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Chartbreaker: Trevor Daniel Thinks TikTok-Fueled 'Falling' Won't Be 'The Biggest Song of My Career'

Chartbreaker is Billboard's monthly series highlighting an artist's first-ever Billboard chart appearance. This month, our Chartbreaker is Trevor Daniel, who is currently making waves on the Billboard Hot 100 with his debut entry, “Falling,” which sets a new peak on the tally this week at No. 31.

Inspired by Blink-182’s Travis Barker and Steve Gadd (who has collaborated with the likes of Steely Dan, Paul Simon and Eric Clapton), Houston native Trevor Daniel started playing drums in second grade. By the time he was in high school in 2010, he was making his own music, using a computer software program called Mixcraft 5 and watching YouTube tutorials made by production collective Internet Money for assistance. One day, he accidentally brought a stick mic home from school; he and his friends quickly assembled a bare-bones home studio and got to work.

“I wrapped a sock around the microphone and duct taped it to this hanger pole,” Daniel, now 25, says with a laugh. “We didn’t even know how to have [the beat] go through headphones, so you could hear it in the background. We hung up like, 20 different colors of blankets — it was so bad.”


Trevor Daniel Blew Up on TikTok — Now He Wants Something Bigger

Trevor Daniel isn’t a TV critic, but the 25-year-old singer is giving it a go. Netflix’s Luke Cage receives a “bomb dude” rating, and Jessica Jones is “pretty fire.” It’s a week before the release of Daniel’s major-label debut, Nicotine, and instead of doing a press run in New York City — the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus crisis — he’s decided to decamp to his home in Texas and catch up on his streaming queue.

“I’m getting kind of confused at this point, whenever they keep moving things around and then canceling things,” he says over the phone. Daniel isn’t talking about his publicity schedule, but his concern over the Netflix and Disney Plus streaming wars. “I’m not really sure where I need to be to find the next season, or if there even is going to be a next season.”

Despite the chaos — a debut album and a pandemic in the same week — Daniel is eerily calm. Numerous times, he insists that nerves are far from his mind. “Things happen the way they’re supposed to happen,” he says. “The most difficult part right now is trying to figure out how to get it to fans without being able to do some of the shows, the listening party, and everything.”

Trevor Daniel is a good example of the anything-goes landscape of pop music right now, an artist whose quick, potentially lucrative rise wouldn’t have looked the same just a few years ago. For two years, Daniel’s breakout song “Falling” was a prominent soundtrack to teenage heartbreak. Released in October 2018, the Taz Taylor, Charlie Handsome, and KC Supreme-produced track didn’t sound new. Instead, it shaved off the edges of hip-hop’s emo streak (Juice WRLD, Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert), and repackaged it into something ready-made for mass consumption. Daniel’s voice dripped with adolescent angst, delivering earnest lyrics like, “My last made me feel like I would never try again.” Across social media, his face was mostly hidden.

It’s what happened next that made Daniel a truly modern star: after its rise, a content cottage industry soon blossomed around “Falling.” It lived two viral lives on Instagram and TikTok, months apart, that kept the song alive long after a typical shelf life for a hit from an unproven star — and Daniel was in part responsible for keeping it around.

“Basically, there’s this editing community on Instagram,” Daniel explains. “I would always watch those videos all the time. It’d usually be new songs I haven’t heard before with old cartoons I used to watch growing up, like Teen Titans. We reached out. I was like, ‘Yo it’d be sick if you made some edits with my songs if you want,’ didn’t really think about it.” Then, “all these editing communities started going ham with the song.”

From there, “Falling” moved to TikTok, the platform where modern hits are often decided. Users found various scenarios — first dates, breakup, dance challenges — to set the song to. “Honestly, if you look back on the original sound on TikTok, it was another edit,” Daniel says. “I think it was an edit with Fortnite.” “Falling” would eventually go platinum.

Trevor Daniel

Photo by Cian Moore

Cian Moore

Like many stars arriving in 2020, Trevor Daniel isn’t a Disney Channel ex-pat, and his breakout moment didn’t come from a reality show audition, but crowdsourced virality. And like most suburban kids with delusions of grandeur, reared on the early melodies of Drake, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi, he became a rapper who sings — or at least a singer who can kind of rap.

“I played drums growing up. I rapped and everything,” Daniel says.

Were you a good rapper?

“No,” he laughs. “Not until probably, I would say, 2015.”

Originally, born in a “random part” of Texas before settling in Houston, Daniel produced his early songs from his bedroom and released them to SoundCloud. He learned what he calls “classical singing” from imitating artists like Dua Lipa and The Weeknd. By 2017, he was taking music seriously enough to quit his job with the income he was making from his nascent career. “Basically, this YouTube channel called SyrebralVibes posted my song and we ended up talking to them and we would split it 50/50. That was enough,” Daniel says. “Between them and other YouTube channels posting I was probably making like a thousand or so a month, which isn’t a lot. But I only had 600 dollars worth of bills to pay between my phone and stupid things I wanted.”

