DIATTA

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Diatta is a two-piece electronic act made up of Jordan Vox and Dorian Day. The group recently released their debut EP, titled “Bloom”, which is reviewed below alongside an interview with both members. 

‘Crush’ opens Diatta’s debut EP “Bloom” with a hard-hitting, throbbing beat. Pulsating synths and ambient backing vocals soon join, making for a somewhat haunting, impressive performance full of unique intricacies and additions. The track begins to push towards an edgier, more aggressive sound after a minute in and also adds female vocal parts. This energetic, up-tempo track is mixed well and put together nicely, showcasing a positive vibe and real emotion. The track is constantly building and features some dubstep elements and a huge, robotic wall of sound while still allowing room for the notes to breathe. The song is rhythmic, structured well, and lives up to the hype it creates. ‘I’ve Heard It Before’ follows with a different, softer beginning. Claps and a staccato synth bass were added shortly thereafter, as were lots of unique sounds and distinct modulation and oscillation, both of which I was a big fan of. This track is again mixed well and also features female vocal parts; the notes are very intriguing and are performed excellently. Up-tempo, spastic drum parts played out behind this section until everything is broken down to make way for a new, ambient vocal part. The staccato synth bass from the beginning comes back around, this time much quieter, while the volume, dynamics, and overall instrumentation are slowly brought back into the mix. The same drum section (drums EQ’d way back in the mix) and female vocals return, tying the song together at its close. 

What followed was ‘Bad Things’; two tracks, the same, yet different by remix. The ‘Original Mix’ featured a bumping bass and barren intro until 30 seconds in (when things picked up); melody and notation have begun to be established, as are ambiance and low-end foundation. Female vocals enter, daringly speaking the song’s title repeatedly before the instrumentation is calmed and a dubstep synth bass is showcased. This part grows dynamically, foreshadowing the change that is coming; we’re taken to a very interesting section of the song with lots of ambiance, yet listeners are snapped back to what was going on before as the songs repeats from there till close. The extended, drawn-out synth bass parts and white noise combined with ambient vocals and other sounds were my main takeaways from this mix. The ‘Space Jungle Remix’ succeeded the ‘Original Mix’ in some ways yet still wasn’t the completed version I desired. It opened similarly, yet with a few added sounds; the presentation and vibe was much better, in my opinion, as the additions here and there were just enough to keep my attention and add intrigue whilst dissuading stagnancy. A new, different direction was pursued, yet the ambiance and strange noises prevailed. This wide open, circus-like section could have excelled with the addition of different sounds; overall, there was a lot of exploration left to be researched, musically and structurally, here. The production on the first two tracks was outstanding, and ‘I’ve Heard It Before’ would make for a great club song. The first two tracks really excelled; ‘Bad Things’ could have been combined to create the fullest, most developed composition. I’m looking forward to hearing further work from this duo; enjoy our interview with Diatta’s Jordan Vox and Dorian Day below! 

Could you tell us about yourselves and how you began creating electronic music together?

Jordan: “We met in a chemistry class at University of California, Irvine. We both loved electronic music and he was looking for someone to provide vocals on a few songs; I had been (performing in) choir and a capella groups at the time so I volunteered.”

Dorian: “From there it grew into a partnership. I’d been looking for a DJ partner because I wanted to stay at the studio and make music instead of touring and she was the perfect fit: a vocalist and DJ with a great ear for music.”

What can you tell us about the Irvine, California music scene?

“It’s pretty much nonexistent when you compare it to places like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc. There aren’t many aspiring musicians congregating or performing. It’s mostly DJ’s playing in clubs, and that’s just more of the same. The hip-hop clubs play the same music night after night, and the EDM clubs do the same; it’s very lackluster and uninspiring.”

What life experiences or events inspired the writing and recording of “Diatta I: Bloom”?

J: “For ‘Crush’ I really wanted to get out of my own head and just write a simple pop vocal about a girl taking charge with a man. There are too many pop songs about girls waiting around for guys or somehow being at their mercy (Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez). ‘I’ve Heard it Before’ is mostly from the coming-of-age “I’m not gonna take any more of your bullshit” sentiment. I’m at a place in my life where I’m done with people who lie and do me wrong, so that’s where that came from. ‘Bad Things’ is pretty self-explanatory.” 

D: “I wish I could say I was so emotional. The backing tracks came about trying to emulate some of my favorite artists, and if I told you the songs they were based on you’d see no resemblance; whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is hard to say. I tried hard to make something that sounded different than the Beatport Top 10 while maintaining an electronic and dance vibe. I especially wanted to try and incorporate a rock feel to the music.”

Who are your biggest musical influences? What about these artists inspire you?

“Deadmau5 and Lady Gaga. These artists are incredibly thoughtful and meticulous, and most of all, they did something new for the time when they entered their respective arenas. Music doesn’t come about in a vacuum, so obviously they drew influence from music of the past while trying to break away from the status quo of their peers. Gaga molded together this theatrical image of herself with parts of glamour, burlesque, strength, and tragedy. She writes, produces, plays instruments, has major pipes, and constantly out-performs herself; now that’s a role model. Deadmau5 is a whole different beast. His influence on us stems from his technical prowess and ability to combine simple textures into grand productions. His IDGAF attitude is also inspiring in a time when everyone is very PC and concerned with their public image. He’s just doing what he loves and it’s very apparent. Both artists are insanely talented and create art because it’s what they love to do, and at the same time, push our expectations of what an artist is and can do. That’s what we identify with.”

What programs and equipment do you use to record? What about for live performances?

“At the heart of our production and live performance is Ableton Live. It’s an extremely flexible program that allows us to accomplish our goals with little headache. In the studio, we augment Live with piano, guitars, mics for vocals and more plugins than you can imagine. For live performance we’re using an AP40 to mimic traditional DJing, but we eventually want to move into a live production type scenario, similar to Deadmau5 and Madeon, where Ableton Live allows them to create live remixes on the fly. Long term goals include “unplugged” shows where we sing and perform live, Dorian on guitar and piano and Jordan on vocals.”

Do you have any upcoming performances or future recording plans in the mix for 2014 yet?

“We’re just finishing up our second EP (“Diatta II: Red Tide”) which is scheduled to be released March 21st. We’re in the process of writing for EP III which should be ready by June. In terms of live performances, we’re hoping to gradually infiltrate the LA/OC club circuit this summer, with upcoming gigs at Shark Club next month.”

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