EP Cover by Amelia Day
Despite being classically trained, Amelia Day doesn’t limit herself to just one genre of music; she dabbles in folk, jazz, soul, and indie alike. Her acoustic guitar combined with imagery like “maple street, matcha tea” and “I left your heart out to dry on a clothin’ line stretched across central time” creates a listening experience full of familiarity and warm, golden light. She splits her time between Nashville and Seattle and has generated a fanbase spanning the American South to the Pacific Northwest.
Her debut EP, “Eastward of Eden,” tells a story about humanity as a whole: the good and the bad and the past, present, and future. It’s a story centered on longing, slightly rotating subjects with each new track.
Her sophomore EP is titled “Little One.” In it, she touches on childhood and the highs and lows of early adulthood from the perspective of a queer person moving out of their hometown to discover the big, beautiful, and sometimes-scary world that awaits them. She has released five out of six of the songs on the EP so far, with “Little One” being the fifth.
I had the privilege of interviewing Day about “Little One.” What follows is a conversation about queer childhood, coming of age, and a cool sweater with a star-shaped charm on the zipper.
Emma Blakely: First of all, thank you so much for meeting. I love interviewing artists because it’s always so cool to see what you guys think about.
Amelia Day: Thank you, that means a lot! I love talking about this stuff, so it’s my favorite thing.
Emma: I’ll just dive right in and ask: What inspired you to write “Little One?”
Amelia: The song is basically a love letter to my younger self. I was reflecting a lot about how I felt in the college process, especially when, as a queer person, I was coming out of my small town environment and finding my own community for the first time. I felt this need to fully reinvent myself, so I would make fun of my younger self. I used to be — and I still very much am — such a dork; I would wear Crocs with knee high socks. I have this old YouTube channel that’s private now. That’s all still very much a part of who I am today, even if I have gone through a lot of other things. I thought about that and the little one inside of me. I wanted to write a song reflecting on how I’ve grown since I was a middle schooler and what I can learn from my younger self.
Being a pseudo-adult — I wouldn’t fully consider myself a full adult — there are definitely more responsibilities, expectations, and rigidities we assign ourselves. When we were little we just had fun with things and played around with them. Today, music, what I care the most about, has become a bit of a job for me. Finding a way to reconnect with playfulness and music while approaching it practically, because this is something I want to be able to do completely full-time, has definitely been a challenge. [“Little One” is] reflecting on all of that.
Emma: It definitely comes through in the lyrics. I know the press release said that you play around with the genre [of “Little One”]. I think it’s really cool to be able to let go and let yourself experiment and be creative again.
Amelia: Thank you. This past year, in particular, I felt a pressure to confine myself to either genre or style of branding, because that’s what the business side of the industry wants — to force you into a little box.
But I think I’m most drawn to artists that are completely authentic and releasing music that they’re most passionate about even if it doesn’t necessarily fit into, “You’re a folk artist, so you must release only folk from now on.” I would like to write music that’s soul pop, indie funk, and folk rock. It’s all under this coming-of-age theme, but everywhere in terms of genre. Instead of shying away from that, I decided to embrace it and release the stuff I love the most.
Emma: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Is that something that you would like people to kind of take away? What would you like people to feel or take away from “Little One” and back to their own lives and their own experiences?
Amelia: Oh, man. That’s such a good question. I think the core of it is not following other people’s expectations for what you should do but doing what you feel is right in your gut or in your heart, like [what] you genuinely want to pursue.
Especially in this stage in our lives, there are a lot of outside pressures telling us what’s right to do. To separate the affirmation you feel when you do something “right,” with when you do something that genuinely feeds your soul; something I’ve been working through these past couple of years in deciding to pursue music is thinking through: Do I enjoy this because I’m good at it, people will applaud me for it, [and] because it’s what I will be most successful in? Or do I like this because I genuinely enjoy it? That’s how I’ve found that what I enjoy the most is music. And I’ve always known that, but it’s a little scary to actually go after it because it’s not the most stable career in the world.
Emma: No, I think that’s really poignant for young adults. The amount of self reflection you have to do just to be happy and discover what you want to do, especially as a young queer person, is a lot.
