“It’s just going to smack everyone in the face, just floor them — but I don’t know if anyone’s ready for that.” It’s a promise from LILHUDDY to his millions of fans that his upcoming album that he’s been piecing together over the past several months will truly and absolutely deliver. The project — which is still under lock and key — is a dream realized for the on-the-rise singer/songwriter that came together in the blink of an eye and is finally, nearly out in the world. But while everyone is quick to label LILHUDDY the next big thing in pop-punk, he’s even quicker to point out that he’s not here to take over — he just wants to hang in the big leagues.
“I don’t even see myself as one of those people that’s here to show these dudes what’s up and think I’m going to rule the pop-punk world,” he says, pointing at the greats, like Green Day and Blink-182. “I want to just put out emotional songs. I feel like that’s one of the things that people in pop punk do a good job of portraying — and I want to give a new life to it.”
It’s a modest goal for the TikToker turned musician who’s on the fast track to a new level of stardom. He may have built his fanbase on social media, but he’s firmly making the pivot to a career he feels more passionately about. Though his name, his brand, and his reputation have been a blueprint on TikTok for how to be successful, he’s using the empire he built to move himself forward in music instead, relying on social media as more of a fun, promotional outlet. He currently has over 31 million followers and nearly 2 billion likes — and the numbers are only growing.
But while he’s already amassed millions, there are still so many more fans to be found. The beauty of the TikTok algorithm is that everyone’s experience is different. Even though I spend an absurd amount of time on the video-sharing platform, I’ve only come across a LILHUDDY video on my For You Page sparingly. Despite having a legion of fans following his every move, his social media presence had barely surfaced in my realm until recently. Instead, my FYP is packed with apartment tours of New York City, fellow millennials griping about office culture, and cute animals. So very many cute animals. So sitting down with LILHUDDY — who is just Chase Hudson when he’s being casual — was a true introduction.
We Zoomed from opposite ends of the country — him at his sprawling home in Southern California, complete with an on-brand Sonic the Hedgehog hanging on the wall in the background and me in my compact New York City apartment. He was fresh from a workout, ready to take on the day as my day was coming to a close. It was through our hour together that he fully and completely demonstrated exactly why his fanbase has grown so large over the past couple years and why he’ll continue to charm new fans outside of social media. I already knew he was a talented musician; I took to his new-age pop-punk vibe immediately, but the California native is also just a damn delight to speak to. For a fresh-faced 19-year-old, LILHUDDY has already experienced so much and still has a level head at the end of the day.
He’s rolled out three singles so far this year in pretty rapid succession, always keeping his fans thirsting for more, and his newest one is out today. “Don’t Freak Out” is LILHUDDY’s only collaborative effort on his upcoming album and it features the greats. In a truly magical meld, the song features Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects, rapper Iann Dior, and Blink-182’s Travis Barker. It’s a song that would have felt at home on one of Ritter’s own albums with his Oklahoma-bred band, and if you close your eyes and listen, it’s exactly what you’ll hear, except it has modern touches that make it all LILHUDDY’s own.
And while LILHUDDY, of course, loves all the songs on the album, it’s this collab that he’s most excited about. “It’s the only one,” he says with a small smile that shows just how much working with this group has meant to him. It’s times like these — where he gets to work with artists he’s a fan of — that LILHUDDY realizes just how special his career has become, and it’s something he clearly understands and deeply appreciates.
Despite his meteoric rise to fame and his budding success in music, he knows he has something to prove. But as someone who struggled fitting in back home in Stockton, California, LILHUDDY understands the feeling of not wholly being accepted for the things he loves and the path he’s on. Pointing to his “hustle mindset,” the singer says he’s always been one to power through even when things are working against him. “A lot of people are starting to give me a chance now that I’m actually making music. It’s like I’m something to root for,” he says, adding that he hopes that continues.
Since TikTok’s boom during the COVID-19 lockdown, many of its creators have become bona fide superstars at a nearly alarming rate. Suddenly these content creators were amassing millions of fans and followers who were watching their every move and latching onto everything they did. LILHUDDY was one of those creators who had been on the platform for years prior but found a great deal of success as he and his peers started to really gain traction.
The attention, for many of these TikTokers, also meant new business ventures. We’ve seen the ever-popular sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio land brand deals and others like Addison Rae score acting gigs. For some, the next logical step was music. When it comes to LILHUDDY’s foray into music, though, it wasn’t just a convenient move, it was something he actually felt passionately about — and something he has a real talent for.
As a child, a tiny Chase always enjoyed music and messing around with singing. Though as a small child he enjoyed his parents’ musical tastes in classic rock, he eventually moved on. Latching onto his older sister’s music tastes next just made sense to the teen. That meant he fell into her pop-punk favorites and popular bands like One Direction — a group LILHUDDY still admires today. And what’s interesting about his allegiance to One Direction is that he’s up against a lot of the same scrutiny the boy band also faced when they were still making music together. With the criticism often launched at boy bands and pop music, it can be hard for not only the musicians to remain strong but for their dedicated fans who support them. “I’ve never been in the mindset of somebody who doesn’t like boy band music,” he shares while pulling up One Direction on his phone to play while we talk. “It’s always been my favorite. It’s always good.”
