Three years ago, Brisbane rapper Day1 was posting tracks to SoundCloud with lyrics declaring that the stardom he’d prophesied to his mother for years was right around the corner. Taking influence from American artists that blur the lines between rapping and singing like Speaker Knockerz, PnB Rock and Drake, he brought a catchy, emotional and geographically ambiguous sound which could be refreshing to Aussie rap die-hards or a cure for rap fans poisoned with a prejudice against the Australian accent. Just two years later, he linked up with the leading Australian star-makers The Area Movement, home to some of the country’s biggest names like Hooligan Hefs and HP Boyz, and unleashed his breakout smash single ‘BOSS’. It’s a triumphant, club-ready banger that flexed his gift for catchy melodies and captivating flows – infusing more local street flavour into the American-influenced sound and lighting a fire bright enough to momentarily shift the Australian audience’s eyes away from the ever-spotlit scenes of Sydney and Melbourne.
Almost two years, about ten singles and one A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie remix later, Day1 is ready to deliver a finely tuned and well-rounded EP titled Day Uno, to prove that he – and the River City – have got something to say. He says that with this project, he’s trying to prove the breadth of his abilities, not content being boxed in as a street rapper. Within the EP are some street anthems, some tender love songs, a huge Open Till L8-produced dance track and heartfelt tributes to his mother and late brother.
Having been writing music since he was 9 years old, Day1 is still awe-struck by the position he’s found himself in but nonetheless ready to weather the storms of success and go the distance. With celebrations put on hold due to a snap Brisbane lockdown, Day1 zoomed in to chat about the new project, the path so far and the journey to come as he takes his next big step towards stardom.
Congratulations on the EP, man. How are you feeling about it?
Feel good bro. It’s a lot of emotions in one bro but mostly excited.
How are you celebrating?
Umm, lockdown. [laughs] Chillin’ but, internally, I’m celebrating.
Can you tell us a little bit about the new EP? How long’s it been in the making?
Honestly, it’s like a selection of songs we’ve made. So we’ve made like 60, 50, I don’t know how many songs but yeah, I kinda just picked the ones that define me as an artist. Because I wanted to take that big step of, like—I’m not just that street kid, you know what I mean? I can do this and that, I can make these love songs and that. So it’s a real different sound from me and it’s a big risk but high reward I feel like.
So I guess that’s why it’s basically self-titled, that you’re trying to give the full Day1 package.
Yeah, exactly bro. This the full package. [laughs] My brudda.
So what’s the story behind the name Day1?
Day1? The story behind it? I feel like the qualities for a ‘day one’ would be like— what do you think for a ‘day one’? If you hear a ‘day one’, what are the qualities you think?
I would say loyal and, y’know, being down since the jump, I guess.
Yeah, exactly, and that’s exactly what I feel like I am with all the people around me. So that’s why I feel like it makes sense for me to call myself that. Cause everyone I meet that I give my loyalty to, I feel like I’ve got those qualities, you know what I mean? Those day one qualities towards them, so that’s kinda where the name came from.
So hopping on that A Boogie remix was obviously a huge moment for you. How much has changed since then?
A lot, bro. Like, that was crazy because A Boogie was also an inspiration growing up and to meet him and to even hop on the remix—yeah it’s just crazy, bro. I still remember the day when one of my managers told me, I was full spinning out, bro. But nah, I appreciate that, what he did. In terms of changes, yeah a lot’s changed, bro. You know, I realised what it has to take to be an artist, you know what I mean? So yeah, just been taking that into account.
Any lessons he imparted on you? Or, did you learn anything from working with him?
If you wanna be a superstar, you gotta think like a superstar. That’s one of them. You gotta work like a superstar too.
Recently, you posted some videos of you visiting a primary school where you clearly had a lot of fans. What was that experience like and what did that mean to you?
I think out of all the moments I’ve had in my career, that was probably the most special. Cause I was exactly like those kids, you know what I mean? Looking up to people, and then to be that person. It’s a big spin-out, y’know – it’s a big turn-around. Like, I’m actually someone that kids look up to. That’s a crazy thing because that was unexpected. That wasn’t even meant to happen like that. I was meant to talk to ten students and then we walked out and… yeah, crazy bro, it was in Sydney. That’s not even my city! So that’s why I was tripping out too. That’s one of my most favourite moments of my whole career. Y’know, out of everything. Yeah, that was crazy.
You’ve got some super hard beats on this tape, who are the main producers you’re working with these days and what do you usually look for in a beat?
Yeah, see, I’m working with my brother Liam Thomas. That’s my G, bro. He’s from Brisbane as well but he’s living in Sydney. I mainly use him for all my beats and everything. I usually just record with him at the moment. He really understands my sound and he’s a very talented individual, you know what I mean? And, it’s easier to work with him, but on the EP there’s also, we got Open Till L8 and you got Klapback as well. So yeah, shouts to them as well. Klapback was one of the first producers I worked with.
You’ve spoken about how your dad was also a musician, do you guys tend to bond over music?
Yeah, so, when I was younger, yeah hundred per cent. Like, he would always be playing the guitar or piano. He just knew every instrument, I was just like what the hell? The guy can sing too. But yeah, nah he’s definitely had a big impact on me when I was young.
Is he a fan of modern rap music?
Yeah—I don’t know, he wasn’t really! But I feel like he is now, know what I mean? Yeah, like, he’s very proud, you know, seeing me come up and seeing where I came from.
