credit: Clare Gillen

EXCLUSIVE: Daya talks new music, staying authentic and working with Verizon

Ever since she burst onto the scene with her debut single ‘Hide Away’ in 2015, singer-songwriter Daya has been making huge waves in the music industry.

From signing with Interscope Records to winning a Grammy Award for ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, her collaboration with The Chainsmokers, the songstress is truly living the dream and yet she’s still only 20 years old.

Armed with striking vocals and a passion for writing from the heart, Daya is an artist who is determined to tell her truth through her music. Whilst her debut album Sit Still, Look Pretty was a strong offering which documented the beginning of her journey as a young female in the industry, her most recent releases such as ‘New’ and ‘Safe’ showcase her growth as an artist, allowing her raw emotion and confidence to shine through.

With Daya currently adding the finishing touches to her sophomore album, which is due for release next year, just last week she teamed up with Verizon to host an exclusive listening party and Q&A session for some of her fans in Columbia. The event was held as part of the new music offering from the Verizon Up program, in which members are given the chance to access some incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences with nine artists.

During the event, Daya took the time to chat with us on the phone to tell us all about her forthcoming new music, staying authentic as an artist, her collaboration with Verizon, and much more. Check out what she had to say below.

Daya – Verizon Up

First off, we wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday!

Thank you, thank you so much! I’m getting old, 2-0.

Did you have a nice day?

Yeah, it was relaxing. My girlfriend picked me up for dinner so it was nice, nothing too crazy.

So today you’re sharing some of your new material at an exclusive Verizon Up event. How did the collaboration come up?

I’ve always been a fan of Verizon. I feel like we started working together at the right moment because I’m wrapping up the album and getting everything together for the next era of my music. It definitely helps me to promote it and include fans in the process so I’m super grateful that they reached out to me. I’m super excited for the fans to hear the music and it’s just a great collaborative process. I’m really loving it!

You’re going to be playing some of your new releases today. What can you tell us about your forthcoming music?

The new stuff should be coming out within the next few months. We just had one of our final wrap up meetings with the label. Everything just came together and felt so good, it feels a lot more sonically where I’ve been wanting my music to go. That’s largely due to the fact that I didn’t write most of my first album. With this album, I’ve written on every single song so it definitely feels like my most personal release yet. Some time has passed and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person too. I think my fans are really excited for this era!

One of the things we love the most about your music is that you are open and honest, and a real inspiration to not just your fans but to music lovers worldwide. What do you hope that people will take away from your new music?

I hope people will feel more connected to me as an artist. I definitely open up on this next album – I’m in a new relationship and a new stage in my life. I actually wrote and rewrote the album like three times just in the past two years because so many things have happened since Sit Still, Look Pretty. It all feels very natural, and has come together really well. I hope listeners will love it and feel even more connected to me than before.

You mentioned your debut album Sit Still, Look Pretty, which was released two years ago now. The album, in particular the title track, is so important considering how tough the music industry is for female artists. You attended Bebe Rexha’s Women in Harmony event earlier this year – as a young woman in the industry, how important is it for you to always stand your ground and make your voice heard?

I think it’s the most important thing. I think women are so easily pitted against each other in the industry and there’s something so innately wrong with that because we’re so expressive with ourselves – we should be collaborating with each other, lifting each other up and supporting each other. That’s what makes the most sense to me. We’re all in this together, it can be scary so sometimes it helps to have other people, other women in music on your side because we are marginalized a little in the industry. It’s sometimes hard to find our voices because we aren’t given as many opportunities but I think all of that is changing now. I’m really excited to be a part of this new movement of female empowerment and the empowerment of other females, just owning our space and supporting each other. I’m excited for the next era of women in music.

You’ve been in the music industry since you were 16. What would you say has been the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt during your career so far?

