The Melbourne artist daine uses an interesting collection of words to describe himself: goblin, a villainous character, a hermit. These are all aspects of an otherworldly figure who entered the world of music still deep in her teens, joining the “hyper-pop” movement – a contested umbrella genre – from 2019 to 2019. except perto, erica, midwxst and quinn.
Some consider her a pioneer of the movement, and when I wander somewhere in the back corner of an industrial cafe waiting for the young artist to enter, I am delighted to find out how real daine’s personality is. When she arrives, she orders a box of matcha and, with a smile, sits down across from me.
The first thing I notice are his expanded black contacts, covering the whites of his eyes, and his ethereal, elven-blonde hair. None of this should come as a surprise – doe’s discography and videos have all built this otherworldly fantasy realm. She is exactly what I expected. His personality, however, is different. His music, sort of future-emo, can be dark, sad and sometimes desolate. But daine herself is friendly, open and warm.
It’s a contradiction she’s well aware of, rattling off a long list of the usual observations:
“Shawty is a walking red flag”, “What are you going through?”, “She’s mentally ill”.
“I understand,” she said. “My music is sometimes sad and aggressive. “But I’m actually a very happy person. Everyone just seems to think I’m crazy.
Since first bursting onto the scene in 2019, with singles like “Picking Flowers” and “My Way Out,” daine has easily found herself surrounded by celebrity friends. She stages a dinner party in Los Angeles, with British pop icon Charlie XCX (a close friend) and Yung Gud, a member of the Sad Boys. the names of ericadoa and sword also come out of his tongue. Daine, however, is only 19 years old. Three years ago, while still in high school, she was signed to Atlantic Records and since then she’s been touring the world: recording, performing shows, shooting fantastic videos.
Now on the back of her quantum leap Release of the EP, VICE chats with the rising star about celebrity relationships, 5 Seconds of Summer and being the bad guy.
VICE: If an alien descended on earth and you had to describe your music. What would you say?
doe: I am not sure. It’s such a big conceptual question. But future emo is the genre label that stands out the most. I think it’s easy for people to misinterpret that, and the future aspect is that it’s really futuristic and it’s pop music. I feel like people associate the word “future” with pop, so it’s emo-tinged pop that’s kind of bat shit.
I like this. In fact, I read that one of your musical influences was 5 Seconds of Summer.
I never said that!
I said I was a huge 5SOS fan when I was 11, but that’s the thing, half the people I was a stan of don’t have influence. I never made music when I was 11. Yes, I camped in front of the 5SOS hotel when I was 11 and 12…
Have you met them?
No, I failed several times. I will meet them now. I’ll see them at the ARIA, I’ll tell them.
Bring them back, I say.
Yes! It’s the revival of 2014, it’s something I’ve been waiting to talk about. Kids are listening to Yung Lean again, Charlie XCX is on the charts, Sky Ferreira is back, kids are loving The 1975 again, people are wearing American Apparel, indie sleaze is back. 2022 is 2014.
The return of indie sleaze is a hot topic in my office right now.
He is back! Everyone wants a blackberry and shaves their eyebrows.
Yeah, I’m not complaining, I’m into it.
I love it.
So you were quite young when you started writing music. Fifteen. And you just walked out quantum leap. You must have changed a lot since then.
well i did quantum leap when I was 15 or 16, so those are all my first things. So it was weird to process all the feelings I had when I was so young, so many years later, but it just kept falling behind. COVID kept throwing wrenches in the works, but I think it’s god timing that it’s out now because I’m burying my teenage years as I move on to a new sound.
Did you change any of the lyrics at all to reflect who you are now?
In fact, I didn’t. I re-recorded some of the vocals because it’s really funny. You can hear how young I looked. It’s a tombstone, it’s an artifact. It’s special, I guess in retrospect.
I love your aesthetic by the way [gesturing to daine’s large black contacts]. It’s medieval, elven, fantasy.
Thank you, yes, I feel like I always had strong creative direction. I know people think it’s this huge evil, this company, this brain project, and I’m this “industrial plant”…
Yes, I saw another interviewer ask you that. Rude.
It’s fucked up, it’s horrible. But at the end of the day, I’m a young woman with a disability from an immigrant background, who received a budget from an Australian label where the teams and everything are much smaller and I did what I could with that budget. I creatively direct everything I do and select all the artists and directors I want to work with to convey my story and I don’t feel like I have blood on my hands for using the company money to do this, because I know that young people with disabilities deserve to exist in these spaces.
Think about it, no 40-year-old leader could create that vision. It’s such a specific aesthetic. I don’t know why people talk about an “industrial plant”. It seems so obvious that this vision and concept came from a 19 year old.
No no, you can definitely tell when someone is an “industrial plant”.
Because they’re nerdy and they’re rich and they’re generally white and they’re generally able-bodied and neurotypical.
So how did you get in touch with the label?
So I dropped two songs on soundcloud in early 2019. I had just turned 16 and they were getting pretty good traction. This Youtube channel called sad chill was popping up at the time, and they added me to an editorial playlist that I’m sure some labels were watching. Then I got an email saying “I’m from Warner Records” and I was like “this is a scam” and I archived it then I told my friend “someone liked my song and said it was from a label. lol. Bullshit.”
He said, “You idiot, look at the email address, it’s legit, unarchive it right now and reply.” And I was like “but it’s been three weeks” and he said maybe that would work in my favor.
Play hard to get.
Yeah, I was literally so close that none of this happened to me because I was so close to ignoring it.
Would you consider yourself part of that Soundcloud generation that the big labels kinda…
To pick up ? I mean I would, but I feel like it would be a bit wrong to say because everyone had more following on Soundcloud. I would say that quinn and eridoa actually did some hellish numbers on Soundcloud. I wanted to be part of that space and I tried it and had some decent songs but never did it consistently. But now I am because this community has changed and everyone’s grown up a ton of shit now. I feel like I organized and worked with people from the pop world and we created Night. It works so well.
What is Night? Oh wait, is that that online festival you created during lockdown and you got Charlie XCX on it?
Yes, we had a group of people. But we created this really good community and this festival. I remember somebody calling it goofy because we had Hot Mulligan, which is an emo pop punk band, and Wickerface, and we had these people saying, “This is the craziest fucking festival,” because that it felt so different, if someone thinks our programming is goofy and it doesn’t make sense to them initially, that means we hit the right community.
I know you probably ask yourself this question often, but what is your relationship with Charlie XCX?
Daine: I think we just had a really similar entry into music. We both contracted with Atlantic when we were 16, and we were doing similar things at the same age, not sonically but life-wise. I think she feels like she has a lot to teach me, and I’m really grateful that no matter what I’m going through, I can say, “Charlie, you’ve been through this, what the hell I do ? and everything I feel doesn’t feel crazy anymore because she’s like, “Yeah, when I was 19, I was you.” It’s okay, breathe.
It’s always good to have someone like that in your life, who’s been through similar things.
Exactly, ride or die.
I wanted to talk about that quote I saw on Dazed where you said “I’m not a fucking person, I don’t wanna be a person”. I took that completely out of context though.
Out of context, it sounds fucked up. Core of psychosis. I think I feel quite vulnerable when people perceive me and my artistry as human and I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on artists to be very available, like ” hey guys here is my music. I’m just a normal person like you, here’s what happened when I broke up and that’s what this song is about.
I’m vulnerable like that – but I’m not going to be like that in front of a camera. I’ve always loved listening to artists that I found from another world. They had this pop celebrity charisma that I was like “shit”, it feels like magic. You know what I mean? You go to a big show like Lady Gaga and it’s like that angel that came down from heaven. I want people to have a world to escape to. I think with my demos I lean more into that bad pop bitch energy, but the way I do it isn’t like Lady Gaga or Charlie XCX. They have that overbearing pop energy – but I lean more into goblin shit. Weird shit.
So you split your character to play off who you are as a person?
I had someone come up to my friend at one of my gigs because they saw her talking to me and they were like, “Is she really like that? There’s no way she’s a real person, she doesn’t act like that. This is an act of bullshit. And I was like, “Why are you on my show then?”
But it is an act, it is a mask. It’s because it’s a performance. It’s art. In real life, I walk my dog, I make matcha, I like to clean my house. I am a hermit. But when I’m in artist mode and people perceive me as a doe, I put on weird contacts. I do all this cocky, deranged goblin stuff. I do mean shit. I am an autistic INTJ. He’s the baddest character to begin with.
It always surprises me how many artists are actually quite introverted, but I guess to make interesting art you have to be somewhat observational.
Exactly, and introspective. But then you go out and put the crazy shit on.
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