Pop singer Daya was only flying under the radar in the music world for a very short time before she blew up in a way that every artist wishes they could. She released her debut single “Hide Away” back in 2015, and after a few months of tastemakers getting their hands on it and spreading the word, the song hit the Hot 100 in the U.S. and began to climb. The track peaked at No. 23, and while that was a huge success for her, there was even greater success coming to the young woman.
Not long after “Hide Away” began to drop down the ranking, she appeared once more as the featured vocalist on The Chainsmokers’ single “Don’t Let Me Down,” which went on to become a surprising smash. The dance-pop tune peaked at No. 3 in America and ended 2016 as one of the biggest songs in the world, and it won the production duo and their friend Daya a Grammy for Best Dance Recording at the 2017 ceremony.
We spoke with the now-Grammy winner not too long ago, when her name was just starting to rise on charts all around the world and people were opening up to her talent.
CEEK VR: First of all, congrats on the past year or so. It seems to have all happened immediately.
Daya: Thank you so much. It's been crazy!
CEEK VR: Your EP and your album, they're not demos or amateur recordings. How did you get your start linking up with all the right people and doing it so well?
Daya: Basically, I've been doing this my whole life and it's always been a huge passion of mine, but I got connected with some people in LA and things started happening for me. We were doing a session, and it just spiraled from there, but it was very organic. The session was very last minute, but we all made it work and connected with the right people. That's basically how I got here, but it's been a wild ride.
CEEK VR: How did you link up with The Chainsmokers for your single “Don’t Let Me Down?”
Daya: They reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a song with them. We're under the same label, and they are a fan of my song "Hide Away" and then I was a fan of their music, so it just really worked out. Once I heard the song, I loved it and I'm really proud of the way that it turned out.
CEEK VR: You already have two platinum singles, two top 40 hits. Do you personally feel any pressure to chart more hits, or are you just in it for the fun and for the art of it?
Daya: I'm just kind of in it for the long run and I hope that my fans are too. I think I'm just going to try to keep creating music that people love and can relate to. If it charts, it charts, and if radio picks it up, radio picks it up, but I think that I have a message I want to share with the world and I'm going to do that through my music.
CEEK VR: This has all happened so quickly. Your first single blew up, and then suddenly you got The Chainsmokers hit. What do you feel about that kind of success?
Daya: It was cool because I heard it before it got to any stations or anything. I remember the first day that it came out and everyone was playing it in the hallways. My teachers were embracing it, and it was really cool how the community was sticking behind me like that and pushing me forward to the next step. They've been super supportive from the get go, and I couldn't thank them enough, but it definitely is weird to go back and everything has changed in the community. A lot of them are still trying to play it cool because they knew me before all this happened, so it would be weird for them to be like, "Oh my god," so they're kind of laying low about it. Everyone's super supportive for the most part.
CEEK VR: Awesome. People are just starting to get to know you now. What are some things that you wish they knew about you as a person?
Daya: I hope people know that I'm a musician. I'm not just someone who's dishing this up and going along for it for the fame or money or anything. Music has always been my number one passion in life, and it will stay that way forever, so I hope people know that this has been my dream for years and their support means the world to me.
CEEK VR: Do you actually play any instruments?
Daya: Yes. I started with the piano really young. I started at age three, and then took classical for a while, then I picked up the guitar and ukulele a couple years ago and played the saxophone for a bit in school. The piano is my main instrument, but I've been playing a bunch of instruments for a while.
CEEK VR: What would you describe your sound as if you had to put it into words?
Daya: My voice, I feel like I'm pop mixed with R&B, soul, and indie. I don't know. It's just kind of a mix of a lot of different things. Music-wise, I think my album especially is leaning more towards electronic pop.
CEEK VR: What are you listening to now that you're excited about, songs, artists, anything?
Daya: Yes. I have my hand in a bunch of different things right now, but I really love the Chance The Rapper album. I love the lyrical content of it, too, and I also love Rihanna’s stuff, and Broods is another one that I've recently been really into.
CEEK VR: I love that new Broods album.
Daya: Yes. Me, too.
CEEK VR: Yes. Alright, so like I said, you just finished high school and you’re busy with music. If you weren't a musician, if this hadn't all taken off, what do you think you'd like to do other than music?
Daya: Honestly, that's a hard question. I always wanted to travel when I was younger, because my family and I were fortunate to go overseas a lot and see the world, so that was always one of my biggest passions. It's very cool that I can do both music and travel at the same time. Honestly, I can't imagine my life without either one of those. I don't know what else I would be doing.