The song’s bold lyrics and an insanely catchy hook are what make you want to play it on repeat. It’s surprising when Waters tells us that the song came about six months ago when he was in a terrible mood.
“I was just feeling kind of sad, you know,” he admits. “My friend Declan sent me a beat, and I kind of redid the beat, and I was like, man, I know what’s gonna cheer me up…just like saying the craziest, most braggadocious, egotistical, shit I could say, you know I mean? Just being disgusting, and it worked. You know, it actually cheered me up inside.”
After Waters completed his part of the track, he sent it back to his friend Declan who was with another mutual friend of theirs, Harm Franklin. The latter added onto the track with his own rap verse, finishing the song. It occurred to Waters that they had a potential hit song in their hands, but Waters didn’t release it until much later. COVID-19 started spreading across the globe, and everyone went into lockdown, including Waters, who currently resides in North Carolina with his family.
“I was looking for a fun song to put out because everybody was already really sad about what’s happening, so I thought it’d be fun to just cheer people up,” Waters says. “I release the song, and then it just had this great reaction because even kids from school that don’t listen to my music were like, ‘Yo, this song is gonna blow up, man.’ Everybody was like put it on TikTok. I wasn’t even on TikTok yet.”
It was the massive social media platform, where users make short-form mobile videos, that really spread the song beyond Waters’ hometown. He posted videos with his younger brother where they created a dance routine to go with the track. All the TikTok dancers hopped on the train and couldn’t resist the catchy tune. There were over 150,000 user-generated videos within the first month of its release.
Waters says, “I’ve seen TikTok’s algorithm work really well before with songs like ‘Old Town Road’. I started looking at that to kind of figure out if I can have a hit like that. Every song in the last few years has blown up because of TikTok. And the algorithm is great because I only had like 20 followers, and I literally had like 200,000 views on the first day. The first few times, my brother filmed me all around the location of my neighbourhood. The one that actually blew up was the one where my brother was also in the video. Then I was like okay, I’m going to have you in all the videos. It was just me and my brother having fun.”
It surprised not just Waters, but everyone within the music industry, as this song skyrocketed on the charts. It’s been streamed over 23 million times on Spotify alone to date and reached #1 on global viral charts in 8 countries with no signs of slowing down. “To be honest…I am surprised every day, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Waters confesses. “It’s very surreal to me. I knew it’d be big, but I didn’t know it’d be this big. And we can be in a conversation about this in a month, and I’d say the same again because it’s probably going to keep growing.”
His confidence and easy-going nature transcend into the work he does and the way he speaks about it. Waters has been writing, producing, and creating his own songs for the last six years. Inspired by artists like Yung Lean and Odd Future, he worked on his vocals, studied graphic design and video producing to get to where he is right now. He laughs about it because when he was younger, his goals and dreams were different. As a gamer, he wanted to make Pokemon at Nintendo, but music became a passion he didn’t want to let go.
His upcoming album, Pity Party, is already complete, something he’d had done before he got signed to BMG Recordings UK. Fans can expect songs slightly different from ‘Stunnin’ as Waters is eager to put out music that shows a deeper side to him. “I love ‘Stunnin’, but it is sort of, like, the humorous side only,” he says. “You don’t get a lot of insight into what kind of person I am in different contexts. Most of my songs are just catharsis. So I think the album will do a good job and help introduce me.”
Waters made the whole album in his bedroom, from lyrics to beats to vocals, all the way to mixing and mastering it. His friend, Declan, co-produced two of the songs, but the rest was all Waters, who’s planning to drop a few more singles before releasing Pity Party.
There’s something fresh in the way that Waters carries himself. He’s excited but also taking it all in as best as he can. While chatting over Google Hangouts, he casually ate slices of cucumber whilst talking about the whirlwind that quarantine has been for him since releasing ‘Stunnin’. One can only imagine how far he’ll go once he really gets out there.