Blood Diamonds, otherwise known as Michael Tucker from Kansas City, is a Vancouver-based musician on the rise with his self-described sun-dipped production and frequent collaboration with Grimes. He released his EP, Phone Sex, on July 24, 2012, which features remixes and collaborations from his friends in the industry. We recently talked to Blood Diamonds to ask him about his music, his friendship with Grimes and his love for StarCraft.
By Rosa Barney
Mike didn’t originally want to be a producer. He stumbled into the music world when he was at school for video game design. He never viewed his passions for visual and audible arts as two different things; in his mind they were both vehicles for being creative. “I just feel like the only thing I was sure of, especially growing up, was that I wanted to be an artist. I did not know what kind. I did not know whether it would be visual or musical. Now I just try to focus on making things all day. If I am making something then I am doing what I am supposed to be doing,” Mike explained.
Today Mike operates under the alias Blood Diamonds, a name that he and a friend came up with when he was living in Vancouver and developing a new production style, “I liked it, not because of the Sierra Leone reference, but more because blood and diamonds are two very important cultural things. Blood is a necessity—you need it to live. But diamonds are a luxury and the last thing you need to live. I kind of liked that contrast between the two things” he said.
While living in Vancouver and developing the Blood Diamonds sound, Mike met his soon to be close friend Claire, also known as Grimes. Both artists were set to hit the stage for the very first time just outside of Montreal with Claire as the opening act. “After the show she wrote a really nice blog post about me and I thought it was cute, so I emailed her and we kept in touch. Finally she came back to Vancouver and we started going to parties and hanging out. Eventually we made a track together which ended up being “Phone Sex,” said Mike.
His friendship with Grimes extends past musical pursuits. They spend a lot of their free time playing StarCraft with their friends in the industry. In Grimes’ case, this entails watching and providing colorful commentary. “We play StarCraft and then just geek out about records. Claire watches us and makes commentary; she will say stuff like, ‘These aliens look like Katy Perry aliens!’ It is a huge deal in Korea and it is very competitive. There are professional StarCraft players and it is televised every Saturday,” said Mike.
His decision to experiment with music directly correlates to his time spent playing video games growing up. “A lot of my first music experiences were with video games like Dance Dance Revolution with hardcore trance. The Tony Hawk soundtrack showed me new stuff and SSX introduced me to Basement Jaxx.”
The artwork for the Phone Sex EP is also inspired by his gaming habit. “The cover is very influenced by games. Growing up whenever I saw a square format with art I did not automatically think album cover or LP. I thought, and still think, Dreamcast or Playstation1. I just wanted to evoke that before anything else.” Do not try to read the Japanese characters on the EP cover—trust me, they do not make sense.
“It is funny because what a lot of people do not know is that most of the things in there are spelled wrong but they are pretty close to the real thing. I did that because I did not like certain characters visually. So I just decided to pick a better Japanese character. It was just kind of me making a social comment, ‘As long as it looks good, no one will care.’ English speaking people just kind of look at something beautiful and just take it at face value without wondering if it is correct and sure enough no one has said ‘Hey wait a minute!’ aside from the Japanese blogs.”
Right now music is Mike’s main focus but there is no telling what he will be making in the future. “Who knows, maybe one day I will just start making video game art and music might just fall off. That is what happened before. When I was in game design school I was making games and then I just started making more and more music. In my mind I am just doing the same thing everyday, I am just making something.”