DIVES (c) Marie Haefner
DIVES (c) Marie Haefner

The 3-piece band DIVES is made up of Dora de Goederen (drums), Viktoria Kirner (vocals, bass) & Tamara Leichtfried (vocals, guitar). Known for their noteworthy start at the Girls Rock Camp in 2016 and their remarkably speedy climb to the top of the Austrian and European alternative pop-rock scenes almost immediately thereafter, today, the band stands on different grounds, with new perspectives and heightened confidence in what they do and why they do it. This week marks the release of their 2nd full album with the title “Wanna Take You There” (October 14th, 2022 on Siluh Records) – a smoother, rounder, more compact artistic feat, that still carries the garage-rock, surf-pop, 90s-flavoured indie sounds that they are known for. In light of this occasion, Arianna Alfreds sat down with two of the three band members*, DORA DE GOEDEREN and TAMARA LEICHTFRIED, to talk about how their sound, songwriting and producing process has evolved since their last album, how juggling their personal and professional lives poses both unique and universal challenges, why they still feel like newcomers even if they aren’t, and what their international presence could look like in the future.

*Due to time conflicts, Viktoria Kirner was, unfortunately, unable to attend this interview. Her bandmates did their best to fill in the blanks.

It’s been about three years since the last (and first) album release. How does it feel this time around? What’s different?

Tamara Leichtfried: I think it’s completely different because the last three years were really, well, a weird time. We started to produce and work on the new album two years ago, with the writing and producing of it. And we didn’t know how long that process would take. And then corona hit and went on, and we had even more time to produce. So we basically just used all the winter months for writing. The result is that I feel more confident with the release this time, because we have a lot more experience behind us and had a lot more time to make what we wanted to share. So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to this release and everything that comes with it.

Wanna Take You There album cover (c) DIVES/Siluh Records
Wanna Take You There album cover (c) DIVES/Siluh Records

Dora de Goederen: Another big change was that this time, from the beginning on, there was a lot more planning. With the first releases it was much more of a spontaneous thing. Previously for us it was like: ‘Oh, that’s possible? Okay, let’s do that then.’ And for this album it was more: ‘Ok we want to do this. But maybe let’s think about how we want to do it.’

Tamara Leichtfried: Also, I think the first time it felt, for me, like we really started to create a producing process. Because of corona, we started to produce on the laptop because we simply couldn’t see each other. The first lockdown was a complete shut down, so we had to find another way to write music, and to play with each other. 

“[…] we had to find another way to write music.”

Whereas previously your songwriting came almost exclusively from jam sessions and trying things out together, in-person?

Tamara Leichtfried: Exactly. But that wasn’t possible anymore. So we began using laptops and producing programs, and we started to have a different way of looking at the songs. The years before that, we would rehearse together and start playing a song and then we would realize: Okay, it’s a cool hook so we’ll use it and write a song around it. We used to do everything in the rehearsal room. And then suddenly we were apart. So we started recording singular elements – like, for example, starting with the guitar, then adding the bass and then a voice. And then we began using this software to work with them, which was totally new for us.

Vide: DIVES – 100 Times

I believe it was the song, “100 Times” that marked this major turning point in your songwriting methodology? Were all of the songs on the album written with this new approach? 

Tamara Leichtfried: Yes, to a certain extent. Some, more than others.

Dora de Goederen: Yeah we learned to develop a more hybrid songwriting approach. So, after “100 Times” it was never completely outside of the rehearsal room, but it was never completely inside of it either.

I will say, as a listener, the new album feels rounder, fuller, and, yes, more “confident”. It feels like you’ve found your sound. Like DIVES has grown up and come into its own.

Dora de Goederen: Yeah, well, thanks for the compliment! I wouldn’t want to disagree! (laughs) I would say, of course, we put a lot of thought into these songs. Since it’s also the second album, you really want to make it “round”, as you said. And you want to find the balance between trying out new stuff, staying curious and open-minded, but also still having a specific DIVES sound or something recognizable that connects all the songs. So I think we wanted to find that balance, and it’s nice to hear that we probably managed to do so!

I think you did. However, on the other hand, even though you’re six years in, you’ve managed to keep a certain element of pureness in the music which, I guess, is still due to the fact that you began playing music in any real or professional capacity, relatively late. Is the rookie, fresh energy still there? Or are you a bit too far in for that?

Dora de Goederen: (Pause) It reminds me that sometimes I forget how long we exist already, because it kind of still feels very fresh. But if you count the years, we are not newcomers, anymore – not at all. And yeah, of course, I think the pandemic also plays an important role there, because the feeling of time changed totally during the past years. So some periods seemed so long and others passed so fast, and you feel like, okay, but we haven’t done anything as a band during those winter lockdowns, so does that period even count as time where we furthered our experience as a band, which you could actually hear in the music that we make? I doubt that.

