Delain’s Diana Leah Talks Dark Waters, Band Chemistry, Touring and More
Since joining veteran symphonic metal outfit Delain, vocalist Diana Leah has given her all in bridging the gap between the Netherland-based group’s past and future.
Through a series of increasingly larger gigs during the back end of 2022, Leah showed her fierce chops, proving to fans that she was a worthy replacement for the departed Charlotte Wessels. In the months since, Leah has continued to compound that triumph as she not only recorded towering vocals for Delain’s latest record Dark Waters but even got in on the action, penning two tracks.
Indeed, with Leah onboard, Delain’s future looks bright, and if Dark Waters is any indication, the group maybe be sporting its most triumphant lineup to date.
As she prepares to support Dark Waters, Diana Leah dialed in with Metal Sucks to recount her early memories of Delain, joining the band, her first gigs, the recording of Dark Waters, and what she’s most looking forward to in 2023.
What was your introduction to Delain?
I discovered Delain many years ago, back in 2009, when I was around 19 years old. It was around this time that I discovered symphonic metal bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation, and with that came Delain. So, I’ve been very familiar with their music, and it’s always meant a lot to me. I think back to when I was 19; I was in that period of my life where I was discovering what kind of music I liked, what I wanted to sing, and experimenting with my voice a lot.
I first came across April Rain via YouTube after it was suggested to me, and it was such an earworm for me. I’ve been hooked ever since. I immediately loved what I heard, and then, when I had the chance to join last year, it was a dream come true for me.
What are your memories of your first gig with Delain?
Oh, man, the first show that we played we played back in June of ’22 were essentially try-out shows, if that makes sense. It was in front of an intimate crowd of maybe 100 people, and I was really nervous because it was my first time with the band.
At that time, I wasn’t even announced as a member of Delain yet, and it was the first time people saw me. So, I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, the rest of the guys and I were also nervous because that was it – once I entered the stage, that was it. I basically had to say, “Okay, this is me. You either like what you see and hear or don’t.”
Was the audience welcoming initially, or did you have to win them over?
All of that was scary, but after the first song, people were singing along and very hyped. That surprised me in a good way, making me think, “Oh, cool. This is working. The people are responding well to this.” That gave me a boost of confidence when I was on stage, and after those shows, we played a festival in August of 2022, which was such a cool experience, too. It was my first time playing a huge festival, and after our first “official show” in a venue, it was sold out from there on.
So, it was so cool to have all of that happen. It felt like the beginning of everything. People were jumping around and screaming. It felt surreal, to be honest. Once I stepped on the stage and sang the first few lines of the first song, I was like, “Oh my god, this is actually happening.” People were already singing with me; it was just a surreal feeling. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think back.
Does what you bring to the table alter or enhance Delain?
The DNA of Delain is still here. Once you hear this new record [Dark Waters], you’re definitely going to be able to hear that. I think anyone who has heard any of the singles will agree that the DNA is there, and it still sounds like Delain. The primary songwriters are still here, which takes a lot of pressure off me.
As for what I brought, I think every singer has a different sound to their voice, and the way you approach it and your spin on the melody will always be something a bit different. Those things come from deep within my personality and the kind of person that I am. The way I sing and my range is certainly a bit different than Charlotte [Wessels], but that’s okay; I think, in general, each singer has their own voice.
Do the inevitable comparisons to Charlotte bother you at all?
Maybe when people heard the first single, they thought, “Oh my god, she sounds exactly like Charlotte.” But once you hear the other songs, you’ll be able to hear that that’s not the case. Maybe there are similarities because I have that ability, but there’s so much more than that. As for the old songs, they were written a certain way, and I’d like to approach them in that way. So, if there’s a part where it’s sung with a powerful chest voice or mixed voice, I’m not gonna sing it in an operatic voice and change it. I’m not going to change the song totally.
