Tone Talk with Daisy

NYC Androgynous Cool Girl & Guitarist DAISY Returns to Music

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Tone Talk with Daisy 

I have been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and first joined a band with my best friends in 2011. Since then, I have gone on to perform with various artists around New York City and played on national and international tours with artists like Jake Bugg, DNCE, and The Heavy. After playing guitar with The Skins for 7 years, I now tour with R&B artist, Pink Sweat$ and indie band, ConBoy. I’ve been lucky enough to play some incredible festivals like Bumbershoot, Afropunk, Electric Forest, and Trans Musicales. Pink Sweat$ and I are going to be playing Bottle Rock Festival in May as well as a string of other shows this year. I couldn’t be more excited to get back to playing live shows and festivals.

Cover Photo by Ella Spencer

What is your definition of tone and how has it changed over the years?

Tone comes from a few factors for me: your fingers, your guitar, and your amp. I personally think most of your tone comes from your fingers and how you strum the guitar. I spent most of my time growing up being fascinated by whoever was playing rhythm guitar. Sure, crazy guitar solos are awesome, but a solid rhythm guitarist is hard to come by, so when I do find them, I admire them. My goal is to make anything work, no matter if it’s a guitar I’ve found on the street (this is a true story), or a multi thousand dollar guitar. If you have good tone in your fingers, you can make any guitar sing.

Tones have changed over the years because the amount of technology that is available now is unreal. Back in the day, the only way to record guitar was via a microphone and an amp, but now there are so many amps packed into digital plugins on your computer. I think it’s pretty awesome. At the end of the day, it’s all in the fingers, so if you don’t have that, even a computer can’t save you.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

I currently, and have used my rig for the last 6 years. I pretty much religiously play my 1993 Fender Strat Plus (the Jeff Beck series) which I’ve modified to have locking tuners and Suhr HSS pickups. This guitar has the same birth year as me so I have a sentimental thing for stuff like that. But it also has such a badass tone and it’s probably the most easy guitar I’ve ever played. It does half the work for me and doesn’t work against me.

I plug my guitar into my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe which is a pretty straight forward amp. It has a beautiful, slightly springy clean tone that I love. Whenever I play other amps, I’m always looking for the best clean tone. I grew up with Fender so I’m hooked, so I’m hooked on all their gear.

My pedal situation changes depending on who I’m playing with. If I need a rock tone, I usually rely on my amps distortion as well as my Suhr Riot pedal if I need it to get really heavy. Sometimes I’ll slap on my T-Rex Octavia pedal with the lows set up on top of that distortion and it makes for a mean dirty sound. I love it when it’s necessary. When I need clean tones, again, I’m relying on the amp to bring most of the power, and I’ll usually always put some reverb mixed with light delay from my TC Electronic Flashback. It makes everything sparkle.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

It’s not a technique really, but I almost always religiously go direct unless whatever I’m doing calls for feedback or some experimental sounds. There is a lot of great tech/plugins out there nowadays that allow you to achieve amazing tones directly from the interface. Again, tone is mostly in your fingers, so I’m a believer of making whatever you’ve got work. If the song calls for something, I’m willing to experiment any way necessary, but usually whatever I’m looking for is on a computer or interface as ridiculous as that sounds. It makes for easy traveling too.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

Because I consistently rely on an amp with a clean tone, it allows me to stay consistent. Any amp with a decent clean tone will allow me to perform whatever genre of music. It’s why I have some key pedals— that way, no matter what the circumstances, I always have a way to get the sound I’m going for. I’ve run into a lot of instances where a venue says that have a certain amp (when I’m not traveling with my own), and then I show up, and it’s an entirely different amp (i.e. they say they have a Fender, but it winds up being an Orange). Instead of panicking, I just get the cleanest, prettiest tone, and slap on some of my pedals, and I’m good to go.

What does your practice consist of?

I usually try to run scales up and down the neck. I also think the most important thing for me is to be able to hear a song and know how to play it within a minute. So a lot of my practice time is me listening to songs I want to know and trying to learn by ear— which is how I learned to play guitar. That way if I’m ever out and about, and something spontaneously comes up, I’m able to jump on it. I don’t know how to read music, I never took an interest in it, so training my ear to catch on to songs quickly is really where my motive is.

What is your advice for young individuals wishing to work in the music industry?

As someone who has made a lot of mistakes while being involved in the music industry, my main takeaway is know what you want going into it. Take time, figure out your sound, figure out what you want out of it, and go in aiming to get exactly that. You’ll find your deal, don’t take something because it’s the only thing available right then and there. Find a team that will answer your phone calls. Find a team that shares your vision— turn “your” vision into “our” vision. Anything is possible, you just have to have the drive to be told “no” a million times before being told “yes”. This industry requires thick skin, but it is so rewarding when you’ve put in that work, and people want to be part of what you’re bringing to the table. Stick it out for that moment, you’ll get there.

About DAISY: An unapologetic, androgynous queer woman, Daisy is a champion for LGBTQ advocacy in the music industry and openly speaks about the challenges she has faced with identity and acceptance. Through her advocacy, she has performed at Amnesty International, Black Girls Rock, Restore Civility, and also appeared on a women’s panel at Electric Forest Festival. In 2019, you can expect to see a lot more of Daisy as she continues to make a name for herself as a role model for LGBTQ youth in an otherwise male-dominated industry. 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.instagram.com/daisyspencer
https://twitter.com/daisyspencer

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