His love of boy bands doesn’t particularly translate to his own music though — instead he harkens back to the pop punk of yesteryear that he’s long admired and aspired to get into. Putting together this debut album was also a little bit of kismet for LILHUDDY. He grew up idolizing bands like Blink-182, All-American Rejects, and Pierce the Veil, among others, and all of these bands had a hand in helping the young artist put together his own body of work. “Pierce the Veil played a big role in not even just making music, but getting inspired by something,” he says. “So I went back to my favorite album of theirs, which was Collide With the Sky, and just started listening through it top to bottom. And I was like, wow. All the emotion they portray in the music. You can really feel what he’s feeling and going through in those songs.” And from there, LILHUDDY actually met up with PTV’s Vic Fuentes to chat music and inspirations. I can see the stars in his eyes through the computer screen as he recounts the feeling of sitting down with an idol to tell him just how much his music means to him. “He was a big inspiration piece for me, and he knows that,” he shares.
And, of course, there’s Blink-182, who long ago established themselves as the pop-punk band of their generation, and drummer Barker has proven himself to be one of the most talented musicians in the industry. Currently working with artists like Willow, jxdn, and others, he also helped LILHUDDY craft his album, sharing his wisdom along the way. After all, as LILHUDDY says, Barker “knows punk better than anybody else.”
One of the biggest lessons LILHUDDY learned while recording his album with Barker was the beauty of taking things slow, which is ironic considering the album came together in just three months and something that the singer chuckles at when I ask for clarification.
“He’ll sit there and he’ll listen to the song, like, five times before he gets to the studio, and then he’ll go over it,” he says. “He takes his time.” It’s a sharp contrast from how LILHUDDY plowed into things with excitement, he says, always wanting to just go, go, go. “As soon as I start getting into a groove I like, I’ll start going nuts,” he says. “I’ll get too caught up in the moment. I’ll just be too excited about what I’m making. And Travis will actually slow down and make sure to perfect what he’s doing.”
So yes, the album did come together quickly, but it’s because LILHUDDY threw everything he had into it and worked with some ideas he had ruminating long ago — like “America’s Sweetheart,” which was released in April and written in early 2020. LILHUDDY has spoken candidly before about this song and the heartbreak it was born out of. He and then-girlfriend Charli D’Amelio couldn’t make their relationship work and decided to call it quits early in the COVID-19 pandemic. LILHUDDY found himself in a dark, lonely place and he put pen to paper as a form of catharsis. Fast-forward a year and a half and the song is released — with D’Amelio herself in the video, something that truly feels like a full-circle moment that carries a level of maturity that so many people could never understand, let alone someone who’s just 19.
“It came to the point where I was like, ‘All right, if you want her in the music video, you kind of have to show the song,’” he says, adding that he’d openly shared the song with pretty much everyone else in his life except for the one person who inspired it. “So, I was like, ‘Alright, fuck, OK.’ And then it came to the point where we were hanging out, and I was like, ‘I have something to show you.’ And then I showed her it, and then she started crying, and I started crying.” Amid their tears, he asked her to be in the video and it became a “happy thing.”
“Then when we were on set, it was like a sad happy moment because we realized that was a bumpy road for all of us in quarantine, and that’s something that a lot of people can relate to,” he shares.
These are just a few of the tracks on LILHUDDY’s debut album Teenage Heartbreak, which he announced today and will be released Sept. 17. The album is chock-full of bangers from top to bottom, including one that LILHUDDY cannot wait to get on a stage and perform. “‘Headlock’ is a really good one; it’s more like an angsty, grungy sound,” he says of the song he knows will be epic in concert. “And then ‘How It Ends’ is a concert closer or album finisher song, and it’s about everything — everything being a movie and I’m watching everything in your head. Playing over almost like the scenes in the movie.”
“How It Ends,” according to LILHUDDY, may actually bring people to tears in a live show, at least if he has his way. “Once people hear that at a concert, I feel like that’s going to be the moment everyone’s just crying, like everyone in the crowd,” he says. “I’m just going to give it to them, let them fucking sing the chorus because it’s just such a great song. And I know people are going to sing the shit out of this song in concert and lose their voice to it.”
For now, a tour is still a pipe dream, but this singer is ready for it when the time is right. Thus far, he’s only done a few virtual performances and social media videos, aside from performing for his label. He does, however, have his debut live performance to celebrate the release of “Don’t Freak Out” this weekend, which he’s understandably elated for. “I just feel like it’s going to be something just super surreal for me to even perform,” he says. “I performed for my team at Interscope, and it was nuts. I had so much adrenaline going through me, and I had only performed for 10 people that were just watching me and clapping once the song was over.”
With a solid brand behind him that he continues to carefully curate, LILHUDDY is on his way to something great. And though he’s aware of a certain stigma that comes with being a TikToker turned musician, he can rest assured that for every person out there who knows him as a TikToker, there’s another person who doesn’t. For those who have no preconceived notions about the singer, what they’ll find in him is a passionate young star who is just here to make the music he loves and be another member of the pop-punk family. And that is pretty damn great.