If you’re on TikTok or any other viral streaming platform, you’ve probably heard of rising star Tai Verdes. The Los Angeles-based artist released his hit song “Stuck in the Middle” about a year ago, which has since amassed over 80 million streams and has been viewed over a massive 2 billion times on TikTok, and while his videos go viral all across the world, Verdes’s personality is just as infectious! With his enigmatic stage presence that’s palpable even through a Zoom showcase, Verdes is more than ready to release his debut album TV later this month.
Given the fact that lead single “A-OK” saw a record-setting 90K pre-saves, it’s safe to say that many people can’t wait to have Verdes’s songs brighten up their day. The video for the song is out today, and shows off Verdes’ comedic chops as he plus a slew of other funny characters battle a bout of very bad turbulence on an airplane. After all, it’s all about how you handle the roadblocks. Judging by the video, he does so with a lot of optimism and humor.
As Taylor Swift recently said in her Global Icon acceptance speech, “if you’re experiencing turbulence or pressure, that probably means you’re rising.” So what better moment then to sit down and chat with Tai Verdes? We talked about his rise to fame, why making music is all about having fun and feeling good, and just how much he’s looking forward to performing in front of a live crowd.
What made you first get into music? What’s your first music-related memory?
My mom would put on compilation CDs of the Grammy-nominated songs of that year, NOW CDs, or even just random 50 Cent albums. I listened to a good mix of stuff really young.
TikTok really put you on the map, but your success didn’t arrive overnight. What’s been the hardest part, but also most rewarding about the entire process?
I think there are no “hardest” parts. The hard part was what I was doing before. Working at places I hated. (Still got love for Verizon, though!) I make music. This is like eating dessert all the time.
You made a sequel to “Stuck in the Middle” featuring Kiana Ledé — are there other songs of yours that you’d like to revisit or recreate?
I don’t think about recreating my songs. I focus on creating new songs.
After having such a breakout moment like you had with “Stuck in the Middle,” I’m sure it opened doors, but also upped the pressure. How did you experience the whole whirlwind after TikTok made you go viral?
There is no pressure. I make songs. It’s really not that serious. I’m just having fun. I do love that people are having positive experiences when they consume my music and that is super rewarding.
You take inspiration from a variety of (pop-forward) genres. How would you describe your own musical/artistic identity? What makes a track a Tai Verdes track?
There is no rhyme or reason. There is no genre to my music. I just make music that makes me feel good. That’s all I know how to do. Every song I sing is with my voice and my own words.
The lead single off your album is “A-O-K” — the intro really makes the song feel like an organic jam session. Is that also reflective of how the song came together?
The man, the myth, the legend, Adam Friedman, played me the idea and that’s all I could think when I heard those guitar strings. The song came together so quickly after I heard those chords.
Your debut album is arriving shortly as well; what track are you most excited for people to hear?
I would never put out a song unless I was fucking proud of it. So it’s hard to pick through my songs like that because they are all my children. I really can’t wait to see what people think of “Happy Till It Hurts.” It’s so different from what I usually do.
How did you end up selecting the songs for your first full-length album? Was it difficult making those choices? Were there any songs that just missed the cut?
It was actually the other way around. I kept adding songs to make it an album. I had a storyline, idea, and a theme that all matched up with the way the music sounded. In the end it all just fell into place.
For those of us listening to the album, how should we go about it? What do you think would be the best listening experience?
The album TV is a chronological story of the last four years of my life. Dropping out of college, doing some drugs, meeting a girl, and thinking we would have some cute kids. To getting stuck in the middle to eventually breaking up and trying to find happiness on my own. You can listen however you want. I’m not in charge of the way other people consume. You tell me how you like to listen to it after it comes out.
It must be a little odd releasing a debut album without knowing when you’ll be able to perform it live. How much are you looking forward to that moment?
I think it’s great. I get to have people know the words to my songs before I even have my first real show. That’s a special moment that I can’t wait to see happen. If you see me cry when it happens just know there was probably just some dust in my eye.