Daley on ‘The Spectrum,’ Spiritual Revolutions and How Trauma Leads to Creativity

Daley on ‘The Spectrum,’ Spiritual Revolutions and How Trauma Leads to Creativity

Daley doesn’t consider himself an R&B artist. “I don’t think that R&B covers the full spectrum of how I make music,” he tells TIDAL. “I just want to be an artist that people can relate to.”

On his sophomore album The Spectrum, released last Friday, July 14, the UK-bred singer-songwriter gave us a lot of relatable material to work with. The album, following a breakup with his label and made in the midst of a good friend’s passing, is as human as they come. Here, we meet an artist who is regaining his footing in his creative career and his personal life. “I’m in a sort of spiritual revolution,” he confesses. “Just learning about life, space, experiencing loss and putting all those things together and getting a general feeling of what you feel like your place is in the world.”

As Daley walks through his spiritual revolution on The Spectrum, he invites us to join. Read below as he elaborates on the makings of the LP, how his collaboration with Jill Scott came together on single “Until the Pain is Gone” and two albums that have changed his life.

Tell me about The Spectrum.

Well, it was my second album. I guess it’s a culmination of my life experiences for the last two, three years. It’s been a defining couple of years. We had some changes, struggle and all sorts of things.

I finished my first album, we did the whole campaign, and I parted ways with Universal. So I had that journey to go on. I feel like a real artist. I muscled up, got another [record deal], but it was nice because I actually got to start this album between deals, so it just gave me a lot of freedom. Not really worrying about any kind of label pressure or anything. Just getting back to the music. Just getting back to thinking about what I wanted to say.

So, I think I started off feeling like I had an idea of the kind of album I wanted to make. I kind of felt like I had to make a like a dark, moody R&B album, but then when I started doing that, it became clear that that was not really what I wanted to make for the entirety of the project. It doesn’t cover everything that I like to do musically. Specifically with the live show, I couldn’t imagine myself singing really moody R&B songs for the show. Or for the entire show.

It definitely has some of the darker, ambient, soulful moments. It’s just really sweet, an unapologetic feeling R&B, and I kind of felt it was starting to become a spectrum of sounds and feelings. I didn’t know what I was going to call it. And the word ‘spectrum’ just kept coming in different areas of life, and I like it because it means different things to different people. You can apply it to so many different things in life. How kind of everything is on a spectrum.

I’m looking at the song titles now, and it kind of feels like a spectrum as well. You have, ‘Slow Burn,’ ‘On Fire,’ ‘Sympathy,’ ‘Selfish.’ You’re going through a little bit of everything on here, and sonically it seems like you experimented with that as well.

Yeah, the songs like ‘Selfish,’ ‘Temple,’ ‘True’… I really love how they turned out, like a slightly darker sound.

I actually experienced the loss of a close friend for the first time. So that happened slap-back in the middle of making the album. It kind of changed my whole perspective on life, on what’s important. The things you worry about day to day, how they pale in comparison when you lose someone. Dealing with things like that gave me a new perspective on things, on what I was making. [The friend that passed] was actually my manager; he passed away last year very suddenly.

You mentioned tapping into different parts of your life on your album. Did the emotions following your friend’s death make it easier to access these experiences and be vulnerable when writing?

I think so. It just puts such a different perspective on things. I think after dealing with that, that perspective gave birth to other songs, which I don’t think would have existed before that. There’s a song on there called ‘True,’ which is a song that really just takes stock of everything. Kind of coming to this realization that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re only here for a short space and time and I think it’s best to use that time being as true to yourself as possible and try to look at the moment and try not to spend too much of your time and energy on things that don’t bring you happiness or aren’t reality or just aren’t really you. So that song came from that feeling.

People have been asking me the difference between this album and the last album. I think I would say the first album was just more of a heartbreak sort of album in general, a bit despairing and [I was] kind of the victim in some ways. This album definitely still has a lot of relationships and love themes, but they’re a little more positive and embracing as well, and there’s also some songs on there like ‘True’ and ‘Fabric’ that are a bit more to do with my outlook on life. I’m in a sort of spiritual revolution.

It’s nice. Seeking to know about different things. I’m not talking about an overly spiritual religious kind of revolution. Just learning about life, space and experiencing loss and putting all those things together and getting a general feeling of what you feel like your place is in the world.

 

How did your collaboration with Jill Scott come together?

‘Until the Pain is Gone’ was one of the first songs that I wrote in the process of making the album. Jill wasn’t involved in the beginning phases. I was writing the song and something just triggered in my head when I listened to the music and created the melody. Something just made me think of Jill, and I just made a note of it in my head and put a pin in it.

When it came to revisiting that song, I had to listen to that little voice in my head that was telling me that it had something to do with Jill, so I sent it over to her just to see if there was any kind of feedback, and she loved it, and she said she was down to do her thing with it. I’m just so honored to have her involved because she’s definitely one of my favorite artists.

I had the pleasure of opening up for her a couple of years ago, and that’s how we initially met, how I had the connection to send the song to her.

What is an album that has changed your life?

Prince’s Sign O’ the Times was a really special album for me. That’s when I really, really appreciated Prince’s artistry. It kind of gave me the feeling that there aren’t any limits to what you can do.

The sound that he goes through on that album and what he does creatively just broke a lot of barriers in my head about things where I was like, ‘Hey, you can’t do that,’ or ‘You can’t sing in falsetto for the whole song.’ Well, actually, this guy did it in the ‘80s already, so it’s definitely doable.

So I would say that album or Imogen Heap, her Ellipse album was definitely an album that changed my perspective on how I wanted to sound and ignited my passion for making things sound sonically beautiful. She’s such an incredible producer as well as writer and vocal producer and the range of sound that she uses is so groundbreaking.

 

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