Church to Charts: An Interview with DaQuashia, R&B’s Immaculate New Voice

DaQuashia —a soul-speaking singer/songwriter— has closed the gates on our worries in finding “Unconditional Love.” Throughout DaQuashia’s young life, her deep euphonious voice was polished and perfected amongst church choirs in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Having such a strong culture with family and friends, she was able to gain confidence with her voice, and most importantly— herself. While attending Clark Atlanta University, she began to recognize her true talents and abilities to become what she is today—an R&B sensation. Just recently, she caught a big break through being noticed by a Grammy-nominated producer on a live video with R&B Radar that took off on Twitter and had people showing enormous love for her music. DaQuashia and I had a chance to sit down and talk about her background, influences, and future endeavors in an exclusive interview for Burbs Entertainment.

Nick Ferraro: What was it like growing up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi?

DaQuashia: Growing up here, it wasn't really bad. I'm always surrounded by a lot of culture here; a lot of people who were always looking out for me. I actually was born in Texas—Abilene, Texas—that’s where i’m originally from, so I’m extremely southern. Being from southern Mississippi, it wasn’t too bad. I had a few crazy experiences growing up, but it nothing blatantly racist. It wasn’t until I was older that I started recognizing the crazy experiences.

People always say that they want to move away—they can't wait to move away, which I am going to move away—but I wouldn't say that it's a place I would never come back to; I would probably have a home here. I grew up in a church, I grew up singing in a church choir, I grew up around a lot of my people—a lot of people who looked like me in the church, who influenced me to be who I am today. So, it was a great experience. It's been a great experience; I'm actually here right now.

Nick Ferraro: Does the culture and environment that is your hometown shape or mold your sound and style in some way?

DaQuashia: Definitely. So, I don't know if you can hear it even when I speak, but I'm very country. I grew up in the country; I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, so it really influenced my sound and the soul and the deep sounds that are in my music.

Nick Ferraro: Was there something or somebody—or you, yourself—that made you take that leap from singing in a church choir to make music and being an independent artist?

DaQuashia: Actually, I would say I've always wanted to be an independent artist. Growing up in a church introduced me to my voice; honestly, it made me find my voice. My confidence didn't come into play until I got to college, and I actually put my foot in the door and actually started making music. But growing up in a church definitely shaped me to the work and to who I am today in my sound, but I wouldn't say it was a big transition from singing in the church to making music because it was always something that I wanted to do and my family always knew it was something that I wanted to do, as well.

Nick Ferraro: I saw that you went to Clark Atlanta University as a film major. How would you prioritize your time with your studies and your music career?

DaQuashia: I wouldn’t say it was hard, because when it’s something that you want to do, you don't even really think about what time it is, how long I've been here. I would say that I always made time for it. It didn’t matter if I was tired or whatnot; I always make time for music because it's something that I really want to do.

Nick Ferraro: Do you think you'll decide to direct a film in the future?

DaQuashia: Definitely. That's definitely something that I'm still interested in. I did not get a degree for no reason; I definitely would not have wasted my time if it was something that I didn't want to do. Right now, my focus is on other things. Using my degree and even directing my own music videos, films, and doing it for other people is something that I want to get into in the future. I'm just glad I have that under my belt right now, and I know my way around it and whatnot. So, yeah, it's definitely something that I do want to do in the future.

Nick Ferraro: Are music videos going to play a big part in your projects and everything else you're doing?

DaQuashia: Most definitely; it's something that I'm really looking forward to. A lot of people keep asking me why I haven't put out that “Unconditional Love.” I really want it to be something that's memorable, and it's something that I want to have a major party when it comes to writing it, scoring it, and just doing a lot of different things with it.

Nick Ferraro: What artists and albums would you say are a primary inspiration to you?

DaQuashia: I'm going to say this every time somebody asks me this—Beyonce is always very at the top of my list; she'll always be at the top of my list. So, my first album that I ever had was an Alicia Keys album; she played a big role and was a big inspiration to me. I would say Brandy. Right now, I’m going to say one of my favorite artists, and everybody is so surprised when I say this—Drake. He does inspire me a lot. Jhene Aiko. There’s a lot of artists who I really admire; I watch a lot of interviews and whatnot, and I'm always so inspired by them. It's a lot of people out here that I'm really inspired by.

Nick Ferraro: What was it like seeing Tommy Banks and Icon Lord Quest react in that fashion to your music on R&B Radar?

