When The Dresden Dolls play London's Roundhouse at the beginning of November, supporting them
will be an exciting young Australian performer Jacob Diefenbach. He's amassed a great reputation on the
gay music circuit in his native country and this is his first trip to London.
His first album Ripping Stories For Boys is an impressive debut and displays a
wide variety of influences and Jacob's distinctive soaring voice. He's been telling
OutUK's Mike Gray more about his music.
Ripping Stories For Boys is a self-produced, 11-track debut album of gay Brisbane
musician Jacob Diefenbach.|
Diefenbach grew up in Central Queensland, surrounded by unyielding
pressures to fit a mould of masculinity that simply wasn't right for him. In a world where
young boys were expected to play rugby, not the piano, Jacob struggled to tread the line
between what he was told was right for him, and what he knew was right for him.
The over-riding theme of his first collection of songs is what it means to be male in a
masculine society and particularly a gay male.
OutUK: So what made you get into music?|
Jacob: I started piano lessons when I was 5-years-old, and grew up in Gladstone, which
is a small country town in Queensland. To me, the "Aussie man" was almost a strange,
incomprehensible creature; palpable and suffocating. I suppose it felt like I was
looking in on the lion's den. The boys were in the scrum, and I was off singing, somewhere in the tundra.
Music was a way for me to breathe. It was an expression of myself that was untouchable.
Over time, the power and necessity for music in my life has grown.
OutUK: You quote your musical influences as everything from Bartok to Tori Amos...how
do you feel your music has developed?
Jacob: Well, starting out, my singing, piano and writing were all, sort of, quartered
off into separate, little boxes. I learned classical piano, sang, and wrote,
but the three never overlapped.
I united the three about four years ago, during a very black time in my life. My music
took on a much more personal character and became a much deeper expression of myself …
in a way, my music took on a therapeutic quality. As I wrote and sang, some very
angry and very long-standing cuts started to heal.
I think I've always felt pinned down by the expectations (I perceived) that other
people had for me (my father, my friends, the masculine institution, as a whole).
I grew up with a group of friends that went on to be lawyers and doctors. It was
harder telling them that I was going to be a songwriter than, you know, "I'm gay". It
took another two and half years for me to bring that music out of the closet and share it with the world.
Ripping Stories For Boys is the result.
Music has this amazing, disarming quality. We can say things through art that
we can't at the dinner table.
OutUK: How easy is it to be an out gay musician in Australia?
Jacob: I choose my venues very carefully! For the most part, it's fantastic. I definitely try not to develop a false sense
of security about how open people will be to my ideas. These days, I'm comfortable enough
in my own skin to not really give a second thought to things that other people still have a
lot of trouble with. There's still a lot of prejudice and bigotry out there, particularly
in some of the rural areas. I feel like I can say that without being accused of stereotyping. I grew up there!