Madi Diaz: “Came back to Nashville, got a fuckin’ bar job, and wrote a record…”

“I think I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot.  I’ve never gotten so personal, and maybe blunt.  I’ve never allowed things to feel this raw and vulnerable,” says...

“I think I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot.  I’ve never gotten so personal, and maybe blunt.  I’ve never allowed things to feel this raw and vulnerable,” says Nashville-based singer/songwriter Madi Diaz of her forthcoming album, History of a Feeling, out August 27th on ANTI-.  The LP, which has already spawned a plethora of singles, is her first since 2014’s Phantom, her first foray into electronic music, after establishing herself as a chanteuse of the folk pop variety.  During our recent phone chat, I ask what she’s been up to in the seven years since, knowing little, aside from the fact that she spent a number of years in LA and wrote some music for other people (She actually co-wrote “Resentment” for Kesha, which she reimagines on History of a Feeling.)

“What wasn’t I doing [laughs]?  I was running around like a crazy person for six years in LA.  I was trying on every outfit, metaphorically and literally.  I did write for other people, I was in a bunch of bands, I got dropped from a million different things…  Came back to Nashville, got a fuckin’ bar job, and wrote a record that comes out in a few minutes [laughs].”

Despite her exceptionally spirited and playfully crass tone during our chat (She proclaimed, “Hell yeah!” at least half a dozen times.), Madi Diaz’s latest album is certainly her heaviest.  Much of the album’s content was inspired by the exceptionally traumatic end of a serious relationship that coincided with Madi’s former partner transitioning.  While I first got to know Madi around the time of 2012’s Plastic Moon, an album produced by John Alagia (Ben Folds Five, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer), which had a decidedly pop sound (When I tell Madi how much I still love that music, she tells me she does, too: “I still love it.  It’s like finding a really old letter someone wrote to you, or that you wrote…  I’m proud of those records.”), the songs on History of a Feeling, which was co-produced by Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver, Courtney Marie Andrews)  have a notably more traditional folk aesthetic, making them sound right at home in the ANTI- library, which Madi tells me she’s thrilled to be a part of.

“They’re so wonderful.  Who doesn’t love new love? They’re so thoughtful, so trusting with my vision for this thing…  It speaks so much to their roster and their intention…  I’m just super weirded out and blown away that Tom Waits is there [laughs].  He epitomizes art.  I’m such a fan.”

The early reactions to the songs on History of a Feeling have been overwhelmingly positive.  NPR’s Bob Boilen characterized Madi as, “An artist new to me that I hope you love,” and The Needle Drop called “Nervous,” the most upbeat of the album’s singles, “Pure power pop awesomeness.”  I ask Madi if she’s had any favorite responses and she tells me that the reactions to “New Person, Old Place,” have definitely stood out the most: “I’ve been really surprised with the reactions to ‘New Person, Old Place,’ which have been super positive.  That just kind of smuggled its way into the frontline.  That’s my therapist’s favorite song [laughs].”  However, Madi tells me that she’s quite anxious to get these songs on tour, not simply to get them to a larger audience, but to give them a chance to evolve: “I’m really excited to take this record out on the road.  It’s gonna be a really cool opportunity for these songs to find new life.”

Madi Diaz will be playing a hometown Record Release show August 27th at Soft Junk in Nashville, followed by a plethora of dates playing mega-venues as support for Caamp and The Tallest Man on Earth, respectively.  She’ll be playing our very own Fillmore on Friday, November 12th, opening for Caamp, which will be another kind of hometown show of sorts (She grew up in Lancaster and still has family in the area.)  I ask her what can be expected of her local stop, and she laughs and says, “I was gonna say family drama, because that’s where my family lives…  Everyone is gonna be in the same room for the first time in forever.”  However, she goes on to say that she hopes it will be a good environment for them to get together and bond, and hopefully nothing too ridiculous will ensue.  When I ask her if there are any shows she’s especially excited about, she says, “Call me a masochist, but I’m excited to come home in Philadelphia [laughs].”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.

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