Singer/songwriter Diana Gordon currently lives in LA but was born in Southside Queens, New York in a small home with five brothers and sisters. She got her start in the industry back in 2005 when Mary J. Blige used one of her songs for The Breakthrough and after that went on to write for countless other artists and released music of her own while signed to Atlantic Records.
Diana didn’t know much about the industry early on and had some difficultly adjusting but she has been dealing with challenging situations from the moment she was born so she did not let it deter her. Back in Queens she had to step up and become the caregiver of the family at a young age, taking care of her siblings and her mother. She also lost her brother for 16 years before finding him on the side of the road with schizophrenia in early 2017. Diana used these struggles along with pure determination to carry herself through and was able to develop her craft and fully adapt to the complicated music industry.
Sometimes you meet people and can’t help but be inspired by all of the trials and tribulations they’ve gone through and as soon as I hopped on a call with Diana Gordon I knew I was speaking to someone special. Very early into the conversation I was hooked and after our quick interview our talk extended into an hour long heart-to-heart about everything from nature and bugs to psychedelics and finding your purpose in life. What truly blew me away about Diana wasn’t just the fact that she was able to grind and hustle despite all of her challenges, it was how she’s been able to pull the positive out of everything life has thrown at her and use it to inspire her. Instead of dwelling on her frustrations with the music industry and media she focuses on the connections and relationships she’s developed all across the world and instead of letting her rough upbringing and unfortunate circumstances keep her down, she keeps things positive and puts it all in the music.
Today Diana is here with “Kool Aid,” a catchy new single that puts both her songwriting and vocal abilities on full display. Check out the new track below and keep scrolling to read a little bit more about Diana and her story.
Wanna start off telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Diana and I’m from Southside Queens, New York. I got started working at a nightclub in New York when I was 17. I always wanted to be an artist first. I never really wanted to write for people but Mary J. Blige used to always come through so I gave my CD to the owner and somehow it got to Mary. She used my song for The Breakthrough. That was how I first got my foot in the industry.
I was in the studio with A$AP Rocky maybe six or seven months ago and I saw Mary after years and we kicked it. We danced to Jasmine Sullivan, we talked, it was a fun time. I love her, she brings the hood out of you, she brings the real talk and makes you feel comfortable being real. You can always tell her what’s going on in your life.
When did you start releasing your own music?
So my homie Sickamore signed me to Atlantic right after the whole Mary situation. I didn’t know anything about the music industry, I was just a poor kid trying to do something writing songs about unity and black power. I spent eight years making music I didn’t like and after I left the label I started creating music I actually enjoyed. I wrote this song called “Stimela,” an African Zulu-pop song. After that I realized that I needed to incorporate all of the things I’ve learned from all of these amazing people from around the world into my own music.
What was it like growing up in Queens?
I had an adventurous childhood. I found my brother recently who was missing for 16 years. We’re both from New York but I live in California now and one day I was coming home from the flea market and he was on the side of the road on a box. He has schizophrenia and I started trying to bring him back the past year and have been taking care of him.
That’s kind of like the precursor to me writing this project, writing about my childhood and why all of this has happened. My dad was a fugitive, I don’t know too much about him, I have one photo of him. It’s a picture of him at Studio 54 with Michael Jackson, they used to work together. I met him on his deathbed two years ago. I raised my two brothers when I was a teenager, my mom was going through some things. I was like the glue, I woke up one day and realized I had to do something to keep this family together so I put myself to the side and worked and hustled. I guess I’m still doing that.
Some of that is what inspired this EP?
Yeah. Sickamore hit me one day and was like, “You don’t ever talk about your life, you don’t ever talk about your childhood.” At first I thought about it like, “That shit was really sad, so if I did talk about it, it’d be depressing.” Then I decided that I wanted to make things that are happy and talk about the stuff that saved me like the movies I would watch that kept me sane when I was a kid. Instead of making it sad I took the stories and made happier songs out of them.
So can you explain the process of making “Kool Aid?”
I moved to LA and turned my garage into a studio, I built it myself. It kind of happened pretty fast. I worked with these guys Noise Club and I just layed on the floor all day, surrounded myself with colorful shit and reflected. This is all while I’m taking care of my brother, I booked him a hotel every night. After I would come from the supermarket I would go and wash him in the shower, clean him and the walls from whatever he threw on them that day and then go home and put some words down, hum some melodies. The song was done fast, I’ve had it done for a little while now.
How did you balance all of these things going on in your personal life and still find time to create music?
It’s a lot but music is the main thing. Music is kind of what anchored me in life, it wasn’t my parents, I don’t really feel like I had parents. Music was pretty much the only thing, even now it’s my favorite thing.
Who were some of your inspirations growing up?
For me inspiration comes from everywhere. I think everything that has happened to me in life has led to music. It’s just in me, I don’t really need to be inspired.
What’s next for you in 2018?
I’m working on an album, I want to get it out there. I’m tired of holding it, I have a lot to say. I have a lot of stories to tell. I think a lot of things that I went through in the past year will inspire a lot of people and give them some hope. I also want to be on stage for a while, I love sharing and I love performing.