By Ruby Longoria
I met with Daisy in the greenroom at Cactus Cafe. I had just taken a quick sip of water before being led into the jarringly bright-lit room. Handshakes, first to Ty Richards, who sat in the comfy chair closest to the door, then to Daisy O’Connor – who even when sitting down has a large presence. She was immediately giddy and sweet. She thanked us for making the drive up to see the show and talk with her. It was a short conversation, but I felt like I learned so much about her. Not in the cliche way of getting to know a person, but as an artist.
I recognized in Daisy a sheer determination and force of will to be who she is to the fullest. She used to be a social worker before committing to music. Nowadays, when she’s not writing songs, she takes on menial jobs like cleaning houses or stagehand work. She does these blue collar jobs, not just because it’s the kind of schedule that is conducive to her creativity, but also because of her fascination with working class people. Not in a kind of patronizing way; her passion for community calls on her as an artist to give back with her talent in music.
She says music is healing, that because we have such an intimate connection with it, and in sharing this personal connection with others allows us to connect with each other to create community and growth. Then she asked me if any of that made sense because she’d had two tequilas.
Daisy’s approachable demeanor made the album release party feel like a close-knit affair (albeit the space in Cactus Cafe is limited). Halfway through her set, she surprised a friend and fellow singer Ellen O’Meara, featured on Daisy’s debut album Lightchasers, by asking her to join on stage to sing their song. The song, “Come What May” was a sweet number, a beautiful harmony of the two soft voices, with Daisy on guitar. She called it an ode to the beautiful wildflowers, the people of Central Texas.
Her songwriting follows the typical folk, singer-songwriter storytelling path, but she certainly isn’t limited in the kind of music she makes. She refers to her recent album, Mixtape, as “folkadelic queer pop” (an apt description I wish I would of thought of first).
She opened up her set with “Same Page,” a track from the new album, a ballad that summarizes Daisy’s raison d’etre: overcoming loneliness by forging relationships with those around you, for the sake of community, but especially for your own well-being. (“So girl give up that loneliness contest/No one’s ever gonna win/Forget how you wanted to run/Forget the why and when/Cuz we’re on the same page my friend/That’s right, we’re on the same page my friend”).
“Little” was the song I was most looking forward to hearing. A wardrobe change initiated the start of this number. With a simple removal of her robe, Daisy revealed she was donning a slinky, black velvet dress and began crooning: “Showed her face to the mirror/Girl we got a day to shine/Painted layers of makeup/Bringing out the woman inside.” A gender-bending narrative, the song clicks and pops with attitude, the embodiment of that “folkadelic queer pop” with less folk, more pop and an eerie oboe.
I can’t help but wonder if the track “Little” was one influenced directly by Ty Richards ,founder of Austin’s Tremolo Records, who opened up the show with a few stripped down versions of his loud and fast, psychedelic dance-rock tunes (my personal fave being his performance of “Western Chauvinist”). Ty’s presence at Daisy’s show affirms the kind of support and sense of community Austin artists are known for. He told the crowd that when he began Tremolo Records his goal was to recruit the best of Austin musicians and that Daisy was his first pick.
Check out Mixtape (by Tremolo Records) now available worldwide.