From his humble beginnings in Houston, Trevor Daniel’s career has been quite a rollercoaster, if not an exciting one.
The meteoric rise of his TikTok-topping single “Falling,” the cancellation of a national tour, and performing at Chicago’s iconic Lollapalooza festival are just some of the adventures Daniel has been on in recent years. And now that he’s on tour again, EDM.com He caught up with him on his first trip to Canada, where he performed at the FVDED In The Park Festival in Vancouver.
EDM.com: How does it feel to be in Vancouver?
Trevor Daniel: I’ve never been here before, actually never been to Canada. Last year it was COVID, and for that I had to do this tour, but my passport didn’t arrive on time. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but it had to do with my passport. That was equally annoying.
EDM.com: Terrible day for you to come – it’s a pity it’s raining.
Oh no, it’s cool, I like the rain. In Houston – where I come from – it rains a lot.
EDM.com: Welcome to Vancouver and welcome to FVDED. I think this is the city’s biggest commercial festival and certainly one of its most cultural, so we’re glad you’re here with us.
Let’s talk about the differences between Houston and LA. When did you move to LA? Which places do you like more and what is the music scene like in Houston?
Trevor Daniel: I like Houston for the vibe at home and LA for work so it’s a good 50/50. I bought a house in Houston so I can go there when I’m not working, but there’s also a studio so I could do it if I needed to.
But then again, the music scene is drastically different. LA is like the music scene for sure, and Houston is – a lot of dope artists come out, you know.
EDM.com: However, which one has better food?
Trevor Daniel: I feel like LA has more options and more diversity, but in Houston for example, seafood is just different, they’re not afraid to use different flavors.
EDM.com: So what’s Trevor Daniel’s favorite late night spot when he’s back home in Houston?
Trevor Daniel: I think Whataburger, right Puma [Daniel’s drummer]? That’s just the easy one that’s always open, but for late night it’s just cheap, convenient and disgusting, and good at the same time. It’s weird (laughs).
EDM.com: How does it feel to play shows again, travel again, go out for people?
Trevor Daniel: It is cool. I missed it man, sure. We did Lollapalooza a few weeks ago – that was really cool. It was like the first show back which was quite intense. Like the biggest show I played before, that was about 500 people.
We were supposed to do an arena tour with Camila Cabello last year and also do our own tour and stuff, but with COVID we couldn’t do that. So to come back and suddenly go from rooms with 500 people to that was intense. It was a lot of emotions at once.
EDM.com: For an event this big in Chicago, it must have been an amazing experience backstage. How was it backstage at Lollapalooza?
Trevor Daniel: Backstage just felt like LA times 10. I feel like the backstage at Lollapalooza was like everyone in the music industry over there was talking about the same shit they do in LA, but just drunk. I would definitely duck every now and then and find a tree to sit under and sometimes just fake sleep, but it was cool.
EDM.com: So you dropped your album Nicotine last year. How did COVID affect the release? I don’t know if you wrote it during or before the pandemic.
Trevor Daniel: I made Nicotine right before everything fell apart a bit with COVID. It just felt like summer, and there my target was sonic, but COVID kind of ruined that. And then everything caught fire in LA, like the sky was orange – I thought the world was ending. It was wild.
It pretty messed up the whole thing, but there were still highlights – it was cool. And if something like that ever happens again, at least we know how to maybe twist a little.
EDM.com: Let’s talk about the new album and the inspirations and sounds. Features you can name?
Trevor Daniel: Well, the only feature in the project is Julia Michaels. We wrote “Fingers Crossed” together. It was fun to make and it’s kind of what I was going through at the time, so I just gave my heart to the session and then we wrote a song about it. So that’s the only feature, everything else was just like everywhere else.
Making that album was the strangest construction of a project I’ve ever done in my life because it was so random. I would be in a very happy mood if I made some songs and then in a really bad mood if I did others. I had writer’s block all year and I didn’t like everything I made. I feel like the pressure is getting to me a little bit. So sonically it’s everywhere – it’s like where my head was last year, it was everywhere too, so that’s the easiest way to explain it. Sounds like my main room from last year.
EDM.com: So you said Nicotine was generally summery – how would you describe this next album?