Amelia: Yeah, it’s hitting home. Some songs that I wrote a year ago, or two years ago — this project spans a few years of writing — I have found new meaning in them now. I’m in my senior year, and it’s a little terrifying thinking, “I’ve been in school my entire life, this is genuinely all I know.” This is the first time stepping into an entirely different phase of life where there isn’t that scaffolding and regularity. It’s a little terrifying.
Emma: How would you say “Little One” relates to your queerness and your queer identity? Like, how does discovering your inner child and reintegrating them into yourself connect with queerness?
Amelia: What unites all the songs is what I was talking about before with the playfulness inherent in the styles and in the lyricism: little tongue-in-cheek, comedic lines. But another big thing is that it really is my coming-of-age story: more of a college coming-of-age, rather than the traditional high school coming-of-age. I feel like that’s even more poignant of an experience, especially for queer people. I was raised in the church, and my family’s Christian. So getting out of that community and discovering what I really believe — which I already knew to an extent, but having the space and time to explore that — was huge. The EP explores the ups and downs of the queer experience, like finding your identity outside of those people you’ve lived with your entire life and the highs of finding that love.
“Skipping Down The Sidewalk” has that joyful aspect to it, and then there’s “Therapist’s Wet Dream.” I feel like as queer young adults, we’re almost in some ways — and I say this with a big grain of salt — stunted in relationships because we haven’t had those traditional high school relationships before coming to college. Or, if we have, it’s been colored by some kind of religious or family complication. I think we are going through a lot of those relationship dynamics at a later age. I wanted to shift this story to college because that’s when I feel more like I’ve come of age.
Emma: I mean, the whole idea of second puberty, especially for queer people, is a real thing. Getting out of where you grew up and the world opens it up in this big, crazy way, and you realize not everything is how it was in your hometown. And I think seeing these opportunities is very relevant for queer people.
Amelia: That’s definitely a big theme in the project. There have been queer themes in my music before, but this is the first time I’ve ever been openly queer with my music, which has been a little scary. I’m coming to a point where in my personal life, I’m very openly queer, but only recently [out] publicly. With extended family, there’s a little bit of complications. But coming to school and being on my own, I want to be putting stuff out into the world — whether it’s art or just things that represent me — that are authentic and reflective of who I am.
Emma: Well, I’m glad. You mentioned bringing back your inner child and your day-to-day life. Is there anything specific that you’ve been doing to do that? Any day-to-day things that you’ve been trying to introduce a little bit more joy and silliness in your life?
Amelia: Yeah, I think the big thing is clothing. In the last year, [I have] been experimenting with a lot more colors and patterns. I’m actually going to grab a couple of things to show you.
Amelia finds a red sweater with pink, blue, and yellow stripes and stars on the sleeve and cuffs and a silver star charm on the zipper.
I’ve been experimenting with more pieces like that; wearing something that’s just fun. I definitely feel like when I wear that, I do stand out a bit. Some people might be like, “that’s a little dorky,” but I don’t care because it’s very me and brings me a lot of joy to wear fun stuff like that. It all comes back to that idea of doing what you want to do, regardless of what you feel like someone expects you to do. I just try to bring a lot of silliness and joy into whatever I do as much as I can, because nothing’s that serious, you know? It’s difficult to do all the time — to reincorporate that and get more out of my head.
Emma: I think that’s really great. Clothing is a very real way of self-expression, and it’s so broad. I think I underestimated the power of it until very recently, too.
I actually want to talk a little bit about the promotion for “Little One,” because I adore the baby pictures. They’re so cute! Did you just spend an afternoon going through family photo albums? Was your family big on photos?
Amelia: Oh my god. Yeah, my mom. She’s a photographer and graphic designer. We’re very similar; the two of us are incredibly artistic. So there are so many pictures of my brother and I: especially me, because I was the older child. I literally just texted my mom. I was like, “Hey, can you send me some kid photos?” and I went through her Facebook and saved a bunch. It was actually super easy because she’s posting all the time but has everything organized. She’s very methodical.
