Angel Day, 23, is a visual artist, pop musician, and show promoter. They make eclectic underground tracks that draw from experimental dance and hip-hop, using the name Yesterdayneverhappened; they also organize a party called Daybreak, which showcases Black and Black trans artists. In January the Empty Bottle hosted the most recent Daybreak, titled “Frostbite,” whose lineup included North Carolina house daredevil Dirty Bird, rising Chicago breakcore star Casper McFadden, New York electro-punk bruiser LustSickPuppy, Yesterdayneverhappened, and local experimental hip-hop artist Munki.
As told to Leor Galil
My grandma played the guitar for a very long time, since she was younger, so I was always around music. My uncle was trying to rap, so he’d be playing, like, old-school rap albums around me as I was growing up. I was rapping for a while when I was in high school and not really doing anything with it. But I started doing stuff with it towards the end of being in high school.
In high school, I was listening to a bunch of old-school rap, and I was trying to do that. I was pulling up YouTube beats and shit and trying to make raps over them. When I was 17, I went to the studio for the first time—there wasn’t anybody really making music at my school, so I had to go into the city to actually learn about it and do it more. It was really just emulating people that I listened to at the time.
Around that time, I was following all the Save Money people. Knox [Fortune] had posted something about this studio—it was in Wicker or some shit. I just wanted to check it out, and I wanted to get to a studio, so I went there. I recorded, and I put out this song. People in my high school were going crazy about it; years later I’m like, “This is trash.” Any time I go around my grandma’s house, those same people are like, “Oh my God, dude, remember that song you made?” And I’m just like, “Yo, can you not talk about this?”
Beginning in 2017, I started making art. I started making cover art and stuff like that. I was linking up with all these local rappers. I was hanging out with Adot a lot, like, latter half of 2017 to 2019. I was the person who made his debut cover art [2018’s Midnightt], because he was the homie. It was kind of the scene at that present moment, and I was hanging out with them and doing their cover art and stuff like that. Meanwhile, I was still rapping, and it felt like I was trying to convince those people around me that I could rap. And they weren’t taking me seriously—they wouldn’t take me seriously at all.
I feel like people only really have the attention span for one thing, usually. So since I was making cover art, nobody was hitting me up to rap or make music with them. It wasn’t until I started doing all this stuff on my own that people were like, “OK, this person can actually make music and has a voice to do so.”
But I think it was more of a confidence thing. I think being around those people and having them basically treat me like I wasn’t able to do something because I was doing something else was a blow. But in that same light, it also pushed me to adapt and make the things that I wanted to make, which in turn boosted my confidence. Before, I wasn’t really confident in my raps or my music. Making more songs, getting comfortable with my voice, and being comfortable to experiment helped me find where I am now.
I book shows. I’m trying to get in contact with more venues, but I feel like every single time I actually throw a show it’s really good. When I book shows I do it underneath “Daybreak.” Daybreak is a collective slash booking company, but it’s not really a booking company because I handle all the shit myself. With Daybreak, I try to only book Black and Black trans people to give them more of a platform. Otherwise, if I get on a show and there’s not enough POC or Black people, I would recommend Black and POC people to perform.
There’s literally so much talent there. It’s oversaturated with non-Black people—like, white people specifically—taking up slots and throwing these parties. And sure, they can do that, but there’s so many people that aren’t getting enough shine. There’s not enough people getting traction. There’s Black and Black trans people that have followings, but they’ve never been to Chicago. I want to provide this space for them to do that, and also provide an as-safe-as-possible environment for them to do that. It’s super nice, and that’s probably the bare minimum that I can do, because everybody should be doing that shit in the first place. But I’m just trying to make it more present and more prominent. I also know how to organize shows, and not a lot of people know how to do that.
Having an all-Black and -Black trans showcase speaks volumes to the talent that’s being slept on as well. These spaces are possible to be created. There’s a bunch of Black people that are complaining about the demographics of the electronic-slash-techno spaces, and it’s because it’s true; a lot of Black people don’t be feeling comfortable going to an electronic show, just off the lack of people that look like them. There’s things that happen that take up space, and there’s things that happen that make Black people feel unsafe, just based on history.
The Yesterdayneverhappened album Twilight Princess came out in November 2021.
My goal is to give these people a platform and a place to do something about it, and also put my friends on who are very talented people. Especially now, I feel like Black people deserve everything, so they should have fun, be chill, and not have to deal with any bullshit, which I’d be quick to sort out anyways.
It always comes out super expensive, and I end up not making that much money from it. I try to do Daybreak shows, like, three to four months apart, because it’s a lot of work. Currently, I’m just trying to play shows so I can make money and also ghost orchestrate everything—not really attach my name or Daybreak to it, because I do have friends that are non-Black, and I want to give them the opportunity to perform too.
The past two Daybreak shows have been super successful, but I’m not really seeing any money from them. I’m also trying to play shows so that I can get paid and do bigger productions and eventually even go to other states and do the same thing over there. But I have to do it in Chicago first.