Don’t let her sweetness fool you. Diana DeGarmo is full of spice! A singer, songwriter, and actress best known for placing second on the third season of American Idol, Diana released her highly anticipated studio album Gemini last year.
This is her second album ever. Recorded in Los Angeles with her longtime pal Dylan Glatthorn, Gemini displays a fresh sound for the American sweetheart combining flavors of western swing, rock, blues, R&B, soul, and more. Plus, audiences will hear a special romantic ballad performed with her husband, American Idol fifth season contestant Ace Young.
Named after her own astrological sign, Gemini features 16 songs that are strong, female-empowered tracks that go way beyond what we know and love about her. Diana is excited for fans to meet Gemini, and OUT FRONT had the opportunity to catch up with her and talk more about it.
Hi, Diana! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Let’s begin by talking more about your new album Gemini. You described it as Dolly Parton and Bette Midler’s love child?
[Laughs] In a nutshell, yes. In truth, Gemini is my first time introducing me as an artist. My former records, I had either zero creative control, or I was still trying to, as a young person, find ways to shove myself in a box to make other people comfortable. I finally decided to do what I wanted to do. Something that made me happy. Just write a record and be creative. There was no algorithm, no formula for it, it was just what makes me happy creatively. I got with my friend Dylan Glatthorn three years ago now, and we snuck away to an NYU practice room, and in about six sessions, we wrote an entire record.
That’s awesome! Now, this is your first album in 15 years. Why did you wait so long to release it?
I didn’t know what I wanted to say. My first record with RCA, I had no creative control. They handed these songs to me and said to learn them. They didn’t know who I was, and I did, but I filed that away for another time, another place. I was the good little artist that did what I was told and wanted to follow the rules, but I realized no woman ever made history by following the rules. The EP I made in between Blue Skies and Gemini, I’m still proud of. They are still a part of who I am. Kind of a snapshot, if you will, of what I was in my life.
I think wisdom that comes with age is finally learning to love and accept yourself for who you are, and I love all my colors, shapes, and sizes. I’m not a square, and I’m not trying to be one. I am a rainbow of emotions, and I have been inspired by so many things in this world. Artists, art, and I wanted to do what made me happy. Funny thing is, when we finally had a moment to breath, Dylan and I, we had a moment like, ‘How many songs do we have?’ He said 14, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I think we’re good!’ At first, I wasn’t sure if these songs were going to sound good together because there was no formula to it. We were just being creative. Gemini finally represents me.
What was the inspiration and concept behind the album?
I wanted to nod to my southern roots and my love for theatre. I am a true Gemini; that is my sign, but I don’t think I have two. I have maybe like four sets of twins. I wanted to show my country roots, my vocal range, and my storytelling. I think that’s what we captured in this record. There are lots of different styles of song, but the one thing that is consistently woven through from beginning to end is me.
It’s all the facets of my personality. It’s the fun, crazy girl that wants you to have a good time on the dance floor. It’s the girl that’s experienced heartbreak and loss. The wanderer, the person that doesn’t know who they are or where they are going to go next. No human is just one emotion. We are like 50 shades of gray. There is no black and white. There are all these different shades of color, and I just wanted to celebrate how complicated, diverse, and strange I am.
How has the album been received?
It’s been such a blast! I think the biggest compliment people have said is that they hear me, and there’s really no way to describe how wonderful it is for people to hear your authentic, true self come through musically. I love all facets of entertainment. TV, film, Broadway—I was born to be an entertainer. That’s what I love to do. I know nobody wants me to be a social worker or lawyer [laughs].
I read that you truly relate to the album’s first single, “Lickety-Split.” How so?
Well, as I am currently driving in Nashville traffic; that was what inspired it originally. I was driving between Nashville and Atlanta, and I hit some gnarly traffic. There wasn’t a reason for it, I didn’t understand, and I just remember hearing the phrase lickety-split in my head. I needed to get back down to Atlanta for something and I’m like, ‘Come on! I just want to get there!’ I ended up making a voice memo on my phone, that little teensy bit of the idea. Not even a full-fledged chorus or anything, and I held onto that little nugget for several years.
