Interview with Diana Rein on her Music, Life,
Career and Grammy Nomination
From all your reviews and press, it looks like your latest album “Long Road” has just exploded for you. What do you attribute the album’s success to?
I think that everything we create inherently holds an energy. I see my albums as living and breathing entities. When I was wrapped up in the making of the record, there was so much that poured out of me to create it. There were many learning curves that I had to go through and my will power was extreme to make it all happen since I was doing it on my own. There was so much love and grit that went into the album that I feel that people get a sense of it through the vibe of the songs. They are personal and all came from the music that I wanted to hear. I didn’t have any influencers that made me doubt anything that I was doing. I had to rely solely on my own intuition in the making of the album. If people also know my story, about how I got here, I think it makes it even more special and I hope it’s a reminder for people that they can accomplish all that is in their hearts if they take steps each day to get there.
Since Indie Pulse Music reviewed “Long Road” back in May of this year, you’ve also joined SoCal rock/blues band, Papermoon Gypsys. How has that experience been?
Kenny Williams of Papermoon Gypsys and I have had a great time doing festivals this past summer and getting out there to play some rockin’ music. He and his wife Kimberly are amazing people that I love and they have been so good to me, so I am very grateful for them in my life. We’ll be jammin’ out here and there and I will be more of a guest on the Papermoon Gypsy bandwagon going forward.
We also read something about you working on a one-woman music show. What’s that all about?
Well, just like I made my album on my own out of necessity, I have created a way to get my music out there on my own out of necessity. I must create my own rules because I am a Mom of a 4-year-old son so I must be mindful of having a career but making sure I am there for him as well. I am also an advocate for singer/songwriters and getting more listening rooms established in my area where there seem to be more cover band shows. I want to hear something new, I want to hear the original music that people are drawn to create now. So, for my live one woman show I had two brothers build a suitcase drum for me so that I can hold down the rhythm with my feet, play the guitar with my hands and as time goes on I will add some more interesting instruments. Not only do I love this setup for the freedom and creative license it gives me, but I also love the portability of it. I premiered this setup at TEDxTemecula at the end of October and it was a hit. I think people can sense how genuine I am about my love for original music.
Moving right along, Long Road is on the first ballot list for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category. Now that’s exciting. How did this happen?
I got a notice from my publicist Doug about a voting member that was taking submissions for the Grammy’s. So, I thought, what the heck?? I’ll give it a shot! I submitted my materials and just recently found out that I was on the preliminary ballot!!! Unfortunately, I am not a voting member yet, so I could vote for myself. But that didn’t stop me from trying to spread the word as much as I could for other voting members to give me a listen and hopefully get a vote. I am just happy to have gotten on the first ballot. Ever since I was a little girl that was a part of my dream so to be that close is still an accomplishment in my eyes, especially with such a personal album like Long Road.
You’re often on Facebook making videos with your cute-as-heck son, Vaughn. How does he feel about his mom’s burgeoning success in music?
One day he called me his Rock Star. I love him so much. There’s nothing that makes me happier than to see his smiling face every day. He didn’t show much interest in music prior to this year. Other than running his fingers across my guitar strings, he would plug up his ears when I would share my music with my family. Until one day in the car, I caught him singing the lyrics to my song “Down Down Down” and then he would ask me to play it for him. Now, at the age of 4 you can find him in my music room most days playing his little drum set and jamming with me. I totally encourage it. But it’s not structured at all, I just let him have at it and get a sense of joy from it. And one of our favorite things to do is to go to music stores and just play all the instruments. I have a keyboard, my guitars and his little drum set in my music room for him to just explore with. And now he has seen me play my suitcase drum with my feet so he has added a tambourine next to his drum set that he plays with his foot. It’s pretty darn adorable and amazing.
At one point, early on, you were a working actress, having appeared in, among others, the movie “Home Alone.” What do you see as the main differences between acting and singing? And how are they similar?
One of the similarities is that you must be willing to be vulnerable and bare your soul with both mediums. You must take off the mask and dig deep if you want to touch someone else’s soul. You must operate with reckless abandon. I must check myself because after I had my throat surgery in 2011, I have been very careful to not cause any damage in that area anymore. I do not want to go through another surgery. But I work hard to make my voice stronger because I want to make sure that I always give it my all when I am performing. You must lose yourself both in acting and music and let the spirit move you, take the critic out of the way that is all about limitations. The main differences for me that made me ultimately choose music over acting was the fact that I could make music without an agent or a director or a producer. I could create something beautiful out of nothing and not have anyone else to answer to. There wasn’t any judgement for me with music because if I liked it, that is all that mattered to me. I could also quantify music in a way because I could tell how much I had progressed over the last few years. And the more I practiced, the better I got. With acting, it wasn’t as tangible. But I am happy to have experienced the world of acting so that I can apply those techniques of human exploration to my music. They both are also about telling stories; you just must be a lot more concise to do that with a song!
Being previously from Chicago, the Home of the Blues, how has that influenced your music style?
I listened to everything growing up, but the first time I heard the Blues, you couldn’t shake it off me. As I was talking about vibrations and frequencies before……the Blues resides on such a healing frequency. The Blues was born to create some solace from suffering and there is no doubt that we all have suffering in our lives that we need a break from. Well, the Blues provides that for me. It puts me in a mood of regeneration, rebirth. It lets me wallow in my sadness however long I need to until it turns the switch and brings me healing. I also love the fact that there is a form to it so that I can go anywhere in the world and play the Blues without having to say a word. It’s THE Universal language.
It’s often said there are few places any more difficult for an indie artist to make a living playing music than Southern California, even with it being the so-called Entertainment Capital. What’s your take on this?
It’s funny that you should bring that up. I have been discussing the idea of moving back to Chicago, or even moving to Austin. I tend to flip flop on that a lot but at the same time I can’t deny the rich backyard of music that I have here with Los Angeles very close by. I think as an indie artist you are in control of how you want your career to look. I think it is very possible to make a living here as a musician. Maybe step into the outskirts of LA to get more paid shows, but have your fun in LA doing showcases, etc. Toggle between being in the inundated scene and the scenes that have not been tapped into yet. I believe I saw a chart that showed that LA was second to Nashville as far as being the best music scene. But here is what I say. If you want something that you don’t seem to have in your area…. create it. Be a trailblazer. And focus on getting original music out there.
Five years from now, music career-wise, Diana Rein will be?
I will be a Mom to a 9-year-old, homeschooling him, doing 2 week tours a few times a year with my husband and son along for the ride. I plan on remaining an Indie Artist and to have an adventure of a life while my husband gets to work remotely from the road with his business. At the same time, we can expose our son to our amazing country and find fun points of interest that we can take him to. I might possibly be splitting my time between California and Chicago, releasing my 5th or 6th album, playing my one-woman band show at Blues, Roots and Vegan Festivals and anywhere that will have me. I want to align with opportunities that share my same values and that are thirsting for authenticity, a great melody and emotion to take them on a ride. AND, practicing, practicing, always practicing….
In the all-important world of today’s social media, Diana Rein fans (and those that will become fans) can keep up with all your goings-on, where? (Facebook, website, etc.)