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A ruler for the right reasons: Diana Anaid runs us through her new LP My Queen

After dropping off the radar to spend time with her family, Diana Anaid has returned with her latest album My Queen. Produced alongside Steve James (The JamSex PistolsCold Chisel), it’s a fitting return to form for an artist so well set into Australian music history.

Ahead of her Better Girl tour, we reached out to Anaid for a track-by-track run through of her album. Take it away, Diana.

diana anaid my queen better girl tour

Human rights, family values and environmentalist spirit: Diana Anaid leaves no stone unturned in her far-reaching new album My Queen.

Into Your Heart

Starting the album with a theme of adventure, joy, compassion, knowledge, understanding and empathy. Into Your Heart, lovingly known as Rabbit Hole was inspired by the psychedelic front woman of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick, a ’60s musical legend and early pro-gay rights supporter. In the Songs of the Haight Ashbury Stage Show, I get to perform three of her songs, and it is truly inspirational every time.

Sometimes it is scary to try a new direction, or to venture into the unknown, but it is important to follow your own path and to let your inner light shine, not letting others drag you down or dampen your spirit. Being encouraging and supportive is the best thing we can do when others trust us with their hopes, dreams, ideas and aspirations, especially young people.

This album of thoughtfully chosen songs was written during a brief hiatus from the industry, time that I spent reconnecting with family and with my love of writing. Into Your Heart speaks of my never-ending love for my transgender sister and my wish for a more compassionate world for her. This is also my first real falsetto attempt since 1999’s Blues Singer. It’s also a very acoustic track. Where should we dwell and for how long for? Dwell deep within your heart and for as long as you can.

Better Girl

The sound of ignorance is deafening. Far too many people angrily fixate on gender-related issues that possibly don’t relate to them (like my sister’s gender realignment surgery) rather than the sorry state of our world. Stand together in the fight for equality and fairness for all and offer the same compassion and empathy that you would want others to show you or your loved ones. How can we help each other to become better people? I am asking for advice, help, leadership and insight.

In a time when there is so much violence and destruction through firearms, this song offers an alternative; encouraging the listener to fire their love gun at the world and fill it with bullets of compassion (also what I used to tell my son when he wanted to play with guns). And no, the lyric isn’t “this time we’re farting ’till the war is won” Have a look at the music video made by my talented son Stone, it is one of my favourites out of my 21 year career.

Can’t Apologise

Can’t Apologise relates to the dilemma faced by friends tempted to take it to the next level. What happens when he/she gets with someone else, sacrificing both the relationship and the friendship? How do you have your cake and eat it too? Similarly when two best friends fall for the same guy, and one steps aside to let the other one chase him/her, you might think the friendship will survive, but it probably won’t – from my experience. Even if you have decided that you don’t want the guy, your best friend can’t have him either!

This song was a favourite for many years before producer Steve James gave it the attention it needed and it made it onto an album. Powerful bass by Dean Sutherland (Skunkhour) is a stand out on this track.

Reassure Me

Inspired by Stone (my son) moving out of home, sob, absolutely dramatised for emotional impact haha (“will you even remember my name?”– that’s hilarious!), but truly touching on the real feelings of loss and concern and a kind of happy sadness. As long as you are coming back one day, I can let you go. As long as you know how much I love you, I can let you go. As long as you know that I have got your back- no matter what, I can let you go. As long as you know that you are the fire that warms my soul, I can let you go, remember my name – my name is mum, and you only have one.

This track has my favourite acoustic guitar parts on it and is quite hard to play. The oooh wapbup oooh wapbup part was fun to come up with, reminding me of See Throughs and going through lots of variations before settling with oooh wapbup.

Mortify Me

A co-dependent angry/sad/bittersweet love story that we can all relate to so well. They’re sorry and they’re sexy and you can’t resist them. Sound familiar? In the playground of love, it’s up and down like a see-saw, but we all want to play because the ups are so damn good! Even pretend love is better than no love at all “even if it’s just a placebo, you’re all the favour that I need to know”.

It is nice to have at least one song on each album with a swear word, I mean this is Diana here! Some fantastic keys on this one by Byron musician Connor Fitzgerald and unforgettable bass by the damn cool Nik Young. This song was lucky to make it onto the record, it was nearly scrapped but I loved so many things about it, (not just the swear word), that it had to be included.

My Queen

My Queen, previously known as Trip and Into the Belly, reminds me of my best friend who sat on the end of my bed while I was writing this song. My Queen is about freeing the mind of social constraints and making the most of our time on this planet; you are the ruler of your destiny (and also the ruler of my heart). We, the people, are the REAL royalty protecting our planet, ourselves and each other; we are all equal and deserve to feel safe and sound.

Sometimes we need to take a trip out of the everyday norm, to allow ourselves a glimpse into what is important and what is real. I hold a light for the disenfranchised and downtrodden, and hope to one day see a more equal spread of wealth where everyone is treated fairly. Education, healthcare, food, shelter, safety, love and time to play – a true monarch would make sure everyone has these basic human rights. Perhaps the world needs a little medicinal microdose? Much like Wish You Well this song is about making the most of our physical lives here on earth and preparing for what’s next by being the best, most caring and kind versions of ourselves that we can be.

