Becka Diamond is synonymous with the cooler-than-cool New York scene. She’s a DJ, style maven, sometimes music reporter and aspiring photographer - the kind of girl who’s spotted behind the decks at any hipster hangout worth knowing, sat front row clad in Rick Owens, or hanging out with her designer friends at Williamsburg’s latest brunch spot. With her peroxide-blonde locks, penchant for black, Nick Cave-inspired tattoos, and punk rock demeanour, every magazine from Nylon to Vogue has hailed her New York’s newest ‘it’ girl. But that’s exactly where they’ve got it wrong! As TWENTY6 found out - there’s nothing fleeting about Becka Diamond.
Boston-born Becka Diamond first popped up on the New York scene while studying stage training at William Esper a few years back and having a whole lot of fun living in the Lower East side.
“It was a very eye-opening and interesting experience that taught me a lot about myself and made me realise a lot of things – like I don’t want to be an actress. I’m very comfortable with who I am and I really like to do things that are me so that’s what I decided to go and do.”
With expensive taste and a penchant for black, she soon found herself working as a personal shopper at the hip Soho store, Kirna Zabete.
“I worked there for four years and learnt so much about clothes. They have the most amazing designers like Balenciaga, Rick Owens (who’s my favourite), Jason Wu, and Thakoon - many of whom I met through working there. It’s still my favourite store in New York – not that I can afford it so much anymore!”
Always one of the coolest girls in the room, Becka’s punk rock demeanour soon got her noticed. She’s one of those girls who you see and don’t forget!
“When I was working there I began to DJ. Music has always been an amazing, huge part of my life so when I got asked to do it more and more, I decided to leave my job and just go into pursuing it full time.”
Playing at all the right places - from the metal bar Saint Vitus to the hipster hangout Kenmare - Becka was soon being hailed girl of the moment.
“I think it’s an easy term that people can place on someone who does a lot of different things, or somebody that doesn’t do anything at all. I’ve continued to be labelled that and obviously I’m flattered as I believe the correct definition of ‘it’ girl is a fleeting moment in time so I guess it’s a compliment. I’m happy about what I’ve done in my life and what I’m doing and I think that if you have confidence then you don’t need to worry about what anyone else is saying! ”
Becka’s rough-around-the-edge style also saw her become a front row Fashion Week favourite.
“Most of the designers’ shows I go to end up being my friends. I’m very blessed to have all these amazing creative people around me. Pamela Love is one of my favourite jewellery designers – I wear her things everyday – and I always look forwards to her presentations. My friend Katie Gallagher is another favourite. She has a really cool aesthetic and she works with a lot of leather. She did this candy apple red leather jacket that I’m completely obsessed with - when I saw it I freaked out!"
The first show Becka ever attended was about six years ago and took place in an old car garage. It was an Imitation Of Christ show and Carmen Electra walked in it.
“It’s funny because I was just in Tara Subkoff’s short film for her resort collection. It’s me, a few models, Lissy Trullie - it’s going to be cool. I adore her things and I love that she’s making a comeback right now and doing her label as Imitation.”
Being a clothes-obsessive runs in Becka’s family. Her mum used to collect Charles Jourdan shoes and even kept her favourites in their boxes for Becka to have. Unfortunately, her mum’s a 36, and she ended up a 41!
“My mum has great style and always wore a lot of black. She worked for Ann Taylor in the 60s and was a hot air stewardess. Growing up, my mum would let me play hooky from school and we’d go to Boston to Neiman Marcus along with my mum’s best friend, Karen. I think she was a playboy bunny (but she was my aunty Karen) and she was really glamorous with long dark hair and red lipstick.”
As well as her great style, Becka’s parents are also to thank for her love of music.
“My dad and my mum exposed me to music from a really young age. I would listen to their records like David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin – all the vinyl that they had. I started to become influenced - especially by David Bowie and Ice Of The Labyrinth. It got me really into fantasy and costumes. I also loved The Wizard Of Oz. Growing up, I thought the stripe stockings underneath the house were too cool!”
With a record collection that’s been going since she was 12, we bet Becka could pretty much win any game of music trivia going.
“The first concert I ever went to was Nine Inch Nails. They're still one of my favourite bands and I still have my shirt from the show. That’s when I got really into Grunge and Goth music – The Cure, The Smiths – all that stuff.”
As the saying goes, the rest is pretty much history….
“Then one of my friends in Boston said, ‘Oh you should DJ at my house party,’ and I was like I don’t know how to DJ so I took my records and went early to practice on his turntables. That was the first time I ever DJ’d – I was nineteen. And then forever and ever, I only spun on vinyl which is now almost impossible because now I go from gig to gig. But up until just a few years ago, I would lug my records to a bar for like 6 hours – two huge bags of really heavy vinyl. At the weekend, I still love going record shopping. Sometimes, I just love sitting at home listening to records and being a girl.”
For someone who only wears black and adores Heavy Metal, you may be surprised to find out that Becka’s super girly; she has a contagious, high-pitch giggle too!
