Woman Musician Spotlight: Kathy Diaz from Obsidian
Who else is dreaming of a goth Christmas? There’s just something about the holiday season that makes some of us want to go to the dark side. Perhaps it’s the dying trees, the cold air, or the darker days. Why not embrace the darkness that this time of the year represents, even if just poetically, through art? Tim Burton did it best with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Blink 182 sang about having “Halloween on Christmas,” in the love song “I Miss You.”
But, we are in Miami after all, where the seasons hardly alter. Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood to get a little darker, check out South Florida’s coolest new goth band Obsidian. They will playing December 26th, 2020 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach for Litmas 5.
The members of the two-year old group include Missy Mortis (guitars, vocals, primary songwriter), Dent A Gon (bass guitars) Chuck Loose (drums and percussion) and myself, Kathy D. (synths and keyboards). We got the chance to interview keyboardist Kathy Diaz for our feature on women musicians in the Miami scene. She talked to us about her musical background, the meaning of “goth,” and the future of the band.
Miami Chronicles: What’s your background in music?
Kathy Diaz: My interest in playing the keyboards first started when I was introduced to the Finnish band Nightwish. I was introduced to them by a friend of mine when I was 14 years old. I immediately fell in love with their use of keyboard orchestration and the overall genre of symphonic metal. I ended up choosing a music course as an elective class in High school where I learned the basics of music theory and started learning how to play the piano. My mother purchased my first Yamaha keyboard while in high school, which I kept all throughout undergraduate school. I used it mostly as stress management while I completed my pre-requisite courses in college as well as my nursing degree. Obsidian is the first band I have joined to date which helped me further my piano skills and gave me the opportunity to purchase my Roland DS 61, the very one currently used on all my performances.
MC: How did your band Obsidian come to be?
KD: To start off with, Obsidian is a musical group from Wilton Manors, Florida. It was originally formed as a creative outlet for the various members to deal with their own traumatic experiences and existential epiphanies. The band is named after the object used by the lead singer when attempting suicide, which led to them being backer acted. The group originally formed in 2018, and has gone through a few lineup changes, before eventuallyevolving into the current four-piece version consisting of Missy Mortis (guitars, vocals, primary songwriter), Dent A Gon (bass guitars) Chuck Loose (drums and percussion) and myself, Kathy D. (synths and keyboards).I joined the band in March of 2019 as a secondary/rhythm keyboardist. After the departure of the lead keyboardist, I became the primary/ lead keyboardist around June 2019.
MC. How would you describe goth music? What does it mean to you?
KD: Goth music can be described as a style of post-punk or derivative from post-punk music that has dancy beats, synths, drone-based vocals and guitar melodies that are referred to as “scything” guitar melodies. Other band members have referred to it as spooky/ sad 80s music though there is definitely a difference between 90s style and 80s style goth music. With its darker sound, dramatic and melancholic melodies, this style of music allowed for the members of the band to deal with their own traumatic experiences through creative expression. Our single “Eros, Hypnos and Thanatos” released earlier this year, for example, is a breakup song that Missy composed about an ex-lover, the grieving process, reflection and the handling of depression and substance abuse he was going through at the time. He layered various riffs in A minor with the intention of causing anxiety inducing tension with how long it takes for the song to build up into a chorus. Personally, when composing in this style of music and performing our songs live, I uniquely alter the presets on my keyboard and use certain hand/body gestures to specifically express the emotions of sadness, fear, and anger with the audience. I’m able to share with them a moment of my emotions in regard to heart ache, unforeseeable familial tragedies and so on. This to me is very important since it aids in my healing process.
MC: What current projects are you working on?
KD: We recently completed our latest EP “Vultures,” which was released on Halloween day. We are currently working alongside Jaime Lopez of Photohause Productions and are in the planning stages for our upcoming music video for the titled track “Vultures”. We are also looking to put out a full-length record next.
MC: What’s the future of the band?
KD: We will be in the practice space making sure we are focusing on our new releases and creating our new set list for any upcoming live and livestream shows. With the current COVID situation, we are prioritizing the safety of the community, spacing out the time between playing live shows or halting any live shows based on reports. As of right now, we are playing December 26th, 2020 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach for Litmas 5.
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Music Video: Obsidian – “Living Dead”
(Band Photo and Self Portrait Photo By: Roberto Badillo Photography)