Interview: Delacey joins the ‘cool kids’ with solo career after writing for pop stars

Delacey, Brittany Amaradio

Delacey, Courtesy: Aysia Marotta.

Even if you haven’t listened to any of Delacey‘s first three singles yet, you’ve probably heard one of her songs. The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Brittany Amaradio, wrote “New York City” on The Chainsmokers’ 2015 album, Bouquet, as well as Halsey’s “Without Me,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Want more? She’s written songs for and with Zara Larsson, Madison Beer and Demi Lovato.

Outside Lands
Music Festival

12 p.m., Aug. 9 to 11.
Golden Gate Park
Tickets: $155-$1,595.

Delacey’s route to songwriting, then on to her record deal and upcoming debut album, was not a direct one. She moved to New York from her native Orange County to take a job as a photographer, but not knowing anyone, she had a lot of free time and spent it writing songs. Eventually, she moved back to Los Angeles to pursue music, and while recording a demo of one of those songs in a friend’s studio, a publishing company lawyer overheard it and referred her to his colleagues.

The demo was for “New York City,” which the publisher went on to sell to The Chainsmokers. Her new career was well on its way. Delacey was successful enough that she started to consider whether to adjust her goals.

“I was at a point where I was about to sign a record deal to a major label, and I had to make a choice if that was what I wanted my future to be,” she said in a phone conversation from Pittsburgh. “I didn’t even know at that point if I wanted to be a performing artist. I was so wrapped up in the songwriting, and I didn’t know if I wanted that change. So I said ‘no.'”

The experience did prompt her to think more about writing songs for herself rather than other artists. While she certainly has unreleased songs she’s fond of—”There were times I’d write a song and be like, ‘Damn it! Why is nobody playing this? It’s so good!”—she was never tempted to use them for herself. So she flew to New York and spent a month writing songs with producer Ido Zmishlany in his basement.

“I decided after turning down the deal that if I was going to write something for myself it would be 100-percent me,” she said. “So I did. I didn’t expect to stay that long, but I got the album done. But I still didn’t know if anyone was going to get it.”

At least one person did.

After returning to Los Angeles, she met record executive and former The X-Factor judge L.A. Reid, a fellow songwriter himself who’s won Grammys for his work before moving to production and the business side of the industry. She played the album for him by chance, and he responded with a strong push to sign her to his label.

“He pretty much wasn’t going to let me leave his office until I signed,” she said, laughing. “He loved the music so much; he really got it, so I did it. And my life has been crazy ever since.”

With the album pretty much ready to go, Delacey is using the changes to how we listen to music to her advantage. Rather than releasing the album all at once, bookended by singles to get a little extra attention, she’s dropping a song every month and traveling the country to promote them.

“Because of the streaming, that’s what we can do now; it’s kinda cool,” she said. “Before it had to be a single, then a huge push for that; then you release the album, and if it flops, it flops.”

She’s also touring to support her music, including a set at Outside Lands, which has been a goal of hers. It’s a festival she’s always wanted to play since it’s the one her friends always liked most.

“I feel really cool that I get to do it. I’m one of the cool kids,” she joked.

Her Outside Lands set promises to be a first in a lot of ways—her first festival performance, likely her largest crowd and her first show with her sister in her band.

“She’ll be that chick who kinda looks like me up there,” Delacey said.

While she’s looking forward to catching as many acts as she can and soaking in the Bay Area atmosphere, Delacey can’t stay long. She’s in the middle of her push for her singles leading up to her album’s formal release. Until then, she and her sister will enjoy being the cool kids.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at

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