From his humble beginnings in Houston, Trevor Daniel's career has been quite the rollercoaster—and a thrilling one at that.
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 a few of the adventures Daniel has experienced over the last few years. And now that he's back on tour, EDM.com caught up with him on his first trip to Canada, where he performed at Vancouver's FVDED In The Park Festival.
EDM.com: How does it feel to be in Vancouver?
Trevor Daniel: I’ve never been here before, never been to Canada actually. Last year was COVID, and before that I was supposed to do this tour but my passport didn’t come in time. I don’t remember exactly what happened but it had to do with my passport. That was kind of annoying.
EDM.com: Awful day for you to come—it’s too bad it’s raining.
Oh no, it’s cool, I like the rain. In Houston—where I’m from—it rains a lot.
EDM.com: Well welcome to Vancouver and welcome to FVDED. I think this is the city's biggest commercial festival and definitely one of the most culturally impactful ones, so we're pleased to have you here with us.
Let’s chat about the differences between Houston and L.A. When did you move to L.A.? Which places do you like better and what’s the music scene like in Houston?
Trevor Daniel: I like Houston for home vibes and L.A. for work, so it’s a good 50/50. I bought a house in Houston so I can go there whenever I’m not trying to work, but there’s also a studio there, so I could if I need to.
But yeah, the music scene is drastically different. L.A. is just like the music scene for sure, and Houston is—a lot of dope artists come out of there, you know.
EDM.com: Which one has better food though?
Trevor Daniel: I feel like L.A. has more options and more diversity, but then in Houston for example, seafood just hits different, they’re not afraid to use different flavors.
EDM.com: So what’s Trevor Daniel’s go-to late-night spot when he’s back home in Houston?
Trevor Daniel: I guess Whataburger, right Puma [Daniel’s drummer]? That’s just the easy one that’s always open, but for late-night spots, it’s just cheap, easy and disgusting, and good at the same time. It’s weird (laughs).
EDM.com: How does it feel to be back playing shows, traveling again, getting out in front of people?
Trevor Daniel: It’s cool. I missed it man, for sure. We did Lollapalooza a few weeks ago—that was really cool. It was like the first show back which was kind of intense. Like the biggest show I played before that was about 500 people cap.
We were supposed to do an arena tour with Camila Cabello last year and also do our own tour and everything, but with COVID we weren’t able to do that. So to come back and all of a sudden go from 500-people rooms to that was intense. It was a whole bunch of emotions at once.
EDM.com: For an event that big in Chicago, it must have been a great experience backstage. What was it like backstage at Lollapalooza?
Trevor Daniel: Backstage just felt like L.A. times 10. I feel like the backstage at Lollapalooza was just like everybody in the music industry back there talking about the same shit they do in L.A., but just drunk. I would definitely duck off at times and go find a tree to sit under and just fake sleep sometimes, 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 kinda felt apart with COVID. It just felt like summer, and that’s where my goal was for it sonically, but COVID kinda messed that up quite a bit. And then everything caught on fire in L.A., like the skies were orange—I dead-ass thought the world was ending. It was wild.
It messed the whole thing up quite a bit, but there were still highs to it—it was cool. And at least now if anything like that ever happens again, we know how to maybe pivot a little bit.
EDM.com: Let’s talk about the new album, and its inspirations and sounds. Any features you can mention?
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Trevor Daniel: Well, the only feature on the project is Julia Michaels. We wrote “Fingers Crossed” together. It was fun to make and it’s kinda what I was going through at the time, so I just vented in the session and then we just wrote a song about it. So that’s the only feature, everything else was just like all over the place.
Making that album was the weirdest construction of a project I’ve ever done in my life because it was just so random. I would be in a really happy mood when I made some of the songs and then in a really shitty mood when I made others. I had writer's block all year and I didn’t like anything I was making. I feel like the pressure kinda got to me a little bit. So it’s all over the place sonically—it’s just like where my head was last year which was also all over the place, so that’s the easiest way to explain it. It sounds like my headspace last year.
EDM.com: So you said Nicotine was generally summery—how would you describe this next album?
Trevor Daniel: It’s kinda got old Homesick vibes to it, but it also has some hyperpop vibes on one track that I was just having fun on. I love hyperpop. But yeah it’s just all over the place, and I’m working on the album after that right now.
