When they entered Bongo Java East, Madi Diaz and Kyle Ryan stood out among the various creative types typically found in frequented East Nashville coffee shops.
Something about Diaz’s seemingly effortless allure and Ryan’s youthful face made them easy to spot. Both seemed comfortable in their own skin and excited about things to come.
Originally from Lancaster, Pa., Diaz moved to Philadelphia to attend The Paul Green School of Rock. The documentary Rock School was filmed while Diaz was studying there, and she became a featured student in it. After graduating, Diaz received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she met her Nebraska-born partner in crime, guitarist Kyle Ryan.
The singer-songwriter duo adopted Diaz’s name and moved to Nashville in July of 2008. “We originally came down to visit friends and really fell in love with the area,” Diaz says. The two have pitched their musical tent in the neighborhood of East Nashville and seem to enjoy the creative vibe the area supplies.
“We didn’t know a lot about the city, but when we asked people where to live, East Nashville seemed to be the best option, financially,” Ryan explains. “Now when we meet people and become friends with them, there’s a good chance that we live maybe a block away from them.”
Diaz and Ryan say they have enjoyed the constant entertainment that Nashville brings to the table. They frequent The Basement and Mercy Lounge for music, Crema for coffee, La Hacienda on Nolensville for nourishment, Lonnie’s for karaoke and the Stadium Inn for … amateur wrestling night? “It’s a crowd from 20 to 30 people, and they only charge you $7 to watch these people wrestle WWF style with masks, spandex and everything,” Diaz gushes.
As for music, Madi Diaz released a debut album, Skin and Bone, in April of 2007 and an EP, Ten Gun Salute, in December of 2008.
Not only have they recently participated in “Next Big Nashville” with dozens of other up-and-coming artists, but they’ve also been touring with the all-star Nashville musical team, Ten Out of Tenn, with members like Trent Dabbs, Erin McCarley and Butterfly Boucher.
“Madi’s cutting vocals and melodic arrangements demand attention, and Kyle is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen,” Dabbs says. “They compliment each other beautifully.”
The duo have been told that they sound like legendary musical group Fleetwood Mac (which they take as a welcomed compliment), but they glean musical inspiration from somewhere a bit closer to home. “I feel like we listen to people that we already know,” Diaz says. “Kyle Andrews and David Mead are two of my favorites. I also love Dr. Dog and Mindy Smith.”
In addition to collaborating with TOT, Madi Diaz is currently working on a second album. “This is our first official organized recording. We had our debut album, but it was all over the place, and we also released an EP but it was almost accidental,” Ryan says. “This time, we’re deciding which songs mean the most to go on the album and narrowing it down.” The two plan to continue recording their album and are hoping to release it in early 2010.