Monday, October 3, 2022

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Tai Verdes on TikTok, Privilege and being the best

Tai Verdes demands what it’s worth.

It’s a bold way for an artist so fresh on the music festival scene to behave — and it defies any preconceptions one might have of Verizon employee-turned-TikTok star-turned-creative powerhouse.

Verdes, 26, worked in retail in Los Angeles and participated in singing competitions seven times. He kept his voice fresh by singing in his car, an hour and a half a day, for six months. So when “Stuck in the Middle” went viral in August 2020, he was ready for the whirlwind. It was, as he says, only a matter of time. Verdes is already one of the greats, in his book; so the question becomes “what’s next?”

Pleasemynews spoke with Verdes on location at Life is Beautiful 2022 ahead of one of his very first festival sets.

How do you feel about your set? You are scheduled later in the afternoon, which is quite important for a new artist.

That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do all this time. My goal is to headline one of them [festivals]. And when it does, I won’t be surprised, because I scored the goal. So I’m going step by step. It’s really cool that we’ve gotten to this point so far.

Other media sometimes refer to your story as a “fairy tale”. Does it feel or does it feel like the culmination of a lot of hard work?

I think I like music, and I have privileges, and I’m black. And that’s what it is. I think a lot of people, when they look at me, they see somebody who…was working nine to five and dropped out of college, and they’re like, “Oh, my God, he’s stupid.”

But actually, I’m not stupid. And you know what’s the worst? [My] song which is the most popular makes me say the alphabet. You know? So everyone goes “Oh, it’s simple.”

In reality, I don’t, and the reason I win and others don’t is because I have two parents. I have to take an AP music theory class. I was in a private school. I went to public school. I did boarding school, I did private college, I did public college, my dad sits on the board of HBCUs. I have lived everywhere. My family made me travel everywhere. I saw the Mona Lisa in person. So, for me, that’s what’s missing from the story. Everyone thinks it’s an overnight hit, when in reality most of your favorite artists have privileges.

Does it get old or frustrating to hear the same two songs that blew up for you – “Stuck in the Middle” and “AOK”and is that why people know you?

I think you just made another one. And then another and another. I have no control over how the art is interpreted. But I control how much I earn.

I want to pick up on something you tweeted a while ago—“I own my editing female dog.” You talked about your healthy relationships with labels and the creative process, and it’s very easy for young artists to be taken advantage of. You avoided that—

No, I didn’t.

You do not think ?

No, I think I did my best at the time. And that I’m the best example of why this shit works.

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