Classic composers and Chinese string instruments: Diamond Duck chat their self-titled EP

Through a shared love of intricate vocal harmonies and a side of classical composition, Diamond Duck was born in 2016. The duo comprised of Jimmy Daley and Brian Campeau have now released their debut self-titled EP into the world, and we loved it to bits.

With the pair currently on tour supporting Diamond Duck, we reached out to find out more about this lush little release. Jimmy was kind enough to run us through each of the EP tracks, one at a time – find out his secrets below.

diamond duck EP

Almost as if Mozart composed mandolin music for Simon and Garfunkel to croon over, Diamond Duck are a melding of influences to say the least.

Middle of a Song

This is one of my songs. I actually wrote it about six years ago with my brother and it never had a home until Diamond Duck came around. It was inspired by Paul Kelly’s beautiful a capella piece Meet Me In The Middle of Air (quoting it directly in the lyrics/melody).

It’s a song about ending a long relationship and the uncertainty of what comes next, but still hoping that in time you can look back with fondness… hopefully you are left with a memory of what was best about the person. The choral thing at the end of the song speaks (or sings) to that thought. My favourite thing about this song are the strings in the middle. I wish I could have a string quartet with me everywhere I go. It’s the most evocative sound and perfectly captures sentiment of this song.

Bad Band

This is one of Brian’s songs. He wrote it while there was a really bad band rehearsing next door to him, ha. Given the topic it’s a very good piece of music. It was lots of fun arranging this tune together.

The harmony moves quite slowly and steadily through the verses… it reminded me of the Bach’s C Minor piano prelude, where it just cycles through all these beautiful arpeggiated chords. So we tried to create an accompaniment on the mandolin and then eventually the piano that was reminiscent of that.

Enemies of Reason

This is one of my songs. I wrote it after watching a Richard Dawkins documentary called Enemies of Reason. If you know anything about Dawkins you know what the song is about, ha.

The lyrics use lots of biblical imagery, ‘Jericho’, ‘Gabriel’s trumpet’ etc, which is quite ironic as those things are about religious judgement but we use them in a song that is judging religion. Normally we just perform live as a duo so we can write parts for four instruments, two guitars and two voices. It was nice in the studio to be able chuck in a few extra harmonies here and there, especially on this track.

Fine Island

This is one of Brian’s songs and the music was inspired by the composer Haydn. True to Haydn’s music it’s a very elegant piece. We also used a Chinese instrument in this song called a Zhongruan. It’s sort of like a mandolin but one octave lower, with weird raised frets and flat wound strings. It’s also a beautiful looking instrument with the best tuning pegs going around (check it out). It has a very deep, but subtle sound that suited the tune.

The lyrics are about this ‘fine island’ that we are so lucky to call home but very reluctant to share, even with the most desperate people in the world. Brian is from Canada so it’s sort of outsider’s critique of the selfishness and xenophobia often present in Australian society.

Two Part Invention No.4 in D Minor

Diamond Duck came to be through our shared love of country harmony singing duos like the Louvin Brothers and of classical music – a bit of an odd couple. So from the start we wanted to perform some classical music in our set.

This piano piece of Bach’s is one that we do live so we thought we’d put it on the EP. Despite loving classical music, neither of us are classical musicians so this was very challenging and I hope we did a satisfactory job… but I’m not sure, ha.

Marry Me By The Sea

This was another piece of mine that I wrote many years ago but never had a home for. We released it as our first single last year and have also recorded a full band version with an indie rock/jazz outfit we both play in called AKA BAZ (due for release later in the year) – so it has several homes now.

It’s the most sparse recording on the EP as what Brian and I play is exactly what we play live; two guitars and two voices, no overdubs. I like that about it, it has a real closeness. Of course we overdubbed the strings and didn’t play those, ha… I did play the piano though, but to be fair the piano part could have been played by a baby.


Catch Diamond Duck live on their EP tour. Grab the dates below, and head to their Facebook page for more info.

May 24th – Some Velvet Morning, Clifton Hill
May 27th – Warehouse Show, Melbourne
June 6th – House Concert, Newcastle
June 7th – Two Goats, Armidale
June 8th – Club Mullum – Mullumbimby
June 9th – 63 First Avenue, Sawtell
July 12-15 – Bello Winter Music Festival