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Seattle-based rapper and singer Payday is wise beyond her years. While she is only 19-years-old, the genre-bending artist has had to grow up considerably fast in comparison to most of her peers and, as a result, it has left her in a very nostalgic place. After trading in the overcast skies and humble music communities of the Pacific Northwest, Payday made the move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a star. And the recording artist certainly has been living her dreams — whether that’s meeting and collaborating with her idols, signing a major record deal, or getting to tour alongside pop staples such as Lauv and Hayley Kiyoko.

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However, through all of the highs, the young artist dealt with her fair share of confidence issues, homesickness, and feelings of isolation — all of which are direct themes that inform her vulnerable EP Trips To Venus, which dropped in late 2022. The EP is the product of Payday uprooting her life amidst a global pandemic and what was to be the bulk of her high school career. This time around, Payday is undergoing a major sonic transformation, choosing to deviate from her playful and upbeat hip-hop material in favor of tender, melodic, and dark compositions that tell the story of coming of age at a high speed. The EP’s lead single “White Mercedes,” for example, is an all-encompassing track that allows Payday to make peace with her past and let those who are close to her know just how much she misses them. All in all, her music will make you confront the ever-fleeting nature of youth, while taking time to celebrate the future that lies ahead.

With her EP out now and having recently wrapped up a major tour supporting Hayley Kiyoko and Lauv, we spoke to the rising artist about her inspirations, growing up in the music industry, and more.

payday singer

[Photo by Adam Alonzo & Tanner Deutsch]

When did you first discover your knack for songwriting and singing? 

I would thank my crazy-ass mom for my musical taste and for getting me into such good music at a young age. From a really young age, I would always make little songs and beg my friends to let me sing it to them, and usually it would be something silly. I eventually got into recording stuff in my voice memos on my iPhone 4 — that was really the beginning. 

Being from such a musically rich city as Seattle, how did this region inspire you? 

I absolutely love the Pacific Northwest. The weather is unmatched and gives this moody and dark tone — it makes sense that there was so much grunge here. I also love the community side of it here and how I can relate to other people who are doing the same thing in the city. 

What artists were instrumental in developing your sound? 

I was so directly influenced by Tyler, The Creator. He was my favorite artist for so long and I would credit my flows and lyrics to him. I also loved old Kanye shit and, other than that, it was all emo shit. My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Neck Deep, and Green Day were definitely bands I was listening to. 

With your song “White Mercedes,” you tackle feelings of nostalgia that are both happy and sad. Would you say that by entering the music industry at such a young age, you have had to grow up considerably faster than your friends back home, and does that in turn make you feel all the more nostalgic? 

That is super accurate. I feel like that’s the reason why this song is such a departure from my “youth,” even though I’m still so young. When I moved to LA, I was only 15 and had a lot of responsibility from my family shifted on me. Also, just being in the studio with grown adults every day and not seeing anybody my age or my friends for months at a time — I think that shit ages you a lot. I felt like I had to match other people’s energy to be the adult in the room. 

What have been those highs and lows that have shaped you today as not only a person, but as an artist? 

I think I put a lot of pressure on myself because there are so many other successful artists my age and there is also that fake social media pressure where it’s like, “Fuck, you’re supposed to be rich by 18, have a Tesla, and your own crib.” I would see other artists like Kid Laroi and be like, “Fuck, why am I not popping off like that.” I was also really depressed because LA is so different from Seattle, and I moved during COVID, so I couldn’t even make friends. There’s a song on Trips To Venus called “Shadow Puppets” that I made during COVID and it tackles those topics of feeling isolated and alone. I also wasn’t in school at the time, so I dropped out, and that was super isolating because that is where you see the most people and have the most social interactions.

There were a lot of highs, though: I got to meet a lot of people who are idols of mine. I got to meet Taco [Travis Bennett] early on from Odd Future and that was fire. Another high was just getting to use a real studio [to make music]. I always recorded music under my bunk bed and had never seen this shit before. I remember being like, “What the fuck is an engineer?” [Laughs.] It made things so easy and that’s what really started to take my shit to the next level. 

You have been very open about Trips To Venus marking a new chapter and era for you. What can we expect from the project both lyrically and musically? 

This one is definitely more vulnerable and all of the songs are a good 50/50 split between rapping and singing. I’m leaning more into [singing], so really it’s going to be singing choruses and rapping verses. The lyrics definitely aren’t as silly — motherfuckers are really going to get to know me with this one. 

Your EP is out and you went on a massive tour with Lauv and Hayley Kiyoko. What is next for you? 

I definitely want to do more shit with my clothing brand Paylien. I don’t know what’s to come after Trips To Venus, but it’s going to be big and I’m gonna take over the world for sure.