about Diane Cluck (in musical terms / her own words):
the first time i saw a piano i was at my friend’s house playing hide-and-seek. i was four. i gazed at it from behind the doorway where i hid, developing a crush. i began taking piano lessons a few years later from an older woman in the neighborhood. it wasn’t inspiring, but the regularity was helpful in some ways. scheduled practice helped my hands develop the articulation needed for musical impulses.
i sometimes forget i played electric guitar for awhile when i was twelve. i picked out a mauve-colored, iridescent Fender and a little Gorilla amp from the second-hand selection; my parents bought them for me. i took lessons from an old man named Gene with broken blood vessels on his nose. i joined the ‘electric guitar club’ at my middle school–one of two members. i don’t remember why i stopped playing–maybe the passing hot dream of forming a band with my best friend, or that my sore fingers weren’t translating into the elegance i wanted to hear.
as a teenager i left my first piano teacher for a world-class Gershwin interpretor. she had great style and imparted the lasting gift of how to discover threads of melody in a piece of music, how sing them out through the hands.
in high school, a brashly excellent teacher taught me lots about writing simply by refusing to accept papers filled with dross–she could spot ‘filler’ from miles away. she’d critique, then make herself available to students for consultation, allowing us to submit rewrites until we were satisfied with the tresult. r.i.p. and thanks, dear woman !
during those same years i joined a band with a bunch of older boys. i was the girl back-up singer and keyboard player in fingerless gloves. i wrote my first song, about a woman deciding whether or not to join the league of vampires, knowing that afterwards she can never return to human life. we recorded a studio demo and sold the cassette at a local music store. i wrote poetry and kept journals. i sang in a chorus, and competitively. i was a local musical theater star and i cantored for Catholic church.
i took some years’ break from music then. I did some acting in NYC–highlights include portraying Ferdinand in Gertrude Stein’s “Yes Is For a Very Young Man”, being in an ensemble experimental piece about Robert Wilson at HERE, volunteering for hypnosis (I was easily hypnotized), playing the silent waif in soap-opera-for-stage “Lesbian Affairs” at W.O.W. Café, and self-pleasuring in a glass booth for an Israeli film director.
i had a breakthrough around 2000 when i began visiting an open mic in the East Village, NYC. i can say this is when i became part of an artistic community going through a collective awakening. i approached music again, but from the intuitive place i’d started from as a child, before lessons and structures and inhibitions. most of my friends and peers at this time were self-taught guitarists and singers writing their own songs. years of life-changing sharing and cross-inspirations followed.
many of the people in this enlightened crucible branched out to become well-known artists working in music today. i’m proud to have grown alongside CocoRosie, Kimya Dawson & Adam Green (of The Moldy Peaches), Regina Spektor, Jeffrey Lewis, TV On The Radio, My Brightest Diamond, Herman Dune, Devendra Banhart, and many others. i’ve been working as a musician for long enough to know that great talent sometimes takes the back road–amongst these artists i’d recommend checking out Stanley Brinks / Freschard, Amanda Jo Williams, Toby Goodshank, Ish Marquez.
i truly believe in singing from the body. the gut, the belly, the heart, la vagine–yield all the sounds and words we need to deliver us home. discover and enjoy!