“I personally don’t want to lose this open-minded approach to writing music.”

So I guess sometimes we kind of still feel like a newer band. And I personally also don’t want to lose this open-minded approach to writing music, and I think it’s always really important to not take ourselves too seriously. Like, being confident, but also not too serious in what you try to achieve because this can end up in a kind of narrow-minded approach to writing music, I think.

Tamara Leichtfried: Yeah, and once corona hit, although nobody wanted the break from playing, what we did gain was time to get to know each other better, even after playing together for years already. I think it gave us time to find ourselves and who we are, and also gave us resilience, musically.

DIVES (c) Marie Haefner
DIVES (c) Marie Haefner

Now that you have really established yourselves, how has this changed your lives personally/professionally? Has your success changed your life status?

Tamara Leichtfried: The thing about success is that it doesn’t always mean your bank account is fuller. So, for example, because of corona, I had to find a new job. But I managed that I could use the winter for producing the album and could wait until March until I got the new job, so I could put all my energy into the music beforehand. So, currently, I work at a day center for elderly people. Back in 2019, I could work in a bar and have the band and it felt like, okay, I’m young and I want to live for the music, and it works. And then corona came, and I couldn’t afford that set-up anymore. So I had to find a proper job and now we’re still going on with the band. So I have to manage it both and go back and forth from the care center to the rehearsal studio.

That’s a lot to juggle.

Tamara Leichtfried: Yes. But, I mean, it’s cool. I like both jobs. But it requires a lot of energy that you have to split between the band and the day job. I wish I could have more time for the band, but we don’t know how the winter will look, so we’re gonna keep our jobs. 

So the pandemic has had some real, lasting effects for the band.

Dora de Goederen: Yeah. But I guess it has always been the case for being in a band, in general. You don’t have the same planning opportunities as people with “regular jobs” because it always depends on what festivals are going to book us. And how are the tours going to look like once the booker is finished? Of course, you can try to plan a bit, and you have to plan a lot into the future. Like, for example, with releases – you have to plan them at least one year ahead. And normally you begin the planning for the planning even a year before that. So it’s a weird mix: always having to look ahead, so far in the future, but at the same time, not really having a secure base for planning.

“[…] for all three of us, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, these past years.”

I guess for all three of us, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, these past years because everyone is constantly thinking in the back of their minds: ‘Okay, but what kind of job could I have, next to the band, that won’t harm it and take up too many weekends?’ Or: ‘No, I can’t to do this because it blocks too many evenings which I will need for rehearsals, because the others work during the day.’

For my part, I’m working a bit musically apart from the band with other music projects, especially in summer. Sometimes playing with other bands or substituting or something. And I’m still studying, which is also not very easy to combine with band life. For example, I generally can’t sign up for any courses on Thursday or Fridays evenings, and can’t use the summers to write, like other students. So, yeah, it’s challenging, but I think we are all still motivated to keep all of these things going, as long as they give us joy and some kind of energy back. 

Video: DIVES – Say

And you did manage to get out the 2nd album, so it’s worked so far, somehow. Speaking of, “Wanna Take You There” is the title, as well as the first song on track-list. I heard it took you about a year to complete writing this song. Why did it take that long, and are you satisfied with the final product? 

Tamara Leichtfried: “Wanna Take You There” is very special for us because we had a jam session on the 4th of November, two years ago, which was two days after the terrorist attack in Vienna’s first district. And it was also combined with the beginning of the third or fourth lockdown. So it was a really heavy time, and we went to the rehearsing studio and were all in a really strange head space and not very happy about everything, of course.

And then we played. And I remember that we all switched instruments a lot. (We always do that when we’re jamming.) And I was sitting on the drums and playing the same beat for like one hour because I wanted to get loose and to clear my head. In the end we were playing for four hours, and it was really intense and everybody was trying to release some tension. And we changed instruments again, and then I was on the bass, and we started to sing “Wanna take you there, wanna take you there…” over and over. It felt like we wanted to be somewhere else – not in Vienna, not in the lockdown, not in the winter, not in this place where this tragedy happened.

“It felt like we wanted to be somewhere else – not in Vienna, not in the lockdown, not in this place where this tragedy happened.”

We then started to record it in February 2021, but at that point, we just didn’t know where to take it. We kept recording, listening and adding to it, changing and substituting things, playing it for friends… We knew it’s a good song and we loved it, but we didn’t know where it should go. Eventually we sent out the demo version to two people and asked them if they had suggestions – what the song needed, and if they could add something that they think is missing. And then a version came back and it was really cool because only a little was changed but it gave it a different mood. And after a couple small adjustments it was ready to be recorded, which we did in February 2022.

And you named the whole album after it. Why? 