Hefs is the only feature on the EP on ‘Magic’ and it’s coming right off the back of your other recent collab ‘Hoodstar’. What makes you two work so well together?
We’re the GOATs, bro. [laughs] I always say this, we’re just the GOATs – that’s it. Nah, but that’s my brother, so it’s easy to work with him. And shout out to him, cause he was one of those artists that always gave me a chance, you know, from the beginning. From the get go, even when I was no one. So yeah it’s mad to actually finally collab with him. He’s a big inspiration.
So you close the EP with the song ‘G-World’, which is a really touching tribute to someone you’ve lost. Can you tell me a bit about that song and who you’re speaking about there?
Yeah, so that song was about my brother. My actual blood brother passed away while he was in jail. Like, a couple years ago. So yeah, basically, I feel like that song is meant to be, like, the things I never got to say to him. I get to say it on that track. And even like, I say a lyric, I say this song’s basically like—my family’s gonna hear it. And they’re gonna think I brought you back to life, but this is like the conversation I’m having with you every night, you know what I mean? Cause that’s literally, like—that’s had a real impact on my music, you know? So, yeah, it’s just basically saying I’m proud of you. And even with him passing away, we didn’t even really know why he passed away; whether he committed suicide or if, you know, another way it happened. So, that’s just like my message and basically I just wanted to say I was proud of him. Cause that’s my blood brother, that was my older brother, you know what I mean? He pretty much raised me and my other brother.
Do you have a favourite track on the EP or another one with personal significance to you?
I also got ‘Limit’. Limit’s about—it’s kind of a message to my Mum. I even got my Mum on the end as well. But yeah it’s kinda just saying, I told her I’m a sinner but, like, I’ll do everything I can to tell her and show her that I’m a winner, you know what I mean? That was a big, significant one to me as well. The last two are definitely my favourites, cause it means the most to me. To my Mum and my brother.
What would you say are your most important memories since sort of coming up in the scene? What do you think have been the defining moments?
I reckon it would just basically being with the boys, and just spinning out about how everything’s going crazy, you know what I mean? Like, we were chilling at a spot every day and now I’m travelling around, you know, it’s a big difference. Cause I’d never even travelled until this music stuff was happening and now I’m taking a plane everywhere and it’s like what the fuck? [laughs] It’s crazy, bro. A lot has changed so it’s hard to define one thing.
In your mind, where do you see the future of Australian hip-hop going from here?
I feel like we’re gonna go, like—well basically, I feel like we’ve got our scene. The people who’ve made our scene, they’ve kind of defined themselves as an O.G. But I feel like we’re gonna really accelerate a lot and then there’s gonna be more eyes on us, you know what I mean? I’m waiting for Drake! I’m waiting for Drake to come secure his spot, bro. You know? It’s smart, bro, ‘cause everyone looks up to them over here. I see someone like that. I feel like how the UK was, we’re in that position now. That’s why they show that much love. I feel like we’re about to be somewhere like the UK or somewhere like that. But in our own way.
You’re obviously always reppin’ Brissy. What do you think makes Brisbane unique as a scene?
You’ll notice a big difference between even Sydney and Brisbane. Like, the people are very different and I feel like not many people are really doing the music but there’s a lot of talent out here. There’s a lot of different talent. You’ve got, Lisi, a lot of different people that are crazy. So I think the difference would be—it’s just that the music’s kinda different. People are rapping more about, like, life over here, you know what I mean? So I think that’s maybe the difference.
You got any other favourite local artists that are sort of more on the come-up?
I got Ghee Plug – that’s my brother. I got Sahxl. That’s another young artist – he’s crazy. Mason Dane. My brother Davey, if he’s still gonna do music – I don’t know if he’s doing it still. And you’ve also got Henny and 22ShotLou. They’re the ones I’m looking at at the moment that are like, yeah they’ve got a lot of potential—and Maz! MazBNE too.
Do you feel like you’ve noticed a big growth in the Brisbane scene since you came out?
Hundred per cent. I feel like when I was doing the music, like before ‘BOSS’ – I feel like no one was doing it, know what I mean? No one was actually really doing music. Like, obviously you had your OGs but no young artists were trying to really represent their city. And since the get-go, I been repping it since, you know, five years ago. You can really look back and you can really find those songs where I’m still reppin’ my city five years ago. And I feel like a lot has changed. I feel like I’ve inspired a lot of people cause that’s what I intend to do. And yeah, a lot of people have started music because they see, like—my message was always like, bro, everyone can do it. If you really put your mind to it, you can really do it. So to see people do that is crazy.
Are your ambitions limited to music right now or have you got other goals in mind for the future?
At the moment, I just wanna focus on music. Like, obviously, I could have my own other goals and own other agendas but I want to put my all into music first, cause I feel like if I go 25% this way, I can’t go 100% on my music cause I’m on 75, you know what I mean? So I really wanna just go a hundred per cent on my music and then maybe all that other stuff will come afterwards.
And lastly, when you’re not making music or making the big business moves, what are you doing? How do you spend your free time?
I’m on Tik-Tok. [laughs] Nah, I’m on Tik-Tok or I’m playing PlayStation, playing Rocket League – giving everyone the smoke. [laughs] Or I’m just chillin’ with the boys or family, you know what I mean? Cause I’m always doing music so there’s not really lots of other things I really do.
Rocket League is your game?
Rocket League’s my game bro. If anyone wants the smoke – let me know.
Anything else you want to talk about?
Day1 is coming up – that’s it, that’s all I’ve got to say.