The most vivid artwork I’ve ever seen was a series of blank frames.
The first time I walked into the Dutch Room at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, I was gobsmacked. This room was the site of the most notorious art heist in history, where thirty-three years ago, two thieves disguised as police officers broke into the museum and stole half a billion dollars worth of masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas. I’ve never witnessed such a visceral display of the absence of art.
In January 2022, I released my fifth studio album, “Hus.” It felt okay, but not particularly great, despite all the work I had put into it. I was taken aback by my own lack of enthusiasm at the time, but I wasn’t particularly surprised either.
Three years had passed since I started a side project, which began with a writer’s block. I had become tired of myself and felt trapped in my own image. A question sneaked up on me. Did I actually like my own music? Or, more specifically: would I listen to it if it were made by someone else? No, probably not. The answer surprised me.
Diving At Dawn has always been a frustrating stop-start affair for me. I’ve never been able to be genuinely productive and build momentum with it because I find working alone so tricky. As part of a band or production team, I’m pretty efficient, but when the responsibility falls solely upon my shoulders, I become a procrastinating perfectionist of epic proportions. The lack of productivity in my solo work has caused me a fair bit of anxiety over the years, but I’ve always been busy enough with other projects to distract myself. However, in 2022 my anxiety levels went through the roof. Unfortunately, age, experience, budget constraints, and technology have all conspired against me, thus turning Diving At Dawn into a genuine one-person band.
It first began in 2019 with the release of ‘guilt.’ There have been three releases since.
The latest release, ‘too artsy for the footy kids, too footy for the art ones,’ was released in February 2023.
It was written and recorded in my bedroom as I moved across Melbourne, Bendigo, and Canberra over the last three years. Its title comes from a line in its second song, ‘michael cera, serotonin.’ It references how I fit in socially, growing up in a country town with an interest in sports and art.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson – the great American Individualist and Transcendentalist – once said: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”. And so, the new Zonn mini-album “Songs Of Truth And Freedom” started off, as many experiments do, with the inventor watching the world around and perceiving that something needed to be done. This approach, coupled with my fondness for re-writing old tunes, led to the interpretation of a 1980s new-socialist stalwart into a novel anthem for the 2020s.
Some of my favorite moments and memories consist of being out on the road wearing a hat over greasy hair and some of the same travel clothes for days. Stepping out of the van barefoot to see the sights, the wind blowing my clothes as I look out over the expanses, I feel free of earthly possessions, free of the need to control how I look and feel, and free of the expectations of the outside world. Truly anonymous in a hat, I travel from town to town in and out of diners and cafes with my face slightly obscured. I’m just a traveler blowing through, never promising anything to anyone. I’m a transient presence for a moment and then I’m gone.
The songs in “Notes From Planet Earth” include Indie Folk, Rock, and Country styles. They deal with the disastrous direction our world seems to be taking driven by the likes of Trump and the GOP, and their kind worldwide. The songs are grounded in the understanding that without a major change of course, we’re in the process of degrading and destroying the world we live in rather than passing it on to the future in good shape. I hope these songs touch some hearts and that we pull off that change of course successfully.