Inaya Day talks her musical journey, her favorite Pride memories and the upcoming Tampa Pride

By : Samantha Rosenthal
Comments: 0

She was surrounded by music growing up, mostly classical and chorale music from a young age. Now she spends most of her days laying down beats, collaborating with other DJs and writing songs for house music that fans all over the world enjoy.

But on Saturday, March 28, Inaya Day will be the headliner at Tampa Pride in Ybor City. Day,who has been involved in music since she was 12, talks about her musical journey, her experience with Pride across the country and what fans can expect in Tampa.
WATERMARK: Your background is quite eclectic. Where did it all start, your passion for music, and how did it get you to where you are today?
INAYA DAY: My passion for music started in church. All the family that I know of go to church. When I was a little baby, my mother would take me to choir rehearsal with her and she sings more classical-type music. They would sing anthems and songs like that. That was the beginning of my love for classical music and chorale music. Even though I was a tiny baby it was being taken in, I guess, because it stuck.

At around 4, I started singing with the kids choir, which I couldn’t stand because most them couldn’t hold a tune and I didn’t understand why they couldn’t sing right. It was just annoying and I thought they were playing a trick on me or something.

So I waited till got a little older, like in preteens, and I said I’ll start singing by myself. I started singing by myself at around 9 or 10, and my first musical theater lead was when I was 12 years old, when I first started making money at being a musician of any sort. It stuck with me. It was a show called Brooklyn You’re My Home. It was very easy for me to play this role because it was about a mischievous kid who lived in Brooklyn, brought up in Brooklyn but was very, very talented.

I’ve been making house music demos for years for people but I never allowed for anything to be released because I was doing hip-hop and R&B with the likes of Latifah and MC Lyte, stuff like that. At that time, it wasn’t cool to blur the lines. It was like you were either a house music artist or you were an R&B artist, so I didn’t want to muddy it. That’s why “Keep Pushin’” was released under my alter-ego “BOOOM.” I mean it’s my favorite type of secular music anyway… So house music sort of staked its claim on me.

You started your own label, Ny-O-Dae Music.
I started Ny-O-Dae Music in 2010, and the reason I did that is because I was tired of making records and then having to shop my music and have someone else validate it and say it’s good enough. This is the age of “do-it-yourself;” it’s very easy to do it yourself for people who have any bit of a business mind. And thank goodness I’m very good at the business side so it came easy to me.

How are your LGBT fans different than others?
They’re more into the music. Nowadays, you sing for people and they kind of just hold up their telephone to videotape you or take pictures. They’re not present; they’re not as up to sing-a-long or to yell out other titles of songs they want to hear. Whereas the LGBT community, they’re some of the most loyal fans I’ve ever encountered. They remember songs that I don’t remember that I did. I mean, they’ll call out songs and I’ll go, “Uh, I didn’t make that.” And they’ll hold up their phone with the cover art on there with my name on it and I’m like, “I guess I did do that.”

It’s really cool to perform in front of a crowd that appreciates and knows your music, and they’re present. They sing along, they dance along. They look at you like, “What do you have for us today?” instead of, “Oh let me get this picture so I can show everybody what I did today.”

Do you have a favorite Pride memory?
I have quite a few but one of my favorites is the year before my good friend Frankie Knuckles passed away. He came through Chicago Pride to see me. And he said, “Baby girl, I’m coming to hang out and see you.” We’d done a song called “Let’s Stay Home,” and I performed it for the first time that day and he was actually there right backstage waiting for me and listening to me and everything. So that for me is something I hold dear because a year later he was no longer with us.

Why do you think Pride is necessary?
It gives the community a chance to interact with the rest of the community because there’s a lot of separation. I’ve noticed that I can go into a city, which I’m not familiar, and I see the flags and everything that would mean it’s a gay friendly establishment or something like that. And I always thought to myself it’s a shame that they have to feel separated and say “Look this is a friendly place. You can be yourself.” That shouldn’t be. It should be that every place is friendly and everybody can be themselves.

I see families at these events of all types, not just the so-called “conventional family,” but I see every type of family. Everyone is interacting, everybody is happy and it’s such a loving situation for the most part. And I think that’s needed because it helps to show other people that people are just people. It doesn’t matter who you love. You’re just a person.

Why did you decide to perform at Tampa Pride and what’re you looking forward to the most? 
I wanted to perform at Tampa Pride because of, again, that feeling of community and that it’s the start of my spring. When I’m in Florida I have a great time. So I’m totally looking forward to Tampa because everybody’s energy is gonna be high.

Are there any people or friends close to you that are LGBT that inspired you to do Pride events?
Actually, the LGBT audience is my favorite audience in front of which to perform because of the energy. It had nothing to do with any one person. It’s my personal experience with the audience.

Also, many times, it’s used as a fundraiser. When I was really, really young, I remember a lot of my older sisters’ friends who were like big brothers or big sisters passing away from AIDS. And I just didn’t get it. I was like, “Why is everybody going at the same time? This is awful. What the heck is happening?” I guess it’s my little way of giving back to that situation, to help accrue some money for some research to kill this thing because it is indeed a monster. It has made a deep impression on my life because I’ve suffered so many losses because of it, so that is a driving force for me doing this thing.

What message would you like the Tampa Pride audience to take away? 
Love is always the message. And most of my music is inspirational, except for the occasional “Horny” and “Nasty Girl.” You gotta put a little fun in there. Most of the time my music is inspirational. I try to encourage people to keep pushing on because things will get better. Sometimes we discontinue or turn around just at the door—just as we get to the door of change, we give up. So that song “Keep Pushin’ It” is about that. Keep going no matter what it is.

Share this story: