Diane Williams, the creative director and lead singer for her band D.W. Box and One Long Song, reeks of a too-much-to-do-not-enough-time attitude. Sporting braided pigtails, she shakes hands with her right while balancing a handful of books and CDs in her left, ranting about the Louisville humidity. Her life has always been about music.
“I guess you could say it chose me,” she says. “I had a piano in the house ever since I was baby. I played it — knew how to play it. My mom brought a guitar home when I was 10 for herself to learn, and I just picked it up and started playing chords, I don’t know how, it just sort of clicked.”
Williams attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. What started out as her and her boom box on a street corner playing to one 27-minute track has evolved into something broader. “You gotta play it for yourself. It’s so fool-proof when you do it that way,” she says. “There’s no objective purpose and no one to judge.”
The lyrics come secondary, and that’s by design.
“I just prefer my music to be more music than lyrics, because I think you can feel more and you can convey more to people with just the way chords progress and the way harmonies come together. It’s just music. It does all the talking.”
Williams describes herself as a witness to the music that happens on its own, which means relinquishing some control over what it sounds like.
“I’m fully prepared for most people to dislike it completely,” she says. “Some of it is indecipherable to me even,” but dwelling on approval doesn’t match her. “Even if someone ends up hating it, I would like that too. Any reaction is better than no reaction.”
Deep down, Williams is a self-satisfying kind of gal, and the Forecastle Festival later this month is her first show in Louisville since last October. “It’s harder to play in your own city. It’s definitely a harder experience,” she says. “You’re more self-conscious; you’re more aware of what can be seen as your flaws, and you have to see these people on a regular basis. Your hometown gig is always your hardest gig. And no matter what level of success you’re on, it’s always the hometown gig that makes you think about what you’re doing.”
After spending the past eight months in L.A. playing and recording her newest album, There Is No Here Or After Here, Williams has finally come home just in time for the new record to bust out. “It comes from an emotional space that’s non-literal more than anything else, and I think that most people won’t understand it,” she says.
D.W. Box’s music is stupendously ambiguous, but understanding the lyrics is less essential given her tell-all instrumentals. It’s adaptable music.
“I don’t ever see myself struggling for inspiration. It’s everywhere, it’s absolutely everywhere, and not necessarily even in my own life,” she says. “It’s in the life of people I know. It’s sitting in the library with you right now. It’s sitting here looking at this person reading his newspaper and wondering what his life is like.”
D.W. Box & One Long Song plays on July 26 at The Forecastle Festival. www.onelongsong.com.