Photo: Courtesy of Diamond Rings
Considering the thisclose relationship between fashion and music these days, there’s no shortage of bands who transform their live performances into a danceable kind of fashion show. But if you ask us, not many have perfected the art QUITE as well as Diamond Rings. This Toronto-based musical outfit of John O’Regan has a style that’s as awesomely futuristic, forward, and boundary-pushing as his signature electro-throbbing sound. And once you check out videos for his tracks like “Runaway Love” and “You And Me,” you’ll see how this is no small feat. We were dying to know his secret, so we tracked down John just before he hit NYC (his final tour date this year!) to talk about his early days, his superhero inspiration, and why he no longer wears his mom’s leggings onstage.
MTV STYLE: How has style of Diamond Rings has evolved since first starting out?
JOHN O’REGAN: At the outset, I was really just looking to create something exciting and unique without a lot of money or any real knowledge of what fashion was in a grand sense. I was interested in colors and patterns and wanted to get attention, and obviously clothing was a great way to do that. A lot of the early stuff I wore is charged with a really special energy that comes with having $20 and taking it to a store or thrift shop to find something interesting for a music video. I dug into my mother’s collection of leggings in the beginning, but I don’t do that anymore [laughing]. I would throw things at the wall until they stuck.
What’s your onstage style like now?
Well, I’ve started to meet new people and focus more on the world of fashion, so now that’s incorporated into my stage show. In the beginning I was a little bit suspicious of the industry, but then I started to realize that it could be really exciting and liberating and artistic, so now I’m more aware of what I want to project. I think I’ve refined things considerably over the years, removing a lot of the colors and patterns from my palette. I’m more into form these days, like exaggerated and accentuated features, and really into the idea of superhero shapes. In addition to that, I like how there’s a rise in designers who are presenting work that’s made for both men and women with a unisex feel. That’s what I’m excited about, clothing that’s not confined to any specific gender type.
Where does your inspiration come from these days?
My focus is all over the place! It kind of has to be, though, since there are so many images out there all the time. It could be designers on the runway, a person in a club, or a sports team. I try to present a world that’s music, which is what I’m in, sports, because I grew up playing basketball, and the world of high fashion, which I’m starting to have access to. I try to incorporate all three of these worlds into my life show. Because the live show is so high energy, everything I wear has to facilitate movement and be able to withstand being kicked around every night [laughing].
How is your onstage wardrobe different from the clothes you wear in regular life?
I’m actually finding that the two are converging a little more than they have in the past, but still, when I’m offstage I like to wear black jeans, black high tops, and a long sleeved shirt. When I’m not performing that usually means I’m working on new material or something creative, so not having to preoccupy myself with that paralyzing decision of what to wear allowed me to be inspired in other ways. I save the more spectacular stuff for the stage, when I really want people to see me.
Tell us about the fashion concept behind “Runaway Love.”
The video is actually one of the more different looks for me; it’s more classic in a way. Because it’s such a raw song, we wanted the style of the video to reflect that message- jean jacket, leather jacket, safety pins, and all of these architectural symbols of rock ’n roll. Each video is a reaction to what we’ve just done, and the last video, “You And Me,” was very refined. We were ready to make it a little more lighthearted this time around.