Mark Baptiste Indie songstress Diane Birch's love life hasn't been all…
- Posted on Dec 7th 2010 4:00PM by Emily Tan
"The whole purpose of doing these covers is that they were such monumental songs from bands that were so significant to me at a time in my life when I was a really rebellious and lonely teen. They were my comfort" Birch tells Spinner. "I also wanted to give some more music to my fans without having to make them wait until the next album and figured this would be a fun project for me to do."
For the EP, Birch recruited her friends, New York rock collective the Phenomenal Handclap Band to fill out the sound. "We just started talking that it would be great to collaborate at some point but there was never really the opportunity to do that," Phenomenal Handclap Band co-founder Daniel Collás says. "Then the opportunity came up for the EP and she asked if we were interested, so I was like 'Yeah, let's try and make it happen.' It was really tight in the schedule but we made it happen that way."
Birch came up with a laundry list of songs that could potentially make it on 'The Velveteen Age,' and there were times during the recording process that Collás recalls would bring another contender to the list. "There was a longer list then we scaled it down from there that. There were a few that were chosen because they worked better or sounded better," he says. "[This Mortal Coil's] 'Tarantula' came up super last minute. One day we saw it on YouTube and we played it a bunch of times and realized we could totally adapt this song to us."
The singer-songwriter also made sure that each song was one she could adapt to her own style, such as Joy Division's 'Atmosphere.' "'Atmosphere is a perfect example of a truly great song that works in so many different formats," she says. "It was a song that always gave me lots of comfort as a teen but when I sat down at the piano and played it, it seemed to work. I thought perhaps I could bring my own thing to it and hopefully it wouldn't just sound like a karaoke version of the original."
Like 'Atmosphere,' Birch wanted to revive each of the songs on the seven-track EP with the team's own flavor and style. "To me, the point of singing someone else's songs is to bring something new to it and show another side of the song that perhaps people didn't hear before," she says. "Personally, I get a real kick out of showing the versatility of a good song. Playing in piano bars and restaurants in L.A. helped me understand the universal appeal of a great melody and something to sink your ears into. Whether it was Radiohead or Cole Porter, there was something very simple and magical about a good song that broke down the barriers of genre and spoke to everyone on a basic emotional level."
With this unique project, Birch knows that not all of her fans will be into it. "I wouldn't be surprised if a few egg's get thrown my way but honestly I don't care," she says. "These bands mean as much to me as anyone else who sat in their bedroom blaring those tracks into their ears. Either way, I hope people will appreciate the covers for what they are. Hopefully they will get to know a few more things about me and get even more excited for my upcoming solo record."