“That’s probably something people don’t know about me. I look kind of hard-edged but I’m obsessed with floral arrangements and anything that’s really ornate or pretty. I love anything that’s Victorian and I also like the Louisiana, New Orleans look - like Interview With The Vampire. My mum’s really into antiques so I think I got that from her. My room in the Williamsburg loft I live in is kind of crazy. It’s silver with very high ceilings and I have tonnes of girly things all over the walls like moon cycles, pictures of my friends, and plates from John Derian that I collect. I’m obsessed with his things. And then I have all of my records and an open closet, as well as loads of shelves and a huge rolling rack outside my room for all my coats.”
Not that Becka dresses girly. If you peeked inside her wardrobe you’d see tonnes of Rick Owens, a sea of black, and far too many band tees to even try and count.
“They’re all organised and folded. I have a stack of really old ones and actual vintage ones, and then I have a stack of t-shirts from my friends bands, and then I have a stack of inspired band t-shirts by Obesity and Speed and LNA. I try not to spend too much money on them. I’d always say take a chance on EBay even if it doesn’t have a picture. That’s where I’ve gotten them for really cheap and when they arrive it’s just amazing. I’ve got an original The Smiths t-shirt that had no picture on the Internet for like $15.”
Yes, Becka can talk about bands tees for a good half an hour…
“I have two that I love. One is my oldest which is a Go-Go shirt that is probably from the year I was born – it’s old. And it is really really shredded. I can’t wear it that often anymore because it has a lot of holes in it. And then I would say my other favourite is a Sisters Of Mercy t-shirt that’s black and has a blue screen print on the front and back and is also really worn. I love the ones that are really worn and beaten – a lot of mine have become that way after wearing them for so many years. It’s a nice thing to collect and they seem to find me at some point if it’s meant to be.”
And what does she love to wear with her band tees? Leather leggings of-course! She can’t find them anywhere but a patent pair is at the top of her wish list right now. Would she ever try her hand at designing?
“I would love to but things always change. Now, instead of having one goal, I just write lists of all the things I want to do. Like, I want to have a photography show, I want to do a design collaboration, and I want to do soundtrack work. That way I can tackle one at a time and take things as they come. It’s all very freeform. Right now, I’m just tackling each thing on my list as a little project which is way more manageable.”
And as you’d expect from any leather pant clad, rock-loving girl, she’s also got a tattoo - or five!
“A lot of them are music influenced. I’ve got Doll Parts that is Whole; I’ve got Ceremony, which is New Order. I have two Nick Cave tattoos and then I have a bat behind my ear, a diamond behind my other ear, a diamond on my wrist and my last name on my other. I got to a lot of different people but I love Saved – it’s a great place. My first tattoos were from a place called Art Freak that’s in Providence, Rhode Island, which is where I went to school and lived when I first started to get tattoos.”
Now one of New York’s hippest DJs, if there’s one girl to ask about New York’s coolest hang-outs, its Becka!
"I love The Bowery Ballroom – it’s a beautiful space and I always see great bands there. Saint Vitus is great and I’m starting to book shows for them also. This weekend I booked a band called Tourist – they’re from LA – and are a great electronic male female duo. Then Glasslands is cool – it’s like a DIY space in Brooklyn. The Rhythm Factory also recently moved to Brooklyn and that’s a great space too."
So who are the new bands on Becka’s radar right now?
"Right now, I super love Cold Cave. I would say Telepathe – they’re coming out with a new record soon, there’s a record coming out on Mercury called Bermuda Dream that I think you should hear."
And what she love doing when she’s not DJ-ing for New York’s cool kids?
“I like going record shopping, reading in the park – right now I’m reading Tender is The Night. And I love going to brunch with my friends at Schillers in the Lower East Side - it’s a fun, loud brassiere, the Roebling Tea Room in Brooklyn and this place called Five Leaves in Green Point are also amazing. I also love cooking – I make a mean guacamole! And I love playing with make up – that’s like a random thing but I love make up. Sometimes I just like sometimes sitting at home listening to records and being a girl. It’s nice.”
If you want to know more about Becka, she’s on Tumblr and addicted to Twitter…
"I love Tumblr – it’s so easy to use and awesome. I discovered it during the winter when I was bored one day. It was freezing cold outside, we had a really awful winter and I was like oh maybe I’ll start a Tumblr so I put some of my pictures on there and then pictures that inspired me or things that inspired me. I think it’s a great thing to look at every day."
What were your ambitions and aspirations at the age of 26?
My life has gone so many ways since then. I think I was still in acting school. I think it's good to have aspirations, but also to welcome change if it comes.
Pick a word beginning with the letter "B" which best sums you up.
I would say blessed. I’m very lucky to have done what I’ve done and everyone around me is amazing and I’m very very happy to live in New York and have great friends and a great job and to be able to be creative and make a living out of it is very lucky. It’s a blessing!
For each letter of the alphabet pick a word that inspires you.
A-Aura B-Blessed C-Clear D-Dusk E-Energy F-Feminine G-Glitter H-Heart I-Ice J-Jewel K-Keep L-Love M-Mind N-Nature
O-Obscure P-Possibilty Q-Question R-Rain S-Season T-Temptation U-Ultra V-Vanity W-Winter X-xx Y-Yes Z-zzzz....
WORDS & INTERVIEW/Zoe Patoff
IMAGES/Matt Black, Zac Sebastian