Why Daisie’s a ‘wee ray of sunshine’ in lockdown
Law student and emerging singer/songwriter Daisie Conway became a Facebook sensation when she first started uploading songs to alleviate the tedium of lockdown. She chats to Joanne Savage
Larne law student Daisie Conway, 19, herself mired in the gloom, boredom and constriction of the incarceration occasioned by the pandemic, decided lockdown would be a fruitful time for her to upload songs online in an effort to spread some cheer, and little did she expect that she would quickly go viral and now be in the midst of collaborating with a music producer on her debut album, penning heartfelt lyrics on her myriad personal experiences to date, recording a duet by Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand with The Voice UK winner, Pomeroy’s Andrea Begley, and now preparing to open for Eddi Reader and The Hothouse Flowers at the Friends Goodwill Festival in May as well as performing with Brian Kennedy at Ballygally Castle later in the summer if restrictions allow.
Daisie, beautiful and lissom limbed, with a killer smile and bags of charm, is a classical and musical theatre trained singer who has experimented with all kinds of genres from folk and Irish trad to pop, jazz, country and opera, also plays violin (or the fiddle, depending on your persuasion), piano, the ukulele and the guitar. Plus she did nine years of balllet from the age of four and used to be able to do the splits with outstanding ease. She admits to being a shameless dancing queen - always last off the dance floor even when sober as a judge and in sizeable stiletto heels - and grew up singing Ariana Grande songs in the backseat of her parent’s car. As a child she was known as Little Miss Sunshine because she was always smiling and that beaming set of pearly whites are still very much in evidence today. Conway emanates star quality and judging by the reaction her first uploads to Facebook Live received - spirited covers of I’ve Been Waiting For You from the second Mamma Mia movie and At last by legendary blues, soul and R&B queen Etta James - it’s clear she has a set of lungs and vocal range to rival Whitney Houston, and a maturity and depth to her sound that belies her teenage years. One imagines the late Etta would be rather chuffed with the sheer soul-power of her cover version.
“I think everyone has found lockdown very hard, and even though I a naturally very shy, I just thought, what better way to spread some joy and positivity in the midst of such a negative time by uploading some songs to Facebook. I was actually so nervous when I first began posting, and I think everyone who knows me was surprised, because they think of me as quiet and retiring. I’m usually not one for the spotlight or bigging myself up.
“I was so anxious when I uploaded by first vocal post and when it went viral I was completely blown away.
“Since the start of lockdown a lot of people were getting buried in their own thoughts. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to put positive messages out there. I thought it would be a lovely thing to bring us all together when we were so far apart. It was really nice to see all of the comments coming in and seeing people happy.
“Standing in my kitchen singing, that was the first time I had sung solo since at school when I had to sing O Holy Night at a carol service. It was an empowering experience, but I could never have anticipated the attention it would receive.”
Daisie, a former pupil at Larne Grammar School passionate about human rights, equality and fighting discrimination while having her nose stuck in endless law books as a very academically minded undergraduate in her second term at Queen’s University Belfast, was always destined to acquire musical pedigree.
“My father and sister always played the fiddle and so did I from about the age of six. We would play at sessions in local pubs, and they were brilliant craic. There I was, this little kid with my small fiddle, and I loved it. My mum Linzi, who is my best friend and the person in my life who makes me laugh the most by far, was always entering singing competitions when she was younger and my grandfather was the lead in a 1960s rock and roll band called Dial-X.
“In our house folk music was always playing and I have become one of those rather annoying people who sings every day. I used to sing a lot in the shower although not anymore! But I am incapable of watching musicals like Mamma Mia starring Meryl Streep without singing and dancing along. In fact, put on any Disney film from The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin and I will be singing along unstoppably at the top of my lungs.”
Move over Ed Sheeran as Daisie hits mic
Daisie remembers her first singing dramatic role as Frenchie in a school production of Grease, and her nerves before going on stage as the youngest cast member still green behind the ears, but judging by the footage of her released to date online she appears to be a natural, composed and polished performer. Any reticence she may have felt about performing solo seems to have melted away and she looks set to become a seasoned performer of note.
A soprano and member of the Belfast Operatic Company, since her first uploads she has taken part in virtual concerts, enjoyed significant radio airplay and been described by local radio DJ John Toal as having a “gorgeous voice with a real quiet intensity”, while Larne author Angeline King says Daisie’s songs were her “wee ray of hope during lockdown”.
“I suppose I have a deep love of folk music and I would describe the music I am working on for my debut album as folk-inspired pop of the kind Ed Sheeran has been known to dabble in.”
‘I’m just the girl next door and pursuing music is my deepest wish’
Conway has the utmost admiration for folk singer Andrea Begley, who also studied law at Queen’s while pursuing music, and first connected with the Pomeroy songstress and Voice UK winner over social media.
“In terms of Northern Irish musical artists I do like Snow Patrol, who doesn’t love Chasing Cars? But really I have so much respect for Andrea because she won The Voice UK and yet she remains this incredibly down-to-earth mentor. She’s been like a big sister to me. And she has a stunning voice. And obviously we bonded because, like me, she combined her study of law with the pursuit of a music career.
“Together we remotely recorded a version of Tell Him by Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion and I was completely bowled over when it ended up on UTV Live. I would love to collaborate with Andrea again in the future.”
Now knee-deep in composition of her debut album, Daisie hopes to draw on personal experiences of love, loss and the everyday to produce emotive folk-pop that she hopes others will find relatable and inspiring.
The creative process is a precarious one, although she is enjoying being mentored by fellow Northern Irish singer/songwriter Patrick Moore.
“I want my album to be real and come straight from my heart. These are songs about different experiences that I’ve had in my life and I just more than anything hope that the lyrics and melodies will connect with people.
“In terms of genre it is definitely an Ed Sheeran inspired folk-pop style with a modern twist, although my musical tastes are varied and on my Ipod you’d find lots of my guilty pleasure, which is country music, and artists like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline. But I wouldn’t describe my style as country-inflected really.
“I find the songwriting process very relaxing and cathartic. Some days the ideas just flow and inspiration strikes but on other days it can be a struggle.”
So what is the goal for Daisie, world domination, knocking Lady Gaga off her perch, stealing the crown off Her Madgesty Madonna, schmoozing with Beyonce, glossy spreads in fashion magazines, packed stadiums, chart-climbing hits?
She laughs at this.
“I’m very much the girl next door. And while I’m very academically minded and committed to completing my law degree, the pursuit of music is really first and foremost in my heart. And for me music is about spreading joy.
“I’d like to have integrity as an artist and more than anything I cannot wait to play live. That’s the dream right now.”
Q&A: ‘I can’t wait to hug my grandparents after lockdown’
What is your earliest memory?
I remember being almost three and going to the hospital to bring my baby sister Eva home. I gave her my favourite toy to hold while she was sleeping. Your ideal way to spend a day?
Being with family and friends - who are just everything to me - and spending time at the beach which I have just always loved. If it was sunny I would love to do the likes of paddle-boarding.
Who would you bring to dinner if you could bring anyone at all?
Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Gary Barlow.
Favourite musical artist?
Taylor Swift. Her songs are so catchy and so real. She doesn’t hold back from this full honesty in her music about things that have happened to her or touched her heart. I just love singing her songs in the car!
I also admire people like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce, because I think they have all been true to their own artistic vision.
Mamma Mia and anything by Disney. I love The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. They are all amazing. There isn’t a Disney movie that I wouldn’t watch.
Favourite holiday destination?
Italy. Particularly Lake Garda, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
Can you describe yourself in three words?
Mum-like. I tend to be the mum of any friendship group I am in. I am also kind-hearted and caring.
The meaning of life is...
I think we are here to be happy in as much as we can be. For me that is about musical expression, writing and performing music in order to make others happy. The goal is to connect with people and if they connect with my music when I release it then great - that is the goal.
Have you ever fallen in love?
Yes. Love can be vulnerable because in a way you are giving someone the exact instructions on how to hurt you but then trusting them not to. It can feel like being in a bubble.
Your dream man would have to be...
Kind, honest, trustworthy, funny, taller than me, dark and handsome.
Your favourite possession is...
My dog Lucy, a King Charles Spaniel. She’s my best friend.
The Netflix series that has most aided your lockdown survival?
Bridgerton. It’s a period drama based around Regency London. You see all these families trying to get their daughters married off and it is very funny.
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown measures are eased?
Hugging my grandparents.
Check out Daisie Conway’s music at daisieconwaymusic.co.uk or on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Email [email protected] or Tweet @DaisieConway.