Having been featured on the BBC’s Sound of 2011, many years ago at this stage, Gareth “Daley” has had, what appears to be a very quiet time since his debut, way back when. The Soulful singer/songwriter initially came into the public eye after collaborating on the Gorillaz 2009 single, Doncamatic which received lacklustre reception from critics and reached a paltry no.37 spot in the U.K charts (listen below). The 27-year-old, originally from Sale, Manchester was first signed to A&M Records along with big name acts like Duffy and Sheryl Crow, and now resides at Polydor along with Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, and Selena Gomez—he's in some damn good company. Just last year, he dropped his newest offering, the critically acclaimed The Spectrum, on which Billboard seriously loved.
"The Spectrum is also gutsily off-trend, ignoring the sound of radio at the moment -- his work is largely detached from hip-hop, hushed instead of hard, gaseous rather than assertive."
In 2011, Daley released a free to download mixtape entitled Those who wait and after taking a first listen before our interview, I was hooked. His dynamic vocals, including some soaring falsetto mixed with soulful synthesisers and thumping beats, made for an interesting combination. The beautifully lethargic Spent: a relatable an anti-love song. His cover of Madonna’s Like a Virgin: surprisingly contemporary.
In the 2011 market crowded with generic dance floor fillers, David Guetta and Lady
Gaga, Daley brought a sound that had not been seen for a long time in the Industry.
Although, some critics did slate his sound for being “Self indulgent”. I found him lyrically and thematically honest. To me, he seemed like the type of songwriter, who would retain integrity and artistry before selling music he did not believe to be a complete representation of his soul.
I had the pleasure of speaking to the man himself about his love of music, collaborations and
where he finds his inspiration.
Darragh: So Daley, thanks for chatting to thebeardedirishman. Where did your love of songwriting come from?
Daley: Well I’ve always loved playing with melodies and harmonies, seeing where I can take my voice, but lyrically it’s something that I grew into. It wasn’t until I’d actually ‘been through’ some things that I was really able to understand what I wanted to write about and it started to become the commentary on my life.
Stylic: Did you grow up in a musical family?
Daley: Not at all! I think I’m definitely the anomaly in that respect. There isn’t really anyone else musical in my family. My parents always played music of some kind or another though, and a lot of that stuff was some of the first music I got into so I’m sure I was influenced in some way!
Stylic: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
Daley: It’s strange. I didn’t grow up listening to any particular genre. My parents were more leisurely music listeners than music collectors, so they had a CD rack of quite random albums, from Sade to The Cranberries to George Michael to The Smiths... and plenty of other stuff. I’d say everything had a vaguely soulful edge to it though, which is what I think eventually pushed me in that direction.
Stylic: What do you consider to have been your “Big Break”?
Daley: My big break would probably have been being featured on BBC Introducing in 2009 just
moved down to London and I had been gigging around non stop trying to get seen and heard wherever I could with an early demo called Rainy Day. Then after that song I wrote with the Gorillaz...that took me out to a bigger audience, so those two were really my big breaks.
Stylic: How did you end up working with artists like the Gorillaz, Wretch 32 and Marsha A?
Daley: Really strange but a lot of the time been a case of right place right time, I met Damon Alburn through a friend of his who had been to one of my gigs, they showed him my YouTube videos and he invited me down to his studio to jam, and we worked through some stuff and ended up writing Doncamatic. With Wretch, It was a similar thing: a friend of a friend introduced us and I helped him out with the chorus of of Long Way Home. Me and Marsha were both in New York at the same time and managed to get a couple of days in the studio and just made the most of it. Each collaboration has been so different, but great.
Stylic: Does love give you your main source of soulful inspiration?
Daley: It's the thing that feels most pressing to express, love or the lack of it. But life in general and the details of situations we find ourselves in are what inspire me, picking up on those small moments that everyone can relate to and understand.
Stylic: Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
Daley: Prince. He's just the best, really. That's all I can say.
Stylic: Did you ever contemplate going down the reality show route ?
Daley: Not seriously. It had crossed my mind but I always knew the way I wanted to do it. Luckily those opportunities came about for me. I'd hate to have to go through the humiliation and foul play that goes on in reality TV. Although there's still plenty of that around whichever way you do it I suppose.
Stylic: When are you coming to play for your Irish fans?
Daley: Soon I hope! I've literally just put together a small tour with four dates in Manchester,
Birmingham, Bristol and London to get me started, but I definitely intend making it over there and
throwing down some shows soon. I haven't been back since I toured with the Gorillaz so I'm looking forward to it.
Keep an eye on what this man gets up to on https://www.daley.tv/