The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 007 - Diggin Dirt
The featured artist in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast is Diggin Dirt. Diggin Dirt band is an eight-piece band who is reviving the funk, blues, and soul music. This interview features three of the eight musicians including the lead vocalist Zach and two horn players Adam & Tyler.
The featured artists in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast are three members of the band Diggin Dirt. Diggin Dirt is an eight piece band who is reviving the funk, blues, and soul music. This interview features three of the eight musicians including the lead vocalist Zach and two horn players Adam & Tyler. In this interview the three artists share insights into how to have a great stage presence and how to overcome obsticals that inevitably arise when touring. We discuss gigs from hell where the sound system cuts out, and the inspiration behind one of their tracks from their newest EP entitled "BedRock"
Diggin Dirt's Links:
Listen to Diggin Dirt on BandCamp
Listen to Diggin Dirt on SoundCloud
Diggin Dirt on Facebook
Full Transcription & Show Notes
HÄANA Podcast Transcription
Start out by introducing yourself
My name is Haana Thiem, I go by HÄANA on stage. I am very particular about my brand because it is recognizable, and what people read, see and hear. I live in L.A. now. I used to live in New York and the east coast for about 10 years, before New York was Boston. I am kind of a nomadic individual. I love the question “where have you been?” rather than “where do you live?” or “where were you born?” because that doesn’t say a lot about a person, I think.
In that light then, where are some of the highlights of where you have been?
Well some of the most special places, I lived in Germany for a year. I lived in Spain for almost a year. I lived in Granada . I lived on an island in the Mediterranean called Formentera, which is just south of Ibiza. Then I traveled through Greece. I was studying Greek and I was going to move to Crete, but instead I moved to Boston somehow. They are kinda parallel, kinda not. I studied German, studied Spanish. I have had opportunities to play in a whole bunch of different places but, for a moment I realized that, all the traveling was kind of confusing me. But what I wanted to do instead, was hone my art, and my craft, and my offering and then travel. Which is how it has turned out.
Great, so where were you honing your craft? Was it in the Mediterranean?
It kinda started there. The really interesting turn of events. Should we get into it?
Sure. Ya, lets get into it. That’s why we are here.
Well, lately i have been posting old photos of me from when I was 21 living in Formentera and living in Spa...
guys. What advice would you give to a musician? Starting out today? Maybe a younger musician, Um, younger sibling or somebody kind of graduating high school who's looking to take it up a level, practice and listen and listen to the music. You want to play? Yeah. Yeah. Get in, Get out. Make sure you love what you're playing. You know, I think that's something we don't all think about very often. But we're super lucky to have is that we all just enjoy the music we're playing love what you play, whether or not it's marketable. If you're lucky, it's marketable, and you get to take it on the road or whatever. But, you know, I really have always felt like the music that I love to play. I would play it in my bedroom if no one gave a single flying fuck about it. I would still be like, Well, this is what I like. And there's something you can never lose that no matter what other people think. But yeah, I mean, if you're if you're lucky, Uh, and if you work hard enough, you can do it, man. It just takes time. You can't lose hope. You always have to just keep keep grinding, man. Good Support network Definitely help meet people
Well, I've I've always thought that nerves, um, have this dual effect you can. You can have a nervous feeling and let it paralyze you and make you afraid. Or that nervous feeling can sort of shut off a certain part of your brain where you just do. And you like zero in because it's do or die. It's right now people are watching, or this is like the biggest thing you've ever done. So it's like you have to think about it a little bit. Nerves, I think for me as a vocalist, they they're always there. I've never I've never not been at least a little bit nervous. But it's what it's what you do with that, Um, that crazy feeling. Um, I've even had nights where, like, horrible, tragic things were happening in my life right before a gig. And then you see the crowd and you see like Oh, shit, it's now It's right now and it's like, uh, start with your nervous or not, and it's like your brain shuts off and you you go into this place in your head where you're you're listening to your own sound, not like you're making it. But you're just allowing it to happen and allowing it to come through. I think that's the proper use of nerves. I think for me, too. Once you get on stage, it really it's like this. This special space specials section of your brain consciousness steps into that. Really, it's different. You know, I can have I can feel like shit. I have a hangover or whatever I get on stage and all of a sudden I'm like, Oh, yeah, I'm back on stage. This is almost what I'm living for and and I got to bring the vibe for these people in the audience. I got to play my part well, you know, and I get to be up there with these guys that I consider family, and it's just it's a totally different headspace, and for me it takes me, and I don't have a choice but to be in it there. Some ancient peoples and musical cultures. Uh, I believe they referred to this as getting saucy as a mother must have been. Well, yes, we used to be much more nervous when we were first, starting at the beginning and, you know, only playing locally. Still, we would totally feel and you'd see it in our faces. We were nervous, for sure, but I think it's pretty cool how we really grew quickly as individuals. I mean, there was a time where none of us danced on stage. You know, it's like we're all too self conscious and that's boring. And, yeah, it's boring. You realize that's boring. And are we played dance music? Of course it's in us. We want to be dancing. And so we kind of just like grown, maybe not even consciously, but just through playing over and over. And it's great how we've really gotten comfortable with each other and, like Tyler said, we get up there and it's just like this thing that us, as eight friends have done now enough to feel like we can just do it. We just know we can. And so for me personally, I've lost a lot of that nervous feeling. We get up there and I mean, sure, now that we've been doing festivals this summer, it is different, you know, it's a different kind of feeling, but even then we just know what we're going to play, and we're comfortable playing together and Really? What I think we're lucky is that people enjoy our music, you know, And it's this positive feedback loop that we're riding. And once you see people moving in the audience, it's just 100 times easier. You start to feel real good. Yeah, you just feel good about what's going on. And one thing is definitely true if you want. If you want people to get down moderately, you need to get down heavily. You know, if you want people, if you want people to bleed for you, you have to hemorrhage for that. And so I think in that way there isn't much room for self conscious behavior. You? Yeah. Yeah, we've all kind of rid ourselves of it. I guess you got to be a clown on stage. Yeah. Total ego test. Just look at me. Look at me.
