Colorado Musicians Go Viral On TikTok

April 10, 2021

You can't talk about social media and not mention the wildly popular video app TikTok. Last year it was revealed that the social media app had almost 100 million users in the U.S. and close to 1 billion users globally. TikTok has taken the world, especially Gen Z, by storm with its dance crazes, Vine-like silliness, and viral trends. Not to mention million dollar homes in Los Angeles filled to the brim with young influencers (cc: Hype House). TikTok is a content creation hub and musicians from Colorado have jumped on the train and are going viral in the process. Below, meet four of our Local 303 alums and learn about their TikTok lifestyles.

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TikTok handle: @michellerocqet 

When did you start posting to TikTok?

I posted my first video in September of last year. 

What is your most popular video?

It’s a video called "When the Bass Gets Bored with Their Part." It definitely has big choir-nerd energy. 

@michellerocqet

#duet with @earcandyofficial these bass bishes out here thirsty. #rnbvibes #acappella #foryoupage #fyp #fypシ #singer #riffing #bass #altos

♬ original sound - EARCANDY

How does the platform allow you to express yourself?

When I first started posting, it was really nice to be trying stuff out in a place where I didn’t know anybody and it was just me and some omniscient type of algorithm facing off via my tiny phone. That was liberating. What I would probably be self-conscious posting for my friends to see, I could just throw into the TikTok ether, because it was just me and user25391114145. It’s a little different now, but the principle remains the same. Make sure it’s a joyful process and don’t take yourself so seriously.

Do you ever feel nervous about being silly or vulnerable and it going viral?

I don’t ever feel nervous about those specific things, no. Those are important qualities in my life online and IRL. I do worry about a lot of other things though, but that’s mostly due to my already complex relationship with social media and the existentialism built into trying to authentically be yourself in a made-up place. Also, so far, almost everyone on TikTok has been really nice. Like suspiciously nice. Sometimes I wonder if TikTok is The Truman Show of apps. 

Do you think TikTok has given you the ability to connect with more people through your music? How? 

I’ve been able to connect with a few producers and songwriters who want to collaborate because they’ve seen my videos, so that’s neat. I haven’t really been performing my own music on there so I can’t say through my music, but I think through music in general, yes. 

What has been your favorite TikTok trend?

There was this trend where the first half of the video was a clip of your pet all grown up and as Usher and Alicia Keys’ 2004 smash hit “My Boo” played in the background it would get to that line that’s like “and you were my baby!” and then BAM into “started when we were younger, you were mine” and it’s a clip of that SAME pet except AS A BABY VERSION OF THEMSELVES in the SAME location as the first clip. I don’t know what that trend was called, but it was cute as hell. Either that, or anything @yourkoreandad posts. 

What is something surprising that has happened to you because of TikTok?

I had no idea people still loved Cher so much. Also I have learned so much!!!! People are really out here democratizing information. 

How do you recommend other artists get started on TikTok? What advice do you have for them?

TikTok is this giant zeitgeist and a body of culture made up of many many many subcultures. Anything you’re into, there are probably people already making videos about it in some form or fashion, and you can tap in! Did you know there are leftist teenagers who are so into communism they call Karl Marx daddy? That is the most Gen Z s*** I’ve ever heard of. Anyways...my advice is not to allow any platform to be a vehicle for your validation, that’s a trap and will forever be one. Don’t allow the capitalistic nature of content creation dictate how you see your own value. Create healthy boundaries with it, and remember there are real people on the other side of those accounts. Also check out #frogtok.

Jivan West
Credit: Jivan West

TikTok Handle: @dafnarocks

When did you start posting to TikTok?

I first downloaded TikTok in September 2019, but only began consistently posting the summer of 2020!

What is your most popular video?

As of now, my most popular video is one I posted about my song “Light Of My Life” that came out beginning of February, in which I explained that I wrote the song about my broken sunglasses.

@dafnarocks

anyways go stream light of my life

♬ original sound - dafna

You use your platform to talk about your songwriting process. How do you think that has been perceived by followers? 

I hope that it’s inspired some of my followers who are interested to try and write their own songs and find their own ways of self-expression! I try to make songwriting and music-making seem as accessible as possible, since I truly believe it’s something anyone can do. 

How has TikTok helped you market yourself as a musician? Do you think it has been effective?

TikTok has been a HUGE help with marketing. Since my album release in September 2020, I’ve been using TikTok as one of the main forms of promotion, and its algorithm and widespread reach really allows for my music to reach the ears of so many people that I didn’t think was possible before. I haven’t really had any major playlist adds or blog writeups or anything, so TikTok has been the No. 1 source of most of my streams.

What has been your favorite TikTok trend?

That’s a tough question! I think right now there’s a trend going around where people use a certain audio to reflect on something embarrassing that happened in their childhood and then show a clip or a photo from what they talked about– it makes me laugh so hard every time.

What is something surprising that has happened to you because of TikTok?

I’ve been able to connect with a lot of really cool musicians and artists that I was either a fan of before or was introduced to them through TikTok! It’s such a loving and welcome community and there are just so many talented people on that app that I feel so lucky to know.

How do you recommend other artists get started on TikTok? What advice do you have for them?

