Eurovision isn’t just about three minutes of music. For artists it’s also a vast platform to showcase their talent and passion, and a place to lasso in new fans as their careers progress.
Azerbaijan’s DiHaj knows that well, having used the experience to win over tens of thousands of new followers from Lisbon to Lviv. Following Eurovision 2017, lead singer Diana Hajiyeva won the Vision Music Award 2017 for Most Memorable Staging and made the shortlist for Best Dressed. But even as the awards rolled in, the group continued to fine-tune their craft. The result of their toil is the debut album “The End Of Sunrise” — released at the end of July. It was a busy summer, but we’re now cozying up to it as autumn takes hold.
Abbreviated T.E.O.S., it’s a nine-track concept album that marries dark electronica with modern sonic beats. Fusing digital sounds with sultry soprano, the musical arrangement is sparse. But Diana fills the space with her unique and recognisable voice. As ever Diana marries her vocals with the skilled musicianship of bandmates Ali Nasib and Anar Abdullayev. Together, they create an enigmatic musical sensibility. It’s not easy to define.
The entire album is composed and executed in English, a potentially radical move for an artist who hails from, lives in and performs in The Caucasus. But it marks a bold step for the band in breaking into the European market. The LP moves away from the feeble flourishes of radio pop and finds its voice within its avant-garde production. Standout tracks include “Complain”, “Loveseat” and “Rainbow” (above).
“Rainbow” is particularly arresting and thumping, and seemingly contains a veiled message in support of Azerbaijan’s marginalised LGBT movement. Feelings of longing and urgency colour the production. As she sings, “I gotta talk to you, I gotta talk to you, Don’t know how, Don’t know why.”
Speaking exclusively to wiwibloggs about her debut album, Dihaj unpacked the work behind the music.
“Dihaj is a three man band. Each of us come from completely different genres. So T.E.O.S is a result of thorough music research and uncontested relationships. We collectively picture ourselves as a triangle — we are apart, yet totally connected. We were exchanging our music experience during the week-long songwriting sessions, and improvising on our feelings at the same time. The album title might sound tragic, but the end of sunrise marks the beginning of a new day. So there’s always hope for new beginnings after days of anger. The artwork was made by Azeri artist Aygun Hesenova. Her idea was to create a magic world using green ivy. My true fans understand Dihaj. They know it is not just Diana Hajiyeva. They know that it is also a world that they can relate to and lose themselves in its magic. This album was produced in London by Igor LOOPer Garanin. We often say that he is a 4th invisible member of our band — again, Dihaj is more than just the three of us.”
On ground in Kyiv, Dihaj made the most of dark emotions. Often paired with a man dressed as a horse, she blended equestrian aesthetics with chilling masterpiece theatre to create one of the most exciting narratives leading up to her qualification for the Eurovision final. This excitement continues in her first LP. The “Outro” on T.E.O.S. is dark, moody and perhaps contains the most compelling a capella of echoes heard on any LP this year.
And Dihaj isn’t just a Eurovision project. The Azerbaijani beauty has been waxing strong since her appearance at the contest. She continues to tour and wow audiences with her strong sense of style. Recently, we caught up with her in Baku. Watch that interview below.
Are you loving the debut album? Let us know in the comments box below.