With a breakout song that's amassed 180-plus million streams on Spotify and guest vocals on a platinum-certified single by The Chainsmokers, Grace Tandon, better known by her stage name Daya (pronounced "dey-uh"), is not your average high schooler. But she still made time in her jam-packed schedule—performing at Coachella and recording her upcoming debut album—to go to prom. "I went with a friend, so it was pretty low-key," she recently told InStyle.
After studying classical piano for 10 years, the 17-year-old singer from Pittsburgh moved on to jazz, learning guitar, ukulele, and a little saxophone before finding her radio-ready, synth-driven pop sound, with subtle tinges of R&B and indie. When asked to cite her musical influences, she exclusively names Amy Winehouse. "She had such a raw talent that few people seem to possess," she says. We can think of someone else, too.
Below, more about Daya's quick ascension and her new single, "Sit Still, Look Pretty."
First off, what's the story behind your moniker?
It's a translation of my birth name, Grace, in Hindi. I'm a quarter Indian; my grandfather's originally from New Delhi.
This has been a crazy year for you—collaborating with The Chainsmokers and playing major music festivals. Was there a pinch-yourself moment?
I've always wanted to go to Coachella, so that was big for me. I'd never even been there as a fan, so the fact that I was performing on the main stage was just insane. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before. I also performed at The White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll and got to meet the President and First Lady. I was totally geeking out.
What were they like?
Super chill and casual. Michelle was wearing high-tops and leggings! We were dressed very similarly.
Where do you typically like to shop?
I'm a fan of H&M, Topshop, and Forever 21. Right now, I'm really into sneakers and bomber jackets.
Tells us the inspiration behind your new single, "Sit Still, Look Pretty."
It's a girl power anthem about how women can do anything men can do, and we shouldn't let anyone stand in the way of that. I've always grown up with that knowledge, so I want to be sure to pass along that message. You should never be put into a mold based on your gender.
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Watch the lyric video for "Sit Still, Look Pretty" below, and buy Daya for $8 on the iTunes Store.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.