I think the biggest thing is just not being afraid to put yourself out there! I posted a LOT of unsuccessful videos before the algorithm caught on to one of mine, and once I took out the embarrassment factor and stopped worrying what people would think of my videos, I found a lot more success with what I was posting. It’s really important to experiment and find a video format that’s good for you, and really believe that the music you’re posting about deserves to be heard! If you’re not your own biggest supporter, why would other people listen to your music?

Credit: Jacob Glazier

TikTok handle: @clay.leon

When did you start posting to TikTok?

I started posting TikToks back in 2019, but 2020 is where I really started to get into it.

What is your most popular video?

My most popular video is video of me and my friend Matt doing a dance combo that we made up just chillin at the house. We just were just trying to have fun and not take things too seriously and honestly I feel like that’s the best kind of content ever. Just organic fun.

@clay.leon

what he’s really doing when he says he’s out with the boys @illmasta #fyp #dance #foryou #dababytoes #denver #colorado

♬ TOES - DaBaby

You use your platform for many things: dancing, collaborating, and Behind The Scenes. How has that helped you stay creative while in quarantine?

It just kept me creating. The more I create, the more creative I got cause I start thinking outside the box. I’ve started using my platform to showcase the many different things I love to do on the daily instead of “boxing” myself in saying that I have to be this one, specific thing. I used to hate feeling like I couldn't focus on more than one thing at a time, like that made you “less than” or something compared to the person who only does one thing, ya know what I mean? I like doing a lot of things and I wanna embrace all of the creative parts of me. And since all of the ideas come from my imagination and wildest dreams, it falls naturally into place and frees me up just to have fun through everything and anything I do.

Do you think TikTok has given you the ability to connect with more people through your music? How? 

Oh yeah, definitely. I think TikTok allows artists/creators to unveil the curtain and just be themselves. When you get to know me as person, my music and my personality just go hand in hand. Like yeah, we are all a little weird, the coolest person in the room, or feeling themselves at some point in ya life, ya know? So I try to be as truthful as I can in myself so that you feel that in my music as well! 

What has been your favorite TikTok trend?

EASILY THE TRANSITIONS. As much as I do love watching dance trends, cause they be dope af too, when people do like the solo transitions, I think it’s SO COOL. I have no clue how they do it so it seems like magic to me every time I see it. If I had to pick a specific one though, definitely the “running in place” one. Like WHAT!??? It’s dope. You have to check it out and then try it for yourself!

What is something surprising that has happened to you because of TikTok?

My music was heard all around the world. Last year, I dropped a "Come Around Me" Remix and it got hella viral on TikTok and I had people from all across the world using that sound and sharing it and it was seriously like the coolest thing. And then I saw the streams blowing up on Spotify and I was like WHAAAAAAT IS THIS REAL LIFE!??

How do you recommend other artists get started on TikTok? What advice do you have for them?

JUST START. STOP TRYING SO HARD TO BE SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT. I PROMISE YOU, BE YOURSELF AND YOU'LL ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Sorry if it seems like I’m yelling but I am. That’s the best advice I could ever give. Do something because you love it and I promise you everything will fall into place. Stop searching for the numbers, stop trying to create based on an algorithm. Create art because it’s fun, it’s your release, it’s therapeutic, it’s challenging, it soothes you, whatever it may be and you will find success in all that you do.

TikTok handle: @lokanakailani

When did you start posting to TikTok?

I first started posting on TikYok in 2018. I didn’t take it seriously and mainly made random videos clowning on myself.

What is your most popular video?

Back in November, a snippet from the song "Ultralight Beam" by Kanye West was trending. Everyone was lip syncing to the sound and looking attractive. I wanted to do the same so I set my phone up and started lip syncing to the song. After recording, I used the voiceover effect and sang over the clip. No one really did that sort of thing before so I tried it out and posted it on a random Saturday. At the beginning of the day on Saturday I had a little over 4,000 followers and by the end of the day I had almost 100k. People started doing the same thing I did which was crazy and I pretty much started a trend. One of my idols I looked up to growing up, China Anne McClain, used the same sound and tagged me in the video and I went crazy because she noticed me. Now I have 153.2K followers and that video now has 6.2 million views. 

@lokanakailani

using my own voice 😳 can we make this a thing plz #sing

♬ Chanceeeeee - Sam Craft

You use your platform for many things, but comedy is the most prevalent. How have you used comedy to express yourself and connect with your followers? 

Comedy and making others laugh has always been a big part of my life. Now I can relate to other people from all over. We can connect through comedy, music, etc. 

Do you think TikTok has given you the ability to connect with more people through your music? How? 

I think one thing I got really lucky over was the fact that the video that blew up was of me singing. So I was able to be like “Hey guys… I also make music.. Check it out!” And they were like “Well we liked this video of you singing so I suppose we can check it out!” And it really did help me. Having any kind of following is really cool because I have a platform that I can pretty much do whatever I want with.

What has been your favorite TikTok trend?

A guilty pleasure of mine is learning TikTok dances and doing them. I used to think that people who did TikTok dances and posted them were cheesy… And here I am now looking cheesy and doing TikTok dances. 

What is something surprising that has happened to you because of TikTok?

I think I will always be surprised over the China Anne McClain situation. I used to watch her all the time on Disney channel. Brand deals are also really cool.

How do you recommend other artists get started on TikTok? What advice do you have for them?

My advice to other artists who want to grow their platform is to try new things. Think outside the box. Try dances, comedy, music and see what works and what doesn't. It’s also important to post regularly, which is something I'm still trying to work on myself! Hehe!

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