The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Q&A: Trevor Daniel reflects on quarantine, playing biggest show ever at Lollapalooza

Texas-born pop and R&B singer Trevor Daniel rose to fame after his 2018 single “Falling” went viral and hit several charts in over 22 countries in 2019. Since then, Daniel released his debut studio album “Nicotine” in 2020 and worked with big artists including Selena Gomez, Blackbear and Julia Michaels.

He also performed at Lollapalooza last Thursday, and buzz had the chance to speak with the singer-songwriter before his set.

buzz: So, first of all, congrats on being at Lollapalooza! That’s been very exciting. Have you been to Chicago before?

Trevor Daniel: Yeah! Chicago’s dope. It’s definitely one of my favorite places we’ve been just because, as far as stats and stuff and shows that have been offered to me even before they took off, there, for whatever reason, there were a lot of them from Chicago. People just seem to support really heavy out here, and that’s really cool. And then also, it’s just really awesome. It’s usually colder than this.

buzz: And then being asked to play is a big deal. What was your reaction when that happened?

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TD: I was like “Hell yeah!” I was a little nervous. The biggest show I’ve ever played is like 500 (people) taprooms. We were gonna do bigger ones, but COVID kind of came in, but yeah I’m just excited. It’s the first performance in over a year that isn’t on camera, but the camera ones are way more awkward, to be honest with you. I don’t know how to interact. I feel really weird and have way more anxiety, but like with people, it’s not that bad because it’s like an exchange of energy. You’re not just sitting there kind of like looking at a camera.

buzz: This is Chicago’s first big event since COVID. Do you have any nerves at all about it?

TD: I’m mostly excited, yeah. I don’t think I’ll really know about the nerves until the day of or the night before when I try to go to sleep. But, usually, the more people that are there the better –– I’m not as nervous. If it’s a smaller crowd, I’m usually more nervous because I can feel eyes on me. If it’s like more people it’s just, it just feels different.

buzz: What kind of prep went into this because I imagine, obviously, you haven’t been able to play live for a while, so was it hard getting back into it?

TD: At first it was. I was like, out of shape and s—, so I was like breathing really heavy, not being able to sing all the words and stuff. And then, we hadn’t played together in like a year, and so, yeah, it was like some work, but we did two weeks of rehearsals. Around like day three, we started really getting in the swing of things and get the setlist down and like an idea of what we wanted to do. And then once we got the songs down to how they sound on record for the most part, but just live versions, (we) started adding to it and spicing certain parts so that it would be really fun and interesting and everything so yeah. It was like a lot of like 12-hour days rehearsing. But it was really fun. Rehearsal’s super fun.

buzz: I imagine it is a lot, especially when you’re going to a festival, and I think there are like 100,000 people here or something, but do you feel that pressure when you’re up there?

TD: I’ve never been to like a festival, festival. I mean, I was at KAABOO one time, but I played the VIP stage, so there were only like 20 people in the VIP area, and there was like a screen across where I was performing, and I saw this band playing in front of like thousands of people. So that was interesting. But as far as like playing at a festival and actually going to experience the festival, I’ve never really been to one.

buzz: I want to talk a little bit about your song “Falling,” which has obviously been pretty popular. I’m curious why you think that song resonates so well with a lot of people?

TD: I’m not 100% sure why, that one, in particular, clicked with people like in comparison to other songs. I’m not really sure what it is or like the secret or whatever.

buzz: I know sometimes artists are like, you know, “The song is good. This is gonna be a hit.” Did you have that feeling about this song, or did it kind of surprise you?

TD: Yeah, I did have that feeling, like I knew it was special like it was special to me, and it still is. I guess you just never know how people are gonna react because it’s super weird because on that project, I thought “Wild” was going to be “the one” type thing, but I also had a strong feeling about “Falling,” but I was like, it doesn’t feel, to me, like a song that I would hear on the radio in comparison to “Wild.” So, I thought it would do really well and resonate with people and take off, and it was special to me. I just didn’t know. It was difficult to picture maybe. … But I’m not sure why that one is the one that people gravitated towards, but I’m happy it is, you know? Because it was special to me, and I’m glad they like it.

buzz: Your album came out in March 2020, which is kind of when the pandemic started. I’m curious if that affected the way, or if you think it affected, the way people received the album, and I know you weren’t able to, you know, do live promo or anything, so how did that kind of affect that environment?