To be honest, I don’t like it when singers mess with classic songs, as it causes them to lose their magic. So, the comparison is tricky because I sing, stay true to the original song, and do not change it too much. But then, once you hear the new songs with me, you’re gonna hear me, my voice, my style, and all the things that I do. So, to answer your question, the main thing is whenever you change singers, there’s always going to be an element of freshness. That’s inevitable because every singer sounds different.
Can you recount the initial origins of Dark Waters?
When I joined the band, I think half of the album was already written. And once I joined, we finished it together. So eventually, I flew to the Netherlands and worked with Martijn [Westerholt] on songs. So, we recorded vocal demos and worked on vocal melodies, and when it came to the lyrics, most of them were written, but I also had the chance to write a few things. I wrote the lyrics for “Moth to a Flame” and for “Tainted Hearts.”
As for what was written, if there was something I wasn’t comfortable with or didn’t like, we had a discussion, and maybe we’d change it. And I love the title of the album, Dark Waters; it’s such a cool title because it’s a great reflection of what we went through as we came together and moved through the unknown. We had to dive into these dark waters and bring the whole band together again; the title represents that.
What was your approach with “Moth to a Flame?”
It’s interesting because that was the final song written for Dark Waters. I remember they texted me and told me they needed lyrics for the song. We had these deadlines for when we needed to finish, and they asked me, “Are you willing to write lyrics for this one?” And I was like, “Of course,” and then I got to work the next day or so writing lyrics for it.
The song is mainly about being addicted to a situation, or it could even be a person. Everyone relates to lyrics differently, but it’s like when you’re addicted to the situation, and you keep going back to it to relive those feelings of happiness, but at the same time, it’s painful as well.
So, it’s not really a positive situation, and at some point, you have to take the scissors and cut that thing out. I think a lot of people relate to that song because we as humans have this thing where we attach to people or situations like a drug, but in the end, at one point, you really have to let it go and heal from it.
What makes the chemistry of Delain’s revitalized lineup special?
Oh, that’s a good question. It’s funny because when I was auditioning for the band, I flew to the Netherlands to perform, and I wasn’t even sure if I was actually going to be a member of the band. So, I have just invited me over and asked, “Are you willing to fly over to the Netherlands and see how we can get along as human beings?”
So, we got together, played some acoustic songs, and just hung out as friends. It was immediately apparent that we could be friends and get along as humans so that in and of itself was a surreal moment. We had such a good time, and we clicked right, and that’s really hard because all my life, I struggled to find people to get along with in the music industry.
To be on the same page with and have the same views on things and the future, and to have it happen immediately, was really special. I think the chemistry that we all have is apparent in the studio and on stage. We are not just friends; we’re a family. We support each other, and I think that’s something special.
Would you say that this is Delain’s most potent lineup yet?
To be honest, I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t be fair to say this one is the strongest because I wasn’t present in the other lineups. I wasn’t here in the past, So I don’t think it would be fair for me to say which one is the strongest. But I think it’s fair for people to decide that on their own, and I am sure they will. I know they will say it at one point, one way or the other, spontaneously on their own.
How would you describe the state of the symphonic metal scene today?
I think it’s strong. There are a lot of new bands, and some old ones, too. You’ve got bands like Nightwish, who are still around, and Within Temptation, which is a cool thing. I think getting the music out there is simply about educating people. Some people don’t even know what symphonic metal is and don’t even know that it exists.
It’s a shame because it’s not marketed in a big way, so we have to work to get it out there. We live in a world where pop music will always be at the top, making it complicated. You can never beat that, and people will ultimately listen to whatever they listen to, which is often what’s on the radio and TV. So, that’s hard to beat, and it’s a shame because I think symphonic metal has so much to offer. People are missing out.
What are you most excited about as you move forward?
I’m very excited about the tour that we’re gonna start in April. And then the summer festivals are going to be so much fun. I love summer festivals and playing shows in the summer because it’s good for my vocal cords. I’m looking forward to the tour, being with the band, and meeting new people because even though we played a few shows last year, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have so many shows to play and so many tours to do all around the world. I can’t wait to meet everybody.