A Diva Dompé performance is an immutable force of love, like the reverse of a horror show but with the same outcome: Once you see her, you cannot unsee what you’ve witnessed, and you're overwhelmed by this compulsive need to go deeper. The stage is full of things that emit light, Diva (and that is her real name) being the main one. The more you watch, the more you’re nearly terrorized with the crush you're getting on her, she is so adorable and strange and yet so calm and deliberate in this somewhat chaotic rainbow TV zoo of leather bodysuit, glitter, leotards, veils, horns, rose petals, a chain, choreographed dance moves, headset….
Her earnest voice is sometimes plaintive, sometimes verging on living up to her name, and she just belts out lyrics about pulsating love over angular beats and languorous chords of synthesizer as if she were a mermaid on a rock in somewhere. It’s a pretty bizarre combo, yet there’s nothing aggressive or overly abstract or directly challenging, just a warm bubble bath of softcore weirdness tended to by a gorgeous preschool science teacher (yes, she teaches toddlers about the laws of the universe).
Diva's got one record out already, Glitter End, and just last night she finished up recording her new record, and today is heading out on a tour with Sun Araw, M Geddes Gengras, and Matthewdavid. If you’re in the western half of the country, you need to go.
VICE: Diva, who are you? What are you?
Diva Dompé: I'm not totally sure but I think I am an exile from Yialmel. I was like a princess or whatever there until there was an overthrow of the old system and this sort of new oppressive regime took over. I think my energy was meant to be obliterated and dissipated out into the universe but someone in charge of that sent me here to earth instead to help channel universal love onto this planet.
Thank you for dedicating your present existence to all of us, I feel it! You used to be in Pocahaunted and BlackBlack. Why are you performing solo now?
I've been in a few bands over the years and there were really great things about all of them, but there was a side of my creativity that was not able to get expressed through these bands. It just came time for me to get out certain visions I had without having to filter them through a group. There are a lot of things that are more difficult about playing solo, but it's worth it to me to have the immediacy of my ideas expressed exactly the way I want them to be. Its also a lot more economical.
I feel like there are hidden messages in your performance specifically... There are lots of visual triggers with the horns, veils, lights, the deliberate way in which you move and the transformations of your appearance onstage. And then your music itself is quite cosmic. What's going on here?
I have an interest in the occult and paranormal stuff, but that's only surfaced intellectually within the past couple years, so I'm not too informed on specific imagery and symbols. Though it seems like ideas I have intuitively or that are gathered from subconscious exposure to these realms end up fitting in symbolically to the ideas in the songs anyway. I mean, it's sort of a balance. I dabble in this kind of stuff and am trying to learn, so some decisions are informed. I have Satanic imagery in my work and I have imagery that relates to source and paradise. I have a deep connection with both these worlds and feel them all running parallel and superimposed in the same space. I like to play with juxtaposing symbols that are traditionally at odds and also flipping them. I think a lot of symbols have been flipped back and forth throughout our history, such as the feminine realm, and I want to do that faster and frequently until we get a thaumatrope effect.
You mean like where someone flashes two images or ideas, often traditionally thematically at odds with each other, so super fast that they actually become unified? How do you do this?
Mostly I rely on channeling to inform the symbolism and imagery in my work.
What's the symbolism you refer to?
All the symbolism in my output (visual, linguistic, and auditory) is really very simple and out to express simple ideas. Most importantly is love, just trying to inspire people to tap into the universal infinite source of love that exists in our universe. Some other ideas in there are balance, exploration of realms outside our normal consciousness, and dissolution of ego.
The ego can be quite limiting.
I don't believe in good and evil, just polarity and balance. When subtle energy and forces are out of balance, that's when we get this surplus of something that shouldn't be there and that's what creates suffering in this world. Or it doesn't have to be a surplus, it can just be misplaced energy. Like certain things that don't really work on this planet or in this dimension can create disfunction in our society, but maybe they work somewhere else. I think the best way to help with this problem is to be balanced within ourselves. Also our world and society are very rigid. If we didn't tip the scales so much with our own trip, we could make room for this misplaced energy. So I try to explore/express those ideas in music as well.
