by Bailey Cool
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with rising star singer-songwriter, Daisy O’Connor for a cup of coffee and what turned out to be one of the more enlightening and inspiring Ovrld interviews I’ve ever done. Daisy comes from a small, coastal town in Washington State. My initial instinct was– “Seattle!” “punk scene!”– what a wondrous time to live in northwest Washington if you’re a musician. Well, Daisy’s story is a little different than expected.
Daisy grew up on a farm just outside of an extremely small town. (She adds that the neighboring town has the highest number of churches per person, if that gives you an image of what her landscape looked like). She describes herself as feeling like an outsider looking in to city life; she was just in between Seattle and Vancouver, in extremely poor, conservative farmland where she was homeschooled until the age of 16. After cold nights in her attic bedroom and feeling somewhat ostracized from her community for identifying as queer, she knew she needed a change in her situation. She left her home and started working as a social worker in a domestic violence shelter in Bellingham, WA. It was at this job that Daisy finally found a voice for herself, amidst trying to find a voice for these victims of horrific violence.
“Sometimes it takes being a leader to realize you have any power. I had never realized that I could make change and that what I said had any power until I worked with young people at the youth homeless center.” After about five years of being “on call” at all times to handle domestic/sexual violence situations and dealing with an intrusive situation with the organization itself, Daisy began playing music again (this time exploring it outside of the strictly Christian and classical music she was allowed to play growing up). She visited a friend in Austin for a week and was instantly sold on it.
“I couldn’t believe the kindness and warmth from everyone in this city,” she says. “I immediately plotted my exit from Washington, knowing this was where I needed to be.” Daisy quickly found a place amongst songwriters and musicians here in ATX and began working on her first album, Do Be Do. “This community makes me want to ‘give back’ to it – everyone is like family here and so many people have done so much for me.”
Her title track, “Do Be Do,” acts as a kind of folksier version of Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow.” Follow who you are. Love who you love. And do what makes you happy. She mentions that creating social change through her music is her primary goal. “A song has so much power to change lives”, she exclaims, “perhaps I have even more power now writing and singing than I did working directly as a social worker.”
“Maria” is an ode to all of the women’s stories she heard in the domestic violence center, centering on one woman– the eponymous Maria– who Daisy promises to “set free” and not cause pain to anymore. She comments on the light heartedness of her words, though: “Oh Maria, did he give you pain?/I’ll try not to give you more of the same…” It’s about recognizing our very human ability to hurt others, intentionally or not, and all we can do is try not to give the pain we are so prone to causing, to others.
As Daisy composed her songs for her album, she went into writing with the mantra of “writing about shit that matters, but always finding the lighter side of humanity.” She told me, with a gleam in her eye, “Life is serious. I’ve witnessed really bad things happen…but you have to try not to take it too seriously.” There’s something to be said for a young woman who left an emotionally abusive situation herself in order to then devote her life and her art to helping others.
Daisy has an album release party at Strange Brew this Saturday, May 10th at 7pm and more shows and her music can be found at DaisyDoBeDo.com