Dia Frampton: “I want to bring a little bit of class back”

hot Magazine, Issue 194, April 2012

“I want to bring a little bit of class back”
Dia Frampton on her music, touring with Blake Shelton and life after The Voice

By Sophia Goh

When we speak to Dia Frampton, she’s in Columbus, Ohio, having just finished opening for Blake Shelton on his Well Lit & Amplified Tour. They’d played to 11,000 people, the biggest crowd she’s ever performed for, and she’s still kind of trying to wrap her head around that fact.

To say that life has changed dramatically since she finished second on season one of reality show The Voice would be putting it a tad mildly. Her career has taken off, she’s found a wonderful (and unexpected) mentor, friend and supporter in her coach Blake, and perhaps most importantly, she finally got to show America what she could do – and they love her!

Tour life has its challenges – Dia shares a bus with her band members, which includes her older sister Meg, and their team, and they pretty much forgo most of the conveniences we take for granted. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. This is her dream, and on this day, we honestly don’t know who’s more excited – her, because she’s finally living it; or us, because we can’t believe we’re really talking to her!

How do you keep your voice in top form on the road?
I drink tonnes of water. I don’t sleep with the air conditioning on because it actually dries out your throat a little bit. I stay away from caffeine and just things that dry out your throat. It’s hard but that’s my job – to keep it in shape.

Do you have a secret weapon for your voice?
I have a steam inhaler, which makes me look like an alien. I put it over my nose and it brings in hot steam. They say inhaling steam is the best way to put moisture directly on your cords because with water, I guess it’s supposed to take a while. But my band always calls me Darth Vader when I use it.

Has Blake given you any tips?
Blake’s such a funny person. I think the best thing about him is he’s never given me any tips or quotes or words of wisdom. I think I learn the most from him just by watching him. He doesn’t take anything too seriously, and I mean that in a good way. People always ask me what he’s really like and I always answer that he’s like how he is on camera. He never changes. He’s always himself and I think that’s really cool.

Why were you so nervous about auditioning for The Voice when you’ve been performing since you were little?
I think it was just a really intimidating environment – around 60 of these amazing, amazing singers. And we were all kind of sequestered in this hotel, and up until the blind auditions I was in this constant state of anxiety because I’d be in my hotel and trying to go to sleep and somebody would be belting out a Celine Dion or Beyoncé song next to where I was sleeping, and I’d be like, this person is so good. I remember my legs were shaking and my head felt really heavy. There were definitely so many butterflies in my stomach, and when you go out there and you see Christina’s name on the back of the chair, you think, oh my gosh, Christina Aguilera is behind that chair and is she going to turn for me or not?

Did you go in hoping to get a particular coach?
I really liked Christina Aguilera because I listened to her when I was a kid. I remember she sang ‘Reflection’ for Mulan and I was such a big fan of hers. But when Blake turned around, he had this big smile on his face. The coaches who turned for me were Cee Lo Green and Blake, and I felt so drawn to Blake – just his charisma and he’s genuine and that smile on his face.

So going with Blake was probably one of the best decisions of your life?
Definitely. I was actually thinking about it the other day. What if Christina had turned for me or I had gone with Cee Lo? All those other coaches are very respectable artistes and very awesome people but I felt so lucky to be put with Blake. I felt like the stars were so aligned for me at that moment, like God was looking out for me or something because I was meant to be on his team, you know.

Before you were on The Voice, you went through a lot of ups and downs with your career. What kept you going through all the downs?
I think I just couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I never had a backup plan. Lots of people want to be musicians but they’re also going to college. I always just wanted to do music, music, music and I never had a plan B. I guess that’s what kept me going. But it definitely got hard. I’m 24 now and a lot of my friends are getting out of college. I was working at a cupcake shop in New York making coffee and I was like, oh my gosh, I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be and I’m getting older and my friends are having children and having real grownup jobs! And I felt really scared and really lame [laughs].

