Record of the Week: Madi Diaz ‘Weird Faith’

Madi Diaz has a lot going on. Since her reign as WNXP’s Nashville Artist of the Month a couple of years ago, she’s been co-signed by MUNA and Waxahatchee. Her friend Kacey Musgraves jumped on a duet. She was picked by Pitchfork as a top album and Rolling Stone recently proclaimed this “the year of Madi.” Oh and Harry Styles handpicked her to not only open some shows but to join his band for a massive world tour!

In our interview Madi explains how the Harry Styles experience “blew the lid off” her songwriting and recording process. She also shares a unique, recurring performance dream and a real-life nightmare (with a happy ending) that brought that feeling to life. Along the way she walks us through several tracks on Weird Faith, expanding on the big picture themes she tackles on songs like “Kiss the Wall,” “God Person” and “Obsessive Thoughts.” Listen to the full interview on our podcast channel and check out some highlights below.

Jason Moon Wilkins Is “Everything Almost” about setting boundaries after hard lessons learned?

Madi Diaz “Yeah, I think it’s a negotiation with boundaries. I think it’s a negotiation of my own expectations of myself and how much I can handle at one time. I was thinking about it in the car today, actually, on my way here. I was like ‘I do want so many things, but I’m so glad I don’t have everything because I can’t even handle what I have right now.’

And, you know, it’s so funny, I say (in the song) that my dad always says, you can have everything, but not all at the same time. But it was actually. something that my stepmom says, and my dad has been like, copyright ripping off my step mom this whole time (laughs). And I didn’t even really process that until way after the fact. So now I feel like every time I play it live that I want to be like, man, you know, thanks to Carol, And also thanks to my dad because, he’s the messenger.”

JMW “Kiss the Wall” is a meditative reflection on mortality and being mindful in the present through its refrain “Nothing is a waste of time.” And in a songwriting show of strength, you take us through an entire life and beyond in just one verse. But what do you mean by kiss the wall?

MD “I think I have the propensity to really run myself fully ragged and, you know, hit a wall. Relationally, work wise, energetically. And I think that this (song) was kind of my way of trying to wrap my mind around what would life look like if I just kind of slowed the whole thing down and instead of running so fast, I can, try and move a little bit in slow motion. So rather than hitting the wall, I can kiss the wall. Which is where the mantra of ‘nothing is a waste of time’ came to be. Because rather than trying to do the 15 things that I do in a day and standing in line at the pharmacy, tapping my foot, just going like ‘I can’t believe, I’m going to miss this because traffic is going to get me.’ And I’m like, no, no, no, it’s all happening exactly when it should. And if I miss this, it’s because I am supposed to miss it. And then take it wide. If this relationship doesn’t work out. Like all of these things that we’ve learned carrying into the next step of life.”

JMW You picked the title Weird Faith because it had become the theme for your life in many ways. But the album’s final track “Obsessive Thoughts” asks a devastating question that acts an underlying theme rumbling underneath nearly every song —
“Does the heart always know what’s true?”

MD “This whole record has been about peeling back the layers and peeling back the layers and peeling back the layers. And trying to get past, a very reactive moment going ‘This makes me feel like this’ and trying to undress that and going ‘Well, but why, why do I feel like that?’ And what’s underneath that feeling? And what’s underneath that feeling?  I think that that takes me personally on a very pendulum swing journey of my desires and how many ways that I can be. Because I can be so many different ways. And I think ‘Obsessive Thoughts’ specifically is very reflective of the cavern of internal chaos that is just so massive. I think this is the reason for the weird faith title, because it always does come back to the feeling that I’m hoping to get to that sits at the bottom of my gut that’s just kind of leading me forward. Right direction, wrong direction. It’s a direction (laughs).”