DaQuashia: In the moment, I was like, “Is this even happening? Like, what the heck.” I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I was just really happy that they finally reviewed the song because I was going to the live for weeks, trying to get my music listened to every week I would go. I think it was for almost a month and a half straight; I can't even remember the timeframe, but I was going on there every Monday trying to get my music listened to. So, when he finally listened to it on that day, it was just like, “Bro, what?” It was really crazy.

Nick Ferraro: I went through a bunch of tweets when I was doing my due diligence on you, and I saw this someone said, “All of these years knowing you, I didn't know you could sing. This is fire, keep it up!” When you were younger, did you keep yourself vocal talents to yourself outside of the church?

DaQuashia: I wouldn’t say I was, but I wasn’t like, “Oh my gosh, I can sing! Listen to me sing!” I got involved in choir in middle school, and I started doing talent shows, but there wasn't that many in middle school. Every now and then, I would post YouTube videos of me singing—thank God they’re gone now—but it was nothing that people probably would know about me off rip. I'm actually very reserved and very shy, so that's why a lot of people did not know that I sing; some people still just figured it out. The person that said that—we grew up together, and it was probably fifth grade when I met him, and he has yet to know that I could sing until now.

I'm just pretty reserved when it comes to it. I just like being humble about things; I don't like pushing it out there. But like I said, I also did not have the confidence that I have now when it came to singing. Honestly, that just came to me in college when I started performing around campus and whatnot, and my friends who were like, “Yeah, you can sing, start doing this more often.” So, the confidence just really came and that's why a lot of people did not know that I could sing.

Nick Ferraro: What would you say took that shyness away?

DaQuashia: I think it was just the support around me really telling me, “You could really be famous; you can really do something with your voice.” Dropping “Unconditional Love” and dropping the first song “Changed Up” and people reacting to it and saying, “This is really, really good.” I would say that's what really pushed me—the support of the people around me and my friends. I would really say that's so important, because if I didn't have them, I don't know where I would be when it comes to music. It’s the people around me and the people who support me constantly that gave me the confidence that I have now.

Nick Ferraro: What is your favorite film?

DaQuashia: A lot of people probably would hear this and be like, “What the heck,” but my favorite film that played a big part in my life growing up was the Twilight series—just the whole aesthetic behind it and how it had the dark colors and the contrast and all that. The story behind it was kind of corny at first, but then it came around the next couple of movies and it was really good. The series got better with time. That's my favorite film to this day. If I'm bored, if I need something to watch—I just turn that on.

Nick Ferraro: Do you watch film differently because of being a film major?

DaQuashia: Now, I really do. I just watched how things are shot a lot because in high school I was a photographer. All through college I was a photographer, too, and I really pay attention to the way things look; that's really important to me. When I watch films, I really mostly watch it for observing how it is shot and the colors in it and how everything comes to get there. I do pay attention to it differently; everybody probably be paying attention to the scenes and what's happening, and I'm going like,” Oh, this looks really nice; I love the way this is shot.”

Nick Ferraro: I noticed on your Instagram—your shoe game. Is that something that is important to you?

DaQuashia: Honestly, yes, and it didn’t happen until college. I would say that I was into retro type of vibes; I can't even remember what they were called, but my favorite shoe last year was the Aztec Reeboks. They were remakes of the 90s versions. Honestly, I'm one of those people who are just starting to get into 1’s. I just bought my first pair a couple of months ago, and I'm so excited. I'm trying to get into those a lot, and just shoes in general. A lot of adidas. I do like fashion, as well. I'm a lover of all the arts; you can't really box me in, because I could see myself in the future. I really want to do a collab with Reebok or whoever offers me one.

Nick Ferraro: April 29, 1998 is a big day for you?

DaQuashia: Yeah, that's my birthday.

Nick Ferraro: Mine too.

DaQuashia: Seriously? I do not meet too many people who are born on the same day as me! What time were you born? Taurus fam.

Nick Ferraro: I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Nick Ferraro: Every song has a part of love in it—is that something that’s been a good thing in your life, or has it a bad thing?

DaQuashia: It was always great to experience, but I am very much so a lover and hopeless romantic. It's not something that takes a major toll on my life because it's a part of life—highs and lows. I would say that it does play a major role in my life, but I would say that, at the same time, all those things that I am singing about aren't love. I probably have yet to experience true love, but I just feel like they're vital to people as we grow and whatnot. I wouldn’t say that I'm a hopeless romantic; I'm very hopeful about love still, even with the heartbreaks and whatnot. I mean, I wrote “Unconditional Love.” I have to have some type of hope in my life. I would say that it does play a major role in my life, but I wouldn't say that it's a bad thing, I would say that I found my balance in all of it.

Nick Ferraro: Do you have any new projects, collabs, or singles coming out soon?

