"If You Have A Dream, You Should Always Follow It" LILHUDDY Interviewed

"If You Have A Dream, You Should Always Follow It" LILHUDDY Interviewed

Pop-punk newgen on his unique connection with fans...

Much like the pop-punk heavyweights before him, LILHUDDY doesn’t care about what you think of him — especially if your opinion is solely based on what you’ve seen on social media. Although TikTok is where he found his footing in the industry, music is his true calling and now, with the release of his debut album, 19-year-old Chase Hudson (aka LILHUDDY) is more than ready for his 32 million followers (and the naysayers) to see a different side to him than the one they are used to seeing on TikTok and Instagram.

LILHUDDY might not have been the first artist to spearhead the pop-punk revival in mainstream music again, but he’s planning on carrying the torch for years to come. His new album, the punchy and explosive ‘Teenage Heartbreak’, navigates the highs and lows of, you guessed it, teenage heartbreak. Infusing succinct storytelling, powerful riffs, and everything else pop-punk is known for, LILHUDDY wears his heart on his sleeve on ‘Teenage Heartbreak’, an album that shows him coming to grips with what he’s been through in his relationships. Besides being a debut album, it also represents the first time in his entire career that people will hear about aspects of his personal life that he’s kept under wraps.

We caught up LILHUDDY to chat about ‘Teenage Heartbreak’, Travis Barker’s influence on him, and staying true to who you are, sceptics be damned.

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As someone who grew up with blink-182 and religiously listened to albums like ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ and ‘Enema of the State’, both of which were released before you were even born, it’s cool that pop-punk is being celebrated by a new generation. I can hear all of those early influences on ‘Teenage Heartbreak,’ your debut record. As we approach the release, how are you feeling?

Fuck yeah! Thank you for saying that. It feels like a long time coming. This has been on my mind for a couple of years now and it’s starting to feel like a fresh start for me.

What was it about the track ‘Teenage Heartbreak’ that made you want to name your debut album after it?

I was playing around with the concept for a while. I had the words “teenage heartbreak” on my phone and I thought, “Huh, those two words stick with you; they mean something when put together.” When we started writing the title track, I immediately felt like it described and defined the concept of the whole album and the story I was telling. Since the song 'Teenage Heartbreak' talks about what the entire album explores — the highs and lows — that’s why I decided to name the album after.

There’s such a stark contrast between your mindset in the opening track ‘Teenage Heartbreak’ and the final track ‘How It Ends’ in regards to where your head was at when writing the two songs. You were dealing with some pretty heavy feelings, despite ‘How It Ends’ sounding like a pretty upbeat track.

I wanted to give a euphoric beginning and ending to the album even if what I’m singing about is pretty deep. ‘How It Ends’ just fits perfectly because of the title and what I’m going through on that song and I feel like it’s a great closer to an album and for a concert.

‘How It Ends’ really demonstrates your songwriting and ease in which you tell your story through lyrics and the pop-punk genre is known for its storytelling. Is that what first attracted you to the genre when you were a kid?

Yeah, it was. I always liked that there was so much emotion you could fit in such an upbeat song or one that sounds more mellow. I love the way artists in the pop-punk genre tell their stories. A band I looked up to a lot is Green Day and they’ve always told intense stories through their music, like on “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” That song was so inspiring to me as a kid growing up because you hear these stories and it’s like you’re living it alongside them. All those little stories are like chapters that add up to one big story and I always loved that.

With an album like ‘Teenage Heartbreak’, there are so many details and stories you express that give fans of yours — both new and old — so much more context to who you are as a person and as an artist. When you’re constantly being put in the ