Touch of Daz: Talking Beauty, Brains and Billions with Darien Talley
words by Fahima Chowdhury
It's a chilly Saturday night in November when I make my way over to the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus, Brooklyn. I know what you're thinking, "Shuffleboard? On a Saturday night?" But if there's something the "new" New York knows how to do, it's putting a hipster flare on just about anything. From the outside, it appears to be an abandoned warehouse, but upon entering-its anything but.
The place is packed with drinks flowing, music blasting and folks playing shuffleboard. I get worried that I won't be able to spot Daz, aka DJ Daz who got stuck in the same NYC traffic I was in, yet beat me to our meeting even though she came from Connecticut. I didn't have to search too much when my eyes instantly stopped on a modelesque figure rocking a burgundy fur coat and Bantu knots. With a presence as such, there was no need for a "where are you?" text.
Darien Talley, or Daz as she likes to be called is the founder and voice behind Touch of Daz. What once was a college based radio show in Charlotte, North Carolina is now a platform for underground musicians all across the world. From reviews, interviews, and recommendations, Touch of Daz is a home for up and coming talents to shine.
As I make my way over to Daz, the intimidation kicks in. Here I am, about to interview someone who is a pro at interviews. "Is she going to judge my questions? Am I underdressed?" I think to myself as I walk towards her. But as soon as I reached out to shake her hand which ended up in a warm embrace, my reservations go right out the window.
We make a quick stop at the infamous flamingo print restrooms of the Royal Palms before we begin the interview. Heads turn as Daz makes her way through crowds of people buzzing at the club. One woman even approaches Daz to tell her how amazing her outfit is, and Daz's humble response once again calms my nerves.
We find a quiet(er) spot at the bar and settle down as Daz slowly sips on her Prosecco. I'm curious to know what brings this Charlotte native to the tri-state area.
"My dad and stepmom moved to Connecticut six years ago. They’ve been trying to get me to come here for a while, but two years ago I finally decided just to come just because I want to be closer to New York I always loved New York so I was like, why not just come?!"
Daz was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina where she spent the majority of her life. She attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she studied Public Relations/Communications but didn't really like it. It was at that time that she got into radio, her first gig was on an on-campus YouTube show called "We Are The Media." The unfiltered environment of her Youtube show was what made Daz want to transition to radio, and soon she launched her own radio show, Touch of Daz.
When you think of North Carolina and music, does EDM (electronic dance music) come to mind? It didn't for me but ToD enlightened me and many others on the EDM culture amongst Charlotte. This undiscovered and undiscussed phenomenon was the inspiration that led Daz to shine a spotlight on the Charlotte underground scene.
"I just started my own site just because I knew I could give that platform for people that the big sites wouldn't because they're really picky who they choose. I want to do that because people needed another voice for them."
ToD started off as a radio show in October 2013, which then expanded to its own site in April of 2014. Since then, ToD has expanded not only nationally, but globally as well. Daz started receiving EDM submissions from people in different parts of the world like Africa and Europe. As her site grew, so did her range of topics. Daz began writing personal entries about social, political and cultural issues. As someone who wants to do big things for her community, Daz feels as if it is her responsibility to use her voice to bring awareness and truth to issues that are not highlighted elsewhere.
Like her real life, her site is not exclusive to just Charlotte. In 2015, Daz moved to the tri-state area and now attends Western Connecticut State University, studying communication studies with a focus on media production. The 24-year-old has a full agenda ahead of her as she's planning to take six classes beginning 2018 and graduate in May. While she figures out the future of ToD, she's also launching a new project called 'Beauty, Brains and Billions'.
"People always said 'beauty doesn't last but brains do'. I want to create that image that we can have beauty forever, we can be smart and we can be rich. We can get billions. I want to teach financial literacy, help girls how to read and how to be stylish yet professional."
A tip this girl boss has for other young women that want to make it in the industry and do something similar is "Just go for it. You never know what can come from it and if it doesn't work out, try something different." She prides herself on her professionalism, coming in with a strong handshake and carrying herself well. The support of family and friends plays a key factor in keeping the wheels turning, as well as the support of fellow women. Daz boldly states, "If you don't surround yourself with good women, I feel like it's not going to make you a stronger woman."
When she's not attending class or an event for reviewing, Daz likes to spend her downtime hanging out with her boyfriend, whom she gushed about while giving a rundown of her #OOTN. The 18 karat gold chain adorning her neck was a gift from Guyana, which paired perfectly with her statement heart shaped hoop drop earrings. Drawing inspiration from fur Gods Gucci Mane and Safaree, Daz effortless paired a fur coat and scarf with a mini crossbody bag and thigh high boots. Expressing herself through fashion is crucial for this creative. "You can tell a lot about a person before they speak by their outfit," Daz claimed.
Though she describes her style as "crazy", this fashion-forward FLASH girl is the perfect blend of edgy, urban and sophisticated. In her own words, "a FLASH girl is a smart, city slicker type girl but also knows how to be laid back and watch from the outskirts."
Daz hopes to one day write and direct her own movies and work for a publication or well-known fashion house doing communications. We can also expect to see DJ Daz behind the turntables come 2019, as she plans on perfecting her DJing skills.
photos by Shanté Carlan