“We love Joburg,” says Danilo.
“I even ended up staying a week longer,” says Chantel.
Diamond Thug was formed when Danilo heard Chantel, who is also the vocalist of indie pop band LA.VI, performing at Synergy. He turned to Chantel’s boyfriend at the time, who was standing next to him, and said: “I need to make music with your girlfriend.”
He was introduced to the arresting singer afterwards and they started making music together.
“It was weird,” says Chantel of the electronic music they were making.
“More dancey, vibey stuff,” says Danilo. “Then we sort of figured out that that wasn’t our sound and it evolved into what it is now.”
Adrian was at Diamond Thug’s first gig and liked what he heard so much that he offered to join the band as their drummer.
“I played like 20 instruments every time, so we could do with a drummer,” says Danilo in jest.
Adrian has also helped a lot with producing Diamond Thug’s debut album, making sure that it will be a well-manicured first release. He has a home studio that he built after touring with his previous band, a more sophisticated alternative to Danilo’s bedroom that the band used previously. The album is in the final mixing stages now, giving it a more organic feel that couldn’t be achieved before without being able to record live instruments in Danilo’s makeshift studio.
“It’s a lot cleaner and we’re able to get a lot more of a professional sound, whereas in my room, where we recorded before, it’s a lot cheaper,” says Danilo. “The sound just wasn’t as clear.”
The result of this more polished approach is a refreshing experimental soundscape, a bit like freak folk duo CocoRosie, but not nearly as weirdly perverse or pretentious.
Diamond Thug combine hip hop beats with dark bass lines, both tied together neatly by Chantel’s sweeping, silvery voice. She is able to alter it effortlessly, from a wistful meow to an astral wail, at times even bordering on a brazen rap.
How does the band think having worked on various other musical in the past helped them with the music they are making now as Diamond Thug?
“I think quite a lot,” says Chantel.
“I think we’re really independent,” says Danilo. “While we still jam together, we have our own roles and responsibilities and we really know it well.”
And for a newfangled band, how do they plan on staying relevant?
“We’ve really tried not to play too many gigs,” says Danilo. He says that crowds get over bands quickly because there aren’t that many live music venues, especially in Cape Town. “We’re just trying not to give them too much of us, but we’re quite active online.”
Says Chantel: “I think we’ve had quite a good run of going with the flow.”
Photo: Christelle Duvenage