Braveheart

Written specifically for Braveheart’s, an Australian protection agency tackling child sexual assault in our society, with a mission to ‘make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child’. Although my memories are repressed, I have experienced early sexual assault by a family member, and I have recently been asked to be the ambassador for this life affirming charity. Sexual abuse of children is disgusting and disgraceful and leads to so many problems for the victim; often keeping silent through life, depression and anxiety follow them around like a ball and chain.

For me, I lost most of my childhood memories due to suppression and drug-induced black-outs, and now I feel the need to be wasted all the time, and a constant cloud of uncertainty follows me around. It’s like a big black hole has consumed me, and the only light in the tunnel is people who empathise, relate or are trying to turn the tide on Australia’s problem. Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely to be abused, and this is something that makes me mad. Similarly regional children are three times more likely to be abused.

When I met someone who had gone through the same trauma as me, and was equally fragile like me, a sensitive girl who was recovering from yet another suicide attempt, I had hope that if we had each other to look up to, and to lean on and respect, to understand and empathise with, we might get through it, we might become strong leaders who ignite change and inspire resilience, and it might make it worth the pain. I kept her in my mind while I was writing the song.

Here in the quagmire are a lot of us are adults that never wanted to be abused as kids, and there are also abusers who don’t have the courage to step forward, Braveheart’s encourages them to come forward and atone for their crimes. Australia has had a culture of abuse and silence, let’s hope that we can close this chapter and leave it behind with our other Australian disgraces. The kinds of things that we need to encourage in our young people are courage and kindness, creative thinking, resilience, overcoming adversity, standing up for one’s beliefs, standing strong in the face of fear, self-discipline, honesty and integrity, not how to overcome depression and anxiety brought on by childhood sexual abuse.

Twisted Love

I am trying to illustrate the pain when someone close to you judges and won’t accept you, especially after you have opened up to them. Asking the listener to look deeper than society’s prejudice, and allow the love to stay; No matter what, don’t push away the people you love, because once you do, it’s too late. There is also a line in the sand and after you cross that line, you can try to build as many bridges as you can to rectify the hurt you caused, but sometimes, there is just no way back into that person’s good books.

If they can just see it as a Shakespearean type tragedy or pageantry and allow you back in, that would be so nice, but the truth is sometimes it is too little too late! Really if you love someone you should try not to step over that line.

This song also nearly didn’t make it on the album, but it is a real favourite when I play it live and I know the old school Ahnaid fans will totally dig it. It also features an unmissable sax solo from Martha Baartz and I always laugh when I hear it because it’s like the vocals are trying to muscle the sax out of the way (of course I am)! Some interesting sounds are used instead or words as well, I always find that enticing.

Wish You Well

My Catholic father allowed my young brother to drown because it was ‘Gods will’; he was pulled out of the ocean by a stranger and is still alive thank goodness. He would have died without me letting him know how much I loved him, how much I needed him, how grateful I was for his existence, and how much I admired and looked up to him. What happens when someone leaves you, or dies…and you just didn’t get to say how much you care? One of the saddest things is when a person dies unexpectedly and their family don’t get to say goodbye.

No wonder I say I love you to Stone every day and every night! Sometimes you might lose yourself even, and you just have to give yourself love, accept yourself and what has already happened, know that the bad times will pass, and the good times will come. Know that this is a shit situation that many find themselves in and many come through the other end, be one of those who survive to make the world a better place for others. Let go and let yourself breathe in deep the love and well wishes from yourself and from others. In the dark of the night I will be your light and when I am lost you will be my compass.

Some great programming on this one by drummer extraordinaire Queezy Beats. This is arguably one of my faves on the new album, and actually of all my songs. Producer Steve James made a memorable mark by changing up the phrasing of the chorus, thanks Steve, changing the emphasis from ‘happens’ to ‘what’ made a huge difference!

Leaving Town

The love of my life has to leave her home town due to prejudice and hatred. In a small town, people didn’t understand our clothes, our makeup, didn’t understand our affections for each other, they had trouble understanding our sexuality, so before she would leave, we would cry, play, pray, sleep, love and finally, stray, and then I would wait for her to return so that we could do it all again, hoping and praying for a time when same-sex love is accepted in our community and in all communities.

One of my few muses, Mim inspired some of this song, as she did with Forbidden.

Fallen for You

Is it friendship between lovers? Is it love between friends? Is it friends with benefits? Whatever it is, he/she has the key to my heart. This song goes in with previous tracks like Get Yourself Lost, Masterplan, Full Of Nothing and I Go Off, and was previously called Dog on a Leash. I was very happy to end the album with a Nathan Correy guitar solo… and with a song that reinforces the theme of having empathy, love and compassion for others.

To catch Diana Anaid playing through My Queen in the flesh, find her tour dates below. Full details and tickets available here.

Better Girl Tour

Thurs 24 May – Hotel Cambridge, Newcastle
Fri 25 May – Smiths Alternative, Canberra
Sat 26 May – The Factory Floor, Sydney