Searching For Honesty: Daya Interviewed

Searching For Honesty: Daya Interviewed

Tracing the GRAMMY winner's enchanting path...

“The best songs always come out when you're the most honest with yourself, which I don't think that I had been up until this point,” reflects GRAMMY Award winning multi-platinum artist Daya. It’s taken her time to find her unique sound, time to assert full control over her artistry. Having started her musical journey at a young age, the 22-year-old hitmaker admits that she has allowed herself to be led by the wisdom of the seasoned writers who worked with her until now, but she’s now motivated to change that.

She says: “I’ve always worked with people who knew what they were doing so they kind of took the reins on my sound which was great at the time and really opened the door for me and I'm so grateful for that. But over time as time progressed, I've just kind of like almost resented that I haven't had control over my writing or my messaging and that's always been an important thing to me. In the past three years I’ve just been testing and trying everything out just to see just to come to this point where I feel really confident in my songs and I feel that it's headed in the direction where I’ve come into my own.”

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That’s exactly what’s she done with her pulsating new single ‘First Time’ - co-written by Daya, SHY Martin and multi-platinum selling Swedish producer-songwriting duo Jack & Coke - where she brings people closer to her life and her craft like never before. Speaking of the message and process behind the track, she says: “I wrote this track when I was sick and jet-lagged, which I feel are the days you’re most emotionally vulnerable. So I feel like I was just like ready to do anything really and I feel like when you're in that headspace that mentality the best thing will come from that.”

About the music video she adds: “For the visual side of things, my girlfriend actually directed the music video as well as shot the cover art. We wanted to everything to be in this consistent visual world, the concept signifies like a rebirth for me personally and in my career just taking control and ownership of my sound, my vision, my process and we wanted to reflect that in the visual as well. So the water that you see and the cover of me falling back into the water me coming out of it at the end of the video kind of signifies that rebirth and everything else throughout the video is kind of my subconscious battling to be seeing battling to come through and kind of take ownership.”

Establishing the autonomy to be bold yet vulnerable in her music has meant her music far more personal and authentic to who Daya is as a person. She says: “I feel like now it's getting to a point where I'm digging a bit deeper into myself and exploring some parts of me that I haven't really touched on which is interesting for me because I'm like, oh this is what I've been feeling, this is why I've been feeling this way.”

However, this isn’t to say her previous music is any less intimate, as she points out. “I don't want to say that it's never been personal because there are a lot of tracks that I really resonate with on my first album in terms of not needing to depend on your partner or anyone for you know, your own happiness and fulfilment and I feel like that was a really good message.”

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Moving from messages to soundscapes, she says: “I don't like putting it in what into one genre or anything, but I've kind of gone to this like dance electro pop space. Feels a bit darker and more minimal which is production wise which is exciting for me and conceptually I'm talking about a bunch of things that are really personal and things that maybe I didn't like dig down into at first but now I'm kind of with the next few releases.”

Being personable and honest in music is important to Daya beyond her own music as she reveals who inspires her: “I always say this but I think Amy Winehouse was my biggest inspiration. I think just in terms of how she wrote her lyrics. Just the rawness and the authenticity authenticity and honesty in there was really something that I admire”.

Discussing artists she’d love to collaborate with, Daya reels off a list of favourites. “James Blake, Bon Iver, Rosalia. There's so many people the list could go on forever. But generally I'm just inspired by people who are just like themselves and completely are just sonically unique and it's inspiring to me.”

On the topic of future releases and sounds she’d love to experiment with, the part-Indian singer reveals she’d like to delve into her heritage. “I have always really been into more worldly sounds, I guess. I don't know but just international music as a whole I want to really delve into. I really just love the way that people sing in India – with different notes within a half-step within Indian scales - it's just so exciting. There's like four notes within two steps in the Western scales, which is really exciting because that just like simply doesn't exist and our or like sound language here. So I think it'd be really cool to explore some of that. Implement some new worldly or international sound.”

She adds: “In general I feel like it's so weird that this global sound is so heavily influenced by ‘Western music’. I feel like there's so much to explore outside of that, there's so many different intricacies and ways to play instruments that just have not been explored in Western pop music and I feel like that's really a fault on our part. I think that we really should be bringing all of these different kinds of sounds and sonic landscapes into our own and I'm really excited them to try to dive into that space.”

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As she sets off into the new, more independent chapter of her musical journey, Daya doesn’t forget to acknowledge the highs of her career thus far. Talking about the most memorable moment, she says: “I think the most surreal moment was probably the Grammys. Yeah, I don't think it could get any more thrilled. It was like I wasn't even there, it felt like I was out of my body. It was so crazy I was at this thing that I had idolized, watched and looked up to for so many years, to stand on the same stage as all of my favourite artists was just a whirlwind moment and I was still really young and I think I know it I'm proud of myself for that and for what we accomplished with that song.”

Wise beyond her years and beckoning intimate connections through music, Daya brings equal amounts of freedom and control with poignant yet catchy music, and her deeply considered messages. With everything she’s achieved so far and everything that’s left for her to achieve, what remains the same is her message to listeners. Encouraging people to love themselves for their strengths and flaws equally, she says:

“I think it will hopefully inspire people to embrace their individuality, know all parts of themselves, and not feel like they have to put on some phony side for other people. That's what that's what I really hope for and to see like all of the darker and sombre but also happier and lighter parts of themselves and hopefully it'll resonate.”

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Words: Malvika Padin

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