Trevor Daniel: It’s gotten a little old Homesickness vibes, but it also has some hyperpop vibes on a track that I just had fun with. I like hyper pop. But yeah, it’s just all over the place, and I’m working on the album after that.
Things are smooth again and I can organize my thoughts a bit more, so it’s drastically different. I think the albums will generally go like this for me – depending on my free space.
EDM.com: I get the impression that you just had to get this one off your chest before you could move on to that more focused effort.
Trevor Daniel: Yes, because I know sonically where I want to go and this new project is a bit like the scattered thoughts everywhere, and that’s how it sounds. But it’s just kind of a closure of this phase of where my sound is a bit, because I also handed it in a year ago.
So now I’m on a completely different page sonically, but I’m still excited about it. I’ll just release it and see what people think. As my mind is I think people will really like it, but if they don’t it’s whatever, I’m just going to make new songs. That’s the nice thing about 2021: you can just make new shit. I’m excited about it. It gets interesting. I say something I would never say.
EDM.com: “Falling” exploded on TikTok. How did that come about and what did you learn from it? What can other artists learn from your success on TikTok and how you navigated through it?
Trevor Daniel: Honestly, I wasn’t even on TikTok when it exploded. Technically I had an account but I was only watching videos and I deleted it while I was working on it Nicotine. Then my girlfriend came over and she said, “Have you seen what’s happening on TikTok?” And I said, “No, let me download it.” I had about 400 followers and didn’t even have a profile picture or anything, and then my song played every five videos – so that was crazy. We were in this Airbnb making Nicotine and I started getting hyped at home.
I didn’t even know how to make a TikTok video and I’m still not being honest with you (laughs). I feel weird standing in front of the camera. I made my first video when I went to TikTok headquarters. They said, “You don’t have a video yet, who cares.”
So they forced me to do it and it was awkward as hell. I’m just pointing in random directions, like, “Yeah, I made this song.” They wanted to put a face to the name, but I was very uncomfortable – I didn’t know what to do. And then that video just exploded and I was like, “Oh okay, that’s all I have to do?” Since the song was already popping, that was just luck and people being dope posting shit with my music. That was definitely a blessing as I still don’t know how to do TikToks properly.
I have a feeling that if people like the music, they will find it. Branding is important, but you also have to be positive about it because it’s super easy to get into a negative headspace in music for some reason. I think because you’re always thinking about things in your head. Just make music you like and there will be people who will like it, be it everyone or just a small group of people. There are seven billion people, so someone is going to fuck you. Whatever happens next, at least you’re making music if you love it.
EDM.com: Are there any EDM producers you would like to work with or inspire you to? What is your relationship with electronic music?
Trevor Daniel: I think EDM is a big part of my sound, even if the output sometimes doesn’t sound like it. Melodic it is certainly an inspiration. My next single interpolates a pop EDM song from 20 years ago, but everyone knows it and it’s fire. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure.
When I was in second grade, I found this CD in my dad’s room and I rapped about these deep house/trance beats, and now on the next project, I feel like I’m heavily inspired by that EDM- hassle. It’s just everywhere from the lead sounds to different bass styles, vocal chops and all that sort of thing. It’s like candy and I love that shit.
EDM.com: Are there certain artists you would like to work with, or who specifically inspire you?
Trevor Daniel: My friend Sober Rob is dope, I’ve done some stuff with him and it’s always a lot of fun. He’ll have some stuff that’s super simple and I’ll do something about it and then he’ll send the song back and the beat will be screwed up, like super crazy.
I would like to work with a lot of people, not too heavy EDM stuff, but I like the atmospheric stuff. I don’t even know the sub-genres very well, but when I hear something and I like it, I’m always up to do it.
EDM.com: What can we expect from you in the next six months?
Trevor Daniel: My new EP That was then comes out really soon, and after that comes the rest of the project.
EDM.com: Are there any big shows or festivals you enjoy playing at?
Trevor Daniel: I loved playing this one! I like the whole amphitheater thing because everything was a size smaller. But this is dope – I’ve always wanted to play one of these. I think EDM is a huge part of my sound, even if sometimes the output doesn’t sound like it. Melodic it is certainly an inspiration.
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