Diamond Rings Signs to Astralwerks

Published on May 14th, 2011 by


John O’Regan’s Diamond Rings project has signed a world-wide deal with Astralwerks (although he’ll still remain on Secret City Records in Canada). Astralwerks will re-release Special Affections, Diamond Rings’ debut full-length on June 21. Continue Reading for the full press release.

“Astralwerks, the New York-based record label devoted to developing genre-defying new artists with a unique musical vision, is pleased to announce its latest worldwide (excluding Canada) signing of electro-pop artist Diamond Rings.

On June 21st, 2011, Astralwerks will re-release Diamond Rings’ debut full-length album, Special Affections.

Secret City Records (distributed by EMI) will continue to be the record label for Diamond Rings in Canada.

Following head-turning performances at SXSW and CMJ last year and a sold out national tour with pop princess Robyn, Diamond Rings has gained widespread critical praise since the release of Special Affections last October on Secret City Records.

From big Pitchfork support to New York Times and NME nods, it is clear Diamond Rings is ready to up the ante in 2011.

He’s also been at the forefront of the radar in his native Canada, landing on the cover of national monthly Exclaim! and scoring the number 2 spot in the 6th annual hottest bands in Canada poll behind only Arcade Fire.

“Diamond Rings is truly original which isn’t an easy feat. John has an incredible and unique vision for Diamond Rings but first and foremost he is an outstanding songwriter,” remarked Glenn Mendlinger Senior Vice President & General Manager of Astralwerks. “We are very excited to be working with Diamond Rings to help nurture his career by offering him our vast network of expertise and resources.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time with the Astralwerks team over the last few months and I can honestly say that they are the perfect fit for Diamond Rings. We couldn’t be happier to have them on board and developing his career outside of Canada,” says Justin West, President of Secret City Records.

First conceived in the summer of 2009 by Toronto based artist and musician John O, Diamond Rings burst onto the scene with an inventive home recorded video for his debut single “All Yr Songs”. Featuring amateur green screen camera trickery, over the top choreography, and daring androgynous outfits and makeup, the video received international praise from both music nerds and fashionistas alike.

The single itself (which was pressed in a limited edition by John O’s own 7″ imprint Hype Lighter) later received “Best New Music” honors from the tastemakers at Pitchfork and sold out in a matter of weeks.

The video for his next single “Wait & See” (released as a limited edition 7″ on Tomlab in February 2010) upped the ante considerably and featured John O and friends dancing their way towards a raucous Halloween party in tights and high tops.

The clip had audiences buzzing at a number of sold out SXSW showcases in the following month and also led to opening gigs for artists as diverse as La Roux and Owen Pallett.

After touring for most of the winter, the ensuing 12″ single “Show Me Your Stuff” (June 2010) was released by Mike Haliechuk of the Toronto hardcore outfit F***ed Up on his boutique label One Big Silence. Additionally, Diamond Ring’s teamed up with Secret City records to release a limited edition 7″ featuring his latest single “Something Else” along with a danced-out cover of Milla Jovovich’s “Gentlemen Who Fell” on the B-Side.

Audiences soon began to identify with Diamond Rings’ uniquely lyrical brand of pop songwriting and his overtly glamorous live sets. Showcasing real human emotion and honest vulnerability is rare enough for a 25 year old – let alone one who matches his eyeshadow with his Air Force Ones while dancing about onstage with the reckless abandon of a teenager in the bathroom mirror. But there’s something surprisingly mature shimmering beneath the glamour, hidden in John O’s immediately iconic voice, and whip-smart lyrics.

Special Affections dabbles in a wide range of styles and soundscapes. Spacey slow jams give way to aggressive guitar rock that leads seamlessly into shuddering club beats and soaring synth lines. Tying everything together are the heartfelt lyrical sentiments of a young artist interested in far more than getting his audience to “just dance”.

“I’d compare my music to the Starz on 54 cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” that they did for the soundtrack to the movie Studio 54,” John O says, adding, “I do not believe that there needs to be a disconnect between popular music and lyrical honesty.”

In addition to the previous singles “All Yr Songs” and “Wait & See” (as well as B-Side “You Oughta Know”) ‘Special Affections’ gives Diamond Rings’ fans seven new songs and ties them together in a stylish package designed by the artist himself. It’s folk music for the iPod generation and it’s about time – finally.

“O’Regan contrasts his deep, sad, handsome voice with uptempo synthpop arrangements, resulting in tracks that could pass for dance remixes of the National or Leonard Cohen.” – Rolling Stone

“Onstage alone, he more than held his own, doing self-aware tunes in a lush vocal over a synthy backing track.” – New York Times

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