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Daine is the Charli XCX-approved pop star going goblin mode

Ahead of the release of her debut mixtape Quantum Jumping, we speak to the ethereal Melbourne artist about teen angst, making music with Oli Sykes, and being photographed by The Cobrasnake

“I’m not a fucking person. I don’t want to be a person,” asserts Daine mid-way through our Zoom conversation. The 19-year-old combines emo-pop melodies with otherworldly aesthetics that feel like they’ve been plucked from a faraway fantasy land. “I don’t want people to look at me and go, ‘wow, that’s so real’, because it doesn’t encapsulate my human emotions – it encapsulates the things I can’t articulate.”

Speaking from her home in Melbourne, the Filipino-Australian artist, 19, is about to release her mixtape Quantum Jumping. Written when she was 16 years old, the seven-track record is like a time capsule; a diaristic reflection on isolation and angst. “It’s super teenagery,” she explains. “I just had my first breakup. I was having a hard time at school. I didn’t really have any friends.” Though inspired by the early 00s Midwestern emo movement, and the Melbourne hardcore scene that adopted her in her early teens, the mixtape is more sonically aligned with pop. But Daine’s emo sensibility can be felt through moody lyricism in tracks like opener “cemetery dreams”, where she cries “I won’t bleed for you” in grungy drop emo tuning.

Her debut 2020 single “Picking Flowers” – described as the “soundtrack for a disillusioned generation navigating life in an unforgiving world” – was released in the early months of the pandemic. Later track “Angel Numbers” saw her pair up with PC Music’s Danny L Harle, with Daine singing “broke myself to have nothing left / I was reborn through collapse” against static-heavy guitar and emotionally broken beats. “Daincore” and “Boys Wanna Txt” featuring ericdoa are Extremely Online saccharine hits, while the angsty track “Salt” saw her collaborate Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes. “Labels would be hitting me up and a lot of people I idolised wanted to work with me,” she adds. “But I had to keep it all inside and live this very normal life. I went from being at school every day to doing music full time in like a matter of seconds. It felt like a quantum jump.”

With an already impressive list of collaborators, and Charli XCX as a mentor, Daine’s ascent to stardom is impressive, especially for someone who has only performed live once. But she maintains that it hasn’t been an easy ride. “I feel like the world has kind of slept on me in a really massive way,” she explains. “I feel like I do shit and people don’t really care. The men in the space that I’m in get a lot of hype and praise for doing the same thing that I do. But when I post, I feel like people are too scared to show love to a girl doing boyish shit.” As for the ‘pop’ label, she maintains: “It’s emotive music and pop is whatever you want it to be. And I do have a very pop star persona, like I enjoy being goofy and egotistical.”

On stage, she describes herself as going full-on goblin mode, a description that fits in line with the artist’s mythical online persona. “It’s fun, you get to do whatever the fuck you want,” she says. “My internet persona shaped my stage persona, even though I’ve only performed live once. When I go on stage, I act and crawl on the floor; I walk towards people and I stare at them. They’re screaming because it’s so superhuman.”

She excitedly rehashes a recent trip to LA, where she spent time writing songs and attending parties with the likes of Sykes and being photographed by indie sleaze icon The Cobrasnake. “We kept on running into each other at parties and he was like, ‘you’re the coolest person ever, I can’t stop taking photos of you’,” she says of the photographer. Coming up in the pandemic, it was the first time she had met many of her online friends IRL. “It was wonderful,” she says, grinning.

Reflecting on the release of Quantum Jumping, Daine is excited yet ready to move on to a new chapter. “I feel a little bit cringe, like anyone who looks back on the stuff they wrote when they were 16 would think that,” she confesses. “But there’s a sincerity to the tape, because I made it before I really knew anything.”

Quantum Jumping is out April 28