Echos of a Phantom: The Explorations of Madi Diaz

Indie pop songstress and native Pennsylvanian Madi Diaz has gracefully braved the musical spectrum in her Nettwerk Records debut Phantom. As Madi returns home to play in Philadelphia on Friday, April 24th at North Star Bar, she recently sat down with Rock On Philly to field some inquiries and share some stories from her intrepid journey.

Rock On Philly: You grew up in Lancaster County, PA, where you spent your youth being home-schooled by your parents. Tell us what that experience was like in the influence of your parents and schooling in your life growing up and in the development of your music?

Madi Diaz: My parents are both amazing teachers. I’m really lucky that I grew up in a super supportive and musically nurturing environment, probably mostly because they both love music so much themselves! There was ALWAYS something on in the house… And it was always something different. Whether it was Bach, Zappa, the Beastie Boys, the Dixie Chicks, Alice in Chains, Whitney Houston or Phil Collins, there was always a soundtrack to the day. My dad was always super excited to figure out how to play something that I wanted to learn and my mom was always listening to new music and VERY tolerant of my obsessive repetitive listening to my favorites!

ROP: With your parents diverse ethnic background, have there been additional cultural elements that you feel have been influential in the nurturing and development of your creativity?

MD: I mean we all know how killin’ Danish song writers are….and when I was younger my Aunt and then my mom took me traveling all over Peru…so I suppose they were both fairly present. I listened to some Peruvian pop tapes that I bought while traveling, but man, I haven’t listened to them in forever…there was one song about “Llama mè”…..so close to “Call Me Maybe”…

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ROP: When you first stepped into the writing process for your EP Ten Gun Salute, you had lived in Nashville (although in recent years you have made the move out to L.A.). What have some of the differences been for you between those two major markets for music?

MD: The world in Los Angeles is just BIGGER. This city is massive. There are so many music worlds you can span within the week. For me, Nashville was more centered on song-writing within the pop and country world, and Los Angeles has allowed me to find a wider sonic pallet. I’m hoping that this record reps some flare from both sides.

ROP: You have opened on tour for The Civil Wars and your music has been featured in television programs on ABC and Lifetime. How has the exposure of your music through those outlets benefited you as an artist in building and expanding your audience?

MD: Touring is always incredible in that you’re essentially marrying two families together on the band side AND on the fan side. You never know what could happen! As far as the visual world goes, it’s pretty amazing when music is highlighted so much in a TV show that someone would take notice! I think a lot of people have discovered my last few records through TV shows and it’s a really lovely thing to be a part of… like weirdly watching some form of modern day sonic gold digging.

ROP: L.A. Weekly has said that “Madi Diaz writes the most dance able break-up record ever”. Let’s talk a bit about both topics: a thematic break-up record and your style of music. Who were your greatest influences both in the context of the personal experiences that inspire your writing, as well as in music?

MD: Phantom was a pretty interesting record for me in that I definitely strove to push myself as a pop song writer. I have a really big Phil Collins love that stems mostly from the Genesis “Invisible Touch” era, so that’s probably in there somewhere…as far as the personal stuff goes… wouldn’t you just LOVE to know.

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ROP: Tell us about the new album Phantom. What went into the making of this record and what are some of the ways in which you feel you have grown as an artist?

MD: This record was a pretty major vocal stretch for me! It’s mega challenging to sing and play and I think has pushed me physically as a musician to keep up with it, which is kinda fun cause I feel like I grow a little stronger with every tour.

ROP: Tell us a bit about the making of the music video for your song “Stay Together” and what some of the themes of the video were.

MD: This video chases a heartbeat color feel around a house. It’s a warm pulsing, one person trying to get closer to the other.

ROP: Coming back to play here in Philadelphia at North Star Bar on April 24th, on the heels of a successful album release must be a unique experience. Tell us a bit about what that feels like for you in the context of your progression as a person and as an artist?

MD: Exciting! I’m still here! It feels like I’ve made it to the next stepping stone! Now, I’m looking for the next one…

ROP: Did you have any favorite concerts and venues that you attended growing up in the area?

MD: Man, I remember going to a lot of shows at First Unitarian Church…one in particular where i’m pretty sure I saw Man Man open up for Lightning Bolt. It was hot as hell down there and the whole room was totally possessed by this incredible show energy. We were all running around the band and they were going nuts in the center of the room.

ROP: It seems the first part of your story has been very well-written. As you have entered into this new chapter, where do you see yourself going next and how do you you see the next part of your story unfolding?

MD: Life continues to surprise me and as much as I try to predict it I never ever can. So I’m trying this whole new thing where I don’t predict it and see where it takes me. I’m trying out trust.

Catch Madi Diaz at North Star Bar on April 24th! Get tickets and more information here!

Featured Image courtesy of the Artist

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