Story /CAMILE SARDINA
Daye Jack is more than just a musician – he’s a musical engineer, a coder, thinker and nonstop creator. And at the core of the man of many talents, there is a story about a Nigerian Immigrant who is designing his own American Dream, despite the virus at the head of the country.
In an honest and self-aware interview, Daye Jack connects us to his new album that just dropped, No Data, while glimpsing into his passion for technology and the reality that comes with being an immigrant, self-acceptance and blackness.
Sweat Suit, FONY , jewelry, Daye’s own, sneakers, Nike
Tell me about your name. Where does the name stem from?
I was named by my grandfather. Daye means follower of God. My dad named me David, but my grandpa named me Daye. When I was going to high school as an immigrant from Nigeria, I would want to go by David to fit in, but my dad said to go by Daye to represent our culture, and I kept the name.
When did you start making music?
When I was 13. I grew up as a choir kid and sang gospel from 6-13 years old. At 13, I was introduced to rap in Atlanta. Then I started researching music on my own and got into Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem and 50 Cent. I felt like I could tell my story through rap and through melody.
So, you used to study computer programming at NYU. What drew you to computer programming?
Yeah, I dropped out a year ago. I’m obsessed with the Steve Jobs biography that Walter Isaacson wrote, seeing how he created so many world-changing things. I thought, if I’m not going to make music, I need to create something that can change the way we live, rather than be a lawyer or a doctor. So I decided to study programming. A lot of people think it’s different than music, but in both cases, you come out with a final product you want to share.
What artists did you listen to growing up who have also influenced your music?
Outkast. T-Square, a Nigerian artist. A Tribe Called Quest. Wu-Tang Clan. I listened to a lot of afro beat and retro rap.
I feel like your love for computers has definitely translated into your sound. Do you play around with different music making programs a lot? What’s your production process like?
I work with a lot of different produces. For my earlier projects, I worked with a lot of European producers to get the right sound. I was going for soulful with this electronic realm to it. I worked with a lot of people who I never even met before, very 21st century way of working.
Your third album No Data just dropped. What can we expect?
I feel like every project I put out is a testament for where I’m at in life and who I’m hanging out with. I was coding every day when I made my earlier mixtape that was grimy and gritty. It was a combination of the stress of working and trying to be heard. No Data is my life in LA. I’m more confident, and I’m trying to move away from self-doubt and be more uplifting. It’s for those who’ve been bullied and have been picked on. My whole album is a search for identity, but also acceptance of self. It even gets into questions of A.I. artificial intelligence. I’m asking this A.I. at one point, how do I be cool? How do I get a girl? The A.I. says ‘I don’t know’. And it’s a constant battle that no one can give you those answers.
What and who were some influences on No Data, from the sound to lyrics?
I wanted it to feel like some of my favorite movies, like Her and Ex Machina, where you have a protagonist navigating a futuristic world. In Her, he wanted love. In Ex Machina, success. And in my album, it’s me trying to find all those things. The music and lyrics are inspired by super retro vibes from the 80 and 90s, being suave on the mic. It’s something that our generation and the generation before can listen to together.
What are some messages in No Data? Anything political?
There are some political lyrics here and there. It was written before Donald Trump was elected. There are certain songs that pinpoint accepting my blackness. I didn’t want it to be overtly political, but I wanted black kids who went through the same high school drama that I did, being a weirdo in a sense and eccentric, with white kids wanting to call you Oreo and black kids thinking you’re too weird. I wanted them to have an album where they can accept themselves.
Do you think tech will always have an influence on your albums?
Yeah, definitely. Still to this day I’m trying to make a program that can impact change. I’m always trying to code. The more advanced tech gets the more we change as human beings. Tech does help me with my creativity. I don’t think I’d be here today if a couple blogs didn’t pick up my music and if I wasn’t able to get on logic and make some songs.
How has your transition into the music industry been?
It’s been super surreal and crazy. When I took the leap from New York City to moving to LA, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I could write songs in LA because I felt like I needed New York City, so I didn’t know if I’d be inspired in LA, but luckily I got into the camp with Max Martin. I noticed how big of an impact they have, and that’s why I went into pop, because I wanted as many people as possible to hear my music. The main thing that made me jump on pop was when Max and the camp started working on The Weeknd. I heard ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ in the studio and it was sick. It was still The Weekend, being dark and trippy, but it’s pop. That’s what pop music does, it goes to the world, and it’s not for a niche group of people. So then I thought, what’s the pop music of Daye and how can I reach as many people as possible?
You’ve already collaborated with big names like Ariana Grande, Killer Mike and Tori Kelly. Who do you have your eye on to collaborate with next?
I really want to flex out the song writing side of me. I want to write songs for other people. I’d love to write for Mahi Rose. Working with Andre 3000 would change my life. I’m ooking to add to other people’s albums in any way I can.
What are you working on now?
What I’m writing now is more political because of Trump being elected. With the recent state of the U.S., there’s going to be a lot more politically forward music. It’s hard to sit in front of your computer and not think about where the state of the country is. I met an immigrant in an Uber, and he told me his story about how he felt displaced. When there’s turmoil in the country, art has to speak to that. What’s to come?
What do you want your fans to know about you?
What I have to offer is the story of a Nigerian-American immigrant who was told about the American Dream and is now on his journey to getting that American Dream. I think that America has been a great place for immigrants to find success and better their families, and it should always be a country for immigrants founded by immigrants and anything outside of that is outside of what the original America was meant for.
Jacket, jeans and jewelry, Daye’s own. Tshirt – Anthony Moultry
Pants, RHLS – http://rhls.bigcartel.com/ tshirt, vintage Guess T, Jacket and jewelry, Daye’s own, sneakers, Nike,