Brooklyn-based band Daisy The Great sing about the vulnerability in finding yourself on their newest single “Persephone.” Consisting of two strong vocalists Kelley Nicole Dugan and Mina Walker, Daisy the Great delivers its listeners soft, folk melodies and speaks to listeners of alternative and indie music. After releasing multiple singles and conjoining them into an EP in 2020, Daisy the Great has more music in store for their fans in the upcoming future.
I was able to speak with Daisy The Great about their musical journeys, inspirations, and the impact this pandemic has had on their careers.
How has your career been affected given the current situation with COVID-19 and the inability to have gigs or concerts?
It’s definitely heartbreaking to have live shows on hold. Performing is our favorite thing to do. Before the pandemic, we were performing a lot: we had just gotten off our first tour and were doing a lot of fun shows in the city and had more shows for the summer and fall lined up. We were on a ~performing high~ so it was really hard to make the shift from playing shows and going to shows in rooms full of friends to being alone in our bedrooms and socializing on the ~internet~ where everyone but you has smooth skin. Live shows always came first for us, and we spent a lot more time writing and performing than writing and recording. So a lot of the music we were performing (basically all of the music we were performing) was not recorded.. YET. This answer is long lol but this is all to say we ARE recording those songs now and finally taking the time to make our next album. This year has been so blah for so many reasons. The one thing we are grateful for is the time we have been given to slow down and focus our energies on writing and recording music.
What does your music mean to you? What’s the most exciting part of writing and producing music?
Writing music is how we make sense of our brains. You get the opportunity to take the thing that is running through your thoughts at 100 miles per hour and bearing down on your soul and lay it out in front of you. You can turn it upside down and take it apart and inspect it and put it back together in a way that allows you to see it from a distance. It’s validating that this bit of your brain is worth a song — you can make it into something beautiful and poetic and people can hold it for you and relate it to their own experience and pass it along.
Who are your musical inspirations and where did your passion to create music originate from?
We are both definitely inspired by our moms. My mom was an opera singer (Kelley’s) and Mina’s mom was a jazz singer (Mina says “the only things i listened to as a kid were jazz standards and early 40’s and 50’s musicals like singing in the rain and the wizard of oz”), so both of us were always surrounded by music and started singing & playing music from a really early age. I (Kel) was also really into Madrigals in school & would arrange pop songs for us to sing and really fell in love with writing big vocal harmonies like that into our music.
We’re inspired by so many people, here’s a “short” list — Fiona Apple, Queen, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens, TuneYards, the Beatles, Avril Lavigne, Dirty Projectors, Mitski, Simon and Garfunkel, Girlpool, Adrienne Lenker, Beach Boys, there’s more but…
How did the two of you begin your journey into creating music together?
We met in college! We were both acting majors at Tisch at NYU, and we ended up writing a song together for a sketch comedy class in school. Then, around graduation we decided to start writing a musical together about two kids in a band who accidentally take over the lives of these two pop stars that get struck by lightning. We started to show each other some of the songs that we’d written separately in the past as ideas for songs that could work as the “band” songs in the musical and we basically never looked back. Those songs became the root of our first EP. yay :’)
What is the story behind your latest single “Persephone”? What made you decide to release this specific song as a single?
“Persephone” was initially inspired by the story of the sirens, in which the sirens were companions of Persephone who asked for wings in order to be able to look for her when she was taken to the underworld. Most of the time we hear about sirens as a symbol of temptation — evil mermaid monsters singing to sailors to lure them to their death, but we were way more interested in what was going on in the story from the sirens’ point of view. This song is about pushing against all these outside definitions of yourself while feeling like you’re searching for a way to find your real self and be seen for who you are.The day we were recording Scarborough Fair we were talking to Allen Tate who produced the project and we all thought it would be really fun to do another song to pair with it. We had a couple of songs that were floating around in our heads that didn’t necessarily fit within the blob of album idea that we were trying to shape at the time, and Persephone was one of those. We paired it with Scarborough and the songs really felt at home alongside each other.
How was it working alongside well-known dancer Matilda Sakamoto and having her tell the story of your music through her movements in the music video for “Persephone”?
We love Matilda!!! She is a dear friend of ours and obviously such an incredible dancer. We are always so lucky to be able to collaborate with her. We have Matilda as our siren stacking on these definitions of herself as this dangerous hot vixen monster temptress and then messing it all up to show that it’s totally meaningless — while earnestly searching for her “true self”. Matilda found such a beautiful way to show the freedom in reclaiming those traps, by making them something fun and messed up, instead of heavy and impenetrable. She brought so much joy to the role and was constantly surprising and her performance built even more dimensions into the story.
What made you decide to cover Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Scarborough Fair?” Does it hold a special meaning to the two of you?
We ended up having an opportunity to have some time in the studio with Better Company Records, and we’d been wanting to record a cover for a while. We were playing around with some ideas with our guitarist/bassist Bernardo Ochoa, and when we played through Scarborough Fair, it really felt right and we all immediately had an idea of what we wanted to do with the song. We’ve always loved Simon and Garfunkel and find so much inspiration from the way they pair their voices together and weave around each other. Scarborough Fair was also a favorite song of ours growing up and so it was a really gratifying, heartwarming session when we went in to record it!
Lastly, what can fans of Daisy the Great expect from you in the upcoming future?
We’re working on an album!!! More about that soon! Yay!