations? Do we need to make some real changes because this is the new reality? Any good news in here?
I wish I had a solid answer to this. Certainly, it’s been wise for people to cancel shows so we don’t infect the entire population and put people’s lives at risk. But things always get better. We are learning to adapt. The more we get on board with safety protocols of reducing the risk such as mask wearing, vaccinations and staying home when you are sick, the better we can get ahead of this damn pandemic. I’m not here to judge anyone for performing if they need to. Heck, I’m doing it this weekend. But remember, there is no shame in wearing a mask and social distancing and all that.
Diane Miller releases her new EP Earth to Diane at the 7th St Entry. SAT, 9 PM. $12-15.