DIAMONDS & DYNAMITE reflects a whirlwind of emotions translated into instrumental, sonically experimental, compositions. From meditative explorations to rock-riff infused improvised jams, the album was heavily inspired by my musical and life experiences over the past several years — in particular, the life-changing adventure of working with Prince as a member of 3RDEYEGIRL and New Power Generation through to the birth of my first child.
Often prior to performances with 3RDEYEGIRL, on Prince’s request, the song “Recollections” from the Miles Davis album Big Fun set the mood in venues, as it played through the PA while fans took their seats. The album, released during Miles’ “Electric Period” of the 1970s, was a gateway to a whole new world of music that was unfamiliar to me — including albums such as On The Corner, Dark Magus and A Tribute To Jack Johnson. I love the rock n roll attitude behind the music and, especially during tumultuous times in 2016, was drawn to the chaotic energy of the performances. Recorded during a decade of significant political change related to women’s rights, LGBT equality and civil rights, I feel the spirit behind this music is very much relevant in today’s political landscape and culture. The direction of DIAMONDS & DYNAMITE was greatly influenced by this repertoire, Prince and my desire to create an atmosphere on stage that encourages self-expression.
In the fall of 2016, I moved from Chanhassen, a few minutes down the road from Paisley Park, to Uptown in Minneapolis. For a couple of months I frequented local clubs, including First Avenue and Icehouse, searching for players in the city who I felt would be the right fit for this project. Alongside pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Cody McKinney, drummer JT Bates, and from New York, tabla artist Suphala, DIAMONDS & DYNAMITE was recorded live-to-tape over two days in Minneapolis in an effort to capture the authenticity and spirit of creative first instincts – a process I grew to appreciate during recording sessions with Prince. I love the warm sound of analog tape. I value the challenge of striving for a collectively moving performance and the outcome created when a group of musicians freely interact in-the-moment. There’s something very human and fearless behind that intent that I think translates musically in a special way.
My aim was to make a record that encapsulates so many of the things I’ve learned and artistically pays tribute to my musical mentor. Contemplative at times and unbridled at others, I hope the attitude behind this collection of songs resonates with you.
Thank you for listening.