Article by: Katie Wiley | Photo Credit: Dabney Morris | Posted: 04/19/2012
An artist of Madi Diaz’s kind is a rare breed. She embodies homegrown Americana, yet exudes a perky, pop soul and a penchant for writing melodies, which form songs that speak to a generation of power-women, eager to fill their ears with uplifting, lighthearted narratives. It’s obvious she isn’t just punching the clock. Diaz plugs herself into each and every one of her songs and she enjoys every minute of it along the way.
Growing up in an artistic family definitely had a hand in how she turned out though. With a father who was a musician -- moonlighting as a keyboard player in the Frank Zappa tribute band, Project Object -- and a Peruvian mother who home-schooled her, Madi was constantly surrounded by art and music.
Your parents seemed to be incredibly supportive of what you wanted to do artistically, but did they ever object to any music you listened to as a kid?
Without hesitation, she blurts out, “Oh god. No. Absolutely not.” Feeling cheated, I share my injustice with her about the innumerable times I’d gotten in trouble as a kid. She laughs, “My Dad listened to NWA! My parents were the ones that fed my broad taste. I was really super lucky."
You just returned from a tour in Germany. How was that?
“Germany was awesome!” she bubbles. “Besides me drinking waaaay too much beer and not sleeping AT ALL. Everyone was so nice. It’s such a listening crowd. They use lyrics in American music to learn English a lot of the time. When you’re singing your lyrics, they’re really paying attention to what you’re saying. It’s really cool.” She also proceeds to tell me about the airlines losing her luggage on the trip home.
“I lost my luggage. Err, I mean…” She laughs, “I didn’t lose my luggage, Air Berlin lost my luggage. On my way from Munich to Berlin they lost my bag of clothes. It was so weird – just by chance I put what I was going to wear that night in my gear bag. I just, you know – know stuff.” From that point we had a hilarious conversation on the universe and attributing her forethought to the subconscious mind.
What was the first concert you attended?
She nearly bursts out laughing. “Oh my god that’s really funny.” I promise her I won’t tell if it’s too embarrassing. “My Dad took me to a Tool concert when I was like, twelve or thirteen.” That’s when I nearly burst out laughing. “Yeah. I had braces.” she says matter-of-fact. I smile harder. “My Dad was super young-looking, especially back then, and people thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend. It was SO embarrassing. I looked a lot older than I was. I looked 19 or 20 and my Dad looked like he was in his thirties, so people were like ‘Your boyfriend…blah blah blah’ and I was like – ‘That’s disgusting, please never say that to me again!’”
And what would you say is the best concert you’ve seen, ever?
“Ugh, That’s tough! How about within the last year? I can’t really remember totally--I’ve been to so many!” After a nice reflective pause she replies, “Taylor Swift. I went to see her when she was in town and that was just a great show. She is a great performer. She is a performer through and through. She just had me…She came out and was like ‘I’m Taylor Swift and I love you so much, you guys are all incredible!’ and I’m like, ‘Oh she’s talking to me! I know it! I know she is!’ That, and then I saw Bon Iver at the Ryman. I hadn’t listened to his new record yet, but I was engaged the entire time. Then they played “Skinny Love” at the end, totally stripped acoustic – just stomping and singing on the stage. It was one of THOSE moments.” The excitement on her face is unmistakable.
“Oh! There is this band called Harper Blynn! They are kind of new, but they are up-and-coming, and they are amazing. I saw them in Los Angeles; they are kind of like The Cars meets Fleet Foxes.” I stop the conversation and make a note on what a great combination that is. We share our giddy girl excitement for a moment and she continues, “They are INCREDIBLE. They are so good. I’m actually touring with them the second week to the last week of June. I’m so excited. You have to check them out.”
What songs would you say you had on repeat the entire time you were on tour?
“Actually, I just got into Spotify really recently and it’s been the best thing ever. I really love that Delta Spirit song, “Home,” off their new record. I think that song is absolutely stunning. And I got into Chairlift when I saw them at SXSW. Oh my god. I can’t remember the name of the song! She then proceeds to sing a few lines in perfect song bird fashion. “It’s off of Sometimes. I can’t remember which one, but that whole record is brilliant.”
You previously toured with the Civil Wars and Landon Pigg – who would you like to tour with in the future?
“I don’t know. I mean, I’m kind of game for most things. I like a lot of music. I recently got off the road with Rachel Yamagata, which was super fun. She has incredible songs. She’s so much fun to be on the road with. We did a couple dates with Dashboard Confessional, you know what I mean? So it’s like kind of different, but they are both amazing people and their crowds are amazing. Their fans are amazing. And I’ve had so much fun with both of them. So I’m really game for most things. And their fans are super fans. They know every single word and they sing the entire time. It was so much fun. It was the best.”
On that note, are there any new projects coming up that you’d like to share?
“I’m actually in Nashville for the next ten days recording with Kyle," who adds, "We’re going to try to release an EP sometime in July or early August, just to keep it going and show people what we’ve been doing.”
When you were a kid growing up did you always dream of being a singer/songwriter?
“I thought that I was going to be a horse trainer. I rode horses for like nine years. I grew up taking care of them. I also wanted to be a vet tech, but music has always been there for me. It was my first love. It was always the thing that I would escape to. It’s such a weird crazy thing, I never would have thought I would actually be able to support myself off of it. So it was never like ‘Oh I’m going to be a famous musician!’ ‘cause it just seems crazy to me, you know.”
Madi Diaz - "Gimme A Kiss"