Sure, Daya Wants to Visit the Club. But She Doesn’t Want to Live There.
Daya first hit the scene as the featured vocalist on The Chainsmoker's hit song "Don't Let Me Down". Now the young 17-year-old singer is taking the music world by storm.This article originally appeared on New York TImes
There’s no end to the indignities a rising young pop star must endure, and one night earlier this month, Daya was gamely pressing through a handful of them.
Dozens of diners were loudly chatting at Kola House, a restaurant-cum-Pepsi-marketing space in Chelsea, when she took to a small stage at the end of the room.
The lights were low, and not artfully so. The speakers had been playing her new music, but no one had been paying it much mind. It was an unpromising setup for a promising performer, but Daya persevered — perhaps attacked is more accurate. She has a booming, thick voice, and within seconds, necks were snapped away from dinner plates and in her direction.
This tug-of-war was especially unlikely since, at that moment, Daya was sitting at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, as the singer on “Don’t Let Me Down,” the best of the several 2016 hits by the Chainsmokers, the once-dopey and now-borderline-impressive club-pop duo.
But there is anonymity even at the top — being a guest vocalist on a popular song, especially for a largely untested singer, can be a death sentence for one’s artistic identity. Hence the conundrum facing young singers in the contemporary club-pop era: Be a vessel for a producer with a major-label record deal and very little loyalty, or try to establish yourself as a star in your own right, standing on the shoulders of those very same producers long enough to not need the support anymore.