With one quick glance at Daya's resume, it becomes readily apparent that she is the ideal artist to watch in the coming year. At just 18-years old, she's already released her chart-topping Sit Still, Look Pretty debut album, is currently prepping ready to hit the road for an extensive U.S. tour, and this just in: has won the Best Dance Recording Grammy for her collaboration with The Chainsmokers.
We sat down with the young artist just days before The 59th Annual Grammy Awards to get the scoop on her background, goals, the secret to creating pop music, and what we can expect when she hits the stage on the Sit Still, Look Pretty tour. See all tour dates below, pick up your tickets here, and read more about Daya in our exclusive Q&A below!
OTW: You're one of five sisters in multi-ethnic family–how has your upbringing contributed to who you are as a person and as an artist?
Daya: It's opened my mind to the world and to other cultures. I've been able to travel a lot. I've been extremely lucky to do so because not that many people have that opportunity. I have family in India, Germany, and other parts of Europe so I've been to a lot of places.
The coolest thing for me is that I got to live in other people's world's, and I've realized that my culture is not the only one that exists. That was a really cool thing for me to learn early on.
OTW: Any favorite places that you've visited?
Daya: India was one of my favorites. It's so chaotic, so adventurous. There's always an adventure going on, the streets are so crazy–there's cows crossing in front of you, kid-vendors. It's insane; it was so much fun.
OTW: 2016 was obviously a massive breakout year for you–how does it feel going on into 2017?
Daya: It feels great! 2016 was a great year for me, and I feel like this past year I've been able to develop a fan base. In 2017, I want to grow that fan base and continue to reach out to people in hopes that they can connect with my music and relate to what I'm saying. I'm always pushing the bar higher for myself. I'm always down to challenge myself to new things like playing tours and winning awards.
OTW: "Sit Still, Look Pretty" and "Hideaway" are both inspiring anthems for young ladies, and I'm sure you've gotten a lot of feedback from your fans. Any standout reactions from fans?
Daya: I didn't see this in person but someone tweeted it at me–someone was carrying a "Sit Still, Look Pretty" sign at the Women's March in D.C. It was cool for me to see because it shows the impact that my songs can have on people and how it can spark ideas and help empower women to recognize their potential and not be afraid to stand up for what they believe in. That's by far the coolest thing!
OTW: Is your future music going to follow similar themes?
D: I write about things that are honest and relevant to myself. I haven't been through many relationships, so I can't touch on that subject as much as other older artists can.
But I can speak to being an individual, being independent, being confident in my dreams, and working hard to not let anything stand in the way of my success. I want to encourage others to do the same.
OTW: Again, congrats on your Grammy nomination! If you do win the Grammy, who will you be thanking on stage?
Daya: It's hard to say! There's so many people, but especially my parents. Of all the people to thank, they are the most important ones. They've been with me since I was three years old playing piano, and they drove me to lessons even when I didn't want to go. They've been crucial in my success this far, so I couldn't stand up there and not thank them for what they've done for me. My mom also plays a crucial role in my management. It's cool having people you can trust on your side.
[Watch Daya's actual Grammy acceptable speech here.]
OTW: What would you say is the key to creating pop music that appeals to the masses, but isn't cheesy at the same time?
D: It goes through my head all the time! Anyone who's written with me would say that's what I always say: "This is too cheesy and inspirational." It's a fine line. It has just got to be the right amount of positivity, empowerment and inspiration in the song, while also bringing a new element into it. In "Sit Still, Look Pretty," we had that key phrase that grabbed people's attention.
Quirky phrases and unique lyrics were what shaped that song into what it is. It's hard to find a balance though.
OTW: Can you give us a visual description of what we can expect to see when you hit the stage on the Sit Still Look, Pretty Tour?
D: It fits with my music really well because it's a cool mellowed vibe but also with the fun bright colors of pop music. We play with a lot of pinks, blues, and bright purples. We will also have my logo in the back as well as a heart, because you gotta have the heart! I wanted to do a heart with a lock in it because it was on the cover of "Hideaway." We have some cool LED lights on the sides too and an all-girl band, which is bad ass!
OTW: Was that your choice?
Daya: I didn't know it would be all-girls, but I knew I wanted at least one or two, and it just turned out that way. We all get along; they're all great at their instrument.
I wanted to reverse gender roles for a second because for this entire past year, I've only seen maybe two girls in bands on the road with other artists.
OTW: What are the first few things on your to-do list after the tour?
Daya: Sleep, probably! And I will probably move to L.A. shortly after. I also want to get back in the studio and even if it's not for a particular project, I love creating and collaborating with different people, so that's where you can find me in May to June.
OTW: Any dream collaborations?
D: Lots! I would say, Daft Punk…they have collaborated a lot with The Weeknd, and they are now dominating pop radio. I love their throwback vibe and everything they bring to the table.
OTW: Who is on your Ones To Watch
Daya: Noah Cyrus, I love her new song with Labrinth. I feel like she has a career in front of her.
OTW: Any message you would like to send your fans, before you hit the road?
Daya: Thank you guys! I love you all and make sure you get tickets for the Sit Still, Look Pretty Tour!