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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VH New Music Fridays: Amelia Day on finding oneself through music

Amelia Day spoke on childhood, vulnerability and her personal growth through music.
Happy+New+Music+Friday%21+This+week%2C+Amelia+Day.+%28Photos+courtesy+of+Amelia+Day%29+%28Hustler+Staff%2FSophie+Edelman%29
Sophie Edelman
Happy New Music Friday! This week, Amelia Day. (Hustler Staff/Sophie Edelman)

Junior Amelia Day brings a fresh and candid perspective on music. She balances songwriting with being a Vanderbilt student, still finding time to produce music that is both thought-provoking and beautiful between her classes and extracurriculars. We sat down with Day to talk about her early influences, growth as an artist and personal music philosophy. 

Day came out with “Eastward of Eden” on Sep. 29, an EP consisting of six songs about love and longing.

This idea of self-reflection through writing is crucial to Day’s brand and has always been a part of her life. Not many artists can say that their 10th-grade English projects made their way onto their first EP. The song “Gatsby” specifically focuses on Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, whose love and pining were detached from reality. Looking back, Day says she was subconsciously writing this song about herself. 

“‘Gatsby’ is an homage to my younger self,” Day said. “I wrote it for my sophomore year English class. Now, I’m an English major.”

The singer-songwriter hails from Washington and has been making music since she was three years old. Her parents held a deep appreciation for music, with her mother singing in the church choir and the sound of New Age rock and Simon & Garfunkel constantly playing throughout the house. 

At the age of five, Day began piano lessons. By fifth grade, she was writing piano compositions.

“I never really enjoyed playing sheet music,” Day said. “I always loved messing around and writing my own little songs.” 

These compositions culminated into full-length songs when Day went to middle school. At the eighth-grade talent show, she performed her first original song about a guy in her class on whom she had a crush.  

She remembers her mother and friends congratulating her but not the performance since she “blacked out” from stage fright. But as she grew older, Day has become more comfortable with sharing her feelings and thoughts through songs and performances. 

“I think there is a certain comfortability that you have to have within yourself,” Day said. “You just have an innate sense of what you need to do and what the audience wants, but I think the bigger part is just doing it.”

Now, the experience of performing is one of Day’s favorite things about being a musician. 

“The more experience I’ve had doing it, the less scared I’ve gotten,” Day said. “I started as a freshman doing writers’ rounds, and now I’m headlining shows. I feel like I’ve grown a ton in the less than two years that I’ve been really starting to pursue this actively. It feels like it’s been way longer,”  Day said.

Initially, Day found songwriting to be a way of processing her emotions and then sending them out into the world. Growing in her songwriting abilities throughout high school allowed her to come to terms with and share her emotions. 

“You’re performing a piece of your journal. You’re sharing with your parents, your extended family, strangers, friends,” Day said. “You want to be true to yourself and what you’re saying and not skirt past anything.”

When she came to Vanderbilt, Day continued to grow as a singer-songwriter. As an English major, Day is constantly reading and writing. As a member of the Harmonic Notion a cappella group, she’s matured in her ability to perform. She joined Blair School of Music’s jazz vocal performance minor and developed an appreciation for jazz—incorporating its sounds and ideas into her music. 

Promotional photo for East of Eden (Photo Courtesy of Amelia Day)
Promotional photo for East of Eden (Photo Courtesy of Amelia Day)

“I love combining folk and jazz together,” Day said. “It’s so fun because I’m not emulating anyone else or feeling confined. I’m just trying to write what I feel in the moment and put out the songs that both fit together best as a project, but also the ones that I’m most proud of.”

Expanding her expertise to jazz has allowed her to try unexpected musical combinations and create sounds that are new and fresh. 

“The way that I write music is very much rooted in me at age five at the piano improvising,” Day said. “[With jazz,] there’s a lot more interesting stuff you can do, like interweaving scattered layers of familiarity with the unfamiliar and cool riffs.”

Since coming to college, Day has also grown immensely in her understanding of the production and collaboration needed for songwriting. She’s learned how to market her music and lead in the production of her music. At a show put on by the Music Room, she met a producer with similar musical tastes, and the pair began working together, culminating in her latest EP. 

“Our philosophies on music really aligned, and, [as] I listened to some of the stuff he had done, the style really fit [mine],” Day said. “With a producer, it’s a back-and-forth relationship, and you’re both artists in the creation of recording.”

Despite her growth as an artist in the past few years, Day aims to stay true to herself and her true feelings while writing. While she’s grown in her ability to utilize clever wordplay and symbolism, she at times misses the vulnerability of using writing as catharsis, as she did in high school. 

“Ironically, I feel like [even though I became] a better songwriter, I struggle with diving into the heart of the issue,” Day said. “When I look back on some of my songs from high school, they’re objectively worse, but they’re way more raw.”

Now, she aims to combine her new skills with the sense of rawness and vulnerability from her earliest music. Rather than focusing solely on great lyricism or emotional depth, Day is seeking a balance. 

“The best writing that I’ve come up with combines the two,” Day said. 

As much as Day has changed as an artist from her earliest writing days, she is still learning from her younger self. In many ways, it seems that Day has come of age through her music.

“I want to keep on playing more gigs and just keep collaborating with people who are more involved with the industry—learning and becoming a better musician,” Day said.

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About the Contributors
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
Sophie Edelman
Sophie Edelman, Former Staff Writer
Sophie Edelman (‘24) is studying cognitive, child and educational studies in Peabody College. As the former Music Correspondent, she is passionate about expanding coverage of local musicians and performances. She loves fish tacos, thrifting and working at Vanderbilt’s Acorn School! She can be contacted at [email protected].
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