TD: It was weird because part of me was like, “Okay, people need music right now,” because I know once we canceled everything and I was just sitting in the house like staring at the wall just kind of like reading all the bad news that was constantly out, like I really got depressed and s—. So, I felt like people needed music. And I didn’t really know how it was going to go, but I was like, “I can always release more music if it doesn’t go well,” and it did well. I feel like, obviously it would have been different if people would have been able to experience it at shows and stuff like that. But the overall reception at first, it doesn’t really bother me in the way of if it doesn’t click super heavy at first because “Falling” didn’t either. “Falling” was like a year old before people even heard it. It’s weird how it happened. I think it would have been different for sure. The reception would have been different because when I was making the project. I was imagining a lot of it in a live setting. So I did a lot of live, bass sounds and stuff like that.

buzz: Well, now you get perform live, so that’s good!

TD: Hell yeah! I’m excited.

buzz: Let’s talk about some of your big-name collabs, like BLACKBEAR and Selena Gomez are on that list. How did that happen, and how did it feel to collab with those people?

TD: It was dope. It was really dope, like BLACKBEAR, before I even released “Falling,” I guess he had heard it because we kind of have the same label a little bit. He had heard it, and he liked it a lot, and then he’s just been like kind of supporting ever since. It was just really cool because I was hooked on his music. He was like super dope, and in person, like sometimes you meet people and they’re a——-, but he’s super, super nice, like he’s such a sweet guy. And then, Selena, that was just really cool because when we were making “Past Life,” I was like, “Yo, Selena would sound so sick on this,” and she had just released her album right before that, and I was listening to it a lot. And so I just kept saying that. And then, I think my A&R like came to the studio at one point, and I had said that, and I didn’t really think about it that much. And then I was at the airport, like a month or two later, before dropping like the album and heading to Houston. And, he called me and he was like, he’s like, “Hey, I’m about to send you something,” and I’m like “Okay, cool,” and then… That s— was so sick.

buzz: So was that originally you reaching out to her then?

TD: No, I just said it, and then it just happened. It was so sick. I just tapped into how I felt, and I was like pacing the airport. I was lowkey looking like a weirdo. And it was all demo vocals and everything, too, so it was really cool. I was just really excited, and people were just like, “What is this guy doing?” And then Julia Michaels, we linked up at the studio, and that was like the first session that I got to do with another person. Zoom sessions suck a–. I hate them so much. But, I got to link with her and Jason Evigan, and we just wrote the song together, and it was just really fun.

buzz: Was there anything from those artists that you picked up on, or did you learn any tips that you’re going to use in the future?

TD: Yeah, I mean, BLACKBEAR, I grew up listening to him a lot, so the inspiration in general. And then Selena, just the way she carries herself as a person –– she’s really inspiring. And then Julia, songwriting-wise, is like insane. She’s very particular about the way she does things, like intentional.

buzz: Looking ahead to your performance, what can fans expect?

TD: It’s definitely the biggest show that we’ve ever played, and it’s the first show in a year. I hope I’m not nervous. I don’t think I will be, but we put a lot of effort into making this set interesting and everything. So, I’m really excited about it. This is probably the most excited I think I’ve ever been about a show. And just to get out of the house and s—, like everybody is finally being let loose a little bit. I hope the Delta thing is figured out, but yeah I’m just really excited. I think people are really gonna like the rises and falls and all the interesting twists we did. It’s really fun to me. I’ve never been this happy with the way this set lives and sounds, and I’ve never been this confident in the way that the show’s gonna go.

buzz: And lastly, could you could share maybe what you’re working on or what people can look forward to in the future from you?

TD: I turned this music in like forever ago, and I’ve just been saying “soon” online because I can’t really say a day because it’s been held up for whatever reason. But, yeah so I have this, it’s not even a full album –– it’s like eight songs. But it’s music that I made over COVID in quarantine, and they’re just like crazy, one way or the other in my headspace, so it may not flow that well, but my headspace didn’t flow that well last year either. So some of it was just like, weird songs that I never do, just having fun with my friends. Some of them were just like listening to Lil Wayne and s—. We were like, “Damn, he’s got bars. I’m gonna try to spit some bars or whatever.” Some of them are really fun and some of them are just like, you know, the other way.

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About the Contributor
Carolina Garibay
Carolina Garibay, buzz Editor
Greetings! I'm Carolina, and I'm a junior studying journalism with minors in public relations, Spanish and psychology. I've been writing for buzz since my freshman year, and I'm so excited to be buzz editor and further explore all that the CU community has to offer. I love to write about cool people, music, Harry Styles and Taylor Swift, so if any of these interest you, drop me an email! Be sure to check out our radio show, "What's the buzz?" on WPGU 107.1! [email protected]
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