DaQuashia: Yes, actually. I do have a collab coming out with Tony DeShayes, but I am currently working on a project. I don't want to exactly call it an EP because it's probably going to be longer than a normal EP, but I am working on a project that I am trying to drop before the end of this year. That's what I've been dedicating all my time to lately. I'm definitely working on a project, and I will say that it is heavily love-based. It is very much in your feelings, but, yes, it’s coming.

Nick Ferraro: Can you tell us a little more about your new single coming up?

DaQuashia: Yes, I do. It is called “Give It Up.” I'm dropping it this Sunday; it's a love song. Well, it's a break-up song, but it's a good song. I'm really excited for everyone to hear. I worked on it recently. Honestly, after “Unconditional Love,” everybody kept asking for new music. I was like, “Okay, I can't give them anything that's in the vault because I've grown from that.” So, I had to work on it recently. I actually used my first live instrument on there—one of my friends named Fred is on the saxophone at the end of the song, and that's something that I'm really excited about. I'm really ready for everyone to hear, but, yeah, it’s deep. I plan to make everyone cry—that’s the goal. I’m ready for everyone to hear that.

Nick Ferraro: You tweeted, “I'm happy I have management because of how overwhelming it is?”

DaQuashia: Oh, I actually tweeted that I understand the point of having management now. Not even to be like that, but people asking for features and just to collab and whatnot. I have been trying to focus on my project because that's something that I really want to put out there really soon, and it's just been kind of overwhelming. A lot of people are asking me to work with them, and I can't say yes to everyone. I can't say no to everyone, as well. Management is something that I'm definitely searching for; it's all over the place right now. Things are all over the place, but mainly I'm trying to work and I'm trying to manage my music and just try do everything all at once. I'll say I'm just waiting for the right the team to come into my life; I don't want to force anything. I just don't want the wrong people, you know?

Your management is going to be your best friend in your career, so you want to make sure it's the right person.

Also, I was also going to say that I'm dropping something soon. Hopefully, if things go as planned, my music is projected to reach 100K soon, and when it does, I have this video and song I've been working on that's going to be apart from the single I'm dropping Sunday. I am going to be dropping that, as well, soon, so I'm excited about that. I'm just waiting. It's a little surprise for everyone when I do hit that number, which I hope is soon. It's a lot coming on the way; I'm just excited to keep putting content out and to keep the momentum going and just to keep going up from where I am now. I am really excited about the future, though.

Nick Ferraro: Yeah, it's been crazy to watch. I definitely checked out your platforms the first time I heard your stuff a while ago, and I was surprised with your engagement not being as crazy as it is now because of your talent. Once the video happened on Twitter, it was like, “Damn, she’s getting what she deserves.” It takes platforms like R&B Radar, Burbs Entertainment, and others to really grow an artist. It was incredible to watch you just go from a couple thousand monthly listeners to 20,000 on Spotify and climbing. That must be such an amazing feeling to actually watch your career grow.

DaQuashia: I'm just grateful; it happened so fast. People think it happened overnight, but it’s going to the studio, recording, and constantly trying to push yourself and get the motivation to keep putting music out when things aren't going as expected. It does not happen overnight like people think; it just takes the right moment at the right time, and I'm just excited and grateful, more than anything, that it happened. It was random; they reviewed the video, but who expected it to go viral because I posted it on Twitter? Things like that don't happen that often, so I'm just grateful, more than anything. Anything they need, I'm always like, “Yeah, whatever y’all need,” because I wouldn't be at the point that I am now without them.

Nick Ferraro: Yeah, 100%. What’s nice about them is that they just want to keep pushing the people that do well, and I have seen in the past couple weeks that they're posting about you. It goes to show that they are the real deal.

DaQuashia: I'm grateful because a lot of platforms aren't like that. A lot of people just put you out there, or they don't... But they constantly show me love, and they constantly try to help me out and whatnot. I do appreciate that; I really do. I’ve honestly seen them grow since then, too, and I'm so happy about that because there's a lot of R&B artists who are looking to that platform now and going to them for assistance. I really like that.

Final thoughts?

DaQuashia: I just want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. I’m really excited about that; I was checking your page out and all your content looks really good. You guys just keep doing what you're doing, because I like your whole aesthetic and everything.

I just want to thank everybody that is continuously supporting me; the hype hasn’t died down completely yet. I'm very grateful for that. People are actually looking forward to my music, so I just thank everybody for supporting me and constantly checking for me and still listening to the music and watching the views and listens go up every day. I know you guys will like what I have coming next, I’m excited about that.

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