One day, during a vacation to Italy, Tiffany Day sang into a well because it “had a nice echo”. Little did she know, that rendition of “Hallelujah” would change the course of her life. Sparking her confidence as a YouTuber, this viral video was the first of many. Today, Tiffany has over 1 million YouTube subscribers, but, more importantly, she has unearthed her unique sound.
Voyaging from her hometown in suburban Kansas, Tiffany entered college in LA with dreams of pursuing music. 2 years later, this dream is flourishing in the form of vibrant bedroom-pop, fearless lyricism, and an unstoppable ambition.
We met with Tiffany to speak about her early life, what it means to be a YouTuber, the challenges of superficiality in LA, and on what she has in store for the future…
You live in LA – a completely different world than what you were used to growing up in Kansas – do you find being there is better for you creatively?
Yeah, but honestly it’s just different. When I’m at home I’m forced to sit at home and write music alone, which can be a really good thing, but I usually miss sitting in the studio with other people and collaborating.
I wouldn’t say it’s better or for worse, it’s just different in the two atmospheres. When I’m in LA I feel like there’s this constant rush to get things done, which is very motivating, but when I’m at home I can take my time on things. Even though there’s nothing physically pushing me to get things done out here you just kind of feel this energy.
I’m going into my junior year – but I really just want to drop out.
Can you feel the influences of both places in your music?
In Kansas I definitely think there are small ways I was shaped and influenced as an artist, even some ways I probably can’t realize for myself, but I also think that LA was the big city that made me the artist I am today.
I didn’t even necessarily believe in myself or consider myself a writer before I moved to LA. When I got out here I met this family friend who was also once a judge for “The Voice” in China and she just was frank with me and told me “This is LA, everyone here can sing. Unless you sound like Mariah Carrie or Ariana Grande or whoever, you’re not gonna be different than anyone else. You need to distinguish yourself through your writing.” And that was really just such a great wakeup call for me. I acknowledge that my voice isn’t legendary, but I have the power to make my writing legendary.
After I realized that I sort of followed this path to find myself and develop myself as an artist. So LA really helped me mature and find that voice.
So when you were finding your sound, did you feel like you had a lot to say?
Yes and no. I definitely feel like I had a lot of things pent up and ready to say, but it was also kind of a matter of figuring out the vibe of the music, the production, and what I really wanted to talk about.
For a while I really hated myself when I wrote about boys or things like that. I would just get mad at myself and say “I can’t do this!”, and would purposefully take “boy cleanses” and not write music about boys.
I really did hit the ground running when I got here. I hopped into my first studio session soon after I landed and I really had no idea what to expect, but sooner or later I just started writing. I was so unsure and unconfident, I really didn’t believe in myself, but I think the support of all these people around me combined with the incredible energy in the room helped me tune my confidence.
I started building a lot of confidence and going to the studio feeling like “I’m gonna write a really dope ass song today!”
Was there a first song where you realized “this is me”?
Yeah, and it’s funny because it didn’t come to me until maybe a year or two after I started writing. I was in New York one week doing a little concert for this really dope streaming platform called Quadio. While I was there I messaged this producer who I had been dying to work with. I just felt like the stars were aligning and so I got into a session with him and there was just something about the production he did and my writing on the track that just encapsulated all of this energy that I have as a person in a sound and that just really paved the way for me and who I want to be as an artist!
Have you released the song?
Yes! Just a few months ago actually – it’s called “Grown Up” off of my Limelight pack.
What was your thought process behind dropping that limelight package?
It’s funny because I wasn’t originally planning on dropping any sort of project this summer, but at the same time I felt like it’d be cool to drop a mini project to switch things up a little bit with a cool concept.
I chose these two songs because they relate to each other because they’re on the same spectrum, but they’re actually on two completely different sides of the spectrum which I thought was interesting.
One of them is about being grateful for what you have and understanding and realizing you’re living your dreams and you may not be a billionaire but at the same time you’re able to make music, be happy, and thinking to yourself, “my life is f*cking dope!”.
On the other hand we have this other theme like “I’m too good for you” type sh*t. When I was younger I had this really toxic mindset – whenever I got rejected, whether it be from a boy, or a school, or whatever, I would always think to myself, “it doesn’t matter, I’ll just blow up and make them all regret it”, (which I totally may still think subconsciously sometimes haha). When I wrote the song “Revenge”, I turned that mindset back on and added this perspective of me already making it, as a huge star, and now people are running back to me. Except every person that runs back to me I am now rejecting.
Have people been doing that to you now?
I won’t lie, in high school I really felt like so many people didn’t get to know me and just labeled me as “that Asian girl,” and now I have some interactions with people that clearly didn’t f with me in high school where they ask me to collab or something. When my first viral video of me singing into a well blew up that’s when I really started feeling a shift in energy and people started talking to me that never had before.
And so you put all of these different feelings into limelight?
