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An Interview with DIIV (Part I)


DIIV (they used to be called Dive) is a Brooklyn based act, led by Zachary Cole Smith (a touring member of Beach Fossils). Devin Ruben Perez, Andrew Bailey, and Colby Hewitt make up the rest of the group. DIIV’s sound is atmospheric. It goes without saying, DIIV is a far cry from the breezy, summer tinged pop of Smith’s more prominent day job, Beach Fossils.

Debut single “Sometime” summates the aesthetic of DIIV. The song is drenched in reverb. Whilst a washed out, ringing guitar create a hazy, dense atmosphere. Despite the recollection of melancholia, the melodic power creates endearing and eloquent. Subsequently, it stuttered it’s reverb-drenched mien onto the pages of Pitchfork, where it received the flattering tag of Best New Track. 

Since that debut release in October 2011, just a few more samples of DIIV’s music has been released. But the promise and consistency of each track has seen excitement build. Their first EP is slated for an early March release on cult label, Captured Tracks. I spoke to Z. Cole Smith about his latest project.

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According to your page on Captured Tracks, you holed up in a studio without running water, nor air conditioning, and you faced a window and crafted music. Why write in such a barren way? 

Ha, the decision to write that way wasn’t so much an artistic decision as a financial necessity.  Renting actual apartments in NYC is so crazy expensive that some of the more resourceful types find places to live that are slightly cheaper; storage units, abandoned warehouse spaces, and in my case, an art studio.  You get used to not having a shower or a kitchen after a few weeks and find ways around day-to-day stuff like that.  But in a lot of ways it helped me focus on music in a way that would be impossible any other way.  Zero distractions, fewer financial woes, etc.  It really was an immersive experience.   

It makes sense for the industrial, echoed sounds of Dive to have that kind of beginning. Was there much stylistic variation in the results of those recordings, or was Dive a natural product of your conditions and frame of mind? 

Dive’s genesis really was as a sound first and foremost.  There has been tons of stylistic variation in my personal home-recordings, but the recordings that eventually became Dive were just a lot of ideas filtered through a certain sonic palette that occurred pretty naturally, partly due to my environment, yeah. 

Both DIIV and Beach Fossil’s lyrics have evidently personal meanings. But for DIIV, it seems almost like a mantra. The lyrics for “Sometime” sound like a stream of consciousness version of that. What’s the lyrical background and inspiration for DIIV, and how do you usually write? 

Yeah, that’s well said.  There is something Mantra-like about both the lyrics and the music of Sometime, how the song starts and then basically repeats itself twice verbatim; same exact music, same exact lyrics.  That was the intention with that song and it is the intention with one or two other DIIV songs, “Big Joke” is a song that’s out that shares that concept.  What DIIV lyrics I have now and are working on for this record are deeply personal and very existential and I’ve taken comfort, with the first few releases, in the fact that they are pretty obscured by reverb/delay, etc. but I think hiding the personal elements of who is making this music really deprives it of something that’s a very important part of the listening experience. 

How would you describe the EP? Musically or otherwise. 

Well, I’ve since scrapped the idea for an EP and am finishing up a full-length record in the next month or so.  But it’s not recorded yet so I can’t comment on how it sounds, but I guess I can say the album’s intention is to be a careful hybrid of our kind of manic live sound and the very deliberate, much darker sound of my home-recordings thus-far. 

The name is much like other shoegaze bands: One word (Adorable, Curve, Ride, Slowdive, and countless more). How did you come up with the (fitting) pseudonym and what does it mean to you? 

Yeah, those names were definitely an influence.  I definitely wanted a short name, a four-letter word.  The name “Dive” comes from the Nirvana song of the same name, but I actually got it from the pages of Kurt’s journal, I just loved the way the word looked in his handwriting.  In some ways I feel like Kurt’s song is about this band.  Devin explained it to me on an acid trip.  We are all water signs and there’s a strong water element to the band as well. 

Andrew Bailey was a childhood friend whilst Colby Hewitt was once in Smith Westerns. How did they become members of Dive? 

I guess just through happenstance, I don’t really know.  

For most acts, having a physical release should see a Google search inundated with band information. Yet DIIV’s internet presence is relatively scarce. Do you think this could alter your attempt at gaining attraction? 

I kind of love having a band name that’s impossible to search for on Google; I remember when Girls came out and I thought that was so cool, you know? To not be so desperate for everybody to just be able to find you right away, they gotta look. 

Apart from your EP, what up with 2012 for you dudes? 

Dreams come true.