The Sonic City
CMW: Interview with Diamond Bones (Caveboy)
Casey: Today I have Michelle Bensimon from the Montreal-based band, Diamond Bones. Often described as “Electronic Tribal Space Rock”, Diamond Bones has gained a strong following in recent years throughout Canada and the United States. We’re very exited to have Michelle with us today. Welcome Michelle! Great to have you joining me on The Sonic City.
Michelle: It’s great to be here.
Casey: So to start off for our readers, tell us a little bit about your musical influences, the band itself, and its history.
Michelle: Yeah, definitely. We’re a a three-piece and Lana and Isabel had been playing music together for a few years, and then I sort of joined in as an auditioned extra member, and then I actually transitioned into being the lead singer. We had other members first and then we had gone together as this three-piece. Our influences have changed a lot, I’d say, over the over years. I mean, we’ve always been sort of a mix of the old and the new – the Fleetwood Mac mixed with Florence and the Machine. All sorts devised from many years ago to now. Lately, we’ve been going through this sort of transition and this period of growth, and are things going to start to be unraveled; things are going to change a little bit.
Casey: It’s very interesting music, and I noticed you are a multi-instrumentalist. You seem to have a fairly strong musical background. What was your musical background prior to joining Diamond Bones?
Michelle: Well I actually went to theatre school, so personally I never really studied music. I have been self-taught since I was little; so I’m a self-taught musician. I guess you kind of develop different influences and different skills, and I’ve just always sort of tampered on many different instruments, and I’ve always loved singing, and always been a singer. In the other the other sense, I’m a lot more self-taught with keyboard and guitar.
Casey: One thing I noticed from what I read and listened to, was that the band takes pride in is the fact that your sound is not essentially confined to a single genre; definitely a strength. With this said, however, do you ever find that transcending styles and musical genres creates challenges forging a career as an artist?
Michelle: Yeah, a little bit. I mean we’ve always as you said, taken pride in the fact that we’re not locked into one genre. We’ve been compared to such extreme bands from each other. We’ve been compared to The XX and then we’ve been compared to The Sounds, which are two extremely different bands. I think it’s becoming more and more clear to us that we’re not really definable, and we love that. We love that because it just means we can put out new music, and there’s no real expectation. We can put out the music that we love and we want, and we don’t have to feel that we’re going against anything that we set out for ourselves.
Casey: Speaking of new music, I noticed that for your debut record recorded at Breakglass Studios that you had worked with some impressive names in the industry such as Jace Lasek and Ryan Morey. Tell us a little bit what the process of working on the record was like.
Michelle: It was amazing. We got so lucky being able to work with some of the greats, especially the greats in our city. We felt strongly about having the album being worked on with people from Montreal, and it was just an amazing experience. Jayce is incredioble; he’s a master. He’s so comfortable to work with and he just made everything so easy for us. We never felt we had to be constricted in any way. We felt like we could really be genuine with him. We really felt lucky for the people we got to work with.
Casey: On the topic of Montreal, when speaking to artists, I often find that every geographic area has certain things that make its music scene unique or special. Tell us a little bit about what you feel makes Montreal a unique city, musically.
Michelle: Well a lot of people here are in a band, and it’s very vibrant that way. I think a lot of cities can be a little bit competitive, and I’m sure there’s some sort of air of that in New York City, but from what we’ve experienced, we’ve just had nothing but acceptance and encouragement, and there’s a real sense of community here. As much as there are so many bands trying to swim around in the giant fish pool trying to surface somewhere and only a select few really do cross over, there’s still such a sense of community, and people have been really really supportive of us from the beginning.
Casey: That’s great to hear! Is there is a particular show or concert that you’ve done that stands out so far to date; one that was really special in one way or another?
Michelle: I would say there was two. We played at Dundas Square in Toronto last summer and we played with Young Galaxy. It was amazing. It was just such a big show for us in terms of crowd, but I think when we played Pop Montreal just this past year, we played a little bit more of an intimate venue, and it was the first show I think we felt in a while that we really let loose and had that genuine connection with the crowd. It was very primal and authentic, and I personally remember that show very special.
Casey: As many of us know, you’re going to be playing Canadian Music Week soon. We’ve very excited that you’ll be joining us in Toronto. Tell us about your involvement with CMW this year.
Michelle: This is our first time ever playing, so we’re super exited about it. We’re playing on the 6th at the Supermarket, and then we’re playing on the 8th with Brave Shores, and then on the 9th at The Cave. We’ll soon be playing with a whole bunch of really great artists. I can’t wait to see what everybody does. We’re just really looking forward to it, especially being the first time that we’ve played with festival, feeling that we’ve really come a long way in the last couple of months, and the changes that we’ve been making. We’re ready to put it into action, so having a few shows for CMW will be a good opportunity for that.
Casey: Sometimes when I speak to Canadian artists, they state that being a musician is a little different from say being an artist in Europe or the United States. They sometimes have to reach out or travel a little more, or bridge barriers by touring more cities, provinces, or even internationally. Do you find being a Canadian artist comes with unique challenges here?
Michelle: Not necessarily that we’ve noticed. I think our sound isn’t necessary described as Canadian. I don’t really know what people think of when they think of a band from Canada, but I feel like we have a style that isn’t really defined. I think we don’t have too much of a difficult time making our way around Canada. We played in New York as well, and it has a different vibe there, for sure, but that’s a good question actually.
Casey: I think you guys have definitely really forged a following here, and as I mentioned earlier, your music is picking up a lot of attention not only here, but south of the border as well. Do you have any advice for emerging artists just starting out?
Michelle: I would have to say play a bunch of shows. Playing live, and working on the live performance is probably the biggest thing nowadays because you really want people to have a reason to come to your shows. It’s a little easier to get your music heard, but getting people to come to your show I think is a huge thing to be focused on. That’s definitely something that we’ve been putting a lot of energy into; our live show. That’s pretty much one of the most important things to us right now.
Casey: Now, for the part of the interview we’ve all been waiting for! I heard that you have some exciting news to share with us.
Michelle: Yes, this is very true. Diamond Bones has been such an adventure and incredible experience for us, but it’s now grown into something new. We’ve been working really hard on discovering new ways to feel connected to the music we’ve been making, and we came to the realization that we needed to have a band name that made sense with the direction we’re going in, and that we feel better represents this evolution. We have become Caveboy, a culmination of shared life experience that transcends into our music in a extremely passionate way. It’s about who we are now as we look back on the experience of us growing up. We’re excited to announce the launch of our new single, “In The Grottos” out now! We worked with some incredible people on a video for the single, which is also available on YouTube streaming!
Casey: Fantastic! What an exciting way to lead into Canadian Music Week! Thank you for joining us on The Sonic City, Michelle! It was great speaking with you and we look forward very much to having Caveboy joining us in Toronto for Canadian Music Week!
Michelle: Thank you! We can’t wait!
Be sure to purchase tickets for Caveboy at Canadian Music Week, and check out the new video for “In the Grottos” in the links below!
About the Author
Casey Robertson is a genderqueer human rights activist, musician ,composer, and graduate student researching musicology and cultural theory. In recent years he has been involved with the committees of LGBTQA projects such as the Durham Pride Prom, Allies for Equality, and Queerstock Canada. He also served as a member of the board of directors for PFLAG Durham Region from 2012-2014, where he was a member of the peer2peer support team and a facilitator for monthly sharing evenings. Casey currently resides in the Church-Wellesley Village of Toronto and enjoys spending his free time scoring independent film projects and playing with his band Liberty Street, while on the constant search to discover new artists of all expressive forms. Follow Casey on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at CaseyRobertson.net