It’s honestly been so fun making the graphics for this project. As much as it still is a task, getting to look back on old home videos and pictures of a little me [is] a very meta process in making the visuals. I felt more connected to the themes of the project than I did when I was writing the songs. It’s very generative, which is cool.
Emma: Yeah, that is really cool.
Going back in time: I noticed that you posted fan art for “Therapist’s Wet Dream” as your cover art. It’s beautiful. I love the way that you said that it describes the vignettes of a past relationship. I was wondering if you wanted to speak on your interaction with your community and your fans and what that’s been like and what it means to you and how it inspires your process?
Amelia: Oh, man. That’s actually been a really new thing for me, especially in the past nine months. I didn’t have much beyond a live community back home of a small group of people. I wouldn’t even call it a fan group or fan base at that point. Nine months ago, one of my songs had a mini viral moment a month after release, which was really surreal because a month into release, it only had 700 streams or so. Now that’s how much it gets per day. I started finding some community there.
It was really cool to find people who were excited about not only my music but also about the themes that were in it and those who I have a personal connection with. [My fan base] is mostly people around my age — queer, sapphic, mostly female and non-binary, teens, and young to mid 20s. Which is fantastic because that’s literally who I am.
It’s been really cool to talk with these people who enjoy my music. A lot of them are also artists themselves in some capacity, which is what inspired me to do the art contest. Because a lot of people are either posting art or posting covers, or saying that they’re going to learn the cover of the song. I’ve been given a platform, to an extent, from these people. So I wanted to highlight their art and also see what people come up with. [It’s] gratifying and surreal when it’s your own art that people are making art from.
I feel like I genuinely know a lot of these artists who have been making art based off of my music because I’ve messaged them a little bit and started a conversation. They’re really sweet people I feel very lucky to have found and brought into my fold. These are people that I would be friends with.
Emma: It’s like what you said earlier when you were talking about reflecting on your photos and how that made you appreciate the song more; it’s a generative process. You can just keep the feedback loop going.
Amelia: It’s almost like receiving feedback in a way, seeing what parts were most effective, what images people grab onto most frequently. It’s just really cool because that’s what I do with a lot of my writing; I have a lot of allusions, either biblical allusions or mythic allusions … so I think it’s cool to see that process happen on the other side. I’m just blown away.
Emma: Yeah, I think it’s amazing. I love when artists have a strong connection to their community. I feel like one of the wonderful things about being a slightly smaller-scale artist is that you really get to interact one-on-one with people.
Amelia: [The connection is] more personal, but I’m at a point where I’m receiving a solid amount of messages. It’s hard to reply to everything and also be a student, a musician, a partner, and a person. That’s something I’m curious about moving forward: how to sustain that culture as much as I can while also having reasonable boundaries. It’s at a great place right now.
Emma: In closing remarks, do you have any messages to anyone who might be reading? Mostly, our reader base is young queer people, young queer adults. Or queer kids because “Little One” is ultimately also about queer kids
Amelia: Yeah, for this one, I want to say something more meaningful than greeting card cliches. I think the big thing — and it’s something I’ve touched on quite a bit in this conversation — is you know who you are. Don’t dilute yourself for other people. I think, even from a young age, I had an idea of who I was and that I was different in some way. I didn’t necessarily have the words to articulate what that was at the time. Honestly, I still don’t, and you don’t need to. But I think a big thing is that in your gut, you know what feels right. If you are in a place where you can be safe and follow what feels right, that will bring so many flowers to you.
“Little One” and Day’s music as a whole are joyfully revolutionary for queer people. When we fight for ourselves and each other just to be safe and navigate society without being persecuted, it’s easy to forget to take joy in ourselves and our experiences. Day’s “Little One” reminds us that this step is just as important in moving forwards, and encourages young queer adults to speak gently to ourselves: “you’re still young, little one.”
You can listen to Amelia Day’s music, including “Little One,” on Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music. You can follow her on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and X (formerly known as Twitter), or check out her website.
Disclaimer: This interview has been edited to increase fluidity and clarity for the reader. This transcript maintains the integrity of the original recorded interview.
Author: Emma Blakely (They/She/He)
Copy Editors: Gwendolyn Hill (She/Her), Bella (She/Her)