Diya Craft fronts Denton band Mutha-Falcon, a punk-fusion outfit that mixes funk and hip-hop while keeping a solid foundation in punk rock music. The band's frontwoman is just as multifaceted.
“What defines me really isn't necessarily one definition,” Craft says on a phone call, taking a break from work. “I call it punk fusion because it adds parts of hip-hop and parts of funk, and in a way that's kinda just how I am as a person, too. Like I'm just a little bit of everything.”
Growing up in the Houston suburb of Cypress, Craft’s love of emo music set her apart from the crowd, enabling her to define herself against a relatively blank canvas.
“I was the rocker Black chick at my school,” Craft says. “There were other rocker kids of color, but, like, not necessarily Black rockers of color. … Also what happened to me a lot growing up is — and even from my own family, like Black family — they hated that I always wore black and they'd always be like, ‘Stop listening to that devil music.’ I'd always be called an Oreo.”
After high school, Craft knocked around a couple of colleges (Tyler Junior College and the University of Texas at Tyler) before finding a new home and the student life she craved at the University of North Texas.
“I hadn't even done music before I moved up here," Craft says. "I just hadn't even dabbled, hadn't even thought about doing anything musical until I moved up here.”
The big move to Denton happened in 2016, and by 2017, Craft already had a band.
She was working with lead guitarist Landon Markle at Rockfish in Flower Mound, and one day, while the two were watched the inauguration of former President Donald Trump, Craft had an idea.
“Just watching all that unfold really shook me,” Craft says. “I've always been a pretty political person, and experiencing that, the uncertainty for the future, I just started writing. Then my guitarist and I started the band.”
Craft’s songwriting remains a blend of personal and political. Mutha-Falcon is set to release a single and new video with “End of Oblivion” on May 19, a song about rebellion with just a hint of revolution.
“If 10 years is all that I got left,” Craft sings in the song’s breakdown, “I ain’t gonna spend the next broke and oppressed.”
Craft wrote “End of Oblivion” in January 2020 when COVID-19 was just a story from the other side of the world. The election year had just started, and the prospect of the former president remaining in office and upholding policies that devalued people and the planet loomed heavy in her mind.
“I remember I was reading something about climate change and how it's going to be like seven to 10 years before things really hit the fan,” Craft remembers. “I was like, ‘Well, this is it,’ I’ve got to make something happen because if we don't have that much time left on this planet … whatever I'm doing, I'm going to go for it. I’ve got to make something happen in my mind for me.”
Problems, unfortunately, aren’t fixed with a simple change in office. Even with a new president, Craft still sees the song as a warning against complacency.
“Things are still on fire,” Craft says. “Even if not physically, things are definitely figuratively on fire these days and back then. But that line right there [in the song]: ‘City's on fire now / Walls are burning down / As we make the mistakes like / those who’ve come before’ — that's the thing. We keep repeating these same mistakes and stuff. The only way to move forward is to stop doing things that keep pushing us back.”
For Craft, societal change doesn't happen when elected officials change. What good does that really do to change people’s hearts and minds? Instead, the movement forward is all about optimism and self-love.
“I'm always going to be optimistic, even if I don't feel optimistic in that moment,” Craft says. “I still always hope for better days because what else can you do, you know? It’s always better to want better for yourself and the people that you love other than just dwelling in it when you're upset. That is when you get stuck.”
It may have been a lifelong struggle for Craft to find herself and her voice, but fronting a punk band has allowed her to find strength in standing out.
“There's not that many of us; it's still a very underrepresented subculture,” Craft says struggling to think of any other Black people in local punk bands, coming up with maybe one. “I've always kind of stuck out because of that, but you know, I love the skin I'm in, and I love myself. It took a long time for me to get to that place of self-love.”
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