Madison’s music scene has, for a long time, been seen as a stepping stone to the spotlight.
With its proximity to Chicago and the University of Wisconsin’s ability to bring in listeners from all over the country, Madison has been a prime spot for emerging musicians to develop and foster the growth of a core fanbase.
For Gloss Coats’ Hernán Diaz, however, this simply is not good enough. After bringing his project The Dagger Complex from his native Santiago, Chile to Madison along with Michaela Boman, changing its name and linking up with new bandmates, Gloss Coats have become one of the 608’s most polished groups. They have won multiple opening slots from groups like Jimmy Eat World and The Staves.
He believes if the local music scene, from talent to management to production, were to truly link up, Madison could quickly become a part of the national music conversation.
For this week’s Conversation Starter, The Badger Herald talked to Diaz about his musical origins, Gloss Coats’ direction and his aspirations for Madison’s music scene in general.
The following interview has been edited for style and clarity.
The Badger Herald: You just opened up for The Staves by their selection. How are you all feeling a few days removed?
Hernán Diaz: Pretty great. It feels like this is us stepping into the direction that we would like to be going, but not just in Wisconsin, and then hopefully not just in the United States — if you know what I mean?
BH: Yeah definitely. Was it pretty simple how it all went down? Did you just send them a recording, they liked you and that was it?
HD: Yes, kind of like that. We sent an email. I just looked at it and [I thought] this is something that I should be doing. This is also not the first time that we’ve had something like this happen to us. It’s actually happened quite a few times now.
BH: In terms of an artist selecting you?
HD: We’ve played shows of that same nature, where the artists themselves get to choose the other supporting artists. It’s happened to us with the band Warpaint [back in Santiago], who we really, really like. It’s happened to us with Jimmy Eat World at the Barrymore Theater here in Madison.
BH: What led you to move to Madison in the first place?
HD: Mainly because one of us got a job here and we also, we were looking to move to not a gigantic city. We wanted to make it comfortable. We wanted to make it more organic and Madison was one of the choices.
Although I, of course, I’m a city guy. I come from Santiago, it’s five point something million people. I really, really love Chicago. I’ve been there quite a few times and have friends from there, and being here, playing music and going to shows I’ve made friends that are actually touring the world and that are in bands from Chicago and stuff like that.
In the end, we chose Madison because we thought it was a balance of music scene and there was room for us to be doing things. Yeah, so far it’s been great and we love it here. I’m happy that we can now call this place our home.
BH: I imagine this led to changing up the band’s lineup?
HD: That’s right. As far as musicians go, as far as the lineup of the live band goes, yes. [The] difference between [the former] lineup and now is just people play differently and they express and translate the music differently. But originally this is my project and Michaela [Boman’s] as well. She has to do more-so in the lyrics with her songs. Then the rest is just the music that I make the most and that was the same case with the other band back in my country.
BH: Let’s get into the music itself. What struck me the most about your music is that you mix different styles, mainly psych pop and alt rock, really well. How do you account for the diversity of your sound?
HD: To tell you the truth it’s just that we go through phases and the world is going so fast when it comes to music. Everybody’s releasing records like it was nothing almost.
The people digest those records like a pill and you swallowed it in that bit. Super fast. It’s out there, you know about it really fast.
Somehow that filters through the music that we make. I understand that there is a lot of styles and each song is almost like a trip of, traveling through different places. I think it’s mostly because we are always listening to different kinds of music and we have our ears very open. We’re just like sponges, you know?
BH: What was the creative process like for your LP Vibrant, which you released over the summer?
HD: When it comes to writing for Vibrant, it was mostly me. I started recording with my acoustic guitar on Garage Band and then everything developed from that. From not knowing what was going to happen, one thing led to another, I started adding more things and I brought more people to see how it sounds live. It worked out.
As of now, we have a different writing process. I’m letting the band become what I always wanted it to be. I would have hated for the project to be a solo thing. I’m a believer of bands. Two heads think better than one, and three better than two, and so on and so forth.
BH: What are your goals for the upcoming months?
HD: I would say that I would love for people to be more involved when it comes to [the music scene]. Even more so than they are already now.
If we all come together for it, as listeners, as supporters, as musicians, as producers, as promoters, as venue owners, as everything, if we come together more and try to do something as a collective.
It’s a new project of mine that I’m trying do, and I’ll be working side-by-side with other people that have been in bands from here in town as well, where we make a bigger voice for all of those bands here in Madison.
Even if you’re not part of the band or part of the show team, even if your friends of some of us or you go and listen to the songs and you go to the shows, you are still part of this scene and this collective of great artists around town and in Wisconsin.
If we came together, we would have a bigger chance to get a lot more hype or a lot more noise out there for them to be able to do what they want to do. It’s more-so for the city itself to do more things that local bands and bands from outside of the state are involved in.