Before finishing second on "The Voice," 24-year-old Dia Frampton was struggling for money and relevancy as a member of the emo-folk group Meg & Dia. Last April, Frampton, along with her sister Meg, released the band's fourth album, "Cocoon," without a label and to little fanfare. On a whim, Frampton tried out for NBC's new reality singing competition as a way to get the word out for "Cocoon" … except Frampton won over the ears and hearts of the audience and her coach, country star Blake Shelton.
Although she didn't take the title, Frampton earned a record deal with Universal Republic and is now touring in support of December's "Red," her first solo album. While she was once a staple on Warped Tour with Meg & Dia, Frampton mixes in headlining club shows with her gigs opening for Shelton on his "Well Lit & Amplified Tour." Before she performs at Towson's Recher Theatre on Saturday, Frampton checked in to talk about "The Voice," her relationship with her coach and her now-famous cover of Kanye West's "Heartless."
As someone with strong roots to emo and pop-punk, did you ever think you'd have Kid Cudi and Blake Shelton on your debut solo album?
Actually, I couldn't have picked anyone better. The collaborations I did worked really well with me. I feel like as I'm growing older, I'm moving away from what I used to write. It was nice to come out with clean slate and a new name. That way people can't say, "You changed your sound!"
Working with Kid Cudi was really great. As a rapper, he's more my vein and more chill than up-in-your-face rappers like Eminem. Working with Blake was obviously a real honor. I really, really like his voice. Just being on tour with him, I really genuinely enjoy watching him perform.
Were you worried about alienating Meg & Dia fans with "Red"? Or that your credibility might take a hit with some of the poppier tracks?
I've always been worried about letting people down. But, I was thinking about [Meg & Dia's] last tour, [and] there were 17 people at the last few shows. How many people am I really going to let down? The reason Meg & Dia started doing really bad was when I saw people out at the mall or wherever, they'd say, "I saw you in Meg & Dia as a kid. I used to listen to your record all the time." That's the line I hear all the time. "I used to …" Meg & Dia fans have been growing up but haven't been growing with us. I let all of that go from my mental viewpoint. It's a good chance to start new.
Where do things stand now with Meg & Dia?
Right now, we haven't quit but we're still deciding what we want to do with that. It's kind of ambiguous right now. As far as members of Meg & Dia, all members are touring with me right now. It really hasn't changed much for the band members; they're used to me writing the song and showing them. The person who took it hardest was Meg. We're used to sharing the spotlight. We're used to writing together. It was hard for both of us. For Meg, it was difficult for obvious reasons, the intense change. For me, it's been difficult in the sense … I'm not used to being the frontman. There's a lot of pressure with that statement and I've never really felt that before.
What do you look for in a song when you're thinking about covers?
There are songs that I look up and see what's popular so more people will look at the video, and that's the most obvious way. I do a lot of songs that I really like, like Ryan Adams. I was feeling lonely on the road, missing my mom a lot, so I covered "Oh My Sweet Carolina," and that's about missing your family. I felt really connected to that song. [Covers] make me like the artist more. I've never been a huge Taylor Swift fan, not because she's not talented but it's just never been my thing. Listening and playing a lot of her songs, I've been thinking she's a very good songwriter. I'm thinking about doing a Dawes cover sometime because they're not as popular as they should be.
We can't talk about covers without bringing up "Heartless." How nervous were you to perform it? And did it feel like a "moment"?
I was extremely, extremely nervous. I thought I could forget the words, screw up a note, come in at the wrong time. There's so many people watching. It was the first time I expressed myself the way I wanted to. During blind auditions I picked a safe song.
When I walked out on stage, I felt like I blacked out and came to right when I finished the song. … WhenCarson [Daly, "The Voice" host] came up and talked to me, I thought, "I survived! I did it." I didn't know how I sounded. I came off stage, went to the bathroom, splashed water on my face and sat there. I came back to the backroom, and one of the girls said, "Heartless is trending!" And I didn't know what that was because I wasn't on Twitter, but she said it was a good thing.
Is there a "Voice" performance you're most proud of?
I think the performance with Blake, doing Tom Petty, was very special to me. I'm a humongous Tom Petty fan. Blake and I were on an airplane together, and I was talking about how much I loved Tom Petty's music. All of the coaches got to pick a duet and Blake chose [Petty's "I Won't Back Down"], and that he'd pick my favorite artist showed he was listening to what I said. He picked something special for me. It was all Blake's idea — the sunglasses, the outfits, the head-nodding. It was really fun.
Do you and Blake speak often? The relationship you two had on the show felt very genuine and supportive.
He's been really great. I'm on tour right now so I see him every day, except for the headliner shows. He's really, really great. We text, talk, hang out. We're really close. He's a genuinely awesome person.
Will you watch the upcoming season? Are there talks for you to appear on it?
No talks for me to appear on it., but I would absolutely love to watch the upcoming season.