The first half of the record are songs that I had just voice memoed and saved on my phone for a rainy day. I didn’t know when, how, or if I would ever use them. When I got with Dylan, we just started hanging out, going like, ‘Let’s jam.’ ‘Lickety-Split’ was the third song that we wrote together, and it kind of wrote itself. I played into my little idea, and he just started jamming on the piano, and he found the groove. Next thing you know, within an hour and a half, the song was done. The song is a get-up-and-move kind of song.
Even though the song was written about traffic, the idea, the song, is kind of about we must get out of our own way. We hold ourselves back; we get scared of what other people are going to think or how we might be judged. I figured, if you’re not hurting anybody, live your own life. Do your thing; have a good time; do what makes you happy, and don’t be afraid of what other people think.
Is there a song on this album that is your favorite? One you hold closest to your heart?
Oh, golly! That’s like saying which kid you like best! But I would say ‘I Do,’ which is what I consider to be a love bonus track. It was a late addition and was not originally written for the album. It was written seven years ago for my first dance with my husband, so it was only played at our wedding. That is the only time that song has ever been played. However, we didn’t write it with that intention seven years ago. We were just writing a bunch of music, and that song just kind of happened. We got done editing it, and we didn’t want to look at each other because we were both crying. He turned to me and said, ‘Did we just write our first dance song?’ With tears streaming down my face, I said yes, and we saved it as a surprise for our wedding guests.
Everyone thought we were going to sing, but we decided to just let it play and have that moment for us. Music is such a big part of who we are as people and as a couple. ‘I Do’ ended up being the perfect period for this Gemini sentence. Ace was such a large part in making this record, and having him special guest was momentous in many ways. We had our time with that song, and now we get to share our love song with the rest of the world.
How fun is it fun to work on projects with Ace?
It’s great! We are very lucky and work well together. One of the biggest pieces of advice that we got when we first got married was to never lose respect for your partner. He knows me better than I do, and he has been able to support me when I need it. He also pushes me when I need it during those wild and crazy times where there is a lot of self-doubt.
You two met when you were performing in Hair on Broadway. Did you watch him on his season of American Idol?
I remember hearing about him, but I did not watch that season because I just joined Hairspray when it began. I remember watching a couple episodes, but then I couldn’t keep up with them. People would ask me who I liked, and I’m like, I’ don’t know who’s on the show!’ I saw him on TV and met him briefly once in 2009 at an Idol event in Florida, but there were like 70 idols there, and it was sort of like mass chaos. Lots of, ‘Hi, nice to meet you!’ When we joined Hair, our director was like, I need you two to become the best of friends. Little did we know, she planted the seed of love right then and there!
Love at first sight!
Well, when you are part of a show, part of your job as an actor is to convince yourself that you are that person. That is how you are convincing and authentic. The audience believes you. So, at the time, Ace and I thought when we kind of reflected on when we met, a lot of it was ‘Oh, this is because our characters are supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. That’s why we are feeling this way. Cool.’ We didn’t date until almost a year after the show because I don’t really like to mix business with pleasure, but we became very close friends. It was not until after the show closed that we realized how much we missed each other, and the universe kept bringing us together. It’s a wild story.
Do you stay in touch with your fellow Season Three contestant?
Not so many from my season, just because life happens, you know? It’s kind of like school. There are some people you keep in touch with and others you don’t. I keep in touch with Matt Rogers, Amy Adams, and Jasmine Trias, but then there are some people who still live in the competition, and it’s weird. Like, it’s been 15 years. Let it go. But thanks to Idol, I have made friends with other idols from other seasons like Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis, Candice Glover, and Matt Giraud.
What are your thoughts on the newly revised American Idol?
As a former contestant, it’s weird, but to the average consumer, it’s great! I am excited that the new generation has their idol, so it is nice to know that it’s living on. It has this whole new generation of performers and viewers. It’s great that it’s different because it makes it theirs. It’s not the old version rehashed or something like that. This is their version, and I think that is so cool.
Gemini is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and all digital platforms. To stay up-to-date with DeGarmo, visit DianaDeGarmo.com or follow her on Twitter.