Debut Solo Effort from Girl in a Coma Frontwoman!
Many albums capture the flood of introspection that comes after a life-changing experience. But The Beat Is Dead (out October 2016 on Cosmica Records) – an expansive body of work that sonically references musicals, alt-metal, indie pop, new wave – powerfully chronicles Nina Diaz's journey itself. "This album is the story of my addiction and my sobriety," she says. Some songs were written while using, some in the infancy of going clean, some looking back months later with clarity. "It's like I shed a lot of different layers of skin during this process."
The Beat Is Dead, produced by both Nina and Manuel Calderon didn't start out that way. While working on new material for her band, Nina penned the rousing "Trick Candle." As with any other Girl in a Coma song, she fleshed it out with her bandmates, drummer Phanie Diaz (Nina's sister) and bassist Jenn Alva. "I'm the writer, but our songs really are group efforts," Nina says. "We jammed it out, but it didn't feel right. It wasn't what I envisioned." What followed were a few difficult, but ultimately supportive, conversations about Nina taking on solo projects between Girl in a Coma albums. "It was a little rough at first. People were scared – I was scared!" she says. "But I knew I just needed to do this."
The industrial sturm und drang of "Screaming Without a Sound" expresses how anxiety-ridden the steps toward sobriety can be. Allowing herself to express these rushes of emotion liberated Nina artistically. Along the way, many demons were exorcised. Upon first listen, "Queen Beats King" seems to be a wistful, '80s synth-take. "But it's actually about me being enchanted by a suave guy – then all of a sudden, I'm in hell. Then I find a light. I get myself out of it." She continues to explore that resolve with "For You," about surrendering to post-sobriety spirituality, and the punk-cabaret "Rebirth."
In the case of the bluesy, almost spoken-word "Mortician's Musician" (fittingly, The Beat Is Dead's 13th track), Nina recounts – and, in many senses, recants – peculiar, intermittent encounters with her birth father throughout her childhood. "To punish myself anymore is not even possible," Nina explains. "The Beat Is Dead means that this story is over."