visionary producer turning TikTok attention into major chart success

D4vd became a musician by accident. In the truest of Gen Z’s career goals, he grew up wanting to be a professional video game player and spent his early teenage years uploading short clips of himself playing Fortnite to YouTube under the name of Limit Ant, his videos garnering over 15 million views. in total. This is where he started releasing his own tracks, addressing the need for copyright-free music in his Fortnite edits by creating his own tracks on the social music platform. Band Laband it completely changed his view of things.

Over the past year, d4vd (born David Burke) has continued to quietly upload music to Soundcloud. The beachy indie sound of his previous tracks “Here With Me”, “You and I” and “Take Me To The Sun” is more in tune with Wallows and Rex Orange County than with the soaring and richly detailed emo of his last single, “Romantic Homicide”. The track was a breakthrough for d4vd: it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, surpassed 75 million streams and quickly became a trending hit on TikTok.

Yet despite his recent success, d4vd admits he only started thinking about music seriously a few months ago. “I haven’t even thought about how far this could take me in terms of numbers and stuff,” he says on Zoom from his family home in Texas.

At just 17, not much has changed in d4vd’s life since the runaway success of ‘Romantic Homicide’, but it looks like it’s about to. Over the summer, he entered the studio in Los Angeles with musician Jim-E Stack, who has previously written and produced for Caroline Polachek, Dominic Fike and Gracie Abrams. Having recently signed with Darkroom Records – the home of Billie Eilish and Holly Humberstone – d4vd’s gripping chamber pop with a nightmarish twist fits right in with the sounds of its new label mates.

As “Romantic Homicide” continues to climb the charts, NME meets d4vd for his very first interview – which takes place in the middle of homeschooling, in a time slot that would usually be reserved for spending time making new music in his closet – to discuss his breakthrough single, his unique upbringing and his big plans for the future.

“Romantic Homicide” is having a real online moment. How did you navigate all the newfound attention?

“It’s been amazing, actually. I’ve had little moments like this before with songs on SoundCloud, but to get a song off the ground like it did and make it sound as natural as it did without me shoving it in someone’s face for a week straight is actually amazing. And the fact that people resonate with the music… it kind of promoted itself.

What was in “Romantic Homicide” that you think resonated with people?

“I think it’s so simple. [The song] is relatable in some way; it’s not crazy with vocals, there are only two layers of background vocals for harmonization. It’s just a track that you don’t have to think too much about to listen to, you can easily tune in to what’s being said because I don’t over-distort the sound, and it’s just the feeling that anyone who could have made this song.

“I mean, you hear music that’s mainstream now, and it’s like, ‘Man, I gotta have this voice do this” or “I really wish I could sing like that”. But honestly, you could walk into your closet and literally do a [song like] ‘Romantic Homicide’ and it goes straight into the brains of over 40 million people.

You use BandLab to make music at home. What is your relationship with the platform?

“So my relationship with BandLab has been amazing in that I can literally make music from my closet. The CEO contacted a few weeks ago and said he was amazed that anyone who used the platform he created managed to chart on Billboard [200 singles] chart.

“[BandLab] literally changed my life. I couldn’t ask for more – it allowed me to make music from my home without any professional mics, as I literally use Apple headphones and the app on my phone. I am able to make the music I love without compromise.

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Did you learn to make music on your own?

“I haven’t even watched a YouTube tutorial, everything is really organized for you on BandLab – kudos to the creators because the UI is so user friendly. I was able to make it happen with a stock preset, I tried the EQ and reverb, and I started creating my own music, but I tried myself and created a whole range of presets that I could use.

You have been homeschooled since the age of 13. How did your upbringing affect the way you built your career?

“I think if I was still in public school, I wouldn’t have had time to play video games, and I wouldn’t have had time to focus on music for [my videos]. I don’t think I would have made music any other way. Now I can learn what is not taught in regular school programs and extracurricular activities; I can find out more about what interests me instead of having someone tell me what I need to know.

Before making music, were there any specific influences for you? There are a lot of different genres that run through each of your songs.

“I grew up in a very Christian family and we listened to strictly gospel music for most of my life. Lately I’ve started listening to secular [non-religious] music. Previously, I had the perception that all music outside of gospel was just rap, so when I discovered this music with instrumental production, I realized that it was not even necessary to sing anymore to to be able to make music. I create sounds that mix what I’ve heard before and new things that interest me: I mix them and add my personal touch.

“You could walk into your closet, make a [song like] ‘Romantic Homicide’, and it goes straight into the brains of over 40 million people.

What was going on in your life when you were doing “Romantic Homicide”?

“The song was not [called] ‘Romantic Homicide’ until about two days before its release. There have been three other versions of the song because I found the instrumental while browsing YouTube, and had an idea as soon as I heard it. It didn’t work and I didn’t like it. And then the second time, I tried to put a hip-hop verse on it.

“I got really bored one day and jumped in the closet, and then the first ‘I’m scared’ moment happened. I was like, I gotta keep rolling with this [music], and it continued to unfold that way. I didn’t even think about what was being said in my lyrics until ‘in the back of my mind’. As soon as I said that, it was like, ‘What emotion do I want back?’ And I realized that it was a feeling of losing someone and having feelings of resentment towards that person, and then they disappear from the back of your mind. I don’t really know what took me to make this type of music that day, because the first version of the song was very happy.

You posted on Instagram recently that “‘Romantic Homicide’ 2, 3 and 4 are done so I’m retired”. Is there any truth in this statement?

“Yeah, that’s a lie. I never want to do a song again. If you look at my discography, I don’t have two songs that sound the same. But there is more music to come that will also contextualize the previous music. You can expect more from both sides: new versions and old versions, new visuals for old versions and new visuals for new versions. »

d4vd artist
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As a black artist navigating the independent sphere, is it important to you to chart your own path and create music on your own terms?

“I love it. The amount of DMs I get from people saying, ‘I thought you were white’…it’s so funny to me! And I love it, because it’s like I’m reviewing the stigma of what music should be from African American creators, how it should be perceived and what they should do. Now it feels like you can make whatever music you feel like making, you don’t need to be boxed in. You can be successful in your own way, depending on who you are, being true to yourself and doing what you love to do.

Did the success of “Romantic Homicide” affect the way you want to make music in the future?

“Not really. I went to the studio twice when I was in LA, did three songs in the studio in May, then came home and it was like I never left BandLab. So that [app] is my favorite – I’m quite happy making music in the closet. It’s not like, ‘Oh man, I’ve experienced the studio now I have to go there all the time’. I have a studio when I’m in LA, and when I come home I have my phone.

What else can we expect from you soon?

“That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’ve been doing a lot of happier music lately because my mom said to me, “Why do you keep making all these sad songs?”. So whatever the instrumental tells me, what needs to be said is what I say on it. We still have ideas for a first live show in the very near future, the first show will be an experience. It’s gonna be amazing.

New d4vd single “Romantic Homicide” released

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