With her beaten-up cowgirl boots, artfully thrown-on tie-dye wrap skirt and perfectly disheveled hair, Diane Birch is the epitome of the smoldering singer-songwriter. She oozes equal parts elegance and earthiness; style and soul, and somehow manages to make ‘I’ve been touring for days and have barely slept, never mind washed my hair’ scenarios look seriously attractive. How, we wonder? And so, we grilled her about her on-the-road beauty tricks, musical influences and her new album Speak a Little Louder. And, with the help of hair stylist Sera Sloane, we show you how to create her I’m-with-the-band textured hair in our exclusive UO Beauty Video.
Photography by Mike Persico
Hi Diane! How long have you been a touring musician?
I guess I’ve been making music seriously for about six years…scary! [laughs]. And I’ve been touring on and off for the last five years.
What was your first touring experience like and how did you become comfortable with life on the road?
When my first record came out, I sort of got thrown into the whole thing. I hadn’t really toured with a whole band before and suddenly I was doing things like opening for Stevie Wonder and playing festivals. It was really exciting. I was a little freaked out at first because I wasn’t really prepared for it, but I think with anything you do, when you’re repetitive about it, you get into a flow and you learn your craft. So just doing it and practicing at it has made me a lot more comfortable. I love feeding off the crowd and the energy of the people.
Do you like being on tour?
I like being on the road a lot. It gets a little draining after a while and the novelty kind of wears off. I find myself dreaming about wanting to do laundry or get a coffee on my corner and wake up late, but it’s really fun, there’s a high energy to it. It’s fun to always be in new city and meeting new people and you never know what’s going to happen. I think to have a break in-between is definitely the best scenario.
What are some essentials for the road?
I definitely like to make it feel as homey as possible. I’m really into smells—I love incense, I love perfume. Every time I’m in a hotel room I’ll burn some incense or some sage and I’ll put my oils around. Sometimes I do yoga if there’s room in the hotel or else I just resort to eating multiple bags of chips during the day and scrap the whole health thing for a while! But I try to keep myself feeling good, because although it sounds really glamorous to go out to crazy parties every single night, it’s not really realistic when you’re working hard everyday—you also need to be healthy. I definitely like to take care of myself. Pampering as much as possible and finding people in different cities to give me a massage!
How do you take care of your hair when you’re travelling?
Being on the road, you definitely have to be prepared to not be able to change in your hotel room or find even a bathroom with good lighting, so you have to be ready in the morning to have everything you need. I wear a lot of hats! If I feel like I hate my hair that day, I just throw a hat on. I use a lot of dry shampoo because sometimes you don’t have time to wash your hair, and that tends to be the perfect cure for grease or flatness. I use a lot of coconut oil—I use it all over my body and if my hair starts getting dry I put it on the ends, so that’s an all-purpose balm that I use. I do blow-dry my bangs pretty much every day, as much as I can find a hair dryer! If the rest of my hair is totally whack, but my bangs are still fine, I feel like I have some control. That’s the general routine.
Tell us about your new record…
I was excited to finally release my new album in October. And it’s great. I’d been working on it for such a long time and there had been a large gap of time between the release of my first record, so it was this big letting go of all of this energy and emotion tied to it. It was really fun to finally get out of the studio and get on the road and start seeing a different side of the music that I created.
How would you describe your sound?
I don’t really know how to describe my sound; I’ve lost the plot even trying to understand what I do or make! I sort of embrace this emotional side of myself and I’m liberated by being able to express myself in all facets of emotion with my music. I have a definite pop sensibility—it doesn’t evoke the most modern pop but I’m inspired by classic pop: ’70s, ’80s, ’90s…. Even ’80s adult contemporary…I want to be like Phil Collins, basically. I love Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, and I’m inspired by a lot of female artists on this record: Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner. Women who were really okay with being vulnerable and that, in a way, was being powerful.
What’s up next for you?
I’m going to be doing a lot of touring in the coming months. I’m going to Asia, Europe, England…so that will be a lot of fun. I’m working on some side projects and doing other things, musically, that I guess people wouldn’t associate me to do, so it’s great for me, because my whole goal as an artist is to not be pigeonholed in one area. I have a lot of friends in music and I’m really excited to do different side projects and put out EPs and things like that. A lot of that stuff is to come soon.