photo by Jade Hernandez
KUTX Artist of the Month
The new release from San Antonio’s Nina Diaz, The Beat is Dead, marks a couple of milestones for the singer and front woman of Girl In A Coma. It’s her first solo release away from her longtime bandmates, and marks the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Diaz, who recently announced her longtime drug and alcohol problem,referring to herself as a ‘functioning addict’, has found inspiration in coming clean. Instead of getting preachy, the catharsis has freed her to explore new thoughts and sounds. “I shed a lot of different layers of skin during this process,” she explains. Freed from the stylistic constraints of a power trio, Diaz delves inward, expanding both musically and lyrically, exploring a variety of styles, all performed with her trademark passion and a forthright intensity.
– Jeff McCord, KUTX Music Director
Nina Diaz’s new record, The Beat is Dead, is out Friday, October 28th via Cosmica Records. Pre-order a special edition vinyl HERE!
Check out our interview with Nina below.
Nina Diaz’s most recent guest DJ Set for KUTX (will be rebroadcast Saturday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.)
KUTX: Can you tell us a little about the decision to start the solo project? Where did you leave it with Girl In A Coma?
Nina Diaz: I think it’s only natural for a front person to want to do a solo album after being in a band over a good amount of years. Not just the front person but the whole band really to want to try something different. I just spoke out first in Girl in a Coma. I was working on material that wasn’t the GIAC sound that we wanted to deliver. I was also battling with my addictions and realized that going solo would and does play a big part in my sobriety. I just needed to find myself away from GIAC and take on some new challenges alone. So far it’s been the best thing we could’ve done for GIAC. The girls are learning a lot in their band Fea doing some great stuff. And so am I. It’s going to make GIAC that much stronger when we reconnect to jam a new album. Yes, we are still a band. I don’t think we could get away from each other no matter how much we may try! Ha!
KUTX: Has your songwriting process changed at all with the new band?
ND: The process has changed, yes. Only because this time I wrote everything. The bass, drums, keys, guitars everything. In GIAC I would write the main song and then jam it as a whole with the girls until it became what we wanted it to be. With my solo stuff I wrote and out lined everything I heard in my head. I worked with some great musicians in the studio to smooth it out. I found my SA musicians, showed them the music and had them learn it. Of course I’m always down for the musician to put their own twist on it but at the end, it’s all mine.
KUTX: Your vocal style is such a distinctive part of your music. When you sit down to write a song do you hear yourself singing it first and then add the melody or does the melody inform how you approach the vocals?
ND: Melody and lyrics usually naturally come together with me. I free flow with my guitar and try different things with my voice till I feel I’ve accomplished what I hear in my head.
KUTX: Do you still call San Antonio home?
ND: San Antonio is and will always be my home. It’s quiet where I live. I stay in a lot.
KUTX: How much of your sound is a product of San Antonio and its music scene? Or was there something else that informed your musical tastes?
ND: Growing up in SA my parents always had some great music on. Ranging from The Beatles to Selena to disco. All over the place. There’s that natural Cumbia beat in a household you can’t avoid in a Latino home where there’s some form of a good beat to dance to at a BBQ or while cleaning the house. The music scene in SA influenced me more with the people I met and meet rather than the type of music they played or play. Little tips I learned from them along the way. How to palm a guitar, power chords, tune a guitar! Ha! I think the fact that SA can be lively and fun and supportive of its artist is always a plus and something I take part in sometimes. But what’s really helped me the most is the voluntary chill solitude one can have here to develop one’s craft away from a hectic life style.
KUTX: You’ve always been a vocal advocate for women in music. Since you’ve started have you seen any changes in the industry in regards to female musicians.
ND: I’ve noticed that women aren’t so cut throat like they use to be with one another. I think we’ve all slowly together have finally realized that we do have to support each other and stick together because yeah it’s still a male dominated world. The less we put each other down over silly competition the better. We all wanna be good at what we do but there’s a good way to go about it without making someone feel like crap. I’m still going through this journey wide eyed so ask me this question again when it comes to the business world in another year. I’m sure I’ll have a better understanding of things.
KUTX: Your love for 80s rock like Morrissey and Joan Jett is well documented. Are there any newer bands that you look to for inspiration?
ND: I like The Drums, Yeah Yeah Yeahs… Metric and few handful of others. But really I do stick to the classics. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Ha! I’m always open to a new sound but I still have fun diving into artists back in the day I’ve barely began to unravel.
ND: I watch a lot of murder mysteries, forensic files. Lately I’ve been on a 90s binge with My So Called Life and 90210. I’m a movie buff so my brother and I will catch a flick sometimes. Trying to get back into mediation and yoga. Finding new ways to not over think. I guess really I just write and wait for the next wave of something. Staying strong in my sobriety and trying to connect with others that need someone to talk to when ever I can.
KUTX: You’ve spent plenty of time in Austin. If you had to plan your perfect evening out in Austin what would you do?
ND: Honestly the time I’ve spent in Austin I’ve been jamming and ya know gigging so haven’t really dove into a calm cool night out. If you have any suggestions I’m open. I do love the vibe of Austin, always have always will.