First Published: November 2006
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
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 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!



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