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Girl in a Coma’s Nina Diaz Talks Sobriety and Flying Solo

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Nina Diaz performs with David Garza at Pachanga Fest, 2012.

San Antonio native Nina Diaz first began performing at the age of 13. By the time she was 18, her all-girl, indie rock trio, Girl In a Coma, was signed to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records.

Now, at age 26, Diaz embarks on a new path as a solo artist in addition to her Girl in a Coma duties – a project which will be released later this year. But, for the first time in her musical career, she is sober.

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with Diaz about her musical and personal journey, opening up on the moment she realized she needed to get clean, why she has chosen to let the public in on her struggles and how sobriety has affected her songwriting.

“When you see it as a kid, like Kurt Cobain, and you know, Gia Marie Carangi, you see these people using, but you don’t really see the end of the movie,” Diaz says. “You don’t see the end of their life, how it ended.”

Diaz says her decision to get clean involved two people close to her. She ultimately decided to walk away from drugs slightly more than a year ago after a conversation with her brother, which centered around some recent family deaths.

“After this conversation, I was using and I grabbed the last of my junk and threw it away in a heart-shaped box,” she says. “I haven’t used since.”

About a week before the conversation with her brother, Diaz says she was in the middle of songwriting on a rainy night when she sensed a distinct energy permeating her room.

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Diaz with Girl In a Coma at Pachanga Fest, 2012.

She says the force wasn’t necessarily negative, but something trying to wake her up. The spirit’s identity? Diaz believes it was her deceased grandmother.

“I feel like there are guardian angels in a way, and I just think she was trying to give me a wake up call by scaring the s--- out of me,” she says.

Diaz hopes that by going public with her struggles, drug awareness will increase and others will feel empowered to be honest about their own bouts with drug and alcohol abuse, particularly young women and teenagers.

Diaz believes that sobriety has allowed her to appreciate family and friends in ways she wasn’t able to before. She also says getting clean has had a profound effect on her career as well.

“Now I feel like making music is just so much more worthwhile than it ever was before,” she says.

Girl in a Coma will perform at the El Cosmico music festival in Marfa, Texas on Sept. 27.

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.