Darian Hamilton’s solo project Gem Shaped Mind was conceived more than a year ago, and since its inception, the project has become a three-piece that includes his significant other Kaycee Cronin. Today Hamilton talked with ETV about his songwriting process, his constant need to create and effect the environment around him, and his advice for musicians who are looking to take their craft to the next level.
Hamilton is a Huntington Beach and Long Beach native who describes his project’s music as “indie-pop songs that overflow with philosophic playfulness against down to earth punk composition.” The resulting sound is mostly influenced by electronic experimentation in songwriting that is not commonly seen anywhere else. Hamilton’s experimental writing style is influenced by improvisation, saying his songs are completed in less than a day. Hamilton has been making songs for 10 years now, and remembers when he first started.
“I would write lyrics while playing three chords on a guitar with as many variations as possible,” Hamilton said. “My thoughts were to give something seemingly simple a deeper face.”
Hamilton describes himself as first and foremost a songwriter, who had to learn a multitude of instruments in order to have full freedom in his musical creation. Among those instruments were guitar, drums, keys and bass as well as vocals. Part of the challenge he enjoyed the most was the drive to be self-taught no matter what he was learning.
Some of Hamilton’s influences include the iconic David Bowie, Idaho-native indie rock band Built to Spill, post-hardcore band Drove Like Jehu, English pop band The Kinks, R&B soul artist Etta James and many more. It is clear Hamilton does not stick to only one genre but rather has influences that tap into the pulse of many differing audio landscapes. Hamilton states he is very into 90s alternative and early soul at the moment.
One of Gem Shaped Mind’s songs titled “Under David’s Tree” is a personal piece to Hamilton.
“In this song I’m using the context of remembering my friend David who has passed away to urge the listener to remember there are good memories even if they contain sorrow as well,” Hamilton said. “I believe the more people write in a way that passes history from one to another, the more natural the music will become and this song represents that to me.”
Gem Shaped Mind’s tracks illustrate the psychedelic over-tones blend the band is starting to become known for. The songwriting is unique, short and to the point. The band’s upcoming song releases will no doubt continue to feature constant experimentation that can, as Hamilton says, “provide new outlooks on the possibilities that can be achieved though songwriting.”
Last November, Gem Shaped Mind played a live set in the greater Los Angeles area opening for Art Zavala Jr. Music and His Little Magic Band, and Hover Mothers. For performances, Hamilton enlisted his significant other resulting in a striped down love set approach. It only consists of himself, Cronin and a sampler. Hamilton said using samples with performance application took time getting used to.
Ultimately, Hamilton said that the whole reason he makes music is because he is an individual who has a constant need to create and effect the environment around himself.
“Therefor, music and writing songs has allowed me to live free of the pain that comes from lack of creation,” Hamilton said. “The driving force for myself right now is to make a song that makes everyone feel the same even if it’s just for three minutes. I’m very goal oriented so even having a somewhat ethereal finish line to reach is better than letting yourself to think you are simply walking in circles when achievements aren’t apparent.”
Hamilton has made enough music and has learned some things along the way. His advice for up and coming musicians is to practice by finding the right studying materials that allow them to learn at least one new thing each day. He said that no one page tell-all guide is going to make up for the personal time it takes to getting to know an instrument inside and out. Hamilton also advised musicians who are looking to get serious in their profession to listen to a constant amount of music from every genre including ones they are not familiar with. In addition, he adds that true musicians are the ones who always try to find out more about their equipment whether it is the difference in microphone types, the type and placement of guitar pedals, or learning about laptop DAW sequencers and applications that allow for endless experimentation in songwriting with electronics.