Daley: The Interview!
With his mixtape, 'Those Who Wait', gaining critical acclaim, 22-year-old Daley is hotly tipped as the next big thing. Making a name for himself on the underground live circuit - and building a steady fanbase - he eventually caught the attention of BBC 1Xtra, propelling the up-and-coming soul singer to a wider audience. Daley has since worked with the likes of Wretch 32 and Gorillaz, to name a few, and his debut album is currently in the pipeline. The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker recently caught up with the rising star to find out more...
The Wrap Up: Hi Daley! Since its release this summer, your mixtape – ‘Those Who Wait’ – has been very well received. Have you been overwhelmed by the positive response to it?
Daley: Oh yeah, definitely. It was a big relief, actually, because I hadn’t put anything out in terms of original material. Even though it’s not my official release, it’s a mixtape, I hadn’t put anything out properly for quite a while – people were just going off YouTube videos and live shows. It felt so good to finally put something out and have such a great reception and for people to finally see how I write songs and for them to see my actual style, rather than me just singing and doing features.
TWU: And what’s the concept/meaning behind ‘Those Who Wait’?
Daley: There are many concepts to the mixtape. I didn’t just sit down and write the whole mixtape, the songs were written at different times – all within the space of a year. Everything just came together. There’s the song ‘Those Who Wait’, which I wrote about my journey so far and how I’m happy that I didn’t rush anything. You know, there were times where I felt I should have done things quicker or things should have happened faster, but it just felt like everything fell into place eventually and good things come to those who wait.
TWU: Your music is very much about the vocals and the lyrics. Do you feel that many musicians rely too heavily on having a good beat and neglect the other aspects?
Daley: I think some musicians definitely do rely on a good beat, but then sometimes that’s the best way to do it these days, as it almost makes the music easier to play. Nowadays, a lot of music is driven by the clubs. Sometimes, great songwriting is not really necessarily essential for a great club track but, at the same time, I still do believe that it’s important not to lose those qualities and I always try and make sure I include all of those aspects in my music.
TWU: My favourite track on your mixtape is ‘Alone Together’, which features Marsha Ambrosius. How did that collaboration come about?
Daley: I was always a fan of Floetry and a lot of my influences came from the neo-soul, late 1990s early 2000 era. I was in New York for a writing trip and the opportunity came around to have a writing session with Marsha and I was like, ‘YES!’
TWU: That must have been pretty incredible...
Daley: Yeah! My whole journey as a songwriter is very interesting. It was quite bizarre going into a room knowing what Marsha’s like in style, but not knowing her personally and you have to sit and write a song together. We both bounced off each other’s ideas and it was amazing how it fitted. When it came to putting the mixtape out, I knew this song had to be on it. I’m so proud of it and I’m really glad it featured on the mixtape.
TWU: You made your name on the live circuit and posting videos on YouTube. Is it true Damon Albarn saw your performance of Maxwell’s ‘Pretty Wings’ and reached out to you?
Daley: It was actually his wife who came to one of my gigs and then showed him footage of me singing ‘Pretty Wings’ and one of my earlier tracks, ‘Rainy Day’ – which will be on the album.
TWU: And what was it like when you got the call saying Damon wants to work with you?
Daley: It’s weird, because it almost feels more normal than it actually is. I got a call from my friend, Nelson – whose gig I was performing at – and he told me that Damon wanted me to come down to the studio and jam on some stuff. It was only after we’d finished recording that it actually sunk it. It was like, ‘WOW! I’ve just recorded with Damon Albarn.’
TWU: You went on to work with his group, Gorillaz. What was it like working with them?
Daley: It was quite strange, because me and Damon met and were working on a separate project. Working with the group happened very quickly. From recording to shooting the video, it took just three months. It was a really good experience.
TWU: Going back to the very beginning, how did you get involved in music in the first place?
Daley: I’ve always sung. I started singing when I was about four years old. I was also in the choir at school. Singing is just something I always did, but I never thought of it as a career path. It’s not until I got to my mid-teens that I realised this was what I wanted to do properly. I used to write songs in my room all the time and my parents would always hassle me and say no one’s going to hear my music if I just stay in my bedroom. But it was just really hard for me in Manchester to find a regular place to showcase what I was doing, there was no scene to cater for the type of music I was doing. So, I started doing showcases at Manchester University and that’s when I realised that it would probably be a good idea to move down to London. That’s when I started doing all of the underground live shows and open mic nights and I gradually got more well-known.
TWU: You also caught the attention of BBC 1Xtra. How did that all come about?
Daley: I’d just moved to London, I was living there for a few months and I’d done all the open mic nights I could possibly do, so I sent ‘Rainy Day’ to Ras Kwame and they played it a couple of times. Then I sent the song to BBC Introducing and they seemed to really like it, so they asked me to come down and do a live session, which was filmed. That was kind of my first big platform to showcase my music to a larger audience.
TWU: Who would you say has musically inspired you?
Daley: My main musical influence is Prince. There’s endless inspiration to take from him because he covers so much ground, musically. Every day I pretty much find a new Prince song that I’ve never heard before, because he’s got so many.
TWU: Cool. You’re currently working on your debut album, right? What can people expect from that?
Daley: It’s sort of like an extension from the mixtape. The mixtape is like an introduction to what I’ve done and it showcases the soulful side – or what people would think of as soulful. It showcases my voice and my songwriting. When you say you’re a soul singer or a soul artist, people expect a certain sound – I don’t mind that, but I want my album to not be what people expect. I’ll refine the sound and bring in some more of my influences. There will be some more electronic stuff, but still keeping the songs there and the vocals and the soul.
TWU: And will there be any collaborations?
Daley: I hope so! I’ve got a couple artists on my mind that I’d really like to work with, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
TWU: Finally, what’s a random fact about Daley that not many people are aware of?
Daley: Erm, I’m obsessed with Batman (laughs).
Download Daley's free mixtape, 'Those Who Wait': H E R E
Stay up to date with Daley on Twitter – www.twitter.com/DaleyMusic
Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)