Things are back moving smoothly and I can collect my thoughts a little more, so it’s drastically different. I think in general that’s how the albums are gonna go for me—dependent on my headspace.
EDM.com: I'm getting the vibe that you had to just get this one off your chest before you could move on to that more directed effort.
Trevor Daniel: Yeah, because I know where I want to go sonically and this new project is just kinda like the scattered thoughts everywhere, and that’s what it sounds like too. But it’s just kinda wrapping up this phase of where my sound is a little bit, because I turned it in like a year ago too.
So now sonically I’m on a whole different page, but I’m still excited about it. I’ll just put it out and see what people think. The way my head is, I think people are gonna like it a lot, but if they don’t, it’s whatever, I’m just gonna make new songs. That’s the cool thing about 2021—you can just make new shit. I’m excited about it. It’s gonna be interesting. I say some shit on it that I would never say.
EDM.com: “Falling” blew up on TikTok. How did that happen and what did you learn from it? What can other artists learn from your success on TikTok and how you navigated it?
Trevor Daniel: Honestly, I wasn’t even on TikTok whenever it blew up. Technically I had an account, but I was only watching videos, and I deleted that while I was working on Nicotine. Then my friend came over and she was like, “Yo have you seen what’s happening on TikTok?“ And I was like, “Nah, let me download it.” I had like 400 followers and didn’t even have a profile picture or anything, and then every five videos my song was playing—so that was crazy. We were in this Airbnb making Nicotine and I started getting hyped in the house.
I didn’t even know how to make a TikTok video and I still don’t to be honest with you (laughs). I feel weird just being in front of the camera. I made my first video when I went to the TikTok headquarters. They were like, “You don’t have a video yet, what the hell.”
So they made me do it and it was awkward as hell. I’m just pointing towards random directions like, “Yeah I made this song.“ They wanted to put a face to the name, but I was being hella awkward—I didn’t know what to do. And then that video just blew up and I was like, “Oh ok that’s all I have to do?“ Because the song was already popping, that was just luck and people being dope and posting shit with my music. That was a blessing for sure, because I still don’t know how to do TikToks properly.
I feel like if people like the music, they’re gonna find it. Branding is important, but you gotta get positive about it too because it’s super easy to get in a negative headspace in music for some reason. I guess cause you’re always in your head thinking about stuff. Just make music that you like and there’s gonna be people out there that are gonna like it, whether that’s everybody or just a small group of people. There are seven billion people out there so somebody is gonna fuck with you. Whatever happens after that, at least you’re making music if that’s what you love.
EDM.com: Are there any EDM producers who you’d like to work with or inspire you? What’s your relationship with electronic music?
Trevor Daniel: I think EDM is a massive part of my sound, even if the output doesn’t necessarily sound like it sometimes. Melodically it’s an inspiration for sure. My next single interpolates a pop-EDM song from like 20 years ago, but everybody knows it and it’s fire. It’s just a guilty pleasure for sure.
When I was in like 2nd grade I found this CD in my dad’s room and I would rap over these deep house/trance beats, and now on the next project, I feel like I’m heavily inspired by that EDM stuff. It’s just all over the place, from the lead sounds to different styles of basses, vocal chops, and all that stuff. It’s like ear candy and I love that shit.
EDM.com: Are there any particular artists who you’d like to work with, or who specifically inspire you?
Trevor Daniel: My homie Sober Rob is dope, I’ve made some stuff with him and it’s always really fun. He’ll have some stuff which is super simple and I’ll do something over it and then he’ll send the song back and the beat will be fucked up, like super crazy.
I’d like to work with a lot of people, not too heavy EDM stuff, but I love the atmospheric stuff. I don’t even know the sub-genres that well but when I hear something and I like it, I’m always down to do it.
EDM.com: So what can we look forward to from you in the next six months?
Trevor Daniel: My new EP That Was Then is coming out really really soon, and then the rest of the project is gonna come after that.
EDM.com: Any major shows or festivals that you’re excited to play?
Trevor Daniel: I loved playing this one! I like the whole amphitheater thing because everything had a size down. But this is dope—I’ve always wanted to play one of these.I think EDM is a massive part of my sound, even if the output doesn’t necessarily sound like it sometimes. Melodically it’s an inspiration for sure.