Archives For Daya

So great to see a couple of current and possibly future GRAMMY nominees on my second day here in Los Angeles and our first day inside Staples Center for Westwood One’s Backstage at The GRAMMYs. I asked Mike Posner and Daya about the big day plus met Dua Lipa. Also, we chatted about a couple neighborhoods in Manhattan when “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Paige Mobley and singer/songwriter Max stopped by.




It is impossible to look back on pop music in 2016 and not talk about The Chainsmokers. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart created two of the year’s biggest hits: the infectious “Don’t Let Me Down” that features 18 year-old Daya and “Closer,” an inescapable duet that Halsey assists on. “Don’t Let Me Down” was the most spun track on pop radio this year and using that particular metric, also the song of the summer. “Closer” spent 12 weeks atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and pop radio airplay charts. Combined with “Roses,” a song that they enlisted an artist named Rozes to sing, the duo sold 10 million singles in the U.S. alone.

Those songs helped The Chainsmokers score an American Music Award in 2016 and three GRAMMY nominations for the award show this February, including Best New Artist.

But as improbable as the DJs success may be (even Pall and Taggart admit they wouldn’t have settled on “The Chainsmokers” had they realized their staying power), what is crazier is that the group’s first two singles are all-but-forgotten about: the novelty track’s “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.”

“’Closer’ wasn’t their first hit,” is the response I received from Jake Miller, a friend of Pall and Taggart’s, recently when I brought up how impressed I was that they were able to shift from tongue-in-cheek records to the highly-coveted lane of radio-friendly pop music. I reminded him that “#SELFIE” was guys’ first single.

“It’s funny you say that because I don’t even think of them for that song,” Miller continued – a sentiment that many probably share and that certainly speaks to how massive the subsequent singles have been. “I honestly completely forgot they did that song.”

For The Chainsmokers, that might be a good thing. Nonetheless, the guys still don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously.

“We go in with like, low expectations… very low expectations,” Taggart told me before the artists performed “Closer” and won “Favorite Electronic/Dance Music Artist” at the AMAs. “But regardless to be a part of the pop community now and have our work recognized is awesome.”

And the DJs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Pall and Taggart just dropped a music video for “Setting Fires” off of their EP “Collage.” The duo is also back in the studio creating new music.

“I think the stuff we’re working on now we’re most excited about,” Pall said. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s newest, but it just feels different and exciting. We’re pumped about it.”

The Chainsmokers recently posted on Snapchat a clip of them in the studio with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, an experience that Taggart characterized as “crazy” because the guys grew up listening to his band.

“I think a lot of the music that’s already been out from us is heavily-inspired by Coldplay, especially the emotion that Coldplay has; that melancholy, bitter-sweet emotion that they get in all their songs,” he explained.

Taggart explained that his first goal was to “be cool” and attempt to catch a vibe with the lead singer. Neither man would reveal if they were working on a Chainsmokers project or something for Coldplay’s future (the band recently revealed that an EP was on the way after 2017), but Pall promised that whatever they’re working on, it’s “dope.”

Given the duo’s track record, I’ll take their word for it.

For my fifth consecutive year, I made the long (a couple blocks) trek to the Upper West Side and covered the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, taking in the sights and talking with some of the parade’s performers and special guests. Hear from Fitz & The Tantrums, Laurie Hernandez, Daya, Jacob Whitesides, Aloe Blacc, Ben Rector, Brett Eldredge and more!

Some news and notes from the American Music Awards red carpet…
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– Yes the rain was a major, major factor on the carpet and its impact on arrivals almost cannot be overstated. More on that here.

– It’s so nice to attend these and see familiar faces, whether it be publicists, fellow members of the media or artists. On the press front, great seeing The Insider’s Keltie Knight, Sweetyhigh’s Cassie DiLaura, the whole Sirius XM Hits 1 squad and Hollywire’s Chelsea Briggs.

– As far as artists and other invited guests: loved saying hello to Mark Cuban, Rachel Platten, Daya and Bebe Rexha, the latter who performed for Westwood One the night prior at our “Rooftop Live” event inside downtown Los Angeles’ Perch. Rexha’s catalog of hits she either penned and/or is featured on is impressive, and I’m rooting for her latest release “I Got You.”

– What I loved the most about the weather: the temperature. I’m used to melting every year on the AMAs red carpet; far from the case this year. I usually end up drinking 3 or 4 bottles of water in the process. I maybe drank one for the two-and-a-half hours I was out there.

– Another interesting note about my role: it changes from year-to-year on the carpet. This year, I served two purposes: grab content for my radio stations’ platforms as well as nationally and assist our red carpet reporter, Kerri Kasem, when necessary.

