One of the most colorful and creative new artists to make an appearance at this year’s South By Southwest confab was 27-year-old John O’Regan, better known to some as John O and to even more as Diamond Rings. Currently on the road promoting his latest album Free Dimensional, the singer/multi-instrumentalist has a unique musical style which combines elements of sythpop, raw rock, and—if appearances count for anything—glam-rock, yet always sounds freshly original rather than deliberately derivative. This is not a small thing.
A Canadian from the Toronto area, the singer got his start via indie band the D’Urbervilles; his Diamond Rings persona began in 2008 and surfaced the next year with the single “All Yr Songs.” His first album Special Affections first saw release on Canada’s Secret City label in 2010 but was soon picked up by Astralwerks here in the States; it received significant press attention and soon helped place him on Robyn’s North American tour of 2011, which swiftly brought him to a much wider audience.
Y! Music especially enjoyed seeing Diamond Rings in Austin—and were somewhat curious to see how he’d pull off a one-man live performance in our studio headquarters. Pull it off he did, though: The two tracks he performed, stripped of all electronics and just featuring the singer and his guitar, amply demonstrated the inherent “rock-ness” that pervades each and every one of Diamond Rings’ songs. Throw in a delightful interview and you’ve essentially got one of this year’s biggest SXSW treats. See for yourself.