Does the name Dia Frampton seem familiar? To many out there, that name would ring a few bells.
After all, she was NBC’s The Voice debut season runner-up, formerly part of alternative rock band Meg & Dia and a children’s book author. Just hours before her debut gig in Singapore, we managed to get up close and personal with this introverted Utah native. No one would have guessed that someone so bubbly in real life is someone who’s into reality TV at all. The prompt to join The Voice, was actually pure desperation, when she was still working at Crumb Cupcakes in NYC. Financially she was struggling having $500 in her pocket as Meg & Dia, having to get to work in the afternoon and back at midnight, and in between those pockets, to make music when her roommates were still awake so as not to disturb them.
Sharing her road to being the Dia Frampton that she is now, her Voice experience with Blake Shelton and even her uncanny liking for the film The Gladiator, this is what the charming singer-songwriter had to say.
Popspoken: Hello Dia, we’re so glad to have this interview with you! How has the Singapore experience been for you so far?
Dia Frampton: It’s been kinda sad because I wish I could stay here longer. I got in really late last night so I haven’t really seen anything. I took a taxi to Chinatown and literally just ran around because I wanted to see as much but I was there for only 20 minutes. I also went around Orchard Street, which was really nice. My impression of the people here are very nice, sweet, humble and polite. The city is very very clean which is very nice as well. It’s just been wonderful and I wish I could be here longer. I’m flying off tonight at 4am.
You are a songwriter and a children’s book author, what inspires you to do what you love?
I would say my family but I think everything basically inspires me. I find so many inspirations all around, even in the simplest things. For instance today, I heard in the elevator someone saying ‘you would say anything’. In some reason I really liked that line and I put it down mentally in my head and I think that’s a very interesting thing cause it kinda made me think of something that related to my life that I ‘would say anything’.
You know a song can start from something as little as that, or it could start from spending time with the family over Christmas and just being overwhelmed with all the love, the sister time and my mother, who’s a very inspirational person. Also, travelling to see all different kinds of people. I could simply write a song over a really good bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Meg & Dia’s music was pretty emotional and heartfelt back then, how would you describe your music now?
I think it’s very similar to Meg & Dia in a lot of ways because it’s the same writers. Meg and I actually wrote songs separately back then. Many people thought that it would probably hard for me to start writing on my own without Meg or my producers and honestly it wasn’t because Meg and I wrote separately very often. On an album, she may write 5 songs, I would write 4 or 5 or 6 songs. We seldom collaborate while writing. I miss it though when we work on the melodies and the arrangements of the music and producing it after writing our own songs but in terms of writing, it still has been very much the same.
From Vans Warped Tours to Hollywood; How does it feel?
To me, it’s just gross. I actually went to Kevin Lyman’s Christmas Party, the founder of the Vans Warped Tour. I haven’t seen him in a really long time and he told me how proud he was that I had done Warped Tour, and then The Voice and now I’m touring all over even Asia. He was just very proud like a ‘Papa-bear’ and it made me very proud to have someone like him proud of me because I’ve always looked up to him.
It made me look back on how hard I worked during the Warped Tour days, which was probably the hardest 3 years I’ve experienced on tour. It was a lot of work. Somebody Facebooked me the other day and said,” I remember when you came and try to sell a CD to me when I was eating a hotdog and you begged me to buy it because you wanted to get your music out there.” Then I just remembered ‘hustling’. I still bring that same work ethic with me till today.
Over the past 3 seasons of The Voice, there have been contestants who were previously in a band, you from Meg & Dia, Season 2 Runner Up Juliet Simms from Automatic Loveletter and Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope from Hey Monday. People had a lot to say about you guys being ‘already successful, yet still joining The Voice’. What do you have to say about this?
I have major respect for Juliet and Cassadee and honestly, I know that lots of times they got ‘crap’ for already being in a successful band but I think there is a very big misconception on what a successful band is because people thought that I was in a successful band. I bet you anything, Automatic Loveletter didn’t make as much as well. I think that people think if you have a song on MTV or on Desperate Housewives or something, that you are successful but it’s just so hard to be successful in the music industry.
It’s so hard to sell concert tickets, to get radio airplay, to do lots of things and I definitely think that they deserve it way more than the person standing next to them who may just be a school teacher who decided to try his luck at The Voice. I think that them, being on the road for 8 years trying to pursue their dreams and giving up other goals in life and not being afraid, gives them more ‘oomph’.
How different is making it big by working hard over the years from standing in front of people at a reality contest trying to win their votes over?
I think I had to forget about all that when I was standing in front of people because I tend to overthink things too much and that’s one of my biggest faults. Psychologically you can only think and concentrate on one thing at a time, fully and well. So, if I were thinking about what there thinking or what they want to hear or what I should say to win a vote, I wouldn’t be here today. I think it was my complete lack of caring about that that helped me succeed because when I went on stage, I just thought I need to do this and I need to do this my way.
I was so scared when I told Blake that I wanted to do the Kanye West song but he was so supportive saying, ”Alright, lets do it! Do you wanna play the piano?” I’m actually not that brave a person as I’m making myself sound. I think it was having someone like Blake to be so supportive that really helped me.
Speaking of your relationship with Blake Shelton, how was it working with him?
Absolutely incredible. I find him very very inspiring and I think that I learned the most with him when I was on tour with him for 3 months. Watching him perform everyday was amazing and I think he’s one of the best performers I’ve ever seen live.
Any important life lessons you picked up from him?
Work ethic, balancing family and loved ones with your career and treating everybody on your team with respect. Whether it was Kelly Clarkson coming to do a duet with him or the cameraman that he hardly ever sees, it’s the same level of care and respect. His team works hard for him because he appreciates them.
If not for music, where would you be?
A writer. I’m writing a book that’s not for kids, right now. One of my new year’s resolutions is to publish it this year.
Any life virtues or mottos you live by?
“Work like you have nothing”, and I am learning more to appreciate the family and friends of my life because I am very career-oriented and I really focus a lot on getting my dream and sometimes I forget about my loved ones. Just yesterday I ‘Facetime-d’ my mom and I made sure I had time for that. I was already so tired and I had to stay up late to wait for her to wake up because of the time zone difference. It was midnight here and only 8am there.
Top 3 favorite books, films and artistes?
I have so many but I’ll tell you the ones that come to mind first. Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’m rereading it right now after watching The Hobbit. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, not the abridged version.
For films, the Princess Bride, City of Lost Children, The Goonies and The Gladiator. For some reason I just really like The Gladiator; weird but true!
For artistes; Damien Rice, Bon Iver and Tom Petty.
Over the years, you worked hard with Meg & Dia, spiraled down and gone big again with The Voice. So what advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
I think it’s very important to practice being nervous because YouTube is such a big sensation right now. It’s very easy to get in the habit of playing a song in front of nobody but your computer screen and putting it up. Then when those artistes are asked to do play shows, they’re not prepared. I think it’s important to get out and play ‘live’ shows and get used to being nervous.
Any hopes for the New Year?
Umm, I wouldn’t mind getting a little muscle, I can do an embarrassingly low number of push-ups but I will not mention. I would like to finish my book and get it published, continue working on my second album and I would definitely like to eat more healthily.
Dia Frampton’s debut album ‘Red’ will be released in all major music stores this week. If you can’t wait to get it, head to iTunes and look for Dia Frampton. Thank you lovely people at Universal Music Singapore.