Did you think about giving up?
I think I was getting close to giving up, I really do. And that kind of scares me. There’s so much insecurity with music, and the older you get the more insecure you get. I feel like with music, there’s no direct road to success. If I wanted to be a dentist, I would go to dental school for six years or however long it takes me, and come out and be that. But you can’t go to music school and put in your time and come out the other end and be a professional musician. I have friends who’ve been performing for 10 years now and I think they’re incredible but they still haven’t gotten their big break, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I feel like so much of music is luck. And that’s a very scary thing, to put your life into the hands of luck.

Is what you’re experiencing now bigger than anything you ever imagined you would achieve?
This is definitely bigger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of, especially today. But I still feel like there’s a lot of work to be done. I feel like [I should] never expect anything. I think sometimes people come off reality shows or singing shows and they expect success to come but there’s still a lot of hard work. To be honest, my biggest dream is getting to tour the world and being able to play in different countries everywhere. I’d love to go to all these amazing places, meet all these cool people, see the world, play for people who don’t speak my language and just connect through music. It’s such an amazing thing.

Was doing this without Meg and the other guys from your band Meg & Dia ever an option?
I don’t think so. I’ve played with Meg for a decade. She’s my older sister so we’ve always been together. The other band members I’ve been with for six plus years so they’re actually on tour with me right now. Meg’s playing guitar and everybody’s where they’re supposed to be so we still feel like a family. And that’s really important to me. With music and so much travelling, you want to keep friends and family close.

How would you describe Dia Frampton’s music?
I think lyrically, my new album Red is very intimate. So many of the songs are very precious to me. I think of myself as a singer-songwriter. There are songs like ‘Don’t Kick the Chair’ – I wanted that to be a song you can dance to – and also uplifting lyrics, and the sadder ‘Trapeze’ or ‘Daniel’ which have a more organic, acoustic kind of vibe. So it kind of travels with you a little bit.

Do you consider yourself a role model?
I don’t consider myself a role model because I feel just like a normal person. But at the same time, I know there are a lot of young girls out there and I have four sisters so I’ve always been conscious of how much young women look up to other people. And I never want to wear a crazy dress with my boobs falling out, you know. I want to keep it classy and I think that’s important too. Especially with pop music lately, where there are so many crazy outfits and girls are half naked. I kind of want to bring a little bit of class back, you know.

What’s the inspiration behind your single ‘The Broken Ones’?
I wrote that song out of Nashville, and it just kind of flowed out of me. It was written in literally an hour. It was so organic and real and that’s when I knew this is something special. I felt like the song wrote itself. To me, lyrically, in my life I’ve had so many relationships with people, friends, ex-boyfriends, even family members where there’s something that’s a little bit weird. Most people don’t think it’s normal, but those are the things that I love most about my friends – their weird quirks, the stuff that makes them unique. It’s not just about accepting people’s faults, but it’s about embracing them and really loving all the weird things about people.

And what about ‘I Will’ because we know that song means a lot to you as well?
I actually perform that with Blake every night, which is really awesome. It means so much to me that he’s been so supportive. And he really, truly is a friend. The thing is, I can never pay him back, I can never give him anything, and that’s really amazing. Because there are a lot of friendships where it’s give and take. You have a friend and they help you out but they also always expect something. I feel with Blake, it’s just all giving and there’s nothing I can give him that he needs. I’m like, ‘You’re so helpful and so awesome and you know that I can’t give back but you’re just here all the time for me,’ you know.

What can fans in Asia do for you to promote your music?
If they can request my songs on radio, that would be really awesome. People are so supportive over there. I always read their tweets. I love to hear from them and when I hear that my song was on the radio somewhere it makes me really happy and really excited. I hope I can go over there someday.

Do you personally do all of your tweeting?
I do all of my tweets myself. All Facebook, all Twitter, it’s all me. I don’t like other people doing it. Once in a while, Universal will come on Facebook and post some business thing, like a new bonus track or something, but it’s pretty much all me all the time. And it’s going to stay that way.

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