Daley: Mancurian master of the universe

Pompadourian King, Gareth Daley (better known, simply, as Daley) is not just another artist breezing through the Windy City. Having collaborated with some impressive names in music—the Gorillaz, Marsha Ambrosius, Jessie J, and Pharell Williams—Daley is a multi-faceted, independent artist turned international phenom. Traveling around the UK early in his career, his first break came with a feature on the Top 40 track Doncamatic, which he co-wrote with the Gorillaz. From there, it’s clear that Daley has encompassed all aspects of entertainment. He’s a fashion-forward, soulful, young man on the brink of what is sure to be a long and illustrious career. Brushing shoulders with some big names in music isn’t enough, Daley is more than capable of carrying his own, with hearty, croon-laden chops that soar through trendy, progressive electro-beats. Equal parts funk and soul, Daley is at the forefront of a new wave of burgeoning artists, fitting into a styling that’s entirely new in its popularity. It’s pop, sure. But, it’s a refreshing re-visit to the genre, updated for current trends. A powerhouse of fashion, product marketing, social media, and collaborations, Daley is no doubt on his way to dazzling the hearts of the masses. Sporting Willy Wonka round-frame glasses, a baggy black pleather sweater, his hair a frenzy, he is carefully assembled chaos. And it works. It’s his look that will externalize, his vocal capabilities that will immortalize.

The reaction to Daley’s presence on stage is instantaneous. Women scream and faint, men beat their chests in hyper-masculine fury, and the magnetic pull anchoring the earth to its orbit is lost. What’s most impressive is that an artist hailing from Manchester, UK has such a large fan base in the States when (other than being involved in some big name duets) he’s relatively low-key and has yet to drop an album stateside. That’s not to say his music doesn’t speak for itself, nor that his fan base is by any means small—and that voice. That voice. Tight and strained, with enough bellow to shake your foundation. His first hit of the night, one of his biggest singles, Remember Me, featuring Jessie J (of Price Tag and Do It Like A Dude fame), is a welcome respite from the blistering Chicago winter. Daley sings of being Broken, never loving the same way again. Unbelievable, his ferocity and passion, distinctly and clearly parting the crowd with swoon, his voice powerful enough to expel all demons. Look Up (his most recent single Sate-side)is another woeful and crisp urban rendition that showcases his adoration for pop-love dreams turned night terror. Light and airy, saddening in its tale of unrequited love lost but not forgotten, showcasing his lyrical prowess.

Prior to the show, I climbed into a filthy, cavernous stairwell at the end of the world and sat down for a chat with this burgeoning creator of sound. With mega-stardom on the near horizon it was easy to forget that Daley remains a down-to-earth, 24-year-old living the dream. I digress… and allow a stroll into his world for a spell.

I’ll start by saying congrats on your success! You’ve had a quick rise to fame over the past couple of years. But, what I’m most interested to know, is how the music market has changed for you with a move from Manchester to the United States. How are your fans different per country?

Well, it’s kind of strange. Because, wherever my fans are, my fans appreciate a certain kind of music that I make. So, whenever I have those fans come to see me I get a very similar vibe and appreciation. But I guess in the States, I think just because the kind of music that I write is very soulful at the core… I think that is a little more ingrained in the states. I mean, I’m not from here. So I get a really nice vibe from the audience. It’s as if they’re getting something they’re familiar with, but they can’t quite put their finger on it.

Is there an expected release date for your new album in the States?

Yes, there is. We just announced it last week, actually. It’s going to be February 11th.

That’s good to hear. I’m ready for your album, brother!

Me too man, me too!

So what’s next? You’ve had some pretty impressive collaborations and you’ve been making amazing music. What do you see on your horizon? 

I think the past couple of years have been particularly amazing for me. I’ve been able to take my time making the album, making sure that it’s right. I’ve worked with some very amazing people and I’ve learned from them. Seeing what they’re doing and things like that. So really now, if I’m honest, I just want to focus on me, you know? On my album. I have a collaboration with Pharell Williams, which was my last single in the states (Look Up, which serves as the lead single from his debut-album Days & Nights), and it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written. Apart from that, it’s kind of just going to be me. I really just want people to get an idea of what I want to do with the album artistically, I don’t want it to be all about who’s featured on the album. Collaborations are great, but for me, they have to happen naturally. So along the way I’m sure there will be little bits, and remixes.

It has to be organic

Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll definitely be spending more time in the states. After January I’m going to make sure I’m around for the album launch (U.S), because with the previous release I wasn’t here much. I was in the UK and it still kind of did really well. It took on a life of its own. And all of that’s really cool but, I think I should be here to see my album into the world.

Do you have plans to make the transition to America permanently? What’s your plan in that aspect? 

Yeah, well, to date I’ve just been traveling back and forth. And I get to be here, which is really cool. But I think, by the end of January, I want to be here and I want to be able to do everything I can to give it 100%, relocating here for at least 6 months. I have really amazing friends and family in London, Manchester, and the UK, so it’s not that I want to move my life to the states. But for the sake of my career, I’d love to just spend some time here. Really give it the attention it deserves. Because, you know, it’s really frustrating for me when I have fans that say,“Aw, when are you going to be in Washington?”Or, “When are you going to be in ATL?” I kind of want to give them that access as well so everything can really take shape. Yeah, I’ll be here a lot more.

That’s really exciting to hear. Have you been to Chicago before? 

Yeah, about a year or so ago. I had a short little acoustic show when I was here. Which was really cool, there were only about 70 people in the room. We went out and got some Chicago pizza afterwards.

Yes!

I couldn’t actually finish the whole thing.

Don’t worry, it comes with practice. It’s all about breath control. 

(Laughs) Yeah, I think I ate it too quickly. I should have paced myself. But, no, I really like [Chicago] because it has that big city feeling, because it is a big city, but there’s something really charming about it. It’s a good looking city.

Now for the good stuff, you’ve been touring all across the world, and I want to know…what is the most ridiculous tour moment you have had to date?

Oh, yeah…we were in DC and we had just done a show. We had three shows in DC. One was my own show, one I opened for Kelly Rowland. So it was three nights in a row. We went back to the hotel one night and there was a big group of people all together. We just assumed it was for a party or something, so we sat down at the bar. We were kind of tired so we just wanted to have one quick drink and then go to bed. And then this lady comes over and tries to drag us into the group. Like, literally, dragging us. Literally pulling on us. We were like,“oh, okay…we’re cool, we’re cool,” (laughs). But she wasn’t having it. She was a little bit crazy, but in a really nice way. She wouldn’t leave us alone, but she looks at me and says, “You need to do something right now”. Usually, I would have said sorry, and gone to bed. But we all looked at each other and we were like,“okay.” My buddy got his guitar out, we pulled the tables together, and we did a little impromptu performance. Everybody crowded around, and it was like a scene from a film. Like a musical. And we finished and everyone was clapping. It felt very liberating. To just do it and not feel awkward. And then the lady said, “Whatever you guys want, it’s yours. Put it on my tab”. But then she left (laughs).

That’s my kind of friend! Anything else you want to send out into the Universe? 

Well, I guess, just thank you. To everybody that came out and supported me. We’ve had 16 out of 18 sold out shows, which is just mind blowing to me. So I guess, really, thank you. You know, can’t wait for the album, and for people to hear the album in February.

Daley, ever the smooth-talking snake charmer that he is, continues to promote his forthcoming album Days & Nights across the US and the UK. Keep those peepers peeled for the young powerhouse as he’s certainly on his way to becoming a shimmering, eclectic showman of typhoon proportions.

-Cole Scott, junior editor, On Tour Magazine.



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