Daya on winning a Grammy: Pressure is a privilege | Inquirer Entertainment

Daya on winning a Grammy: Pressure is a privilege

The singer-songwriter talks about her new single ‘Bad Girl,’ coming to terms with her sexuality, working with Charlie Puth and PH fans’ ‘unmatchable energy’
By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:20 AM February 17, 2021

Daya during the interview with Inquirer Entertainment —PHOTOS COURTESY OFAWAL/ SANDLOT & KASHER RECORDS

She could just “sit still, look pretty” if she wanted to, but singer-songwriter Daya isn’t really known to play hooky with her career choices or music—as her signature hit song declares. It’s probably this evolving assertiveness that explains why, like current pop wunderkind Billie Eilish (“Everything I Wanted”) and Monica (“The Boy is Mine”), Daya won her first Grammy at age 18.

Only country singer LeAnn Rimes (at 14, for “Blue”), Mexican superstar Luis Miguel (14, for “Me Gustas Tal Como Eres,” a duet with Sheena Easton) and electropop artist Lorde (17, for “Royals”) were younger when they forged their respective record-breaching dates with destiny. Of course the Peasall Sisters won theirs at ages 7, 9 and 13—but that’s another story.


Daya is known for such toe-tapping, booty-shaking tunes as the catchy “Hide Away,” the heartbreak ballad “Back to Me,” the chill-out track “Cool,” the breezy “Feel Good” (with Gryffin & Illenium), the irresistible “First Time” and, of course, the mantra-spewing “Sit Still, Look Pretty.”


For the No. 1 EDM anthem “Don’t Let Me Down,” her collaboration with Alex and Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers, Daya won her first Grammy award for best dance recording in 2017.

It’s hard not to cross paths with the aforementioned songs and not groove to their killer hooks. So, you can imagine how thrilled we were when Inquirer Entertainment spoke to Daya last week for this exclusive, one-on-one interview to discuss her hit-bound new single “Bad Girl,” a song she cowrote with Charlie Puth, Andrew Goldstein, Michael Pollack, Madison Love and Jacob Kasher for AWAL/Sandlot & Kasher Records.

In the song, the 22-year-old singer, who came out as bisexual on National Coming Out Day in October 2018, addresses the issues about her sexuality and identity, as well as the desires that have helped propel and shape her personality and musicality.

“Bad Girl,” as much the song as its music video, dares to flip the narrative that often assigns a negative connotation to the “bad girl” appellation.

“A ‘bad girl’ can be anyone who is confident and assertive,” Daya said of her newly released single. “She doesn’t necessarily have to adhere to the stereotypical bad girl ‘look,’ but can rather appear anywhere on the binary—from leather jackets and boots to red lips and dresses and pearls.”

“I’ve grappled with my femininity for a long time. I didn’t like being called ‘pretty’ when I was younger and wouldn’t generally subscribe to conventional beauty standards. But as I’ve grown into my sexuality and throughout my relationship, I’ve felt more at home in my femininity, physically and emotionally, mainly because my femininity is no longer defined by being with a man.”


When we asked Daya how “Bad Girl,” with its very personal themes and defiant tone, resonated with her, she shared, “The song is a direct reflection of my experience with my sexuality and just me exploring and discovering it.

“Part of the whole process is the confusion and frustration in the beginning. You can also see that arc in the music video [helmed by Clyde Monroe] showing a direct reflection of me becoming this fully confident figure at the end. Now I know what I want, and I know you can see there’s no confusion anymore!

“For me, it’s exciting to be in that spot now, to have the freedom to express myself over how I feel at any point in my life, no matter the circumstances. Basically, we go through so many phases, and it’s thrilling for me to express the one that I’m in right now with my song.”

Daya also told us how much she enjoys performing for and interacting with her Filipino fans, for whom she performed in her “short but sweet” visits to Manila in 2017 and 2019. She explained, “it’s the type of energy I feed off of during shows, [because] it just makes the show so much better!”


Our Q&A with Daya:

Your fans can’t wait to listen to what “D2,” your upcoming sophomore album, has to offer. How different will the sound be from your studio debut “Daya” and the “Sit Still, Look Pretty” EP?

First of all, let me just say that I’ve been missing my Filipino fans so much. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go there again soon, who knows! But thanks so much for the support over the years.

As for “D2,” it will carry some of the same elements, but I’ll be taking more risks sonically—which is an exciting prospect for me. I feel like when I was younger, I was working with the same team of writers that streamlined my songs, so they sounded similar to each other.

But now, I’ve branched out. I’m working with a bunch of different writers and producers who I admire. I also feel like I hadn’t exactly honed my sound or what I wanted to say, message-wise.

So, I’ve kind of taken the time to do that in the past few years, and it’s been really exciting to be reenergized about songwriting and knowing exactly how I want to execute my ideas. It just feels authentic and free-form now—it doesn’t feel forced.

It doesn’t take a lot for your songs to get people to dance. What was it like working with Charlie Puth on “Bad Girl” who, like you, is another artist who has many avid fans in Manila?

Charlie is amazing. I can’t say enough about how incredible he is at what he does. He has the “ear of the gods”—it’s just insane. It’s definitely an honor to be working with him. He’s good friends with Jacob Kasher, who I’m now signed to. [Jacob] played the song to Charlie, who loved it and immediately knew that he wanted to be a part of it. So, I’m grateful that he decided to do that and add some “snazz” to the song.

Perhaps we can see the two of you collaborate in a duet soon?

I’d love to see that happen, too.

In what way does a Grammy win change an artist’s life? Do you feel any pressure to keep measuring up to that? And what was it like working with The Chainsmokers?

It was so exciting! I don’t think winning a Grammy has impacted my life in any negative way. I feel like pressure is a privilege—it’s a good thing to have. It’s healthy for artists to always set the bar higher to continue striving for more.

I also feel like “Don’t Let Me Down” was the perfect song to win a Grammy on, because it wasn’t exactly my work. The Chainsmokers and Emily Warren [and Scott Harris] wrote it, so it had that sort of tier of removal for me, and now I can strive to hit the same level with the new stuff that I’m writing. So, yeah, the experience was very motivating, energizing and was such a fun time for me!

In your recent 2019 visit to Philippines, you talked about a Filipino fan showing you a photo of you with your girlfriend on her phone’s lock screen. What else do you vividly remember about those trips to Manila?

I remember the energy! I mean, it’s just unmatchable. I can’t compare it to the kind of reaction I get from any other country. Manila, specifically—that’s the only city I’ve toured in there, but I’m sure the whole Philippines is just as energetic and exciting. And that’s definitely the kind of audience I look for when I’m performing. That energy just makes it so much more fun for me to play!

Any message to your fans in the Philippines?

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Yeah, I’d love to be there as soon as I can. In the meantime, I’d like to virtually say, “Hello, everyone!” Thank you so much for your love and support. Mahal ko kayo!

TAGS: Grammy, singer-songwriter

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