I think to just stay authentic. When I was 16, my first song came out and I really didn’t have time to wrap my head around things. I kinda was forced into this role and I didn’t really know how to act, I didn’t know if there was a specific way to dress or look or whatever because everyone was telling me something different. I think the most important thing for an artist to know is just to be yourself and to listen to yourself and to be authentic, showing that authenticity through your music and your image. That’s a realization I’ve come to over the past couple of years, and by far the most important one because everything falls into place after that, everything feels so natural and organic now. I’m so grateful to be in the place that I am now and to make music which means a lot to me and will hopefully mean a lot to my fans too.

You can definitely see that in your latest single ‘Safe’, which is such a powerful song that you wrote following the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. How important is it to you that you use your platform to discuss important issues like that?

I think it’s most important, that’s the reason that I have a platform. I think I was gifted with that. It’s a responsibility but it’s also so rewarding. I’m learning everyday, learning from my fans and everyone around me so it’s important that I use that platform to really express myself and to encourage my fans to speak their truth always, to talk about what’s going on the country, to talk about political events. I see it more as an open conversation rather than me preaching to them. I think that’s the most important thing. I really cherish the fact and I’m grateful that I am able to do that.

When you released ‘Safe’, you also launched the #SafeIs hashtag, which encouraged your fans to share the things that make them feel safe. What kind of response did you receive from your campaign?

I received an amazing response! I think it really resonated with fans, particularly in the political climate that we’re in, to be a blessing in supporting one another, finding comfort in the people and the small things around us. I really wanted that song to just be a blanket of warmth to anyone who’s experienced anything close to tragedy or has been emotionally affected by anything happening in the country. It’s so important that we all feel supported, loved and accepted no matter who you are, no matter what race, sexuality, sex, gender, religion. I just think it’s important that we all come together and raise each other up and have more of an open dialogue between us.

One of our favourite things about you is that you’re a great lyricist. In one of the videos you’ve done for Verizon, you mention how important lyrics are to you, so how do you go about songwriting? Do you have a similar process each time or is it ever changing?

I think it’s definitely changing. Sometimes the lyrics coincide with the music, sometimes the melody comes first and we work it before the lyrics, sometimes it’s vice versa. It all derives from a feeling, so I try to get that feeling across in the best way that I can. I’m really lucky to get to use words in the way that I do and to express the feelings in a more tangible way to my audience. It’s a different process every time but I love it.

You’re going to be heading out on the road soon, supporting Louis The Child in Los Angeles and New York. What are some of your must have items for when you’re out on the road?

My family and my friends, I like having people around me who support me as it can get quite lonely out on the road. Just being supported by people, even the fans, I love being supported by people who are excited to come out to shows and will bring that high energy that I can feed off during the show. I guess people are my must have items!

Over the years you’ve done a number of collaborations, including the Grammy winning ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ with The Chainsmokers. Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Oh god, there’s so many people. I’d love to collaborate with Labrinth. His voice is just gold, I think it’s so so powerful and he’s such a genius lyricist as well. I mean Sia, she’s an amazing songwriter as well. I could list so many people but I think anyone who really believes in their vision, respects their vision and is excited to work and is down-to-earth. Ooh, Brockhampton too, I’d definitely want to work with them, I love their new stuff.

2018 is coming to an end…what has been your highlight of the year?

Lollapalooza in the summer, I think it was one of the best shows that I’ve ever done. It was so rewarding because we’d been working on the set for such a long time, it was so fun and I got to preview one of my new songs too and the fans were going crazy. That was the first festival I ever went to as an attendee so it was kinda full circle to be back there on stage, it was amazing.

What are your hopes for 2019?

Oh god, 2019 sounds so weird. Obviously I’ll be releasing new music, but I hope to be going on a world tour, meeting a lot more of my fans, connecting with people more. I definitely hope to be a lot more active, I feel like this year has been for growth and self-reflection but now I’m ready to get back out there on the road so I’m excited.

Well we’re really looking forward to it and can’t wait for more more new music from you! Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you!

Thank you once more to Daya for her time. Make sure you keep up to date with her via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify.

For more information on Verizon Up’s reward program, click here.

Fan of Daya? Are you excited for her new music? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina