On one of the spikiest songs on his new album Strange faith, Madi Diaz sings directly to her ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. “Are you hoping he has feelings for you again?” she accuses over squeaky, anxious guitar, vacillating between hating her guts and admiring how pretty she is. It's complicated, serious and painfully relatable. When she ends the song with the scathing lyrics “So, sorry, I'm your ex's girlfriend,” it makes her wince and encourages her at the same time.
Diaz, 37, is no stranger to the art of spewing her feelings into songs, no matter how ugly they may be. After spending the last two decades working the Nashville circuit, she is now gaining greater recognition with Strange faith, thanks to his final years on the road with Harry Styles first as a tour opener, then as a touring band member. Her new record is a charged meditation on love and unhealthy cycles, filled with simple confessionals that find her circling her own neurotic habits, toxic thought patterns, and ever-hopeful desire to be better.
“Everyone has these [insecure] moments,” she said of the song “Girlfriend” during a recent Zoom. “The whole record is these moments. These are all songs written in these totally panicked, highly reactive moments. Below, the musician details the influences that shaped Strange faithfrom old journals to her own anxious attachments, while sharing the lessons she learned along the way.
DIAZ: I think attachment styles come up specifically in “Same Risk,” “Almost Everything,” and “Get to Know Me” in large part. I have historically been classified as avoidant when it comes to attachment styles. I read the book Attached, or I did it for about 100 pages and then I was like, “This is stressing me out. I really can't do this anymore.
In this last relationship for me, I found someone who was magically more avoidant than me, which completely turned things around and was a really good learning lesson, a way for me to work on how I treated people in my previous relationships, and [find] empathy for myself.
I think [attachment styles] are useful generalizations that give me another language to describe the mode I find myself in in this particular relationship. We are bombarded with relationship language on the Internet. Accounts like @larelationsecure can be really, really useful in some ways, but I can also find these things to be very cutting edge.
My ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend
DIAZ: Every word of “Girlfriend” is so true. I can't wait for her to hear it. I'm so curious if she'll ever lock herself away that it's about her. I think the world of her. I always had a slight crush on her from afar. I ran into him backstage at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022, and I said to myself: Oh. She's the person I want to be with, and for some reason she's gorgeous, a literal model, big Amazonian bone structure.
I'm a confident person, but like everyone, man, I have those moments. But my God, I'm so glad I got them down on paper so I can look back on them in 10 years and say, “Yes, she still does that.” It's cute.”
DIAZ: I talk to my father several times a week. We are really close. He was a big inspiration for this because while I was doing Strange faith, writing tends to take me away from home and the people I love. I'm really grateful that my dad tells me he loves me and supports me, and [all of this] it matters, and it doesn't matter at the same time.
He has so many isms, it's ridiculous. They're all loaded with swear words because that's exactly how we work. I don't know if this is worthy of printing.
Can I also add a little mommy love? A lot of my ability to see through really difficult things, the recording process, my patience, my career and just pushing the rock up the hill, comes from my mother.
The way I talk to myself when I'm alone
DIAZ: I would say “Get To Know Me” uncovers a lot of shame and trying to get rid of it and say that it's just a part of me. But I had to talk to myself to get there. The lyrics “Have you met when I'm belligerent/I could make you cry” is a shitty thing to say out loud. I don't want to make anyone cry. [But] just put this down and take it out of the safe, I feel like this is the way I talk to myself now compared to when I started writing Strange faithit's different.
DIAZ: This last record, it was interesting to me that there were a few journals where I could open it to any page and whatever it was, the language and the obsession and the problem was exactly the same. I couldn't tell who I was talking about or what situation I was talking about, but the situation was exactly the same that had repeated itself in some way. This made me think, What brings you back here again and again? This is where a lot of the writing [on this album] comes from.
I am a very routine person. It keeps me on track, and when I journal, I'm much more focused on myself.
I love hardcover, black bound books. [journal]. I like thicker paper, but not too thick. I like these Micron pensbut I always mess them up, so I tend to steal more hotel pens and restaurant pens than I should probably admit.
I saw Bikini Kill play at the Nashville Marathon a week before I went to play Harry. [Styles’] band. And [Kathleen Hanna] talked about newspapers and she said, “Never throw away your newspapers because it's your art.” » Sometimes I say to myself, burn it, burn all the books. Marie Kondo my home and Marie Kondo my memories and my thoughts, but the way they come back to save you sometimes, it's real. The proof is in the file.
Madi Diaz's “Weird Faith” comes out February 9.