Name: Madi Diaz
Current release: Madi Diaz returns with her new album, History of a Feeling, available via Anti-.
If you enjoyed this interview with Madi Diaz, visit her official website for more information. Alternatively, you can stay up to date on her current releases and future tour dates through her social media channels on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and bandcamp. Or head over to her artist page on the homepage of her current label, Anti-.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I usually start by falling forward and catching myself. It’s like following an impulse to explain something to myself, and if it’s enticing enough of an idea, I’ll keep trying to get it right.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions’?
Sometimes I’ll keep voice notes of random thoughts or melodies that come into my head. I started to write “Nervous” at my kitchen table just rambling on about the feeling that was running through my body and came back almost a year later to finish the thought.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
Sometimes both, sometimes I can open my mouth and it will just fall out exactly like it’s supposed to and sometimes I have to dig and dig at it. Really it depends on the day and so many other little things.
Every song is it’s own journey and you have to be willing to take the ride it offers.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
Lyrics enter when they’re supposed to.
Sometimes I’ll accidentally mumble something that sounds cool and I can make it make sense. Sometimes I have something I really want to say and I have to take time to figure out just how to say it.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
My favorite lyrics are the raw ones. The ones that feel like they’ve always existed and are speaking to some quiet truth from inside the heart/brain
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Song writing and production can feel like pretty different lanes to me. I tend to know more when a song is done and less when a production is done which is why I like working alongside someone when starting to compile material and track for a record. I can tend to overdo it and become a total psycho perfectionist and am not as aware of when I’m just letting magic happen, so it’s nice to have someone else to look to for affirmation that it’s really happening.
And as for songs, some songs have taken me an hour to write like “Woman In My Heart”. Others took me 8 months to finish like “Man In Me” which took several re writes and tweaking changing time signature even to get it to feel the way I wanted. But I knew it felt special to me because the chorus kept coming back to haunt me. So I stuck it through.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I dunno it really depends on the project more than anything. I tend to want to rip off the band aid because I want to lean into the work being a reflection of my current state and how much I’ve grown to that point.
Listening to older work of mine I could tear it apart and remix it and rewrite songs for forever. But that would kind of be self defeating and counterproductive because it wouldn’t be honoring baby Madi and what she was communicating and thought was right back then. It wouldn’t show the difference between then and now.
It can always be “better” but sometimes you just have to move on because it’s never going to feel perfect. That’s where the growth comes in.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
At first it feels like it’s never going to end, and then I’ll find myself nitpicking and obsessing over the littlest things just to make the process last a little longer because I can feel the approaching “ok what the hell do I do now” feeling. The only thing to really do is to be patient.
I really feel lucky to have worked on other people’s projects in the space between writing for myself because flexing that communication creative muscle keeps me sharp for when I feel the spark to return to myself.