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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

Nottingham Rapper Diana Drill Chats EPs, Favourite Artists and Why She Wears the Mask

29 August 21 interview: Elliot Farnsworth
photos: Dynamic

Notts rapper Diana Drill has been building up a reputation as one of the most exciting up-and-coming musical talents in the city. As she gets ready to drop her EP, we catch up with the masked artist to find out what she’s all about...

Photo of Diana Drill

When did you first start paying more attention to music as a kid? 
The thing is, I always had a good repertoire thanks to my family. My grandad was into Desmond Dekker; my brother liked it all, UB40, dance music; and my mum, she was into Queen. So probably at about eleven I started taking it seriously and actually taking in lyrics. You know, as a kid you scribble little bits and bobs down, don’t you? So around then is when I started, but I probably didn’t realise I was this creative. 

Who did you rate the most to begin with?
So at the time you had everyone listening to So Solid, or like Mr Virgo in Nottingham. I caught their careers later on because obviously I’m not as old as that. And then you had N-Dubz and Roll Deep. And grime, which was coming in but people didn’t know much about it - but I used to think, ‘I like this kinda music.’ I used to listen to a bit of old-school nineties RnB too because my siblings are a bit older than me.

Which artists inspired you to start creating a sound of your own?
At first, my influences were Roll Deep, Skepta and Giggs – he hit heavy with me. Ghetts was sick. Bashy and all that. I used to listen to a lot of them, because my brother did. At that point, I took it in a little and just vibed with it. 

When did you first become mindful of the image you were portraying?
I never wanted to be an artist, never even thought about it. But basically, the October before last, I had a big conversation with my brother who sat me down and said, “Listen, you’ve gotta do something… you’ve got talent.” So he put me onto some boys who I knew a little anyway, and they knew what to do with the music scene and that, basically harnessing me. But I had to say, “I don’t want people in my business.”

So the mask is about keeping your privacy?
Yeah, but it’s not just that. It should be about the music – not whether I’m a girl, or how pretty I am. It should just be about my sound. And if you don’t like my sound and you don’t fuck with it, then that’s fine.

People think I’m big and getting money and all that, but it's not the case - Boris needs to let it happen

Do you think the mask affects your persona in any other ways?
I don’t really know how other people perceive me, because it’s not really a character situation. It is me, and the stuff I’m writing about is something I’ve been involved with. I’m not glorifying anything; I’m just telling people what I’ve been through. And the stuff that I’m talking about isn’t necessarily good, so I just wanna show that I’ve come through the other side of it and I’m moving forward. 

How has lockdown affected your creative process?
It hasn’t really, because it’s all in-house anyway. I’ve got my own studio I can go to - so the only thing that’s been affected is being able to perform. People think I’m big and getting money and all that, but it's not the case - Boris needs to let it happen. 

Maybe holding it off has just built the demand to see you perform even more?
I hope it does, because I’m just bored and I’m ready. I came out of some stuff to come into this music business, and at the moment, it ain’t paying off. 

What’s exciting you the most about this pathway that you’re on?
My EP. Too excited about that. It just needs to hurry up and drop. I’ve got some mad collabs… it’s gonna be very silly. The fact I’ve been able to work with people that I’ve looked up to is so humbling. It’s mad.

What do you think of the Notts music scene in general at the minute?
I think we’re coming up. There’s Young T and Bugzy who are flying the flag. But there’s plenty more up and coming. Notts will soon be on the map for doing it our own way. 

What artists would you recommend to LeftLion readers at the minute?
H.E.R. – all day long. A guy called Russ. Jorja Smith and Ghetts throughout the year. Hamza is sick. Miraa May, too. And one last one, WSTRN - they’re wavey, man.


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