Dora de Goederen: We just liked it. It has this kind of open meaning. It can be understood in a bit of a nostalgic way, but also has this optimism and light-footedness to it, which we just liked very much and thought it could be appealing to other people, as well. 

DIVES (c) Marie Haefner
DIVES (c) Marie Haefner

Another gem on the album is “Ego”, having a pretty light-hearted sound for a rather heavy topic, which I think is something that characterizes a lot of your music. But there’s also a video to it which then takes it in an entirely different direction and is totally unlike any other DIVES videos. How did this come about?

Tamara Leichtfried: For the video, we did what we always do. We watch other music videos and when we like them, we write to the filmmaker and ask if they have ideas for a video for a song of ours. In this case, Clemens Niel sent us his concept and we were like, okay, we can’t imagine how he sees this in his brain, but it sounds interesting! So, we said, ‘okay let’s do it.’

Dora de Goederen: Yeah, I think even after shooting the music video, we all really couldn’t imagine how it was going to turn out. In the end, we were really happy with the final result. This video allowed us to learn about new filming techniques and to be open to new kinds of visualizations. And also the idea of the puppets as maybe our alter egos – or however you would like to interpret them – I really liked, because it has this irony in it, and I think it plays really well with the seriousness of the song or with, as you said, the gravity of the topic itself.

Video: DIVES – Ego

Another notable video was for another single on the new album: “Streets”. The feeling in it is one of spontaneity and disorientation. How did this occur?

Dora de Goederen: The idea was to have this kind of impulsive party situation, where you don’t really know – has it just started? Is it over now? That turned out to be a really funny shoot for us. Since we had to shoot the rising sun for the light, we arrived in the middle of the night at the place of the shoot. But, we also had a gig the evening before so… I don’t know, did we even go home in between? Maybe for two hours or something like that, to get like a small nap, and then went on to the shoot, while everyone else had been there for several hours already. So, I don’t know how much acting was actually involved in this video! Of course there was some, but it certainly wasn’t all fake!

Video: DIVES – Streets

Your album release tour is about to start. Starting in Leipzig on October 14th, the day of the release, and going through major German and Austrian cities (like your hometown gig at WUK in Vienna on 11/5) through the end of November. How does this reflect your international experience so far?

Dora de Goederen: Of course, we would love to play other places as well, but we’ve been the most to Germany, so far. We have a lot of people there that come to our shows. So, in some cities it almost feels like a homecoming in a way because we’ve been there several times, and know our audience to an extent, and that’s really nice. We also really enjoy playing Switzerland. We’ve been to France and we would love to go back. We would have had a few shows there that got canceled due to the pandemic, so we still have to find ways to get back to them, on a practical tour route.

You can’t always play at any time, anywhere. It has to fit into some kind of tour schedule. But our bookers are quite motivated to bring us to other countries, especially next year. So we really look forward to that and, for now, we just start with Austria and Germany and a bit of Czech Republic and then, after the winter break, we are planning to go further.

Video: DIVES – Full Set (Recorded for NPR’s World Cafe Sense of Place: Vienna)

Speaking of foreign countries, you recently received the NASOM (New Austrian Sound of Music) honor for years 2023-24. Do you have any ideas about where you want to go first? Which markets do you want to crack?

Tamara Leichtfried: I mean the USA would be a big dream for us. But also I think it makes sense to play in countries like Spain and Italy because it’s still in Europe, but are still a little bit harder to get to.

Dora de Goederen: Yes, it opens up a lot more possibilities within Europe where, for us, it’s hard, from a financial aspect. So, for example, when going to the south of Europe, it’s always a tough decision to make because you know that you will end up in the negative number range afterwards, normally. So having some support, which NASOM provides, will give us a lot more possibilities.

Looking forward to seeing where you and the new album go. Thanks for the interview!

Arianna Alfreds

Wanna Take You There Release Tour 2022:

2022-10-14 GER – Leipzig, UT Connewitz
2022-10-16 CZ – Prague, Cross Club
2022-10-27 AUT – Linz, Stadtwerkstatt
2022-10-28 AUT – Graz, Orpheum
2022-11-03 AUT – Klagenfurt, Kammerlichtspiele
2022-11-04 AUT – Salzburg, Arge Kultur
2022-11-05 AUT – Wien, Wuk
2022-11-10 GER – Nürnberg, Muz Club
2022-11-12 GER – Bayreuth, Glashaus
2022-11-13 GER – Berlin, Badehaus
2022-11-14 GER – Hamburg, Molotow
2022-11-16 GER – Bremen, Lagerhaus
2022-11-17 GER – Köln, Bumann & Sohn
2022-11-18 GER – Mainz, Schonschoen
2022-11-19 GER – Stuttgart, Merlin
2022-11-20 GER – München, Milla