Nacho Diaz is a sociologist and PhD student at the Centre for Narrative Research, CNR, University of East London under the direction of Maria Tamboukou. His professional life has taken place in different psychiatric hospitals and prisons, in the field of reinsertion. He has also worked with different NGOs.

So I am spending this beautiful morning with Nacho Diaz at the South Bank Centre. Nacho is a sociologist and writer who founded the group “Four in Ten”, the LGBT service users organization at the Maudsley Hospital. I read his collaborations in the Spanish digital diary Politica Local, and the multiple activities that he does, but finally opt for asking him how he would introduce himself for the Singing4Health publication. This is what he said.

Nacho: I am many things yes. I am a bipolar, writer, PhD candidate, mental health activist and performer.
Maria: We are here today to talk about singing.

Nacho: I am also a performer who unfortunately doesn’t have the ability to sing well. However, I love singing with all my heart.

Maria: How does singing and music benefit you?

Nacho: Music makes me stabilize my moods. I listen to music all the time. When I’m at home,
working, studding or writing I listen to music, I have various choices, I listen to radio 3 or depending on the day or the hour I listen to jazz or to some sort of new musics that make me feel good.
I think that music gives me a sense of calm and relax. When I need different kings of inspirations to write, I listen to Spotify and review my musical taste over the years.

Over my life I have managed to overcome bad experiences listening to music. And when I understand the lyrics of a good song, I try to get immerse in that song and create my own fantasy about it.

Maria: What about the physical fact of yourself singing?

Nacho: I love singing and I love to be in a stage.
Whenever I am in a stage and I try to perform, would like to give the best of me, but I sing whenever I can. Before I was diagnosed my singing used to be a symptom or my stress, anguish or my anxiety. It’s like I existed through music.

My first childhood memories where watching singers, feeling the special magic of Paloma San Basilio. I know she is in a way a gay icon and also for many Opus Day people, I don’t really know or understand the connection but I’ve seen this quite often in Spain.

I suppose I saw in Paloma a very special kind of femininity. She represented to me some very happy, joyful and innocent feelings. Even if she would talk about adultery, she would do it in such a sweet way… Paloma was in a way my model.

Maria: Has singing been important at some point?
Nacho: I have met lots of bipolar people like me who ended up subscribing to Spotify too to regulate their moods and creating playlists for their different moods. I also met other people who need the background music in order to have a peaceful existence in their homes.

connachoMaria: So this is something you recommend.
Music? Absolutely. And it’s not just about singing, but about listening to the music!

The book I am writing and part of my PhD will include talking about some music and singing memories, as it comes in many ways from images and memories I have from my childhood. When I performed as a woman singing “chica yeye” I had this memory from my childhood of the actress who would normally sing it, Conchita Velasco.

Maria: Any British or American singers?

Frank Sinatra was my hero. Dean Martin. In my teens my father used to travel to London quite often and used to bring me the top 1 in the lists, so in a small provincial town I had the chance to spend a lot of time on my own listening to Rick Ashley, Bananarama, Donna Summer, Diana Rose and disco music from the 70s.

Maria: In what way have you related your singing to your writing?
Nacho: I am a writer, and learned the tricks of my trade by listening to tangos. I also love coplas, because they are stories that people sing, and that’s what I’m after.

Shall we sing? -said I. Nacho sings with energy and extroversion.

And this is all for today.