In addition to fronting the excellent rock group Army Girls, Carmen Elle is experiencing her biggest success yet as the singer for hotly tipped Toronto noir-pop act DIANA. The group, who released their debut album Perpetual Surrender via Jagjaguwar last month, offer lush, fully formed ideas right out the gate, suggesting an immense sophistication. Fortunately, Elle’s as down to earth as they come, and was happy to talk Taco Bell, One Direction, and poop emoticons while using Gchat for the first time ever.
Josiah Hughes: Hey Carmen are you there?
Carmen Elle: Hey! Yep here I am. I’ve never G chatted before
Josiah: Whoa really!
Carmen: This is exciting
Josiah: Hahaha do you chat with people on the internet at all? What’s your preferred medium?
Carmen: I enjoy phoners quite a bit. It’s all good though. I did an interview on Skype the other day.
Josiah: What about just when you’re catching up with friends?
Carmen: I stay in touch with a lot of people with Snapchat, actually! Which isn’t so much “staying in touch” as it is just remaining in each others’ orbits.
Josiah: Whoa really! I’ve never used it to be honest, but it seems super fun! What are you up to today?
Carmen: I’m heading up to the DIANA rehearsal space alone to sort out some guitar glitches before the next tour. I’m also attempting to work out every day before we leave but so far I’ve just pulled my back and leg muscles and now have the stooped posture of a much much older woman :P Gotta start somewhere!
Josiah: When are you leaving on tour? You’ll have pulled muscles in the van! That would be so uncomfortable.
Carmen: Oh god it really would be. No, we’re leaving August 30th so I’m hoping that by then I’ll be a proper hard body. If I don’t work out before tours I always crash and get so sick.
Josiah: Oh man. How far are you guys going? And do you party pretty hard on tour / eat a lot of gas station food?
Carmen: Hah! That question made me chuckle. Gas station food? You must have toured.
We are doing a month in the states with Austra. Going all the way to L.A. then swinging back east and hitting up Pop Montreal before coming home and playing our own album release at The Great Hall in Toronto. On tour we are super reasonable — it would seem very dull and domestic to outside parties. We don’t drink hardly at all, we sleep at a decent hour, we eat as well as we can, and we try and do yoga. Even with all that it’s still a grind and performing with good energy is so important to me.
Josiah: Yeah that’s very true! And I have done some touring… I imagine it would have been a lot easier if I was doing yoga all the time instead of buying beer at gas stations and getting $5 Taco Bell boxes!
Carmen: Okay it’s funny that you should mention Taco Bell, because Joseph is ADDICTED to it. It’s his one vice on the road that he subjects us to. He’s convinced that the cantina burrito is the healthiest food available on the road. I think he just likes the way it tastes!
Josiah: hahah! Okay but in some weird way Taco Bell SEEMS healthy even though I’m pretty sure it’s like dog meat. Like a wrap, with lettuce and tomatoes and stuff… it seems like my mom would approve. Joseph clearly knows what’s up.
Carmen: He sure does.
Josiah: So I guess let’s move back in time a little… when did DIANA start and how? It’s relatively recent right?
Carmen: It’s definitely a recent project. DIANA started in early 2012 with some demos that Kieran and Joseph had been working on themselves. They needed a singer and knew of me through my work in Army Girls so they contacted me and asked me to come in to the studio and try some stuff out. After a few sessions we were all pretty happy with how it was sounding so we progressed to making an entire record together. Initially it was just a recording project for fun but once we uploaded “Born Again” and “Perpetual Surrender,” we were met with so much positivity we just decided to go for it.
Josiah: That’s awesome! Were you still in Army Girls at the time?
Carmen: Yeah! And I still am very much.
Josiah: Oh sweet! So is it hard to split time between the two projects? And what does each offer that the other doesn’t?
Carmen: It’s hard to split time if you have expectations but I’m trying to be very patient and pragmatic about both bands. It’s virtually impossible to gig with Army Girls while DIANA is touring the album cycle so I’m trying to alternate. Once the album has been toured and the band goes back to writing I’ll be spending my time with Army Girls working on our debut full-length. Ultimately, it’s less time effective than juggling both projects at the same time, but I’m young and I’m not in a rush with either band. The attention DIANA is getting has been unreal. I’m really happy! In a few years I think I can get Army Girls to the same place. DIANA offers a chance for me to really perform and not be stuck behind a guitar, which is new and is teaching me a lot. I write pretty much everything in Army Girls so creatively, it’s crucial for me to have that project.