Yes, I really wanted to think of a name that encapsulated them both – and for a while I was really stumped on it, but one day I was listening back to one of these old songs I wrote where I said “looking into the limelight” and then I realized limelight is such a dope word and it’s so underused so I looked up the definition. It said “the center of attention or fame” which just worked perfectly with the two songs. At that moment everything just fell into place in my vision and I envisioned this green background cause of the limes and these pink suits etc.
I can tell just talking to you and listening to your past interviews that you’re such a genuine person which definitely can’t be said for everyone in LA – has it been hard to deal with the superficiality out there?
Oh yes. I noticed it literally the second I got to LA. My song “Clout Chaser” is about an experience I had with a “friend” I had my freshman year which just exposed this culture out here of just being thought of as a number. I remember this person I thought was my homie would just always want to take pictures to tag me with and put me on all his social media every time we went out. He’d be like, “oh tag me in that post” and “oh put me on your story”, and I was just like “No! I’m not just a social media account!”
I’ve met so many people who are very nice on the surface but just aren’t the same when you start to get to know them. It’s taught me not to be as naive in an environment like this. In LA everyone is desperate for the clout!
Do you ever want to hide your social media?
Oh yeah I do! I have a whole separate personal instagram account with my real last name just for people I meet and want to keep my life more private for. You know it’s weird meeting people out and then sharing my instagram handle @tiffdidwhat and them getting all excited about it.
In just a few words, how would you describe your sound?
It’s funny you say that because one of my friends and I did this exercise where every day I texted him ten things that I loved about myself as a person. We kind of looked through the list and found these common words reappearing – one of the biggest words we were left with was youthful which really helped me accept that the youthful part of me was something I needed to stop hiding. For a while I would always put on so much makeup to make myself seem older than I was. I am 20, but I still feel like there’s so much youth in me and I feel like I’m this immature person that just loves to fuck around and have fun!
And he just told me “you need to use that, as your drive, as your theme moving forward in your career.”
I also think being in college and having all my friends around me in this stage where you’re not all alone yet, in the bubble of being supported by my family and getting to just have fun as a young adult is the biggest shaping factor for me as an artist right now.
LA has shaped me so much more than Kansas really did, because there just wasn’t as much of an appreciation for art there and everyone really followed these predetermined paths. Once I got to LA and saw this surplus of art and people following their dreams I just felt better about being myself as a musician.
How is it balancing school with the obligation to keep putting music out for your followers?
It was definitely hard at first, but I also think that time management is my absolute best friend. It really was a matter of getting my footing at first, like freshman year I didn’t even have my team yet – but now that I do I feel like I can give more energy to music but also maintain my grades in college.
I used to want to take a gap year, come to LA, focus on music for a year, and then actually go to college for real, but coming from a very traditional Asian background my parents were like “that’s not happening”.
Do you feel like your youtube career is separate from your original music career?
That was the original goal at first – but I feel like I’ve been put into this category, which may not be a bad thing at all, but I definitely feel it. It’s been my mission to get out of that group, but at the same time if I end up in this niche it’s totally okay because at the end of the day I’m just making music I love and believe in. My main priority is just to be taken seriously as an artist.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
I think there are different lanes for this one. For writing, definitely Jessie Reyez and Olivia O’brien. Jessie Reyez is just such a great person and artist I love her so much! Her live performance I saw in high school really changed my perception on how I should be as an artist – because of how confident and bold she was.
I say Olivia O’brien writing-wise because she’s just so incredibly direct with her writing. Like it almost reminds me of teenage pettiness, but I love it.
Production-wise I’m really into more electronic-influenced type pop. Like throughout high school I really loved Whethan and Louis the Child and I love the feeling that production brings. And then also, and this one is super whack and I don’t even know if you can hear this in my music, but Bruno Mars has literally been the love of my life for the past 10 years. My dorm room had so many posters of him. I love how well-rounded he is – he’s just good at everything he does.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
Blackbear. We would write a power anthem, I just feel it.
Can you give us some insight on your near-future plans?
I’m sitting on a lot of music so there’s so much to come! I currently have this plan to release 4 EPs in a year, which is definitely a lot, but they are concept EPs and they’re all tied to each other and highlight my experience as a college student. Each of them represents a year of my college life AND I’m hoping to have a short film come out along with them. Then after that I’m hoping to put out an album!
What would be your role with the short film?
I don’t tell a lot of people this, but I used to have a vine account where I would mess around with edits and stuff like that and I actually racked up a little following of like 60k or something like that.
I’m super interested in visual stuff, I really think in so many cases the visuals that accompany music is just as important as the music itself so I really just want to be involved in that side of the art.
Have you thought about the plots yet?
I absolutely have. It’s gonna follow a very similar storyline to how things actually went down in my life for the past two years and then the next two future years. I’ve had ideas about integrating the people that influenced my life and my art into the film as well, but for the most part it just follows some of the main realizations I’ve made about life as a whole since I arrived here!
With an ambition stronger than life itself, we’re so excited to see where Tiffany goes from here. Make sure you keep up with her on social and take a listen to some of her hottest tracks below!