In the summer of 2018, Taz Taylor reached out to Daniel to collaborate. Alongside, KC and Charlie the group made Daniel’s first hit in a matter of hours and the young singer became the first artist signed to Internet Money Records through a partnership with Alamo Records. Daniel would later “disaffiliate” from Internet Money in 2019, according to Billboard and is currently signed to Interscope subsidiary Alamo. The tendrils of the major label machine — the same one that saw success with Billie Eilish in 2019 — runs throughout his new 10-song debut album.

On Nicotine, the bedroom singer is no longer hiding behind internet-assisted anonymity. Daniel’s face is now front and center in the album’s artwork and videos, free from the filters and saturated colors that helped disguise him from the world as “Falling” first began its ascent. Daniel officially began making the album in October, in an Airbnb he was renting in L.A. He credits listening to Tame Impala last summer as part of the inspiration for the increased scale of the project.  Finneas O’Connell, Billie Eilish’s brother and primary collaborator, writes and produces Nicotine’s penultimate track, “Past Life.” In composition, the songs sound closer to radio’s Top 40 than SoundCloud’s Top 50.

Despite the sheen, Daniel has emerged as an artist more gifted and nuanced than “Falling” suggested. Nicotine still traipses through the ruins of a toxic relationship, but the melodrama is now cut with sincerity, the booming trap drums offset by sweet guitar melodies. The easily clipped and digestible hooks are still there, but on songs like “Lovesick,” Daniel offers brief glimpses of emotional growth (“love you through the highs and through the lows”) to pair with the TikTok-ready soundbites (“If we don’t make it work, positive it’s gonna kill me”). You still have to feed the base.

Nicotine was released into an uncertain music industry landscape. Many of of the pop stars Daniel plainly wants to join at the top tier of the game, from Lady Gaga to Sam Smith, pushed back their albums in the wake of COVID-19. And just as importantly, the album needs to present Daniel as a physical star after so much of his initial success was as an ephemeral voice — which is tough to do with the world on lockdown. However, it’s also a moment Daniel is defiantly prepared for: his audience is young, streaming-only, and TikTok has only grown in influence since it helped launch “Falling” into the stratosphere. So, undaunted, Daniel made an album that takes swings at something more substantial than what got him here, but — hopefully — still connects on the same platforms.

“There were a few times where people would be like ‘Make another song like ‘Falling,'” Daniel says. “I have more to offer. I just want to show people that.”

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Trevor Daniel is happy everyone — on TikTok and beyond — is falling in love with “Falling”

Cian MooreRight now, Trevor Daniel was supposed to be getting ready to open for Camila Cabello on her Romance tour, but due to COVID-19, the tour was postponed, and he’s at home. The good news, though, is that he’s also been able to watch his song “Falling,” which came out back in 2018, blow up on the radio. 

“So, ‘Falling’ came out in 2018, but it’s just now starting to really heat up and get recognition and everything,” he tells ABC Audio. One reason for that is the song’s popularity across TikTok.

“I honestly have no clue why the song became so popular on TikTok,” Trevor admits. But, he notes, “I do remember when I was in the studio, I was really feeling that song emotionally, and I really feel like I was delivering it extremely passionately and maybe people just felt it.”

“When people feel the music, I think they just gravitate towards what they feel is real,” he adds.

While nearly two million TikToks to date have used “Falling,” Trevor says his favorites are the ones featuring one of his favorite actors.

Terry Crewsused my song in a couple of his TikToks at this point,” he shares. “And I grew up watching Terry Crews on TV and Everybody Loves Chris, and I’m a huge fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine right now. And I saw that and I was like, super excited. So that’s probably my favorite, just because of the excitement that I got from that.”

While waiting for life to return to normal, Trevor says he’s keeping busy in quarantine. Not only is he writing a book, but he’s trying to expand his debut album, Nicotine.

“I’m trying to double the length,” he says. “So I’m telling everybody, because that’s the goal.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

TikTok Saddest Compilation 😭 (Falling - Trevor Daniel)

Trevor Daniel stopped by the KIIS-FM studios in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago to talk about his single "Falling" and much more.

Trevor's single "Falling" started to blow up on TikTok, a year after he originally released the song. He talks to JoJo about the song:

It was a surprise for sure. I guess I didn't give up [on the song], but as far as pushing it, I was on to the next thing as far as music, creatively and stuff. It was definitely a surprise. I didn't really think about it, and then I was seeing stats move up, but I don't really get to look at them a lot. Then my friend came over and was like 'are you seeing what's happening on TikTok?' I was like let me download this app real quick, and then it was just going nuts. It was like every five videos.

Trevor also talked about the one person who he was really star struck to meet... Hilary Duff!

He didn't get to talk to her, but he was star struck by her presence when he walked past her at a restaurant in Los Angeles.

Check out the full interview above!


Daniel tiktok trevor

TikTok Catapults Trevor Daniel to Fame

Anyone who has been on TikTok recently has probably heard Trevor Daniel’s song “Falling.” Now streamed nearly 300 million times on Spotify and peaking at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Falling” has become one of the defining songs of the TikTok generation.