given that you're always on the move. As a musician, you're touring, you're playing new stages, new venues, new speakers, uh, new people new, you know, sound engineers and stuff. Zach, could you could you walk me through? You know, some of the stuff that goes wrong during during this. Oh, man, let me tell you, there is always something. How do you kind of play, You know, play on and let it roll off your shoulder and not throw you off for the night. Yeah, man, I think, Yeah, that's that's really the name of the game is like, your adaptability is something that really gets exercised on a tour, especially because every night that we go to a new place, we're dealing with mhm the dynamics of a new room. We're dealing with the dynamics of different sound equipment that the house provides in a different sound technician that has a a taste and an ear for the music that were maybe not used to, um or they're just like there's places that just were never meant to have gigs through their, uh, we had this this one gig in Plaster Ville. I can think of where it was like a Roadhouse bar. It was like a biker bar. And they had a p ahead, but no cables. And they were like, you guys brought all the cables, right? We're like, uh, so you know, we called in a bunch of favors. We called some friends from around there. They brought cables, we got that hooked up, and we get things rolling. It sounds okay. You know, it's not the best mix, but it'll work, you know? And then, um, halfway through a song, someone bumps into a light switch on that light switch was rigged to the p A system, everything. We just go dead. It's just like drums. Yeah, yeah, but I mean, there's the amps are still working, and the drums are still making noise. But all the mics are gone, the mains are gone. So you know what? What do you do? I mean, I just turned to my band and I said, Keep playing, you know, just keep vamping on this thing, And then I'll figure this out and I hop off stage. I go find the light switch that I'm like, flickering lights through while they're vamping. And then I find the one that is rigged. The Pia it flips on, it goes and everything is back. And then, you know, you have to just take it in stride, roll up back to the stage like nothing ever happened and kill it, you know, just, like sing as you know, with passion and just pretend that nothing ever happened. Well, that's really like That's really the tour like That's your That's your gift on tour. And the thing that you have to really bear in mind is just like, dude, roll with it, just roll with it. You know, it's never going to be perfect, but you can always make it fun and you can always. If something comes comes around and goes awry, you can always have an epic comeback. You know I love that mentality. Broadcast feedback. Yeah, yeah. Redwood Curtain show that the audience with a bunch of feedback are the sound. Guy decided that everything was hooked up wrong, so he unhooked it in the middle of the tune or something and turn the sound system back on. Really, What was happening was, I don't know. It was just so much feedback. We had to shut the system down, Stop the show and take 20 minutes to rewire. People were like holding their ears because it was just the most noise coming. Luckily, that time we had an extra p ahead of the actual the brain, the unit. And so we just tossed over the old one and put on the new one and re leveled everything really, really quick. But then the rest of the show Dude, the rest of the show was amazing. It was a packed house like you couldn't you couldn't stand in their people on the stairs behind us looking down on us. It was like so the It was like, the worst thing that could have happened, but because we just thought on our feet and came back with it with enthusiasm. I think that that spoke even louder to people that we weren't swayed by some bullshit that happened. Uh, we got the hell down, man. It was fucking It was so cool. Yeah, that's like something that we all agree upon. It's like, no matter what, we need to maintain this experience because as music lovers, we've gone to shows. We know what, like as an audience member, it can be like, you know. So we realized that, like, you know, were there to provide something to the people that are out there to see us. And so we just all agree that no matter what kind of shit we may be given, like whatever the problem is, you know, whatever the twist and turn is, we just know that we still are there to do something that you know we love to do. And people love to see us stealing. So we we all know that we just once we're up there and we're in it and we're doing it no matter what, it's just we just maintain that positivity. We maintain the groove, and we just enjoy ourselves. And, you know, maybe later that night, when we're in the van heading home or something, we can decompress and be like what the fuck happened out there? But, uh, you know, a lot of the time, it's really hard to face us and to make us not enjoy what we're doing still, and people pick up on that, you know, when we get a lot of feedback about that, is that they really see that we enjoy it. You know, and that allows them to. And so it's hard to It's hard to steer us or a you know, it takes a real train wreck that we haven't even experienced and hopefully never will to really take out that group from us.
