Jack Diamonds

A Fresh Face Moving Fast

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 710   By: Robert 'Bo' White

02nd September, 2010     0

It never ceases to amaze me that there is so much talent in mid-Michigan. It’s been this way from Butch White in the late fifties to early sixties to Dick Wagner in the sixties and seventies and a series of great artists ever since, including John Krogman, Stewart Francke, Larry McCray, Sprout & the Orange, Matt Besey, John Vasquez & the Bearinger Boys and Thick as Thieves. The list goes on and on. 

The latest young cat on the scene is Jack Diamonds. He’s an enormous talent with gift for writing emotional songs about love and relationships. At age nineteen Diamonds is ahead of the curve. He has an innate talent for composing wistful ballads with mature themes that belie his youth and inexperience like a young McCartney writing When I’m 64. Like McCartney he has a convincing tenor that serves as another instrument to explore emotional entanglements.

In an unusual twist of fate, Diamonds has hooked up with rapper/producer Jon E. Fontane, a thirty something native of Flint who had a modicum of success in the nineties and currently runs T3 Promotions. His brother Syience is a Grammy award winning songwriter and producer. He has worked with an array of gifted artists such as Jay Z, Beyonce and Mary K. Blige.

Rap meets power ballad. You could say this is Jack Diamonds’ lucky break. Both he and Jon E. Fontane will be playing at White’s Bar on Saturday, September 4th.

 

Review: When did you first get interested in music?

Diamonds: My parents told me when I was younger at the age of 3 that I played a guitar until my fingers bled. I guess I just strummed on and on. It wasn't until I was twelve that I actually got my first guitar and started to learn. No one taught me how to play. I naturally wanted to play it upside down, as I was left handed, but I taught myself how to do it right handed. I would pick songs I liked and would look up on the Internet how to play the tabs to them. After about a year or so it was decent. I played my first gig at my school's talent show. I played a cover of Blink-182's "All The Small Things". I was a nervous wreck but I ended up playing and singing in front of my whole school. After that I just continued to practice.

 

Review: When did you start writing your own material?

Diamonds: I've always written my own material, I can't imagine ever having someone else write songs for me, I just wouldn't be able to sing them. I feel that the whole point of this, or the whole point of songwriting, is to convey what you're feeling, and I've always been about conveying my feelings through my songs.

 

Review: Did you have a mentor, someone who taught or inspired you?

Diamonds: As far as inspiration goes, early on, it was always Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara. I had such a fascination with everything about his style. I would sit in my room after school and practice singing his songs all day until I could finally sing. I guess practice pays off because I went from not being able or not knowing how to sing, to actually being able to sing anything I had to. I've always been really dedicated to my music, even today I spend the majority of my time just practicing and writing.

 

Review: Your early recordings reveal an emotional type of music, Ballads with thoughtful lyrics and a tenor that is almost heavenly - how did you develop that style and approach?

Diamonds: As I got older, I began to change the way I sing. Sometimes I’m inspired by The Killer's Brandon Flowers, which in some sense are the roots of Sinatra. There's a whole genius to developing a sound. I think finding your voice is a very delicate and deep process that most people would just pass off as that's just how you sound, but if you ask any serious singer, there's inspiration in their voice that comes from somewhere. Everybody has been inspired by something. But as far as originality goes, I think that's in the depths of the songwriting process as well as the adaptation of voice, and of course the effects of the instrument. I'm entirely interested in the songwriting process. I find that the best songs come from out of nowhere.

 

Review: Tell me about your recent recordings. I love your sound

Diamonds: This past January I came home from my first semester of college and realized that being a musical artist was all I'd really wanted to do for the better part of my life. So I began to take it that seriously. I sat in my room for 8-10 hours a day for about a week. I came up with a bunch of songs. A week later I went to a studio in Fenton, MI called Reel II Real. I recorded five songs in an hour, and they thought I was crazy for doing it so fast, but they hadn't realized I'd spent hours perfecting those songs. After they were mixed I took them to my Uncle who was willing to act as my manager. We then took my 5-song demo that I entitled, "Let The Wolf Dance Begin" to T3 Promotions in Flint.

It was there that I met Jon E Fontane. I remember sitting in Tony’s (the owner) office with my manager, and Fontane popped his head in while my music was playing and asked, "What is this?"  Tony responded, "It's Jack Diamonds, and this is Jack Diamonds." And we hit it off from there.

 

Review: Do you have any future projects with T3 Promotions?

Diamonds: They scheduled a photo-shoot for my album cover as well as my first session with Fontane. My five-song demo evolved into a nine-song album. It was hard for me to pick what songs I was going to put on the album because I was writing new material every day. I'd go into the studio then split second decide to record a song I'd written like 3 hours earlier, and I still pull that stuff on Fontane all the time, but it's the best stuff.

 

Review: I gather that Fontane is well connected. Where does he come from?

Diamonds: Fontane's brother is Syience, who is Jay-Z's producer as well as many other mainstream artists such as Mary J Blige, Ne-Yo, Lupe Fiasco, etc. Fontane is definitely, in my opinion, the most talented producer around these parts for sure. How he isn't famous blows my mind, but don't be fooled, he's well on his way. He's a top-notch artist, performer, and producer, hands down.

 

Review: How is it that Fontane became a mentor?

Diamonds: He's helped me so much with my career in just the few months we've known each other. One day I was sitting with him and playing my idea for my next song. He stopped me and said that he absolutely had to make an instrumental of it for a song of his own  - with me in it. I loved the idea. In an hour we had a very original hip-hop instrumental that we were excited about. Jon wrote the hook and his verses, I sang the hook and sang my own verse as well as wrote it. The song, "Far From Zero", became pretty popular pretty quick amongst a crowd around my age.

We played a show in Saginaw together. I learned a couple of his songs, and we played acoustic rap I guess you would call it. It was a big hit. We continued to hit the studio pretty often, Fontane became like a big brother to me, showing me the ropes of the industry and introducing me to many great people.

 

Review: Do you have any future collaborations or projects planned?

Diamonds: Jon invited me to one of his video shoots for a group he's in that goes by Team USA. Syience is interested in the project now, so you'll probably hear from them in the future.  At the shoot I met the other two members of the group, Young Dan and King Henry. Henry had taken a picture of me and sent it to his brother out in L.A. who is a producer there. I know he's worked with tons of people like D12 and Eminem, Lil Wayne, etc. His brother, Tone, became very interested in my image, and wanted to hear me sing, so I went to the studio to shoot a live music video. His brother showed it to Dave McPherson, a big name at Jive, MTV, and the guy who got the Backstreet Boys signed.

 

Review: Things are moving fast…

Diamonds: I’m joining Henry, Fontane, Dan, and my friend Jordan Smith in the studio. We recorded a demo entitled, "Hot Damn", which I think is the catchiest song I've ever written, I'm sure it will be released soon. This whole experience took off pretty quick and it's been worth every second. Our chemistry together is profound, and there's even been talk of a new group. Overall, the whole experience at T3 Promotions has been off the charts with opportunity for me. They're definitely the most original and talented artists around. If you've never heard then you must look into it.

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