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An Oral History of Daisy the Great

by luke shiller

Pho­to: Alis­tair Barrell


Fer­rars & Fields recent­ly sat down with the song­writ­ing duo of Kel­ley Nicole Dugan and Mina Walk­er, aka Daisy the Great, for a tele-inter­view before the penul­ti­mate show of their Euro­pean tour at Bade­haus in Berlin on Mon­day. Our con­ver­sa­tion ranged from their thes­pi­an ori­gins in New York to pan­dem­ic-era suc­cess and grow­ing pains.

Here’s a snip­pet of Daisy the Great’s ori­gin in their own words:

Kel­ley Nicole Dugan: We both grew up indi­vid­u­al­ly writ­ing and play­ing music, as well as study­ing singing and play­ing some instru­ments. And we grew up doing the­ater and act­ing. We actu­al­ly met in col­lege. Study­ing act­ing at NYU in New York. Around the end of school we col­lab­o­rat­ed on a project in a class that wasn’t a musi­cal project at all, but we turned it into one because both of us kind of want­ed to do it that way. Almost as a way to not real­ly do it, hon­est­ly. We were like “Let’s link up and write a song for this, instead of what we’re sup­posed to do.” And it was real­ly fun and real­ly sil­ly! After that we start­ed to write a musi­cal togeth­er that was about a band. It kind of start­ed in the same vein and it was real­ly fun­ny. We weren’t even hyper-focused on the music yet. Then after writ­ing the whole script, we were like “Time to talk about when the band plays music.” Like, what are they going to play? And then both of us were like “I have these songs that I wrote, and we can put our voic­es on both of them and see what that sounds like.” And then that day we start­ed to share songs and sing on each other’s music. We lit­er­al­ly nev­er talked about the musi­cal ever again and made a real band. We were like “We don’t have to have a fake band in order to have a band, we could just actu­al­ly have one.” So we made the band and start­ed to play at friends’ events or par­ties, which was real­ly, real­ly ter­ri­ble. [laughs] 

Mina Walk­er: It would be like a house par­ty with no mics!

Kel­ley Nicole Dugan: We would be play­ing in the mid­dle of a room of peo­ple and they would come up and talk to us, and I remem­ber Mat­ti, our drum­mer, was at one of the first par­ties we played and some­body was like “Yeah you should come play.” 
 and it was the loud­est talk­ing ever, nobody was watch­ing us. We were sit­ting in the mid­dle of the room. Kel­ly was play­ing a key­board. And we were singing as loud as we could and nobody could hear us. Before that par­ty Nar­do [AN: cur­rent gui­tarist of Daisy the Great] was say­ing that Mat­ti should be in this band. I’m sure he was like “I don’t know If I want to be in that band.” [laughs]

Then we start­ed book­ing shows local­ly in New York and they were real­ly small, we would still play some par­ties and stuff, real­ly what­ev­er we could get into. We start­ed putting music online as well. Our first sin­gle we put out in 2017 and since then we’ve released music pret­ty steadi­ly. After that we start­ed play­ing shows in New York and then in 2019 we went on our first DIY ver­sion of a tour where we all just piled into Matti’s Minivan. 

Mina Walk­er: It was six of us in all.

Kel­ley Nicole Dugan: Yeah six of us with all of our stuff and all of our gear in a mini­van. And It was like 14 shows in 14 days and we lit­er­al­ly just emailed and called venues. We were like “Hey we swear we are a band, can you please let us play here?” and they were like “Uhhh
 okay,” and some­times they were like “No thank you.”

Mina Walk­er: We tried to do an Audiotree on that tour. I remem­ber when we were in Chica­go we emailed them and were like “Hi we would like to do an Audiotree.”—We hon­est­ly had no busi­ness doing an Audiotree at the time—they were like “Oh yeah can, you sub­mit that you’ve played 100 shows?” So then we made a giant list of fake shows where we played, like liv­ing rooms.

Kel­ley Nicole Dugan: I grew up in New York. I was like, I’m gonna put at least five per­for­mances on here that are me play­ing for my mom. And I put: “New York House Show.”

Mina Walk­er: And they were like “OK! Perfect!”

Kel­ley Nicole Dugan: Then, dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, obvi­ous­ly, our per­for­mances were not hap­pen­ing any­more and we were writ­ing over Face­time for a while. That’s when our songs start­ed to real­ly pick up online and we real­ized that even though we were at home and it felt like the future of music, espe­cial­ly, was real­ly uncer­tain, we were hav­ing this growth online that we couldn’t see in real life. We would go on our phones and be like “Wow, it’s so crazy that this many peo­ple are lis­ten­ing to the music!” 

We had pre­vi­ous­ly been con­nect­ed with a few labels because pre-pan­dem­ic we were writ­ing an album, and then after some more online suc­cess we went back to those labels and cre­at­ed the album [AN: All You Need is Time]. So dur­ing the pan­dem­ic we worked on the album while this was all hap­pen­ing and then we were like “Okay every­one that we spoke with before, we have an album now.” We start­ed talk­ing to one per­son specif­i­cal­ly that end­ed up becom­ing our label and then they con­nect­ed us—this is kind of a weird thing—our first tour we did pre-pan­dem­ic was a few days with the Indi­go Girls and a few days with some more local Brook­lyn artists. But we hadn’t real­ly done—other than our DIY one—a prop­er tour. And then com­ing out of the pan­dem­ic we got a sup­port slot on an are­na tour, so our first prop­er tour was on an are­na tour, and it was real­ly wild. Yeah. You’re like “Wow the stage is just so big!” That was def­i­nite­ly a shock­ing intro­duc­tion to the indus­try, but since then we’ve been open­ing for more and more artists and putting out more music. We put out our record in Octo­ber of last year. And then this year so far has been our head­lin­ing tours: We head­lined the US in the spring, and now this is our Euro­pean head­line in the fall and yeah 
 and now we’re in Antwerp! 


Tick­ets for Daisy the Great’s show in Berlin are avail­able here.