RVA Music Fest – Local Act: The Diamond Center

Nick Bonadies
Spectrum Editor

Having previously called home such exotic locales as Athens, Ga. and Lubbock, Texas, musical partners Kyle Harris and Brandi Price of The Diamond Center are something of an import to the Richmond music scene – but it hasn’t taken long for the group to feel right at home.

Price’s pursuit of graduate graphic design study at VCU, for which she earned her degree in May, initially prompted the Diamond Center’s move to Richmond. Just two years later – after a first show accompanying David Shultz and the Skyline – The Diamond Center is a staple at Richmond venues, house shows and independent FM radio station WRIR.

As an article in RVA Magazine put it, “Richmond loves The Diamond Center and they love Richmond back.”

The group, which in describing itself alternates between “psychedelic folk” and “electric folk,” has drawn a following over several state boundaries for its expertly crafted sets, which grow elegantly and organically from reverberant dream states to terrifying freakouts of the subconscious.

The album description for their April 2011 release, “Caraway/20Twin,” reads in part, “Fifteen gorgeous minutes of lush, shimmery neo-psychadelia that dreamily swoons before proceeding to melt your goddamn face off.”

It continues: “Can also easily substitute for a number of illicit substances.”

One Diamond Center fan, Claire Morra – a junior gender, sexuality and women’s studies major and program director for WVCW student radio – said that collaboration is a major component of the group’s unique sound that “really translates onstage.”

Morra, whose musical project Moral Puppetry is active in the local scene, described the “surf influence” she heard in The Diamond Center’s music, as well as hints of Sonic Youth and Bad Moon Rising.

“They clearly listen to a lot of music from the ’70s and ’60s,” she said. “But never derivative – they’re not steeped in the derivative indie bands that come out now. It’s so important to listen to new music, but you just don’t want to sound exactly like everyone else.”

Harris said that, like the Diamond Center’s previous homes, Richmond has made its sonic influence on The Diamond Center’s output.

“Richmond’s so old. So many people have lived and died here and done things,” he said. “There’s a very thick fog of history here that you can draw from. Our sound has become more thick, lush, compact.”

He added, “The thing about Richmond is you can’t see anything. There’s so many trees … It’s actually kind of scary.” CT

For more information on The Diamond Center, including recordings and future events, visit www.diamondcentermusic.com.

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