GET FAMILIAR: Ash Diggs of DIGGS

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On Saturday, November 17th, young BTV funk-rap band DIGGS will be playing Nectars. They’re opening for the cosmic soul heavies Lady Moon & The Eclipse, part of an ongoing hot streak of packed local shows. The 802 has had a few rappers with backup bands in recent years — Lynguistic Civilians went through a few lineups, MC B-Free still rocks with his Ice Coast crew, and most recently Mister Burns has been gigging with The Hounds.

Still, a big-band unit like DIGGS is something new. They’ve only released demos so far, but their buzz is growing fast as they hone their sound one sweaty dancefloor at a time. I caught up with rapper / frontman Ash Diggs to talk shop about how DIGGS makes it all work.

VTHH: How does such an enormous band come together? What is the origin story, here?

Ash Diggs: I moved to Burlington September '17 and through some mutual friends met Dan Maurice. Dan was in a band whose time together was coming to an end, I really enjoyed their style and he immediately struck me as a supremely talented guy. Though I didn't have much of a musical background, I'd been writing songs for years and reached out to Dan about making some music together. While I would've considered just jamming with him a few times to be a success, Dan went into Nick Fury Forming The Avengers mode.

Having been around the scene for a while and hungry to build something unique in sound and scale, Dan began reaching out. One by one he reached out to high school friends, college friends, and even posted on Facebook for horn section members. By the end of this process we ended up with Zeb Carney (Bass, Guitar), Anna Kronk (Trumpet), Michael Gordon (Keys), Deb Kraft (Trombone), Austin Pine (Drums), Julia Spelman (Vocals), and Dan (Vocals, Lead Guitar) and myself (Vocals, Songwriter). Everyone in the group is incredibly talented and works their ass off and with a little bit of luck, all the puzzle pieces fit quite well.

VTHH: Does the whole team hash out arrangements together or is there a house composer in the crew?

Ash Diggs: Every song we perform as a group is created by the group. Basically, we build from the ground up with everyone present. If someone has a specific verse or riff they've been working on, we'll take that and each member will expand upon it. Otherwise, we'll often just begin playing something to loosen up and once that wave gets going we'll ride it for a while until finding something that everyone is really rocking with. From there I'll begin writing usually right there in the moment. It's a pretty organic and collaborative process, one that I think contributed to the bond this band has developed with each other. 

VTHH: When can we expect a proper debut project from DIGGS?

Ash Diggs: We've released two songs on our Soundcloud which were recorded at Pine Street Studios, but right now we're just focusing on playing as many shows as possible and writing better and better songs. Every new track feels better than the last, from lyrics to arrangement to execution, so we're not in a rush to put out a project when we're still scratching the surface of our potential. We haven't ruled out the possibility in any way, but we're constantly reaching a larger and larger audience with the sheer amount of shows we play, so we don't plan on slowing down any time soon. 

DIGGS will be playing Nectars on Saturday, November 17th. 9 pm show. $7. 21+

Justin Boland