Interview: Elyss Daya

By Savana Ogburn

Elyss Daya is a 17 year old singer-songwriter from London who has a knack for creating pure, sparkling, indie-electro PERFECTION. The proof is all in her debut EP, Brilliance, which she wrote, recorded, and produced all by herself! From the EP’s eponymous opening track, listeners are met with atmospheric synth sounds which crescendo into a heart-stopping explosion of acoustic guitars and bouncing drum beats, and it only gets better from there. Read on to learn more about Elyss’ songwriting and recording process, where she finds inspiration, and her best tips for overcoming stage fright.

Your music is absolutely beautiful. How do you get inspired to write? 

Thank you! It gets weird, honestly. Most of the time, I find anything inspiring, and I like to always have something symbolic when writing. I feel like I am able to easily express my personal thoughts and emotions [through writing].

I was browsing through your YouTube channel and watched a couple of live performances. You seem so confident in front of a crowd! How did you get to the point where you could perform for an audience comfortably?

It is intimidating to perform in front of the crowd. I think the key to being confident is to pretend to be confident, because I get really nervous before shows. I have to take lots of deep breaths. Adrenaline kicks in and I just get lost in the music. For a performer to feel comfortable, you just have to lose yourself and enjoy.

I know that you sing and play guitar, but there are so many other sounds (synths, et cetera) on the Brilliance EP- are you self taught, or have you had any formal training?

My dad taught me how to play guitar at the age of 12, and then I took guitar lessons. When I’m programming music, I use GarageBand- it started when my school taught me the basic conventions of producing music. [The course] wasn’t in depth,  so I taught myself by creating music that excercised my skills in preparation for this EP.

Your EP is self produced, which is so awesome. Can you talk a little about the process of putting it all together?

It all began with my guitar, my laptop and myself. The songs all started acoustically recorded on my phone- so I do not forget them! I leave it for a day or two and listen back – this is usually the time when I hear melodies that will accompany the song and it would later on develop as an instrumental. I then would properly record it using my studio set, adding a variety of sounds like synths, percussion, and others. Brilliance EP was recorded in my bedroom and I feel really lucky that I have a fundamental set of skills that helped me create it.

In “Brilliance,” there’s a lyric about “the London skies.” How do your surroundings influence your music?

England is coined to have such grey weather that my friends and I complain about because our plans always get cancelled. We always find a way to disregard the unfortunate events – that’s when I noticed that there is brilliance in things we find unpredictable. I think it altered the idea of “feeling blue”. All my life, I’ve lived in the city where the lights are always flashing, the buildings never seem to sleep, and crowded places make you feel alone, and this influenced my music a lot as I grow with it. I grow with the city.

On that same note, are there any artists that are particularly inspiring to you?

There are so many artists that really inspire me. I admire Joni Mitchell’s sensitivity when it comes to writing. I grew up listening to different kinds of music. A band that I am currently obsessed on is Catfish and the Bottlemen. I saw them live last year in November and my goodness; they are absolutely insane to watch live – inspiringly insane.

What are your wildest dreams for your music?

Staying different. It’s a difficult, complicated, and thrilling industry and if I ever make it big, the media will put you under a microscope. It’s a make or break situation. I wish to stay simple yet different, and if I was to change along with my music, I would probably be comfortable evolving as a better artist. ✿