#HowIMadeIt 2017

Saya, Singer-Songwriter

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Saya has? Here's how she did it

Saya in a striped top and white overalls posing in front of a windowed door

(Photo: Matt Adams)

Saya; Toronto; @sayaslaya

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I am an artist. I sing, write music, create and entertain.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I attended Rosedale Heights School of the arts for high school, where I got to major in photography on top of a regular high school curriculum. Then I took a gap year to save up some money before I started going to the University of Western Ontario, where I planned on majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. I ended up getting kicked out after first year, or dropped out. (It was a little bit of both.)

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I received my first payment as a musician from Spotify for streaming on my single, “Wet Dreams,” while I was on a writing trip in London.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

The success of “Wet Dreams” opened a lot of opportunity for me—it’s what led me to signing my record deal. The song charted on Spotify and landed a #1 spot on the global viral playlist, which was surreal for me.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

It was when I met one of my managers and she set me up in studio sessions. I delivered and she brought in another manager from London, England and they began investing in my future and developing me as a recording artist. It was the first step of me making music professionally and I felt like everything was slowly starting to come together.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

When I was 14, I used to put up original songs and covers on YouTube and then find random industry people on Facebook and send them the links, asking them if they could help me out in any way. Nothing ever came of it; no damage was done and usually I was ignored. I don’t think this is that big of a deal… just a little bit annoying of me, now that I understand how many emails they must get a day.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

You can’t rush excellence. Also, you should always apply 100 percent of yourself into anything that you’re doing; discipline and determination are essential in order to succeed in any area.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

A lot of people have an opinion on the music industry and how things should be; most of these people don’t work in the music industry. So, I tend to filter out when people try to give me career advice. There are a lot of different methods you can use and paths you can take and I think educating yourself on them and trusting your own heart and intuition is best.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

I hear horror stories all the time about things my peers experience. Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with any major barriers at this point of my career, but I am aware that they most definitely will come in the future.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I am happy with my situation I am in currently. I am beyond grateful to be able to live comfortably and make music for a living.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

I hear the “we are lazy” one a lot. Everyone is different based on their own situation. I’ve always been a hard worker, and now I work in a field of hustlers and fighters—there’s no time to be lazy in the entertainment industry.

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