Songwriter Diana Hickman talks inspiration and loss
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Apr 04, 2017 | 4462 views | 0 0 comments | 435 435 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s been a whirlwind for neo soul artist Diana Hickman. And it’s been a long time coming.

She recently released her debut EP “South of Your Thoughts,” which fuses classical roots with whimsy and sass.

Hickman, a Greenpoint resident for the past seven years, describes her music as healing and meditative. While some of her songs are lively and uptempo, with a clash between pop, r&b and classical music, it does bring about a certain therapeutic quality as good music usually does.

The album-making process took about two years to complete. In January 2015, she began working on South of Your Thoughts with a few musician friends, including John Cave, a guitarist who played with Talib Kweli. For a few songs, he helped her add-in a synth bass and computer drum.

“He helped me put together the structure of the song because I do everything so independently between piano and singing,” she said. “He helped me fleshed it out.”

To get the word out about the album, Hickman relied on a PledgeMusic campaign, a music-based crowdfunding website similar to GoFundMe or Kickstarter. In the past week, she’s mailed out the final rewards that people pledged for on the site.

One of the most exciting aspects of releasing an album is being able to Shazam the songs and locate it on Spotify, Hickman said. Since it’s her first release, her friends and family have been pleasantly surprised by the quality.

“Just being able to see that it’s accessible to people, it was really exciting even though it only hit me days after it was released,” she said. “I was like it’s really out there! Ok! Ok!”

Growing up, Hickman was a classically-trained pianist which ties into the theatrical flair that she has throughout the album.

Her music is more influenced by the drama of classical music than it is by her past experiences performing in musical theatre. In fact, she is looking to distance her musical theatre background from her career as a musician.

“I’m trying to steer away from the sound but I do like the visual aspect of it and I do love acting, which you can see in my music video,” said Hickman.

Her music’s soulful feel has been continuously developed since her days in high school, when she was heavily influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill and Black Eyed Peas. Today, Hickman herself is compared to artists like Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

Recently, Hickman did some video shoots at the Box House Hotel in Greenpoint. The hotel’s restaurant The Brooklyn Lantern served as a warm and quirky aesthetic. In exchange for using the space, Hickman will return to perform a night of singing and the piano sometime within the upcoming months.

In July, Hickman is also hoping to put together a Pacific Northwest tour for about two weeks. In August, she’s planning an East Coast tour as well. If fans are interested in seeing another side to her, her Youtube channel features short, funny videos such as “Surviving the Summer in NYC without the Air Conditioning.”

On April 12th, Hickman will be performing at the Bitter End as part of a tribute show to Cave. He passed away unexpectedly in February and a group of Brooklyn musicians, many who have worked with him, are getting together to perform and fundraise for his one-year-old child. The Bitter End is located at 147 Bleecker Street in Manhattan.
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