It's super sweet, and also a bit heavy.
I also have songs about heartbreak and imagery informed by pop music and pop stars. Its really all very light and meant to be in the name of love.
How does living in Los Angeles inform what you're doing?
LA is a deep part of me. Did you ever read any of Francesca Lia Block's books? Especially the Weetzie Bat ones? That really is kind of like my life. I grew up in Laurel Canyon in a cottage down a hidden ramshackle road at the top of a mountain with a seriously expansive view of the city--surrounded by cactus, coyotes, eucalyptus, raccoons, and the smell of jasmine and sage. My parents were really young and would take me with them everywhere, parties, raves, brunch... I was a big daydreamer and I would delve into these deep fantasies about vampires, witches, outer space, and rock and roll, and my environment really facilitated that, both physically and socially. Also the landscape of this city is infinitely nurturing, the desert, the mountains, the ocean. I feel a lot of powerful nurturing energy from the natural landscape. So growing up here has had a huge impact on me as a person and also on my creative process. Being in LA right now is aiding me creatively because of this foundation, but also because of the people. My friends are really inspiring. I feel the most inspired and connected to humanity, maybe more than I ever have. It seems like everyone is trying their hardest to be supportive and non-judgmental, productive, and to share far-out ideas with each other.
I definitely agree that LA is a magical place. I love it here, especially all the far-out stuff that comes with it. Any dream places in town you'd want to perform?
As far as conventionally, it would be amazing to play at the Hollywood Bowl someday. I saw Grace Jones there a few years ago and it was amazing. But yeah, it would be great to play music on a little cliff overlooking the ocean. Or in Griffith Park. I'd like to play in one of the ballrooms at the Biltmore. That's this really ostentatious art deco hotel downtown where they had the first Oscars.
What's up with this new record? Are you performing songs from it on this tour?
The new record is called Moon Moods and will probably be released in July from Critical Heights. It was a long and difficult process so I am really excited and relieved for it to be done. I was getting pretty used to working on a cassette 8-track, but after writing all the songs that appear on the record on the 8-track, I decided I wanted to re-do it all in a computer and give everything some room to breathe outside the tape swamp. Sure opened a can of worms though, but I am happy with the result. There are a lot of different sonic influences going on, and then a pretty strong cosmic theme (although there are a couple of heartbreak songs left over from my last break-up and a song about crushing on someone, and lust). I am definitely performing songs from it on this tour. Probably mostly songs from the record because I'm getting sick of how the 4-track songs from my last record sound over your averagely bad PA system. I'm touring with really good friends of mine, all LA super talent dudes that I love. We are going to some weird places like Lubbock, Texas, where I am seriously going to hit up some Buddy Holly zones, and Boise, Idaho, where I spent a pretty bleak but special in its own way Thanksgiving at a Golden Corral a couple years ago--so the Boise kids are gonna have to top that!
I hope they do you proud.
Diva's tour dates (more info here):
Tues 3/6 - Las Vegas @ Bunkhouse Saloon
Wed 3/7 - Tempe, AZ @ Meat Market
Fri 3/9 - Lubbock, TX @ Prairie ...Fire Theatre
Sat 3/10 Marfa, TX - Dublab Festival
Sun 3/11 Marfa, TX - Dublab Festival
Thurs 3/15 Austin SXSW - Critical Heights/Fire Records showcase. Beale Street Tavern (8 pm)
Fri 3/16 Austin SXSW - The Smell/kxlu show at Domy Books 7:30 pm
Fri 3/23 - Boise, ID @ Treefort Festival
Sun 3/25 - Calgary, AB - MTT Festival
Tues 3/27 - Vancouver, BC @ Waldorf Hotel
Thurs 3/29 - Portland,OR @ Rotture
Sat 3/31 - Oakland, CA @ TBA
Sun 4/1 - Santa Cruz @ The Catalyst Atrium