By Brian Ives
“I went to the prom and then flew out to L.A. the next morning to record the rest of my EP.”
If you have ever said the above sentence, you’re doing well. And Daya – the up-and-coming singer/songwriter – seems to be doing very well these days, particularly for someone who has yet to graduate from high school. You probably know her from her hit song “Hide Away,” which has been gaining traction on the radio waves over the past few months; the lyric video is approaching 3 million views on YouTube.
Radio.com caught up with the talented 17 year old and talked about her hit single, her rather impressive musical background and what covers she’s planning on playing.
So, “Hide Away” is huge hit. What inspired that song?
The song is about waiting for that right person to accept you for who you are, and having a relationship based on trust and respect.
That’s not really a common theme in pop music today.
I think it’s important to not let anyone else influence you. These are things that I’ve learned in the past few years. I’m not trying to shame any other people. I’m just saying how, personally I like our relationships to be.
You started playing classical piano at the age of three, according to what I’ve read.
I was almost four actually. I was an old three! My sister was five at the time. My parents had her take piano lessons. She, at the time, would only do things if I did them first. She would make me do everything for her. I was daring, and up for the challenge and I started taking lessons. She stopped taking lessons and I stuck with it. I don’t know how I had the discipline when I was that age, but I did, somehow.
And at some point, you moved to jazz.
I took classical until I was ten, and then I started taking jazz lessons for a couple of years. And I learned theory. It was a completely different world from classical, and it taught me how to improvise. Then I started doing covers of pop songs, and that’s how I started moving into the pop world.
Did pop seem a bit basic to you, having played jazz and classical already?
Pop was kind of like the same chords over and over, and it wasn’t too hard to make the transition after playing jazz for a few years. So, it was easy, but that’s where I found my voice, doing pop covers. It wasn’t boring for me: even though the chords are simple, I could kind of play around with them a little bit, and add my own twist.
How many instruments do you play?
Piano, guitar, ukelele… I played flute and saxophone in school, but I probably can’t play the flute anymore. I could probably pick up the sax. I mainly play the piano, guitar and ukelele.
Are you going to play instruments at your shows?
It’s mainly focused on the vocals. I think I’ll be singing to tracks, or singing and having other people accompanying me. Further down the line when I get more established, I’ll definitely bring in the piano. But I want to establish myself as a pop singer first, and then as a musician later.
Still, it must be helpful to know music theory.
It helps with writing and recording, definitely. Also performing. It helps to have an understanding of what my guitarist or piano player is doing.
What other covers do you have coming out?
I just filmed a couple of covers, and I’m building up my repertoire. I released “Seventeen” by Alessia Cara, and “Fools” by Troye Sivan. I also did “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld . That song is very empowering, it’s along the lines of the themes of my EP.
What’s your next single going to be?
“Sit Still, Look Pretty,” that’s my favorite song on the EP. It talks about how girls shouldn’t be an accessory, they shouldn’t just have to look pretty for someone else.
Obviously, you’re still in school; how has it been, balancing being in high school and having a legit music career and having a hit with “Hide Away?”
I released the song last spring, I went to the prom and then flew out to L.A. the next morning to record the rest of my EP.
You’re a senior now, right? How are you handling school?
I doubled up on a lot of my courses last year when I realized that this could be a reality, and I only need one more credit to graduate, so I’m taking English as an online course. So I can still travel and do shows. I’ll be able to graduate with my class in the spring.
Are you still able to relate to your friends in school?
I had a really solid group of friends before all of this happened, which I’m grateful for, because they really stuck with me. I kinda know who are my real friends. It’s good to have them. There definitely some differences, like, I feel like I can’t always relate to them. At the same time, I’ll still a 16 year old girl.
Are you thinking about going to college at all?
I’m probably gonna apply to college this fall, but I don’t think I’m going next year.
Daya will be on tour with Jack & Jack in early 2016, full dates below.
February 4, 2016 Thu San Diego CA House of Blues
February 5, 2016 Fri Anaheim CA House of Blues
February 6, 2016 Sat San Francisco CA Slim’s
February 8, 2016 Mon Portland OR Hawthorne Theater
February 9, 2016 Tue Seattle WA Neptune Theatre
February 11, 2016 Thu Salt Lake City UT The Complex
February 12, 2016 Fri Denver CO The Summit Music Hall
February 13, 2016 Sat Des Moines IA Wooly’s
February 16, 2016 Tue Minneapolis MN Varsity Theater
February 17, 2016 Wed Milwaukee WI The Rave
February 19, 2016 Fri Cincinnati OH Bogart’s
February 20, 2016 Sat Detroit MI The Majestic Theatre
February 21, 2016 Sun Cleveland OH House of Blues
February 23, 2016 Tue St. Louis MO The Ready Room
February 24, 2016 Wed Nashville TN Mercy Lounge
February 26, 2016 Fri Atlanta GA The Loft
February 27, 2016 Sat Fort Lauderdale FL Culture Room
February 28, 2016 Sun Orlando FL House of Blues Orlando
March 2, 2016 Wed Charlotte NC Visulite
March 3, 2016 Thu Silver Springs MD The Fillmore
March 4, 2016 Fri Philadelphia PA Theatre of the Living Arts
March 6, 2016 Sun Boston MA Paradise Rock Club