25 going on 26, Dia Frampton earned her fame when she became a contestant on the first season of NBC’s The Voice. Under the watch of coach Blake Shelton, she eventually became a runner-up. But The Voice wasn’t the half Korean half Dutch’s singer-songwriter first introduction to the music industry.
Dia Frampton first brandished her vocals in “Meg & Dia”, an American rock band founded by Dia and her sister, Meg Frampton. As a band, the sisters released a couple of albums (including “Cocoon” in 2011) before they announced that they were disbanding so that they could go back to school and Dia could concentrate on building a solo career. And NBC’s The Voice paved the path for her. Her solo album, “Red”, in which she either wrote or co-wrote the songs, was released in December 2011. After which, Dia shot off on her whirlwind promotional tour.
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Last week, Dia Frampton was in town for her first Malaysian solo concert. We spent an evening with the lovely singer-songwriter at the Universal Music Malaysia headquarters and got to know her beyond just her music:
Hi Dia! Tell us, how different is now that your sister is doing her own thing and that you’re doing this on your own?
“I think even with or without The Voice it would’ve ended up this way, us kind of going out separate paths. We live about 13 hours away from each other now so we kinda see each other like, during Christmas or Thanksgiving. I saw her for Christmas, we got together, and we were cooking together. She has an online jewelry company right now called ‘Chandler the Robot’. It’s called that because she loves ‘Friends’! I actually invited her to come out with me during tour but it’s somewhat short but she couldn’t. I think it has given..more so me because I’m the little sister, an opportunity to find myself. I’ve always kinda been in her shadow – not in a sad way but because I look up to her so much that she has been such a big influence in my life. To not have her there to rely on or second guess my opinion has forced me to become stronger and to be more solid in my convictions.”
How different is it now writing songs without your sister being present all the time?
“About the same because really, as ‘Meg & Dia’ we didn’t write as much together as you would think. I often would write a song and then she would write a song, and then..we would kinda help put the finishing touches in her song and my song and vice versa. I would write a full-on song and ask her what she thinks, she would add production to it or tell me which parts or lyrics she didn’t like and I would change it. So we actually wrote separately. But we did get to write a song together for ‘Red’ which is called ‘Hearts Out To Dry’ which is probably the most special song to me.”
How has being on The Voice contributed to your solo career?
“The Voice opened doors for me to work with producers that I would’ve never gotten an opportunity to work with otherwise. I got to work with ‘Foster the People’ and have them write and produce a song with me, I got to work with the producer of ‘Florence + The Machine’, I got to work with Greg Kurstin on ‘Don’t Kick The Chair’ – he’s my favourite producer ever. I just picked his brain about all the artistes he has worked with, all the sounds like what keyboard did he use for this or what instrument did he use for that..”
Now that you’ve started your solo career, how has your songwriting process changed?
“I think it’s really, um, it changed mostly from working with these producers that I look up to so much..I’ve learnt so much from them. I think I’ve grown in that sense. Even now, I’m starting to write my new record in a week and I feel so much more knowledgeable about the two things that are the most important things to me in songwriting – getting a message that I want to say and conveying it in the most simple but poetic way. In the past, I start with a message and kinda get lost along the way and it gets mixed up and there would be so many parts that don’t need to be there. And now it’s like, what I want to say and how can I say it in the best way.”
What advice do you have for young adults or aspiring singer-songwriters who want to someday make it big?
“Perform as much as possible! I mean, I started in a very unglamorous way – at the age of nine and ten..I was playing almost every month at any old folks home. I would go during lunch time and I would sing for 30 minutes, and I always sang older songs that they would know because they were mostly people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. So I sang a lot of Patsy Kline and some old country numbers. Even then I got so nervous whenever I sang there but they were all just eating lunch! But I started there and then I moved on to rodeos and county fairs with maybe 60 people watching. It was just a long process. The first tour I went on was in a car and it was literally, driving from cities to cities with this band. We’d sleep in Walmart parking lots, in park parking lots, or in parks. One time in Berkeley California we slept in the park because our bass player was snoring so loud and the cops came to kick us out. I had to go back and sleep in the car! But really, I think it’s just about getting out there as much as possible and I think that with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, it’s such a good social media network that’s available to you. That’s a big reason that I’m here – it’s that I was able to tweet people in Malaysia from my bed in Utah or LA or wherever I am. It’s also a bad thing in the sense that lots of people get stuck just posting videos on YouTube when one of the most important things is not to play virally in front of people when you’re not even really playing in front of them. Go play at your local bar, go play at your cousin’s birthday party. Go play anywhere. Just practice being nervous.”
Aww. She’s really as sweet as they come. It’s hard not to be instant fans. Thank you for speaking to us, Dia! Already looking forward to hearing more of your music. And thank you, Universal Music Malaysia for making this interview happen.
Dia Frampton’s debut album, “Red”, is now available at a music store near you! Alternatively, you could also purchase her album off iTunes here.
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