Throughout Daya’s breakout success in 2016 with her Gold-certified debut album Sit Still, Look Pretty, and ensuing career, her music has amassed more than one billion streams on Spotify alone. This, along with an additional 1.3 billion Spotify streams for the 8x multi-platinum smash- Don’t Let Me Down with The Chainsmokers, for which she earned her first GRAMMY Award.
Daya has collaborated with artists such as Gryffin, RL Grime, NOTD, and Shallou. She has been seen on Billboard’s annual 21 Under 21 list every year since her debut and emerged as the youngest honoree on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list in 2017.
Daya has embarked on headline tours, opened for Carly Rae Jepsen and MARINA, and performed at multiple Pride events, including the first U.S. World Pride Opening Ceremony in June 2019, among other illustrious artists like Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Chaka Khan, Ciara, and Todrick Hall. She is currently working on her sophomore, full-length debut via AWAL/Sandlot & Kasher Records. Recently, she also graced our screens with an amazing performance of the new song on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
We spoke to the talented Daya about coming to terms with her sexuality, songwriting, and all about her new song ‘Bad Girl‘ following its release and success:
Congratulations on your recent single ‘Bad Girl.’ We love how you’re flipping the narrative of the “problem child” and what a bad girl looks like! What experiences do you think lead you to this outlook and allowed you to reach a level of confidence in your femininity? Is it something you still struggle with?
I think for so many women, we’re constantly toeing the line of being the right amount and too much – we’re told we take up much more space than we do and we feel we have to make ourselves smaller to make others around us feel more comfortable. For a long time, I definitely internalized this bias and tried to build up more “masculine” personality attributes to fit in, like shutting off my highly emotional self and not oversharing in order to not appear vulnerable – all to prove I can compete and that I’m not “like other girls,” which was really just internalizing the misogyny I was facing and furthering the issue. I’m glad I’ve come to embrace and understand my femininity since then, and I think discovering my sexuality has helped a lot with it; I no longer feel like my femininity needs to be measured or defined by being with a man.
And we know for a lot of people coming to terms with sexuality is like a weight lifted off your shoulders, what was the feeling like when you realized you did identify as bisexual?
I felt like this part of me I could never identify was finally seen and brought to the surface for the first time, like I could finally articulate all of the weird, detached feelings I’d been feeling for so long but could never put a name to. It just made everything in my romantic/sexual life leading up to that point make so much more sense.
How would you compare the lyrics to ‘Bad Girl’ to you coming to terms with your sexuality?
I feel like before I started exploring my sexuality, part of my younger self was always looking to temporarily fill this emptiness inside with stereotypical “bad guys.” But now that I’ve been in a relationship with a girl and opened that hypothetical door, I’ve realized it’s possible to have these desires and find someone who not only fulfils them but also reflects the same ones back at me in a more mutually benefitting, satisfying way. I’m happy it’s a reflection of my sexuality right now, but I’m also sure it’ll continue to evolve in the future. I’m just trying to write in the most honest way possible and whatever feels best to me at the time.
What’s your favorite lyric from the new track, and what do you hope fans take away from the single?
I love “do it like this all around the clock got boys lining up all around the block uh huh” which was I think a JKash original but I just thought it sounded cool and was fun to sing. I hope fans take away whatever they want from it and it makes them feel seen or heard on some level. That’s all I can really ask for.
And many may know you from your hit songs like Hide Away and Sit Still, Look Pretty. How do you think your sound has changed from then to now?
I think my sound has evolved naturally and I also have a lot more control over my sound now, so it’s definitely a reflection of that because I feel like even though SSLP album was very bright sounding, I’ve always naturally gravitated towards darker production, and I’m really excited I can finally explore that more now.
What do you think has influenced your most recent sound? Who would you say are your biggest musical inspirations at the moment?
A lot of things. I really love the synth-pop sounds of the 80s, so I’ve been listening to that more recently. I feel like it was such a cool melting pot for so many genres like punk and disco, house, electronic pop & more. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Cure, The Smiths, Daft Punk who I know also pulled from 80s sounds a lot.
‘Bad Girl’ was produced by the legendary Andrew Goldstein and Charlie Puth, but how does it feel to hand your song off to industry superstars like that, and how did this collaboration come about?
It feels so cool to be surrounded by such talent. I’m so lucky that they’ve not only taken an interest in me and my project but also given me the space to be myself and express myself how I want to through my sound. It’s taken a long time to get here where I feel this comfortable but it’s so rewarding and I’m grateful for it.
We know COVID has changed the recording process for many, how did you all communicate your creative direction and ideas when making this track?
This track was actually one of the only in-person sessions I did all year – the rest have been on Zoom – so I think that made it feel all the more special and exciting. Once we got in the room, there was so much good energy flowing already and we ended up writing it super-fast, probably within just an hour or so.
The ‘Bad Girl‘ music video has an old fashion feel to it, what inspired this stylistic choice? What was filming the music video like? Did you have a favorite part of shooting?
My girlfriend actually directed the music video and we both really love David Lynch and wanted to pull from his quirky Old Hollywood aesthetic, so we filmed at the Peppermint Club in Los Angeles which is this really iconic club from the ’60s. The only time we could rent it was from 4 pm until 4 am, so it ended up being a long night which made it feel even more so like we were actually at the club. The fact it was about my sexuality made it the most personal and exciting shoot I’ve done to date. My favorite part to film was probably the final runway performance because I wanted it to feel like I was playing a caricature of myself and really play up the drama with it to get my newfound acceptance and confidence with my sexuality across.
Can you tell us anything about your upcoming EP? What can fans expect from the project?
I’m so excited for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on. It’s been so great having JKash so hands-on in the writing process while also being the executive of my label – the process is much more natural and free-flowing. I love every song we’ve made for the EP in such different ways. They all feel like snapshots of my life and my mind throughout the past year, through every up and down. I hope people connect with it and love it as much as I did making it.
We had such a fun time talking to Daya and we are in love with her new single ‘Bad Girl‘ and the empowering meaning behind it. We’re so excited about the upcoming EP and we hope all of you are too! Do you have a favorite lyric or song by Daya? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @TheHoneyPOP.
Need more interviews? How about some music recommendations?
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Featured Image Source: Dayavia Instagram/ Emily Defoor-The Honey POP