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Djunah
Chicago
Ex Voto | Out Now | Triple Eye Industries 
RIYL: Ambidexterity. Coordination. Sweat Equity  

Djunah exists in a weird but wonderful dichotomy where the duo is both a wonderful concept and yet truly insane. Donna Diane sings and plays the guitar, and what’s called a moog bass with her feet. She is seemingly surrounded by pedals and amps – and in most photos appears to do this shit in heels! Imagine having the coordination to pat your head and rub your belly (don’t pretend it’s easy!). Now imagine doing three things at once with one body and not going insane. That attention to detail and craft is also apparent in the multi-faceted noise rock the duo plays – there’s a haunting human element that’s more in line with soul and Gospel than hardcore, but the sonic violence is no less punishing. It’s a careful balance that makes Ex Voto feel like an instant classic, like we’ve got a new Melvins on our hands. So how did Diane find the ability to triple-task?  

“It was definitely a case of necessity being the mother of invention. My old band had ground to a halt, and I wanted a way to play solo without sacrificing the bass. I don’t like using prerecorded sounds or loops, so I decided to try playing guitar and a bass synth simultaneously. It’s such a mindfuck – I love it! Music is a physical, full-body experience for me anyway, so playing with my whole body – and controlling so much of the frequency spectrum – only deepens that.  

Thematically, Diane’s love of art with multiple layers and meanings comes forth in this affecting listen. Just like how the album art takes influence from the beautiful and the heart-breaking, her lyrics are haunting and moving in equal measure. So, what was the album about? 

“So much has happened politically and personally since I started writing the album in 2016. I saw this theme of self-healing emerge, both for me as an individual and for society collectively. I see healing as a political imperative. We live in a near-constant state of political crisis, and I think people realize we’re never going to fix things if we keep hiding from our own sickness and trauma. Every day, people come forward with personal stories about sexual assault or opioid addiction or mental illness, and we’re slowly learning as a society to embrace that vulnerability instead of shaming it and telling it to shut up. I want to make music that represents the power of that vulnerability. A lot of my life, I was told I was too sensitive and that being sensitive is weak. So, I killed off a lot of the feeling, in my heart and in my body, just to make it through the day. Reclaiming it and finding power in it has been incredibly healing for me. I think that’s why there’s a lot of sexuality in the music. Sex, to me, is the ultimate in combining sensitivity and power. I sometimes think of it as feminine power, but really it has no gender. 

Top photo by Dave Rentauskas

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