Rising Star Dai Burger Talks New Album 'Soft Serve,' Spice Girls & Sexuality
“Hello. And welcome to Soft Serve -- a package served up nice and tight and ready for you, from me,” Dai Burger flirts on “New Everything,” the opening to her latest offering, Soft Serve, out Friday (Aug. 24). While Dai is still flying under the radar, she gained buzz with her 2015 debut Dai 1 EP. But if the flavors she’s serving up on this new album are any indication -- she flawlessly transitions from the club-ready “Slurpee” to the seductive “Tatted Up” to the aggressive “Chris Rock Freestyle” -- this musical chameleon is one to watch.
To celebrate the release, Billboard caught up with the rising star to talk about her musical influences (hint: she’s a Spice Girls fan), her new foundation and her fearlessness: “You never know what I may say, or what I’ll be wearing next, or what gender my date at the next event might be. I’m an open book and a mystery.”
Where does the title Soft Serve come from?
When I think of Soft Serve, I think of a yummy treat you get from the ice cream truck, which to me is just so New York. Running out with your coins when you hear the ice-cream man to get yourself a rainbow cone -- it’s a summer classic. I feel the same about this project, it’s a summer classic. Not to mention a “soft serve” could also mean an effortless slay or like, killin’ em softly.
What's your favorite track?
That's like making a parent choose a favorite child! But if I had to pick one I’d say it’s my song called “Whoa Whoa.” It’s my favorite because I’m a R&B queen at heart and it allowed me to tap into that side. But I also kept it raunchy with a spicy rap second verse. It’s just so chill, so Soft Serve.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I love artists that I grew up watching, that let me know it was ok to break the mold. Artists such as Kelis, Missy Elliott, Santigold to Grace Jones and -- oh my god, I love Prince! These artists have shown me that you need more than just a voice to be heard. And nowadays, you have to be a quadruple threat to even qualify. Music is my art, and these are some of my teachers.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you’re a big Spice Girls fan, right? What would your Spice Girl name be?
Oh, I’m the biggest Spice Girl fan -- even til’ this day! If I were a Spice Girl, I’d be Finesse Spice. I’m the one in the platform Timberlands and the shades, smooth as buttah, baby.
Tell me about the lead single, "Shake 'N Bake."
“Shake N’ Bake” is just an ode to the paper chase. “Chicken” refers to money -- and there’s nothing more in the chicken than Shake N’ Bake! This track is produced by Saint who is one of my favs. Anytime we get together, it usually equates to a new banger.
You’re also working on a video for "Where My Girls." What is that song about?
“Where My Girls” is my anthem right now. It’s all inclusive. I shout out all types of girls, from the go-getters to the trendsetters. The beat is fun and makes you wanna shake something!
Where My Girls? is also the name of your new foundation.
Yes! I’ve always been involved with dance programs for the youth, so after this song was made and the video was shot, I realized it could be a total movement.
Where my Girls? is in partnership with The Brewery Recording Studio. We will be teaching young ladies ages 12-18 components of music recording, songwriting and seeing your visions through until the end. I’m so excited to enter this world as I feel this is a part of my calling as well.
On your Instagram, you said you don't confine to a specific label when it comes to your sexuality. There have been studies that have found that less than half of the teenage generation describe themselves as exclusively straight. What do you think has contributed to this openness?
It’s A-OK if someone wants to exclusively label themselves as straight, gay or anything they please. I’m just happy to know there is more of a platform for people who do identify as homosexual or transgender, to speak out about their preferences and not feeling the same fear that the past use to instill in the community. It’s ok now. And though it may not be fully accepted, its no longer forced to be silenced.
Has there been a specific moment in pop culture that you found groundbreaking in terms of representation for queerness?
Yes, I’d definitely say that someone such as Lady Gaga has helped break down some of these barriers. She’s fearless in her approach and we all could take a lesson from that. But let’s be clear, many of our greats in pop culture have queer influence, from dancing, to styling and more. It’s that lack of fear that allows everyone to live their truth’s freely and confidently.
It's so easy to discover new music these days. Why should people check you out?
It’s that lack of fear. I am fearless. You never know what I may say, or what I’ll be wearing next, or what gender my date at the next event might be. I’m an open book and a mystery. There’s an allure here that’s hard to fake. The music embodies this.