– After the red carpet, it was off to the one-on-one room. When the show wrapped, I dropped equipment at my room, called my mom, poured a drink and waited for my producer, Jay Buff, to arrive. After a quick download of the night’s events we put it all in the past and walked over to the after party. That was followed by an after-after party in where else, but the hotel lobby. We then ordered food from my favorite spot downtown, L.A. Café and devoured the grub before joining two different morning radio shows for American Music Awards recaps.

Eventually, I slept.

Just 11 months ago, Daya’s parents were pushing her to apply to college, just in-case this whole singing career didn’t pan out.

Fast forward to October 2016, just a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday, and suffice to say the artist will be deferring.

“I did apply last year,” Daya, nee Grace Tandon, told me last weekend after opening for Fergie inside Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena. “It was just kind of a back-up and my parents wanted me to, blah-blah-blah.”

Daya’s older sister attends Brown University in Rhode Island. And the “Hide Away” songstress doesn’t rule out an eventual return to the classroom, but at the moment that certainly isn’t necessary. In less than a year, the Pittsburgh-born singer has scored two top 10 hits at pop radio as a title artist.
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But without question her biggest song to-date is the contribution she made to The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” a song that grabbed Daya her first ever American Music Award nomination for “Best Collaboration.” “Don’t Let Me Down” also ended up accumulating the most spins of any single this past summer at pop radio.

“That’s crazy! That’s just so wild!” a clearly excited Daya replied when I informed her of that fact. “I didn’t know that it would be that big. I mean, I knew that it was a great song and I was so happy to collaborate with them on it because they’re awesome but you never know with radio.”

Daya is certainly becoming more familiar with the airwaves though. Her latest hit is the title track from her debut album, “Sit Still, Look Pretty.”

“(The song) was always special to me,” she said. “It just kind of felt natural for me to name the album ‘Sit Still, Look Pretty,’ and I think that’s kind of what I want my brand to be as young female artist in this industry; don’t let people limit you in what you can do.”

After all, it’s not like Daya was born in Los Angeles or New York. She grew up in Pittsburgh and the man who executive produced her album, Gino Barletta, is from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

“This is our baby together that we just created over this past year and a weight feels lifted off of all of our shoulders,” she noted. “We’ve all just helped each other out. We all work hard and are passionate and good things are happening.”

And if they keep that up, who knows what the next 11 months could have in store.

There were a lot of “firsts” on my latest trip to Los Angeles: my first time running 14 miles while on the west coast, my first time leaving an item behind at the dry cleaners, my first time covering an award show weekend without attending said award show and my first time flying back and having to travel directly from the airport to the radio station so I could immediately hop on the air.

This and more explains why for the first time, I’m just jotting down stories from the jaunt to cover GRAMMYs weekend… about two weeks after the fact.


Working out is one pre-trip routine; another is visiting H&M Times Square the night before I fly out. In the past, this would be a necessity to pick up a few clothing items last-second. Recently it’s become more of a customary trip because I actually plan ahead and shop for most of my clothes weeks before so I can purchase online.


Regardless, I found a few shirts and made my way uptown. I settled in to my apartment with a coffee, caught up on work and packed. My flight was at 7 am out of JFK so I pulled an all-nighter and slept on the plane.

Having the day in Los Angeles ahead of work obligations was fantastic. Through Amazon Prime I ordered a tripod, almond milk and a case of water for my room. At the Ralph’s supermarket nearby our downtown hotel I picked up produce, a few vegan breakfast items, snacks and hummus. I also made time to drop off the dry cleaning that I would eventually forget to pick up.

After unpacking my suitcase and putting away my groceries, I fit in a nice 5 mile run, then showered and prepared for our GRAMMY broadcast orientation. It took place on Thursday night in the hotel, complete with beer, wine and passed hors d’oeuvres. The night continued with a few colleagues at a posh sushi joint downtown and ended with me passing out instead of meeting up with friends (remember – I pulled an all-nighter and was still on east coast time).


Friday started relatively normal: woke-up on time, fit in a quick jog, grabbed breakfast, prepped and changed. I walked over to Staples Center around 11:30 am for our noon broadcast; in addition to setting-up our space for the weekend I had to meet with network execs and representatives from Twix. For the two-day event myself and TV host Rocsi Diaz would serve as brand ambassadors on site for the candy, interviewing artists about both their music and Twix. Of course this was in addition to my responsibilities with my four radio stations.


