Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

RedfestDxb 2017: Teen star Daya is just getting started

The word “whirlwind” can't quite describe the recent life of 18-year-old Daya – the scorching, soulful voice behind Grammy-nominated dance smash Don't Let Me Down.
Singer Daya released her debut album, Sit Still, Look Pretty, last year.  Photo by Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images for iHeart
Singer Daya released her debut album, Sit Still, Look Pretty, last year. Photo by Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images for iHeart

Whirlwind is not an adequate-enough word to sum up the past two years of Daya’s life.

After scoring her first chart smash in 2015 at the age of 16, with debut single Hide Away, the scorching American talent was propelled to stardom as the soulful voice behind last year’s smash Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers.

The song’s recent nomination for Best Dance Recording at this month’s Grammy Award marks another peak in her career.

“My head? It’s there, I’m hanging in there – I mean it’s amazing, but it’s also so many emotions,” says Daya. “I’ve been working really super-hard for this my whole life up to this point.

“There’s just so much energy – this whole world, and it’s crazy that I just joined it, like, a year ago. So much has happened already.”

Born Grace Martine Tandon, the stage name Daya is the Hindi translation of her given name, taken as a tribute to her grandfather, who emigrated from New Delhi.

“So I’m actually a quarter Indian, and I found that out and this name was so perfect for me – it’s connecting me to my roots,” she says.

Daya, who will perform at RedfestDxb on Thursday, arrives in Dubai midway through promotional duties for last year’s debut album, Sit Still, Look Pretty, which was released in October, two weeks before her 18th birthday.

She is in Los Angeles as we talk, at a clothes fitting for her tour, which kicks off in earnest in the United States on February 18.

While the tour promises to bring some more personal highlights, these might struggle to surpass the surreal engagement when Daya performed to America’s former first family, the Obamas, as part of last year’s White House Easter Egg Roll.

“[Barack] Obama was incredible,” she says. “That day was something I’ll never forget – and I’m definitely going to miss him being in office.

“They made so many amazing changes to the country, kept us moving forward, unified – I am honestly kind of scared about what’s gong to happen next without them. Oh well, we can work through it, I’m optimistic.”

But then she thinks for a moment and adds: “I’m just saying that – right now, I’m screaming on the inside.”


Updated: January 30, 2017 04:00 AM

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