Daye Jack on New Year's Resolutions, Surf The Web, And Outkast
Daye Jack’s home base is down south, in Atlanta, where hip hop icons like Killer Mike and Outkast also find their roots (as well as game-changing newcomers like Lil Yachty and Daye himself). But that’s not where his career took flight—on the contrary, that credit goes to the frosty arctic of an NYC winter only a few years back, where a viral single “Hello World” and a follow-up EP exploded onto the scene.
These days, Daye is killing the transcontinental scene by way of LA, prepping for his tour with K.Flay (a self-proclaimed DIY road trip with his tour manager), and planning for the release of not one, but three albums in 2K17. Lucky for us, this master multi-tasker also found the time to curate a dope Friday playlist for Milk; peep it here and read the full interview below.
Let’s start with how your interest in music kicked off and how it evolved into a full-on career while at NYU with your “Hello World” single.
Definitely. I moved out to New York, [after growing] up in the suburbs of Atlanta, and really wanted to get out and was kinda angsty; needed some relief. I was in a dorm studying computer programming, so I wanted to be creative but had a passion for music. And I lived in this dorm building with a bunch of creative kids, lots of film kids, trying to make careers, and I lined up with a couple of them, played what I had been working on almost as a joke, a hobby, tying it into computer programming and music—because the first assignment as a programer is trying to get the comp to say “hello world” on the screen. We went to a empty warehouse, got the equipment, threw up the video on Internet and said, “Let’s see what happens.”
Ok, so when did it go from a hobby to a full-on career?
Well I put out the “Hello World” single, then we said let’s make a mixtape, so I wrote that, threw that up. That was the first time I ever started getting emails and blog coverage—people hitting me up. My second semester at NYU I was starting to get more serious calls—people wanting me to fly out to LA to work, record, meet—so I’d fly to LA for the weekend, then fly back Monday and go to class.
That’s insane. So did you end up graduating in the end?
No—I realized that I had to pick one or the other, so I dropped out. My parents weren’t too happy, but I was going to school and not really caring, and I knew that all I wanted to do was make music.
I know you’re originally from Nigeria and grew up in ATL, a hub for great music. How did those two places influence your sound?
Nigeria greatly—my dad is super into Afrobeat and artists like Fela Kuti—political anti-establishment Nigerian music is what he played around the house. So the first music I heard was people like Fela—he was my God when it came to music from early on. And then all the way down to Atlanta, which shaped me too with music like Outkast.
What about once you were out of Atlanta and out on your own in New York?
That was what shaped my first EP, Soul Glitch. I got the typical New York experience—I had never seen that many people giving no shits at one time, etc. But it’s kind of inspiring too, to see everyone that has somewhere to go and somewhere to be. So when I got to making Soul Glitch, that’s the head space I was in. I wanted to make something very independent, about me, kind of like the way someone walks in New York, by their self, just seeing their own goals…kinda dark.
Talk to us about the “Hands Up” single—what do you think the role of musicians and artists is in the national political conversation?
“Hands Up”—that was a crazy one. I had just moved out to LA. I had a session planned so I was just gonna show up. Around that time, the Trayvon Martin shooting had just happened, so I had a lot things in my head, but I didn’t plan on writing about it…but when I showed up, that chorus—“hands up don’t shoot”—I threw it down not even thinking about it, and a couple months later Brian at Mass Appeal played it for Killer Mike. He asked me where I was from and my story, and then he threw down a verse and sent it back to me.
I think artists aren’t politicians. I don’t hold any artist to speak out and changing the world like that—but whatever’s in your heart, you should put it down and put it out there.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Surf The Web, and the creative process behind that album.
Surf The Web is about the new age we live in, the Digital Age, where you get your girlfriend off the Internet by sliding into DMs; you learn how to dress off of blogs; you’re trying to get music out on SoundCloud or something. It’s me coming to terms with that—my whole life is controlled by cell phones and sometimes you can’t escape it.
And you’re also going on tour this year with K.Flay! Tell us a little about that.
Yeah, I’m opening for K.Flay starting February 4th in Vegas. My live show right now is just me with a pad controller DJ-ing to myself using Siri cues [laughs]. We’re just hopping on the road, me and my tour manager, kinda DIY-ing it as we go.
Dream collaboration or dream project?
Outkast for sure—if they were to make a comeback I would cry. I’d do anything to get on that album. That would be sick. Also just trying to be a better songwriter, trying to work behind the scenes on different projects. Been blessed to sing back up on Arianna Grande’s new album and Tori Kelly’s album—I want to do more stuff like that.
What else is in the pipeline for 2017- anything you can share? Any good New Year’s resolutions?
My New Year’s resolution is to put out three albums this year.
Yeah, I’m sitting on so much music right now. At midnight, right before 2017 started, I was just like: three albums, this is it. I’m just ready to kick everything and see what happens. I feel like sometimes you get too attached to the music you make, but this year I want to put out my best work, and I want to put out a lot of it.
Featured image courtesy of Diane Abapo
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