Perhaps the most poignant from Friday that didn’t see the light of day: the chat Rocsi and I had with GRAMMY nominee Charlie Puth. I asked Charlie who he would thank if “See You Again” scored one of the three awards it was up for. He responded with his mom, Wiz Khalifa and Paul Walker. Rocsi asked a great follow-up about Paul and Charlie revealed that he never met the late actor, but through the song formed a strong bond with “Furious 7” star Vin Diesel. The two often swap stories regarding Walker and the person who Puth originally wrote the song about and Charlie told us the similarities are striking.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The broadcast is four hours of insanity: handlers moving artists in and around your interview area, pre-taping for radio stations, taping for Twix, posing for photos, brokering scheduling deals to snag time with celebrities, the interviews themselves and then a lot of hand-shaking. I usually wash my hands at least twice during the time I’m there.


The nice thing is that we always wrap with what one executive in our company termed “mandatory fun” – a live artist performance that’s catered with beer, wine and food. On Friday we were treated to a set from Mike Posner.

Typically this is the point where I would retire to my room for the night and edit photos, video and audio until I couldn’t see straight. Instead, I uploaded a photo slide show and a few interviews and then had to get ready for Friday night’s festivities: Rooftop Live at Perch downtown. The evening included music by Audien and a performance from the Joe Jonas-fronted DNCE.


By the way, DNCE is fantastic live.

This is definitely where my weekend turned: I was out late, still on east coast time and my itinerary for the weekend was not letting up. I slept-in Saturday and instead of going for a run, used my morning to continue uploading content from Friday. Then, it was off to Staples Center for round two. The big differences between Friday and Saturday are that on Saturday, I’m not on-deadline with four radio stations and many more artists come by.


As far as interviews, it was nice to chat for the first time with Nick Fradiani, BØRNS and the lovely Hailee Steinfeld. “Mandatory fun” included a rousing performance from Nathan Sykes.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I taped a few more things for the weekend radio shows and then packed up. Again, usually Saturday night would be spent editing non-stop. Instead, I edited quite a bit, grabbed that 3 mile run I skipped earlier and got ready for a night-out. A friend of mine from Niagara Falls, Allyson DeMunda, was performing at the legendary Comedy Cellar in West Hollywood. I had never been to the venue and I wanted to support her, so I trekked out to WeHo for the evening. She was fantastic, as were some of the others, including “America’s Got Talent” season eight runner-up Taylor Williamson. By the time the show wrapped and I found an Uber, Los Angeles already had its last call, so it was back to my room to upload more content and get a good night’s rest.


The elevators in our hotel were out-of-order Sunday, a lovely surprise to wake-up to. Naturally, I was on the top floor. I packed a bag with gym clothes, walked down the stairwell, and checked it at the lobby. Then I headed back to Hollywood for brunch with a buddy of mine – we also watched Syracuse beat-up on Boston College. He drove me back downtown where I picked up that bag and worked out. Yes, I still had editing to do and was able to complete a bit more work before cleaning up for Sunday evening’s festivities.


First stop: Capitol Records iconic Studio A. Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, Daft Punk… so many legendary artists and songs recorded in the room I stood in. To honor the “Chairman of the Board,” I partook in a drink of Jack Daniels, his favorite.


By far this was the coolest moment of the trip. The event was held in the studio, dimly lit with a full bar and light fare. Every song they played in the background was recorded in Studio A. Yes, even “Let It Go” made the playlist.

The event also included a question-and-answer between our SVP/Partnerships Tommy Page and the legendary songwriter Diane Warren, plus a performance by Troye Sivan.


Our crew made a quick pit-stop at The W before heading to the Nielsen Pre-GRAMMY Bash, which was held at Hyde and featured entertainment from the Preservation Jazz Band and the GRAMMY-nominated Leon Bridges. The party was spectacular; full bar, sushi, a couple of carving stations and most importantly a lot of really great people from our industry.


The Sunday night-cap included a trip to In-N-Out and I vow to never order a burger “protein style” again. I ended up taking a quick nap before an early flight back home. Normally I sleep on the plane, but instead I found myself editing copious amounts of video and then being stuck in a holding pattern for over an hour due to the weather at JFK. When we finally landed, it took us a half-hour to taxi yet somehow I still made it (barely) for my show that night.


Naturally, it took my body much longer than normal to recover from my latest west coast trip. And I still haven’t figured out how I’m getting my jeans back.

For my fourth consecutive year, I broadcasted from backstage at music’s biggest night, inside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Day 1 is always the more difficult day because you’ve just arrived on site, you’re setting everything up and you’re trying to work your way in to a flow as artists move in and out of the broadcast area. But the great thing about this year’s first broadcast was the opportunity to chat with Joe Jonas and DNCE, along with GRAMMY-nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay.





The second day of a backstage broadcast is usually a bit more hectic, and while the entire weekend was busier with our “Malibu Mansion Live” event, Saturday was no different from previous day two experiences. Notables that I spoke with included Charlie Puth, Alessia Cara, Michael and Luke from 5 Seconds of Summer and Joe Jonas’ new band DNCE.