Tough as Diemonds – An interview with Priya Panda

A few months back, when it was sunny and you could go outside without a jacket on, I got the chance to interview a woman I had come to admire in our crazy Toronto music industry.  Her name is Priya Panda and she is a force to be reckoned with.

When I first started writing about indie music in Toronto, I was thrilled to just be in rooms with amazing musicians from my hometown.  But what I started to notice, being a rock fan and spending time in rock clubs at rock shows, was the lack of, well, people who looked like me on those stages.  It’s no secret that most rock type music is generally made by a bunch of white dudes, and that reality is only cemented by what we see on rock and metal festival lineups, what’s played on the radio and what fills stadiums and arenas.  So when I discovered a band named Diemonds, and the diminutive diva at the band’s helm, I found myself filled with awe and admiration.  I’d finally found not only a female fronted rock band in my city, but a woman of color to boot, and they could SHRED! I was hooked.

As the founding member of Diemonds, Priya has carried that mantle for a decade now with various members, all with the most amazing hair you’ll see on a stage, joining her. When she’s not putting on raucous performances to adoring fans, you can find Priya slinging drinks and supporting fellow musicians at the Bovine Sex Club.  She’s brought her rock stylings around the world, playing all over Europe, in Japan and taking the U.S. by storm.  Along with her work with Diemonds, Priya fronted She Demons, an all-female band based in Los Angeles put together by none other than Jerry Only of Misfits fame.  Talk about rock and roll street cred.

When I connected with Priya, Diemonds was promoting their latest album, which was also the first they’ve lent their name to.  The self-titled release is truly the most Diemonds record to date. Take a listen to their single “Our Song” and peep the killer video, directed by a rock music maven in her own right, Skye Sweetnam of Sumo Cyco:

Would anyone else love to see Priya and Skye collab on something else?

With all that and more to chat about, I grabbed coffee with Priya on one beautiful fall day.  We basked in the sun and talked about the new record, what it’s like not being a white dude in rock/metal music and how we fervently hope that the future versions of us won’t have to talk about what it’s like not being a white dude in music, because it won’t matter.  It’s a long one but full of good stuff, and LOTS of swears.  Enjoy:

Keep up with Diemonds on their website and with Priya on her socials too.

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly