Photo Credit: Brianna Spause
From singing Garth Brooks to wanting to marry a Backstreet Boy to thinking Good Charlotte was punk AF. My musical history has been quite interesting, to say the least. While I’d never felt weird liking so-called “white” music, there’ve been times I felt out of place when I’ve gone to shows because I’m usually one of a few Black people in the crowd. I’m sure those others felt the same but we rarely spoke to one another, just did that Black folk nod that silently communicated, “I see you. I’m here.”
While we didn’t say a damn word, the man behind A Day Without Love is singing it loud and proud. See, he’s not just a Black fan. He’s a Black performer in an alternative scene that can often be as white as the first snowfall in Vermont. His latest, Diary, paints not only the picture of a Black man in a music scene but a Black man in today’s America. You know the one? It’s run by a racist, misogynistic ex-reality star who tweets LYKE DIS? Yup, that one.
Only a few of albums in the past 365 days have had anything really say to me but Diary spoke loud and clear. So I was more than thrilled to sit down and hear what A Day Without Love had to say about this concept record and then some.
Kendra: When we first met I noticed you definitely had an emo heart. Then Solace came about and I felt like you stepped away from that, but with Diary I feel like you wore that emo-ridden heart right on your sleeve once again. Would you say you were channeling that ’00s nostalgia when it came time to make the music? Not the lyrics because we’ll get to that – just the music.
A Day Without Love: It’s funny you say that. The record is a little over a week old and some people made the same observation. Many of these songs wrote themselves when I made different observations or reflections about myself so I kind of guess my natural way of writing is using the emo heart. Solace had a lot of rewriting to it, Diary pretty much stuck to the first ideas I made.
Kendra: The lyrics are on a whole other level because you will not get the subject manner you’re delivering in the so-called scene, ever. Okay, rarely. Diary spoke to me. You are a Black man in America and wrote it from the only perspective you could. With all that has gone on in this country, was there one instance that inspired this record or was it the sum of it all?
A Day Without Love: I think there were a number of instances that inspired this record. Part of it has to do with current events. Most of it has to do with what is going on in my life. Diary was a songwriting challenge for me where I wanted to write about love, friendships, politics, racism, mental Illness, and faith.
Those are the topics most true to my songwriting and I wanted to make it on record. So I wrote “Birthday” on my 26th birthday which was my first sober birthday since turning 17. I gave up alcohol and stopped doing drugs three years ago. Since then more thoughts have come to my head. I started to recognize social issues that I would usually ignore and drink away that were now a lot more real for me.
Between watching Dear White People to experiencing racism amongst peers, music scene affiliates, colleagues and police officers I couldn’t remain silent. I couldn’t remain silent about not being able to afford mental health care. I thought I’d be lying if I didn’t open about being 29 and never having had a serious relationship meanwhile most of my peers are getting married or settled. This record is about the problems I still had to face after coming to grips and finding peace with myself. Coincidentally many of these problems are on par with current events specifically the racism and politics tracks.
Kendra: We have to talk about Starbucks because you’re in Philly. Was that something you thought, “Well yeah…that’ll happen here” or were you surprised?
A Day Without Love: Part of me was surprised but most me wasn’t surprised. Philadelphia has approximately 50-60% Black people yet our music and art scenes are 80-85% Caucasian. I had peers been harassed by officers and followed by business owners in stores. Things like this have been happening, the internet just made it visible.
Kendra: Like I said, this album spoke volumes to me as I am a mixed Black girl who grew up going to Warped Tour, hoping to see people like me. “No Safe Space For Me,” I thought was a beautiful representation of what that feels like. Was it always apparent in the punk scene that you were “the other?”
A Day Without Love: I always felt paranoid about it before I started ADWL. When I played at Penn State bars I didn’t wanna believe it because I was in a college bro-bubble. But as I started to expand I started to experience various microaggressions that made me aware. Growing up Black you get told things like “don’t trust white people” or “white people stab each other in the back.” You never want to believe it until you see it happen to yourself and other people in the scene. I know some great people but it took meeting a lot of bad people to get there.
Kendra: You don’t just have songs on Diary but you have these speaking tracks that reminded me of hip-hop records and skits. Was that the idea you were going for?
A Day Without Love: Yes 100%. I may write alternative/emo/punk music but I am 100% raised on hip hop and love skits. I had to do it.
Kendra: Boy, you are busy in the coming months with shows on top of shows. Most of them out on the east coast. Any plans to head west?
A Day Without Love: I want to head to the west, farthest west I’ve been is SXSW in 2015. I need to buy a car and do more coast to coast travels. I’ve had a few west coast people and Euro people invite me, but I don’t quite yet have the finances. I have the faith the music will work itself out to be able to spread my message. In June I’ll be doing a New England/Mid-Atlantic tour with Marcelyn and plan on touching the Midwest and South this year.
Kendra: With Diary being such a concept album, do you have any idea of what you’ll do next?
A Day Without Love: I’m working on a series of collaborative songs with songwriters and bands and will be releasing a series of EPs. No news on the name yet. I’m also working on a third LP about body image and confidence. That may take some time to record and release. I want it to be a big album with a big sound. Ideally, I try to write my records so they coincide back to back, like Star Wars.