Psychedelic dream-pop band to rock festival

Diamond Thug band members, from left are, Adrian Culhane, Danilo Queiros, Chantel Newmark and Ted Buxton.

The “psychedelic dream-pop” band, Diamond Thug, are excited about their upcoming performance at the Rock on the Lawn Festival next month.

The festival takes place at Kenilworth Racecourse on Human Rights Day, Thursday March 21 and includes performances by Fokofpolisiekar, Ard Matthews, Karen Zoid, Zebra and Giraffe, Opposite The Other, Southern Wild and Hellcats. English rock band, The Cure, will be headlining the festival.

Rock on the Lawns is a one-day celebration of rock ‘n roll in all its forms – a day out on the lawns with beer gardens, gourmet food trucks with local and international musicians all sharing one stage.

Diamond Thug started in late 2012, when bass and synth player Danilo Queiros, heard vocalist Chantel Newmark performing at a festival. They met through a mutual friend and decided to work on an experimental music project. In 2013 the duo played their debut show.

Adrian Culhane, from the City Bowl, later joined the group as the drummer but later made his way onto the guitar and Ted Buxton from Kenilworth, found his way into the band as the drummer.

Chantel, from Wynberg, said the band was formed as a result of what some would describe as “chance encounters”.

She grew up on a farm in Gauteng and later moved to down to Cape Town, where she formed a great love for the mountains and sea.

She has been in the music industry for about seven years.

“I was in my first band at the age of 17 called LA.VI, then we formed Diamond Thug and my solo work called Van T along the way. Aside from music I’m an actress and a holistic health enthusiast,” she said.

Music has always been a part of Danilo’s life, having played and studied music in school. He later studied mechatronics engineering and economics at UCT. Danilo grew up in Johannesburg but currently stays in Gardens.

“I always stayed active in the music industry throwing parties and making music with friends. Then I met Chantel and we started Diamond Thug and since then music has felt like the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. I also started a record label in 2017 and have been releasing music for independent acts,” he said.

While music has always been South African-Irish Ted’s passion, he only entered the music industry when he joined Diamond Thug.

Adrian said he started taking music seriously in high school and had been working on his music since.

“Most of my work tends to be music or sound related, whether it is recording, mixing, or writing. I’m just happy to have an instrument in my hands,” he said.

Speaking about the band’s sound, Ted said it was often tricky to describe with the variety of influences they had.

“Psychedelic dream-pop is one of the terms I’ve heard which manages to highlight the base of our sound,” he said.

The band said one of their highlights had been performing at a Euro music festival in the French Alps and a festival in Texas.

“We’ve had the opportunity to play at some incredible festivals and one highlight for me will be our Euro tour where we were in the Alps and playing at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas,” said Chantel.

Danilo echoed her sentiment: “Definitely between our travels to SXSW and the French Alps and getting to see so much of the country. Mainly because we get to meet so many different people who resonate with the music we make and it gives you a sense of community with people all around the world, knowing that those emotions and ideas can be universal.”

Ted said travelling locally with the band has also opened his eyes to the country’s beauty.

“Having driven across South Africa on some of our tours, most notably our debut album launch, Apastron, has bewildered me as to how absurd and beautiful our country’s landscapes and skies can be, that I otherwise would never have seen,” he said.

Speaking about their upcoming performance at the Rock on the Lawns Festival, Chantel said they would be playing some songs from their album, as well as new tracks they will be releasing this year.