By ROB DUGUAY I don't mean to make anyone feel old, but going viral on the internet has been a thing for nearly 25 years. Kind of crazy to think about, right? The art of it has evolved a bit, going from memes and emojis to YouTube videos to social media
I don’t mean to make anyone feel old, but going viral on the internet has been a thing for nearly 25 years. Kind of crazy to think about, right?
The art of it has evolved a bit, going from memes and emojis to YouTube videos to social media accounts and so on. A new platform that seems to be the rage with all sorts of folks these days is TikTok, a video-sharing social networking platform that’s been around since 2016.
Cranston native JVKE (using the handle @jvke) put out his single “Upside Down” earlier this year and it became incredibly popular on TikTok, getting over 20 million streams. His own account has over 3 million followers and the single has spawned over 13 million videos using it as a soundtrack.
We recently had a talk about his rise on the social media platform, dealing with surprising success, his mom’s role in how he got to where he is today and having an extensive amount of material that’s yet to be released.
ROB DUGUAY: “Upside Down” became the third most-used song on the platform while even becoming the soundtrack for TikTok’s global TV commercial. When all of this started happening, how did you react to it?
JVKE: Honestly, I was extremely surprised at first. I actually blew up with the help of my mom. I would basically make these beats and make it look like she was making them. She was the viral centerpiece to everything that started my TikTok rise. Then I figured that I would add in my own songs and match them up together with the beats. The first time I did that was with “Upside Down.” I honestly didn’t expect it and I was super surprised when it blew up because it was the last one I thought was going to do well, but it did the best.
RD: The song itself is very catchy, so who do you consider to be your main musical influences?
JVKE: I have a lot of influences, as you can hear the song is kind of multi-genre. At the beginning there’s a little rap piece, but my major influence is that I grew up in the church playing with the worship band and doing a lot of things with that. I played numerous instruments, including piano at the age of 3.
JVKE: Then I started playing drums and guitar after that. Basically, I would say that my influences come from church music along with a bit of hip-hop and a bit of pop. I grew up listening to all of those.
RD: For people who are unfamiliar with TikTok, how exactly does it work? Do you pretty much create visual content in a limited amount of time?
JVKE: TikTok is a video app, but what makes it different is this thing called the “For You” page. It’s kind of like when you scroll on your Facebook feed and you see all of your family and friends, but with TikTok the algorithm on the “For You” page shows you content that’s doing well among pretty much everybody. It shows you stuff that everybody tends to like and it opens the door to anyone who wants to go viral and anyone who wants to be famous if they can make a great video. People can interact with it well and that’s kind of the draw for TikTok, there’s really no barrier of entry. You can have zero followers and then build up to 1.5 million, like I did, in 30 days, so it’s pretty insane.
RD: It definitely sounds like it. Have you been living in Los Angeles?
JVKE: I’ve actually been in L.A. for the past two months. I took two quick trips back home but I haven’t made the official move out yet, but I’ll be back in Cranston for the holidays.
RD: With being out in Los Angeles, has it been a bit of a culture clash for you being from Rhode Island? Has experiencing the West Coast lifestyle been a big adjustment for you?
JVKE: Yeah, 100 percent. I would say the biggest change is that everybody is L.A. is there for a reason, everyone is chasing a dream and everyone is doing something typically creative. That’s one thing I really like about it, it has that creative energy all around. One thing about Cranston that I’ll never get over is the family and friends and just the whole vibe from growing up in the community and doing so many things. I’m torn between the two, for sure.
RD: What do you see as the next step for you in your music career?
JVKE: I have a lot of other projects coming. I have over 350 songs in my catalog, just from the past two years of writing, so I have a lot of content I want to release including TikToks, videos and anything else you can imagine. I’m psyched for all of it.