artist spotlight: catching up with tai verdes | music
Tai Verdes is an artist who masterfully fuses his talent for creating infectious pop hooks with his love of online culture, playfully keeping his audience in the loop at every stage of his journey.
Tai has set himself apart with his ability to authentically market himself, rising to fame by charismatically documenting the process of making and releasing his music on Tik Tok. Proclaiming "there should be no moment where you don't know what's happening with me". If you're a user of the platform you're bound to know the catchy melodies of his earworm tracks "AOK" and "Stuck in the Middle".
Stylistically, Tai's music has a soulful sound with feel-good pop production that is paired well with the honest, humorous storytelling of his lyricism which reminds the audience of the playful personality we see exhibited across his social media. His sound acknowledges the diversity of contemporary pop and doesn't shy away from other genres, seamlessly infusing different elements such as jazz.
Hailing from California, Tai was an essential worker during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, working on his music late at night while juggling a retail job by day. He was working 9-5 selling phones at a mobile network store, when his career unexpectedly launched following the viral upload of his breakout single 'Stuck In The Middle' onto TikTok.
Following his success, Tai documented quitting his day job at Version, prompted by his track accumulating over 11 million streams on a single platform in just three months of its initial release.
Social Media and Online Streaming have been molding the way success is calculated in the music industry for a decade now. Yet in spite of that, turning your viral success into material or “real world” success is sometimes an uphill battle for contemporary artists.
However, needless to say, Tai played his cards right and is an artist continuously on the rise.
'Stuck in The Middle' ranked #1 on Spotify’s US viral chart, had him featured in Rolling Stone, and has since amassed more than 120 million streams and over 3.5 million TikTok creations with no major backing, being viewed over 3 billion times since the song’s initial release in at the end of May 2020.
Since then, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter has seen his success propel with the broadcast of each new single, culminating in the release of his debut album 'TV' in May last year which ranked as #3 Billboard Heatseekers album and as #5 Spotify debut album. He since performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and at Lollapalooza 2021 to a crowd of 35,000 people, his first-ever live performance, and received notable recognition from Billboard, MTV, The New York Times, Genius, and more.
I caught up with Tai at the end of December, amidst his most recent tour, to reflect on his success of last year and see what he has up his sleeve next for 2022...
First off, how are you and how has your experience on tour this year been?
The experience has been wild. Singin songs with strangers. I gotta look around and realise how crazy what I did every night was. Especially when you play places like Madison Square Garden.
Your debut album ‘TV’ has been out since May, can you tell us about your favorite lyric on the album?
"we would have some cute kids" only song ever written with that title. I love that shit.
Do you think growing up in California has an influence on your music? Are you able to pinpoint your biggest influences musically?
I was influenced by everything around me. My parents showed me all different genres of music. Everything inspired me. I listened to the United Airlines theme song and that shit got me going. I figured out later it was “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Artists that found their audience on TikTok are sometimes met with skepticism around the ‘hype’ of the app, how do you respond to this as an artist?
Apps are just places where people meet. Skepticism is human.
All I know is they don't call Justin Bieber, "Justin Bieber from YouTube," they don't call Shawn Mendes, "Shawn Mendes from Vine," they don't call DJ Khaled, "DJ Khaled from Snapchat".
If you make quality product over time, any app you use is just marketing. Nobody remembers which app you come from once you make it.
There are a couple of artists right now that could be described as being very ‘Online’, using social media in a playful way to promote their music, Lil Nas X and Doja Cat come to mind..
How would you describe your relationship with internet culture and what do you imagine your relationship will be with it, making music going forward?
I love marketing and understanding what’s hot on the internet. I don't see myself losing that passion anytime soon. My favorite part of the internet is figuring out where to find my niche in that growing infinite monster.
You’re booked for Reading and Leeds 2022 in the summer, are you looking forward to playing to your audience at a UK Festival?
Reading And Leeds is about to be so good that I’m going to pass out right on stage. Don't even come pick me up. Leave me there and just sing louder. I know the UK audience is ready to get crazy.
Lastly, any new years resolutions?
"For 2022… we going High Definition. HDTV 2022."
Tai is preparing for his recently announced HDTV US headline tour with special guest renforshort. The tour is produced by Live Nation and kicks off on Tuesday, April 19th, this Sping making stops across 20 US cities. Along with the release of anticipated new music.
Check out the TV album HERE.
Tai has just released first new single of the year “LAst dAy oN EaRTh.” Listen to it HERE.