Hannah Diamond was the first real beacon of the press’s PC Music monomania. Her single ‘Pink And Blue’ came out in 2013 and became the anchor of the cultural critique that still buzzes around the imprint today. As a musician and visual artist (Hannah directed the shoot for herself and Danny L Harle in this issue), the Hannah Diamond aesthetic was almost retro-futurist, like a picture of 2016 created in 1999. The music, for many, was even more puzzling: childlike melodies set against a backdrop of twinkling production, by a poster girl who dresses like a member of Mis-Teeq but somehow sounds like an eight-year-old Britain’s Got Talent finalist.
“I’ve always been a really visual person; when I was about 12 or 13 I started getting into fashion imagery and started getting those magazines,” Hannah tells us, recalling the visuals that formed her creative style. “It would have been around the early-2000s; there was a lot of Prada Sport campaigns, Dior campaigns by Nick Knight, which were really vibrant and dynamic. I used to rip those out and try and replicate them. I guess that’s where it all started.” This process of reproduction eventually ran its course and Hannah began to build on her replicas, exaggerating the real-life imitation to the point where her visuals became obscured by over-perfection. “At the start my main goal was to create something that was as true to life as possible and then I got to a point where it wasn’t fulfilling. I could draw a person from life but what does that really mean?”
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I’ve worked really hard to do the stuff that I do and pursue this passion.
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It’s an artistic method that also exists in her music. Her songs are built from straightforward melodies and basic lyrics that are then refined and perfected into a realm of hyperrealism. ‘Every Night’ and ‘Hi’ are like love songs coated in polyurethane - clinically glossy to the point of being slightly unnerving. Somehow though, Diamond achieves this sound without coming across totally detached. Like a mannequin learning how to love, her songs centre around the fizzy thrill of cat-and-mouse romance. “I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation of love and it’s not even necessarily what I expect. People think it’s lame but I think deep down, everyone is looking for something like that.”
Hannah’s starry-eyed picture of the world around her undoubtedly prompted a lot of the backlash levelled at PC Music. Some thought her vision was lame, while others saw it as a self-indulgent art school project from a privileged kid that had spiralled way out of hand. Two years on, and Hannah is still more than happy to defend her work to the cynics. “There was quite a lot of think pieces saying that we were jumped-up rich kids from private schools. I’ve worked really hard to do the stuff that I do and pursue this passion. Things like that did get to me but it’ll only ever sting me for a moment. They can’t stop me and they just don’t get it.”
Hannah Diamond is now looking forward to putting out a full-length of her own. Recently, the entire PC crew got together for an intensive three-day writing camp at their new studio and headquarters. Artists were on a timetable, working with one another for sessions that Hannah described as “PC Music cross-pollination”. Building on that kind of collaborative momentum, her divisive sound and elusive identity have all the makings for a compelling debut. “I always use creativity as a form of escapism,” she tells Clash, inviting us to stick with the fantasy so long as we can cope with the sting.
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