the idea. So how do you kind of battle test your ideas and see what works? And then realize that that idea clashes with the initial one and kind of work it all out creatively. Yeah, well, I mean, this thing happens in such a weird order over different songs. Um, I would I would like to think that for the majority of it, the rhythm section, the drums, bass guitars, sort of locked in the groove. They sort of just one comes out of the ether and they just capture it and they do a thing. And then, um yeah, in in no particular order, the horns come up with a thing and I come up with a thing to kind of fill the gaps that we see are available. I think funk particularly is a genre where it's very easy to do too much. And so, in communicating through their creative process, I think a lot of the things that get set, or like I think, you know, there's a little too much clutter here. Um, this this is too long, you know? Just tighten it up, shorten it up, and then everything finds its its own pocket. you know, and that's that's what Funk really is to me is the pocket, you know, knowing when not to play. And um, yeah, but gosh, I want to, you know, the first album that we made the really long album. A lot of those were dirt tunes for years and years, and I feel like I just showed up and put lyrics over them and same with the horns. They might have tweaked some things, but there are some songs were like an individual bandmate will literally tell everyone what to do, like get proud. Was is one of my favorite personal songs, just for the fact that I kind of got to come in and tell the bass guitar what to play until you know, it's like some Some songs are like That is just like someone's own brainchild, and everyone in the band is gracious enough to listen and really dig in and try and project what this one band mate is dreaming of, you know, in their head. So, yeah, I mean, there's a number of ways where that goes down. I feel like the word that we always fall back on to to kind of make these decisions. Zach is speaking of I mean yeah, again. I think most of the time it just kind of happens. And we all just, you know, end up enjoying it, and we can give each other feedback or tweet. But I think the word we fall back on luckily is banned ocracy. We really don't have, um, you know, too strong headed of individuals in this band that want to really steer a vibe. Anyway, unless it is really, like a brainchild or a song that one person is envisioning. We're all happy to work with whatever the vision is. But really, it just comes down to a majority vote if most everyone likes it. And usually it's this that we all like it, you know? But it just kind of comes down to ban democracy, which is lucky for such a big band. We like to think that we're a band without a front man because he's the front man. A pretty cool hope. I don't buy too many. What is it? I just I find them the same way his musicians wishes. He finds I start finding you. Well, I appreciate you. So I got a question to expand a little bit, actually, yeah. Sorry. Sorry. Can I expand a little bit? I just understand it like it's always a continuous process. Um, as well. Like there's there's still tunes that are that are changing just a little bit will change the form just a tad. And so, yeah, I just want to put that in there. So the songs are they ever completed or are you playing them live and still trying to get the better version of it? I think we are we and it's funny, like our feelings change about songs, too. Especially some of the older ones, like Well, just will completely change the tempo or, you know, really bump up the vibe. And then and then It's also just kind of this feedback system where we play them live and we see how people receive them, and we kind of fine tune that way as well. So I think they are changing. Maybe not always intentionally, but I would say definitely they are even tunes that we let me stop playing because they don't exactly hit with the crowd. So going back to kind of that ideation moment when you guys are jamming and figuring out what works. So what do you do once you've come up with something that you think could work? Do you all just fall asleep and forget it in the morning? Or do you capture it somehow or usually bust out the iPhone and record it real quick so that we don't forget it? But it's a It's a matter of iterative Whatever that word is, you know, process where we keep coming back at it usually a few times over a few different practices and usually the rhythm section has their groove pretty set pretty locked in when they bring it. Yeah, so a lot of them work together outside of the band. So they have this time together, too. Kind of create groups. And so they'll come in with usually some kind of locker room. Then, really, I mean, that's a big piece of the work done there, and we gotta just kind of, you know, put the ornamentals on top to really think of the song. Yeah, that's such a cool moment when you're jamming and you're like everyone realizes almost at once like Oh, shit, this is a It is just an Oh, shit. Moment everyone goes, Oh, shit. And you get a little high on it. Just Yeah, I love that. My other test for tunes is Sometimes I'll bring home the recording from rehearsal and playing for my girlfriend and she'll she'll say, Fuck that fucking tune. It's stuck in my head Now. We haven't even played to win or finish to finish the two, uh