By notching 26 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, "Hide Away" has achieved surprise ubiquity. Scoring a tune that ever-present is what makes artists stars these days—without "All About That Bass" we'd have no Meghan Trainor, without "Stressed Out," Twenty One Pilots wouldn't be able to sell out Madison Square Garden.
Next up in line to mega-fame is Daya. "Hide Away" is her baby, and it's only the beginning. After dazzling a small room of record execs at Radio Disney's first-ever SXSW showcase, the 17-year-old told us all about songwriting, her future and her feminist awakening.
FUSE: Everyone knows you from your radio single "Hide Away," but it was fun to watch you belt other songs at a stripped-down performance. When did you realize you could sing?
Daya: I started taking lessons at age 10. I've played instruments my whole life and I wanted accompany myself one day and realized there might be something there. I took lessons. I started out with musical theater and switched to more stylized pop.
"Hide Away" was playing on the radio right before you hit the stage; it's really everywhere. You co-wrote the song, too [with Gino Barlett, Brett McLaughlin and Britten Newbill] which feels more and more unusual these days. When you sit down to write, do you usually aim for these huge pop tunes?
It's mainly the people I work with who influence me in that way. I started as a singer-songwriter, more R&B. I love pop but I never had the resources to do that. I started working with producers who really know what they're doing and they can make it have that catchy pop sound.
Your new single, "Sit Still, Look Pretty," has this overt feminist message, much like "Hide Away."
It's totally intentional and I just hope to empower young girls to know they can do whatever they want to do, whatever they put their minds to. People might stand in their way but it's important to know that they don't have to depend on someone else for their happiness. They can find it themselves.
With both songs, there's that message, and then a more subtle one of "Know your own worth" and "Don't settle."
Don't be in a relationship where someone doesn't treat you well, basically.
Do young girls tell you their own stories?
Yeah. It's all ages, too. I've had divorced and single moms come up to me and they're like, "I'm still looking for that right guy and this is perfect for my daughter, too, because she's just getting into those teenage years where she's trying to figure everything out." It's a really important message for everyone to hear.
Pop music is an exciting place where these conversations are coming to the forefront, and you know young girls are the biggest music fans.
Yes! It's good to hit 'em young because they grow up with that mindset on the world. Otherwise, they would have no idea. There are so many songs out there now, not pointing fingers or anything, that don't have a positive mindset. It's good to be that alternative.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Definitely. "Feminist" can have a terrible connotation these days for some reason but the root of it is just equality for both genders. I totally believe that.
Meghan Trainor's "No" seems to follow a similar vibe to your new single. What do you think of that song?
I love it. It's catchy and sassy and fresh. You don't hear it that much but women do have the power to decide who they want to be with. It's not, "Oh he broke my heart," or "He did this." No, it's "We told him no."
Are there female artists you look up to?
I love Taylor Swift. I think she's killing the game right now. She's on top of the world. She's so respectful and so generous with her fans. That's really admirable.
You have a debut album on the way. What can we expect?
I just finished writing and recording it in L.A. I'm super excited. It's a continuation of the EP but it has more chill songs, more electronic-based songs. It's a combination of all those things, really. For the future, I might hop on another tour in the fall but for now I have a bunch of one-offs. I just came back from Europe for promo, just a bunch radio stuff. Exciting stuff.