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Madi Diaz talks 'Same History, New Feelings'

ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:

Madi Diaz's 2021 album, "History Of A Feeling," explores a complicated breakup in gut-wrenching detail.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HISTORY OF A FEELING")

MADI DIAZ: (Singing) I only hear your voice when I know that you're not here with me. And I know love's not a lie, but I have a hard time believing. I'm still living in the history of a feeling.

NADWORNY: Diaz's honest storytelling about her emotions and own missteps has led her to bigger heights than ever before. This year, she toured the country, played new festivals and even went on late-night TV. And now, the singer-songwriter returns with "Same History, New Feelings," an EP with new versions of four songs from her 2021 album. Madi Diaz joins us now. Thank you so much for being with us.

DIAZ: Thank you so much for having me.

NADWORNY: As mentioned, your EP reworks four songs from your 2021 album. All of the songs on the new EP feature collaborations with different artists. To get a sense, let's listen to how your song "Resentment" evolved from your first album to this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESENTMENT")

DIAZ: (Singing) I don't hate you, babe. It's worse than that 'cause you hurt me, and I don't react. I've been building up this thing for months. Oh, resentment.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESENTMENT (NEW FEELINGS VERSION)")

MADI DIAZ AND WAXAHATCHEE: (Singing) I don't hate you, babe. It's worse than that 'cause you hurt me, and I don't react. I've been building up this thing for months. Oh, resentment.

NADWORNY: So you can really hear the difference in your emotions.

DIAZ: Oof (laughter). I mean, the first one really is a bummer, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

NADWORNY: Yeah. What do you hear when you listen back to, like, both of those back to back?

DIAZ: Wow. It's crazy. You know, I haven't listened to the 2021 record in a while, and that was a pretty crazy moment in time. And I feel so lucky to, like, have that on the recording - such a, like, visceral representation of what I was going through at the time. And, I mean, it was just grief - just straight-up, like, tear-me-down-the-middle grief. And then, you know, reworking that song with Katie from Waxahatchee - I mean, she's just got this spark and ferocity. And I think, at that point, I was far enough from what had been going on in my life, you know, at that time - you know, this breakup and all of these changes. And I was kind of trying to be a little bit angrier and, like, own myself a little bit better (laughter).

NADWORNY: Own myself a little better - I love that. Like, that's what happens when you get to, like, sit with your emotions and maybe move on a little bit.

DIAZ: Yeah. Well, and it's funny, you know? Like, I think anger can be really healthy, and, you know, it's not - I think, you know, just kind of, like, feeling that feeling and being able to move through it really kind of got me through all of that. It was like the final earth-scorching stage.

(LAUGHTER)

NADWORNY: What made you decide to interpret these songs in a new way?

DIAZ: I wanted to do something to kind of make myself excited to kind of keep listening to them. You know, they started to take on different meaning depending on, you know, what voice it was coming from. And, you know, I kind of just wanted to record that and capture that 'cause I just felt like it was an important thing for me to hear.

NADWORNY: Yeah. The last song on the EP is "Forever," and it features Angel Olsen. Your voices just blend so beautifully.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOREVER (NEW FEELINGS VERSION)")

MADI DIAZ AND ANGEL OLSEN: (Singing) Are you a time traveler? What are you doing here? How can you just come over? And when will you disappear? There is no word that I haven't said. I physically can't. I can't have you like that. Are you a time traveler?

NADWORNY: What does the song mean to you, and what is it like bringing someone else in on such a personal song?

DIAZ: Oh, I mean, if anyone can sing a torch song, it is Angel Olsen (laughter). She is something else. There's a line in the song that goes, are you a time traveler? What are you doing here? And for me, like, what are you doing here? Why do you keep showing up? And it's this - you know, it's this grief that just kind of, like, knocks you sideways. And maybe it has been two weeks, 10 years. But, you know, every once in a while, you're still transported back into that same place, and it can still hit you just as hard.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOREVER (NEW FEELINGS VERSION)")

DIAZ AND OLSEN: (Singing) You so casually say it's forever. You're saying it like it's whatever. And in the moment, you had me. You fooled me. You lost me forever.

NADWORNY: You've had a pretty incredible year. For the first time, you played the Ryman.

DIAZ: Thank you for reminding me of that. I guess, you know, sometimes, when I like - when I talk about how it's been, I think that that's how it is (laughter).

NADWORNY: Yeah. You toured with Waxahatchee. You opened for Harry Styles.

DIAZ: Yeah. It's been a...

NADWORNY: You played the Newport Folk Festival.

DIAZ: (Laughter) It's been a crazy - my boyfriend and I were driving back from - we played "Jimmy Kimmel" as, like, the last thing that I did this year. And he made me write it all down on paper. He was like, I need for you to write down every single thing that has happened over the last year for you because it's been such a beautiful, like - challenging and serious growing pains, but, like, in such a wonderful - in a way that I just never - could not have predicted it, could not have - couldn't write it out, couldn't script it. Nope.

NADWORNY: Yeah. In addition to your EP, you released three singles this year. "Be Careful" is one.

DIAZ: Yep.

NADWORNY: It's a cover from Patty Griffin.

DIAZ: Yep.

NADWORNY: You first covered it on Instagram. This was right after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

DIAZ: Yep.

NADWORNY: In your single, you have two other singers. You add a new verse, and I want to have us listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE CAREFUL")

MADI DIAZ, S G GOODMAN, AND JOY OLADOKUN: (Singing) For all the parents who are losing sleep, for all the babies that will come to be, for all the reasons that are ours to know, it's my choice, and I'm not alone.

DIAZ: Oh, man. I still feel really emotional around that moment. And writing that verse with, you know, one of my best friends from high school, Morgan Elizabeth Peirce - she lives in Portland, Maine. And she's like, an incredible writer. And, you know, after I kind of got a hold of myself, after, you know, 24 hours, something like that, I called Morgan, and we talked about it. And we both just felt like we had to do something. And I don't really usually know what to do, and that's when writing always kind of saves me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE CAREFUL")

DIAZ, GOODMAN AND OLADOKUN: (Singing) Be careful how you bend me. Be careful where you send me. Be careful.

NADWORNY: Did the song always resonate with you in a political sense? Like, I was surprised at how quickly you, like, went to this song.

DIAZ: No. It's so weird. It never resonated me at all in a political anything. And "Be Careful" just started playing in the back of my head. It was the strangest thing. It just was there. And I was humming it, and I was singing it. And, you know, when I was going on, you know, my runs to kind of balance myself, it was just there with me. And I'm just glad that I actually paid attention to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE CAREFUL")

DIAZ, GOODMAN AND OLADOKUN: (Singing) All the girls standing by your beds, all the girls standing on their heads, all the girls with the broken arms, all the girls with the deadly charms.

NADWORNY: That was Madi Diaz. Her EP, "Same History, New Feelings" was released last March. Thank you so much for being with us.

DIAZ: Thank you so much for having me. What a crazy way to start off 2023.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE CAREFUL")

DIAZ, GOODMAN AND OLADOKUN: (Singing) Funny girls on the TV shows - close your eyes, and they've turned to snow. Be careful how you bend me, careful where you send me, careful how you end me. Be careful with me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.
Mia Estrada
Mia Estrada is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow. She will spend the year rotating through different parts of NPR, including the Culture Desk, National Desk and Weekend Edition.
Natalie Winston is the Executive Producer of All Things Considered on the weekends. She has led the show through coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and many other breaking news events. She also led a remote team for a weekend of coverage from Puerto Rico at the start of the 2018 hurricane season.