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Madi Diaz - "Weird Faith" - Interview

by John Malkin
Singer/guitarist Madi Diaz discusses her new album "Weird Faith' and plays Felton Music Hall on Saturday, March 30.
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by John Malkin

Weird Faith is the new album from Nashville-based singer and guitarist Madi Diaz. Last year she opened concerts for Harry Styles and Waxahatchee. On Saturday, March 30 she’s bringing her cutting lyrics and melodic tunes to the Felton Music Hall.

JM: On the title track of your new album – Weird Faith - you sing, "Every love brings a lesson." But aren’t there times when you think, “I don't want to learn that lesson again!”

Madi Diaz: Right! Even if the last relationship puts a slightly different spin on it, I still don't want to learn it again! But all of the relationships I've been in have been loving. I'm grateful for that and I think it's in the love that we find the learning. The song “Weird Faith” is about falling in love and trying to figure out where the strength to walk into another relationship was supposed to come from. And why I felt like I had faith again after I went through a pretty monumental period of grief after my last relationship broke up, which I wrote about in my previous record. (History of a Feeling – 2021) This new record hit me when I was taking that first step towards somebody again and wondering, "God, what is wrong with me? Where does this belief that everything is going to work out come from?” I don't know where it comes from! It's inexplicable It's weird. It's weird faith!

JM: I hear in some songs your desire to remain true to yourself when you’re in a relationship and not get lost in it; a universal conundrum perhaps.

Madi Diaz: That is totally my biggest challenge, to get closer to somebody while getting closer to myself. That's a constant evolution. Sometimes in relationship, getting close to yourself means getting closer to the other person just because of whatever cycle we're in at the moment. But sometimes it really has definitely left me on my own.

JM: Tell me about the song “Same Risk” and being in a relationship that looks like it's going to crash.

Madi Diaz: Nothing is forever. So, why do I still love the idea of forever? And why do I still love commitment and loyalty the way that I do? Why do I sign myself up again and again? It's the craziest thing, every single time. I've always been looking for somebody. And I do want to find somebody that sees it just like that, where we are both walking towards this thing going, "Yep, it all could get totally fucked." At the same time, I feel completely romanticized with the idea that somebody will look into my eyes and say, "We're going to last forever!" (laugh)
Also, I’ve experienced so much growth being in love and coming out of love and being in pain. You're walking towards both of those things, and it would just be silly to deny it at this point. And isn't it kind of fun? That's the whole thing; hopefully the joy outweighs the pain. And there's only really one way to find out!

JM: Tell me about the song “God Person.” You sing, “I'm not a god person, but I'm never not searching.”

Madi Diaz: The last couple of people I've talked to about this new record have brought up that song specifically, and I never would have ever thought! I kind of snuck it on the record! It feels like it belongs in this batch of songs because during the time I wrote it we were in full-blown lockdown, Covid-land. I was trying to figure out a safe way to spend some time with my dad, who I'm really close to, and we ended up going camping on this island in the middle of nowhere. Lookout Island off the coast of North Carolina. You have to take a ferry and there's no electricity.
We sat in beach chairs by a fire watching these birds coming and going for a week and it was such a special present moment. My dad said, "These birds have been here for a long time and they're going to be here for a long time after we're gone..." Then we’re staring out at the ocean that is just infinity and eternal.
My songwriter friend Aaron Raitiere wrote a song years ago and the hook of it goes, "I'd rather be on a lake with my mind on God, than at church with my mind on fishing." It's stuck with me for years and years. There was this feeling of awe being in nature, sitting with my dad on this beach just watching life happen in front of us. I find a lot of solace in the solitude of my own faith. I'm not really a religious person. I've always felt that faith is a road that I wanted to walk alone. Maybe faith can be discussed openly and lovingly but my faith is my own.

JM: I felt like this album was crafted during Covid lockdown. Is that true?

Madi Diaz: Absolutely. So much of the songwriting was done during that time. “Get to Know Me” and “Weird Faith” were written over an Internet connection. I wrote “Get to Know Me” with another amazing songwriter, Stephen Wilson, Jr. over Zoom. But our connection was so bad we ended up writing the rest of the song over the phone. It kept cutting out and I almost feel like we ended up with something more interesting because there were so many misinterpretations of what we were trying to get across!
There was such desperation to connect, to have the thing be an understandable, solid piece. At the time, we were all so alone and lonely and really songwriting is such a huge processing element for me in my whole life anyway, generally. Many of us were clinging to that in that specific moment. I definitely feel like it comes through this album. Even “KFM” - so many of these songs were written during Covid. It's crazy.

JM: You're in Nashville and I'm in Santa Cruz and we can see each other right now while we're talking. Digital technology can be great. Yet even before Covid many of us were already concerned about the direction that technology is taking human beings.

Madi Diaz: You think about everybody in their isolated places alone, and now everybody's famous! Everybody has something absolutely incredible about themselves they want to share. It just illustrates so poignantly how desperately we want to connect and show people parts of ourselves, and it's crazy how difficult it is in person sometimes to feel that way. It's really interesting, the effortlessness of the Internet. At the end of the day, I don't really want to be staring into a blue screen void as much as I would love to be staring into somebody's eyes. But some people have a really hard time staring into people's eyes. Sometimes I have a really hard time staring into people's eyes! (Laugh)

JM: I think a lot of young people don't feel comfortable communicating in person and they present an idealized mythical version of themselves online.

Madi Diaz: The Internet is very freeing for some people in that way. I have never felt that way. I guess those kids are kind of their own breed now. Like, there are those of us who grew up with it, and there are those of us that grew up without. I am a defiant optimist and the optimist in me wants to say that for all of its bad parts, I think the technology does bring equal good. I don't know if it's going to lead us anywhere other than in an even further spiral inward.

JM: Would you say something about how you create your music?

Madi Diaz: When it comes to recording songs, I'm really just trying to do my best to stay out of my own way. I like to create a sonic-scape that feels the most raw and you don't have to dig through anything to get to the heart. There aren't a million bells and whistles and layers to dig through. I'm hoping that it's just a body there for you to have and hold at your will.
I wish I knew how to explain how the melodies happen because then maybe I would be able to do it super well all the time! (laugh) It's still one of those mysteries. It's like this thing that just drops into a room and sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not. And my job is to just show up and get ready to catch it, hopefully.
§Madi Diaz
by John Malkin
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