DIIV //

Diiv’s debut album Oshin is an addictive dream-pop gem that’s had plenty of play in the Crack office over this bleary summer. It’s a record packed with airy indie jams driven by hypnotic, interweaving, reverb-drenched guitar leads which have had us totally hooked. We called up Diiv’s leader Zachary Cole Smith (or ‘Cole’, as he prefers to be called) for a chat and he told us all about Diiv’s evolution, being best mates with his label bosses and why he’s moved to the middle of nowhere.

Diiv was originally conceived as a one man bedroom project, Cole’s outlet for the wistful tunes he was penning in between fulfilling duties as touring guitarist with Brooklyn indie-poppers Beach Fossils. Cole flung out a few of those early Diiv recordings on 7 inches late last year and gems like Sometimes and Human received considerable attention. Once the ball had started rolling, he recruited a couple of good friends to join Diiv, and he admits it took him a while to adjust to the more fleshed out sound that can be heard on Oshin. “It was weird because I’d recorded the whole album by myself before we took it into the studio, so I’d fallen in love with the demo version, but now when I listen back to the album, I am actually really, really proud of it.”

Although Cole feels affectionate towards those DIY laptop recordings, Diiv’s development from solo project into full band was always a part of his vision. He insists the initial lo-fidelity of Diiv was really due a lack of resources rather than a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I had a hard time convincing people to be in the band, and I had a hard time getting it all together with no budget”, he says. “At the time I was living in this place which was like a tiny little box, there was no sink, kitchen or shower and I didn’t even have my own guitar amp. So I’d do it all at home on my computer. I’d plug my guitar in my computer because those were two things I did have.”

Diiv are signed to Captured Tracks, the Brooklyn label that’s also home to Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing. The Captured Tracks team model themselves on the labels they admired when they were growing up, the independents that prioritised integrity over profit. Alongside reissuing forgotten shoegaze classics, Captured Tracks primarily sign bands who haven’t had prior record deals, a principle which has earned them a reputation as credible tastemakers. Cole can’t say enough good things about the label. “Captured Tracks has this real family vibe, everyone’s there for each other. Whenever a band on Captured Tracks from out of town come to New York to play a show, every band and every person who works for the label will always go see them play. We hang out all the time and not just for business stuff. We go get drinks, get sushi, whatever. I already knew those guys through Beach Fossils, so when the time came for Diiv to find a label, it felt like there was really no choice.”

Since Cole speaks about the social unity of this Brooklyn indie scene with so much enthusiasm, we’re surprised to hear he recently departed to the countryside near upstate New York. So how’s the quiet life treating him so far? “I like walking around the woods and going to sit by the river to read. I’m kind of disconnected. I don’t have the internet here, so it’s much more peaceful.” Cole explains that his move was motivated by the desire to focus on the Diiv project and in order to do so he needed to clear his head. “I’m a person who really treasures spending time by myself. In New York there’s all this pressure and it’s so hard to say like ‘Oh, sorry man I can’t hang out right now’. My intention is to get as much work done on the band as possible and to keep to myself. I just want to be working, reading and writing, doing art and making songs.”

On first listen, Oshin has a distinctly nostalgic sound that immediately references The Cure, but it’s not so hard to imagine Diiv experimenting on further releases. Tracks like (Drun pt.II) have an underlying Krautrock pulse that hint at Coles’s eclectic tastes, and some of Oshin’s finest moments are when Diiv abandon conventional song structures in favour of mesmeric repetition.“I want to present new possibilities for the band with our next EP”, he declares.“Oshin is the debut album. I feel like it’s really just scratching the surface.” And with material that’s primarily blissed-out, you’d expect Diiv’s performances to be relatively sedate, but footage of the band playing set-closer Doused shows the band breaking out into a sonic frenzy. “Our live show is pretty hectic, I want to play some of the songs very loud and fast. We play really hard and we throw ourselves around all over the stage and scream and yell. It’s cathartic.”

How Cole will now manage to balance his time between Diiv and Beach Fossils remains to be seen. But if he does happen to come up with some great ideas once he’s retreated back to that country house, he assures us that he’ll let us know. “The plan was always to grow up in public because I think it kind of creates this narrative. People like to see you evolve. Diiv continues to grow and I want to have people along for the ride with us.”

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Oshin is out now on Captured Tracks

facebook.com/diivnyc

Words: David Reed

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