Josiah: Speaking of expectations, what are your feelings as you lead up to the release of the DIANA album? What do you hope happens, and what are you scared of?
Carmen: The anticipation is certainly building. It feels great. I’m nervous and excited. I hope that the record is well received and that it gets played enough for some people to find us who really connect with what we do. I’m scared of clowns, wall-to-wall carpeting and Justin Bieber.
Josiah: hahaha. Why are you scared of Justin? He’s so harmless!
Carmen: I can imagine if you were to get on his bad side it wouldn’t look so good. So much power for one young man!
Josiah: It’s true, I feel like I am scared FOR Justin Bieber more than of him. I think One Direction are more of a threat, but I really like their songs.
Carmen: Oh yeah. All of their songs?
Josiah: Well the ones I’ve heard. Actually, who am I kidding? I’ve heard all of their songs. I don’t have an iPod connector in my car so I just listen to promo CDs I get through writing about music and I have both One Direction albums.
Carmen: The nice thing about Gchat is that I can listen to One Direction while I Facebook stalk you AND still talk to you!
Josiah: hahah amazing! Well then let me get to something I posted on Facebook right before I talked to you, which is the link to the other band Diana. I know you’ve probably seen it: http://www.dianaband.com/ I love their band photo so much, it’s so hilarious. I listened to their song and it’s a reggae song about the internet. They sing the word “blogosphere” in a fake patois.
Carmen: I remember that! Yeah we found out about them in May.
Josiah: Is that the reason you had to change your album title or something?
Carmen: I think that may have been a contingency plan but it wasn’t a big deal. There was a band discussion and we landed on it very naturally
Josiah: Last question related to your band name — have you ever had Diana Sauce? I just discovered it this summer and feel like I’m the only person who didn’t know what it was.
Carmen: Oh yeah! It’s awesome! I like hearing about all the connections people make to “DIANA” like Diana Ross, Princess Diana, I sometimes like to mention that in a weird twist of fate my mother is also named Diana.
Josiah: Amazing! Who came up with it as a band name?
Carmen: Kieran’s partner Laurie did. She took the first few photos of us as a band and helped us shape our identity in the earliest days.
Josiah: Awesome! PS. I really like your Facebook prof pic. That is one rad dog.
Carmen: Haha thank you! He passed away three weeks ago so I got a little sentimental
Josiah: Oh no!!! I’m sorry to hear that! What a great pic to have of him tho.
Carmen: thanks :)
Josiah: I could look at that hilarious face all day ahahahha
Carmen: He had such a funny face! Do you have pets?
Josiah: Yeah! I have a cat named Woody, he’s really cool. We named him after Woody Allen. What was your dog’s name?
Carmen: Mickey, after Mickey Blue Eyes, the romantic comedy starring the incomparable Hugh Grant.
Josiah: hahah!!! Will you get another dog?
Carmen: I’m thinking cat. I love cats.
Josiah: Me too! I didn’t think I would be a cat person but I got a cat and he rules. What kinda name you thinkin’ for a cat?
Carmen: Klaus, because a kitten named Klaus would be so adorable.
Josiah: Oh yeah! That’s really great. So how do you like Gchat? What’s your user experience been like?
Carmen: Hahaha! It’s been great! I like that I can use emoticons
Carmen: Poop! I love it!
Josiah: ahahah! I’ll teach you how: ~ @ ~ all together at once, and magic.
Josiah: This is what I do all day! Our mutual Facebook friend / my editor Nicole Villeneuve and I just Gchat it up all the live long day.
Carmen: Nicole! She’s the nicest.
Josiah: I’ve never even met her in real life haha but I talk to her constantly. That’s the magic of Gchat. Powerful technology. Is there anything else you want to talk about? I don’t want to make you spend your whole day on here!
Carmen: I think I’m good!
Josiah: Well it was a pleasure to “meet” you on here! Congrats on the album, it’s so awesome and very cool to see it getting so much attention!
Carmen: Have the best day! I’m off to Guitar Land.
Josiah: Sweet! PS. Joseph just added me as a friend.
Josiah: I’m really getting in with the DIANA family.
Carmen: You totally are. He’s got a hilarious cat.
Josiah: Should I throw an add your way or is that too forward.
Carmen: Sure by all means.
Josiah: I mean I don’t want to cross the line.
Josiah: hahah alright have fun at Guitar Land! Play some “Stairway.”
Carmen: I shall! Byeee