However, long before teenagers were dancing to the song on TikTok, hoping to go viral for their fun performances, Trevor Daniel was recording songs in his bedroom, hoping to go viral for his musical talent.

He started releasing music on SoundCloud in 2015, but it wasn’t until he dropped “Pretend” in late 2017 that his efforts were recognized by Taz Taylor, a multi-platinum producer and founder of the production collective Internet Money.

It was during Daniel’s first session with Taylor that he recorded the trap-infused heartbreak track “Falling.” Coming together in a matter of hours, Daniel recalled in an interview with Billboard, “That night was just a crazy energy.”

When the track dropped in Oct. 2018, though, it didn’t receive much attention from those outside the Internet Money fanbase. Even a blackbear remix a few months later failed to send it to virality, although it became the most popular song off Daniel’s debut E.P., “Homesick.”

Without any playlisting on streaming services and little promotion, “Falling” began to rise on the charts over a year after its initial release in late 2019. Unbeknownst to Daniel, his song was going viral on the video-sharing app TikTok.

Ironically, the 25-year-old Houston native did not even have a TikTok account at the time. He has often spoken about his indifference towards social media and his following on these platforms. He simply wanted people to hear his music organically.

While some artists would lose patience with the slow burn of a song like “Falling,” Daniel embraced the time it took for the song to reach stardom as it gave him the opportunity to mature as an artist and watch his fanbase grow.

When “Falling” became number one in the world on the Billboard pop charts in late December, Daniel wrote on Instagram that he was “speechless” and that it was “something he dreamed about.” He believes the song’s delayed success was a blessing.

“I’m glad it took so long, because a year was perfect timing for me to get mentally prepared,” he told Billboard.

This preparation was evident in Daniel’s Jan. 21 show at New York City’s Mercury Lounge, his first time performing since “Falling” blew up on TikTok. One might have expected the 250-seat venue to be filled with young TikTokers, only there to hear their beloved “Falling,” yet by the screams of lyrics to some of Daniel’s deep cuts, it was clear that the young star’s most loyal fans had shown up.

“You guys packed this s— out,” Daniel said in awe at the sold-out venue, a stark contrast to his last New York show that only drew about 40 loyalists.
On stage, he donned the same off-white Converse he had worn at his New York City show last April.

“You guys all signed the shoes,” he said.

Now studded with the signatures of those who were vibing to “Falling” long before it was ingrained into the soundtrack of Gen Z, his shoes are a reminder of both the journey Daniel has been on in the past year and his immeasurable growth as an artist.

Based on his physical appearance alone, it would be easy for Daniel’s inner transformation to go unnoticed. Along with his Sharpie-covered Converse, his signature beanie and black outfit went unchanged from his last New York show. However, his command of the stage told an entirely different story.

A confident frontman, he effortlessly moved across the stage, taking time to belt out high notes, rest on top of speakers and borrow fans’ phones to record videos. Mid-show, he ignited a mosh pit when he jumped into the audience, prompting cries of excitement from fans thankful to have the up-close-and-personal experience.
The live production of Daniel’s music also underwent a transformation. Usually relying on trap drums and digital tools to achieve his R&B/pop sound, Daniel substituted these elements for a live band. The smooth, understated production of Daniel’s lovesick melodies were reimagined into heavy-hitting, Warped Tour-esque rock songs.

Thudding percussion and flashing strobe lights energized the venue during songs like “Wild” and “Never,” in which Daniel rearranged his vocals to fully embrace the punk rock vibe.

Near the end of the show, Daniel was on the verge of tears as he took a step back from his newfound rockstar persona to thank the audience and his band for their support.

“The last few months have been absolutely insane,” he said.

After taking a moment to embrace the outpouring of love, he transitioned into his final song.

“I know you guys know this one,” he said with a smirk.

The crescendo of the simple guitar loop of “Falling” vibrated throughout the venue and transfixed the audience.

After once again jumping into the audience for a mosh pit during the second chorus, fans decided they hadn’t had enough and continued to belt out the lyrics despite the band going completely silent.

YouTuber David Dobrik, a surprise attendee who was at the center of the mosh pit, said in his post-concert TikTok that fans felt like they truly went “inside TikTok” as Daniel sang the viral lyrics. However, Daniel shows promise to be more than just a TikTok hitmaker. Without any promotion of his own, fans gravitated toward “Falling” and gave it an immortal status.

Daniel has said himself that he doesn’t think “Falling” will be his biggest song and has repeatedly praised his upcoming album as being “the best you’ve ever heard.” Capturing global attention with his newfound platform, Daniel is showing the entire world what those 40 fans saw in him a year ago. Before long, TikTok will not be the only place people are “falling” for Trevor Daniel.

Trevor Daniel - Falling (Official Music Video)

Gray, moron, are you taking pictures or rolling cotton wool. Why the fuck are you carrying it with you at all. " - I heard a rough semi-commanding voice of one of the guys. I don't know how many pictures were taken, but at least 10 the first time.

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Lick it off Harry Potter and his world was invented by D. Rowling. I'm just playing with the characters. '' At seven sharp the next morning, Hermione and Ginny cautiously walked into the dark Hogwarts library.

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