Growing up in San Antonio, Nina Diaz was one of those kids who spent a lot of time in her bedroom, singing along to the Smiths and imagining the world beyond. Then she got swept up into the music when her sister and a long-time friend asked her to form a rock band, Girl in a Coma.
Her first show came a week before her 14th birthday, and the band quickly outgrew its Texas roots. Drawing from a variety of musical influences ranging from the Ramones, to the riot grrl groups of the 90s, to the conjunto singers their parents loved, Girl in a Coma won over critics and famous fans like Joan Jett – who became a mentor.
Now, after a battle with addiction to alcohol and drugs, Diaz is out on her own for the first time with an album that’s as much autobiography as a declaration of independence: “The Beat is Dead”.
“I come from Girl in a Coma – that’s where I’ve gotten a lot of my success from,” she says. “I would love to just be able to be like, ‘Here’s Nina Diaz.’ But I’m like a baby when it comes to the solo stuff.”
The album title comes from her song “Queen Beats King.” Diaz says she likes how the words sound together – they’re melodic.
“That whole song is about one of my dark times – a relationship I was in as well – and getting out of that,” she says. “To me ‘The Beat is Dead’ means to victimize yourself is done, that story is over.”
Diaz has been sober for three and a half years and is going strong. She says she got sober through 12-step meetings.
“Because I’m so vocal about my sobriety I figure ‘Oh this is my way of giving back and this is my way of checking myself,’” she says. “So in a way I’m open about it for me, but also I don’t want it to be such a taboo subject. … To me, I feel like that’s where I’ve gotten a lot of my strength.”