The story of the name of Los Angeles-based band Lavender Diamond is mythological and theoretical, much deeper and more philosophical than the fanciful words might initially reveal. It starts with a historical timeline created by architect Paul Laffoley, where he refers to the current historical period as the "Bauharoque," a combination of the words "Bauhaus" and "baroque."
"During the period of the Bauharoque, which is now, there is an unprecedented period of human creativity," explained Lavender Diamond's lead singer and visionary, Becky Stark. "It's an evolutionary shift in human consciousness, and humans become more awakened because of the creative nature of the species. But after the period of the Bauharoque, humanity enters into a dark age, a more profound dark age than has ever existed on Earth before--there is profound devastation."
Lavender Diamond is not, of course, about that devastation--it's actually all about changing that idea of history. Stark's conception of Lavender Diamond has been working to direct her audiences' attentions toward noticing the peaceful things that are already present in the world ever since she was a college student at Brown in Rhode Island.
Now it's the name of a musical project, but within the multimedia of Stark's work, there is a whole mythology behind it: It's the name of the first diamond discovered by humans in a cave long ago, which was wrongfully ripped from the cave, formed into a ring and then buried beneath a tree, only to re-emerge as a songbird named Lavender Diamond. The voice of Lavender Diamond is the voice of the Earth--a resonance, explains Stark, a "beautiful, pure crystalline sound." The voice seeks to explain to humanity the need for a reawakening, a reconnection with the world.
Lavender Diamond then became a character Stark created for a traveling operetta/puppet show she and her friend Xander Marro wrote in 2003 called Birdsongs of the Bauharoque.
"We decided to make this fable, story, fairy tale about these two ladies who work in an office, and it's their job to invest for the owner, and to redirect the outcome of the Bauharoque so that after this time of great creativity and flowering and transformation of human consciousness, the Bauharoque is followed not by a dark age, but by an era of lasting peace," said Stark. She began writing songs in the voice of Lavender Diamond, and eventually, the band Lavender Diamond evolved.
"It's all of our intention when we play to create a resonance that's as pure and true as we can make it," said Stark. "To create a sound of love and a sound of joy that liberates that resonance that may be latent now. Something that isn't as present as it could be, but that's underlying, always, that's always possible to access--that frequency of celebration and harmony, because harmonies are always present and always underlying. It's a matter of listening in and drawing them out, because really, the true nature of humanity and of our planet is in the nature of compassion and harmony."
Lavender Diamond's simple melodies and uplifting harmonies are audio flower power, with tambourines, piano, strings and Stark's beautiful, pure crystalline voice. "I'll never drink the ocean, but the ocean might drink me," Stark sings on "The Garden Rose," off this year's Imagine Our Love (Matador), and her carefree optimism gleams. Lavender Diamond the band is entirely about joining in, and singing along, even if you can't quite reach that note Stark hits in quite that same, perfect way.
"Open Your Heart" has the most basic of choruses--a series of euphoric "oh"s--and "My Shadow Is a Monday" rests on the classic pop pairing of cheery piano and sad lyrics: "My heart is in a shadow without you." It's reminiscent of music you listened to as a child, music that somehow gets to some elemental emotion or feeling and makes you belong.
Lavender Diamond's '60s- and '70s-era pop sound also comes from Stark's admitted obsession with Linda Ronstadt. "I couldn't listen to any other music but Linda Ronstadt for, I don't know, a year or something," said Stark. "I just loved her voice ... and I thought, I want to make a record that sounds like Linda Ronstadt. I'm going to imitate Linda Ronstadt."
Imagine Our Love, though, is Stark's own expression of simplicity in music, an attempt to constantly re-create that wonderful sound of the diamond in the cave. "The mythology of the origin of Lavender Diamond is still present in what we do, because it's our intention to share this sound that I still imagine, that I can still hear and still feel. It's still very real to me, this idea of this original harmony and the beauty of that. I guess that's kind of what the myth is a metaphor for, what it's a fable about, and I feel that music is the most simple way to access the power of universal harmony in our daily lives."
Each song on Imagine Our Love in some way deals with the idea of harmony and sings of some form of coming-togetherness, of noticing and realizing that it's all just a matter of seeing things differently: "Nowhere to go--come with me!" sings Stark on "Bring Me a Song," "No one to be--be with me!" The philosophy of Lavender Diamond is basically: If you sing it, it will be.
"At the beginning of our concerts, we invite everyone to celebrate peace coming to planet Earth, and peace already being on planet Earth," said Stark. "I feel like it's a subtle difference between saying peace will be coming to the planet, to recognizing the truth of the fact that peace already is here. There doesn't have to be war in every corner of the world for it to be real that there's war, and it's the same thing with peace. In order to make peace grow, we have to magnify it and celebrate it and give thanks for the peace that we do have, and really look at our lives and realize that each one of our lives matters so much, and each one of us is so intricately connected."
And Lavender Diamond, with their melodic and uplifting country/pop style songs in the style of Linda Ronstadt, are just trying to realize that paradigm shift.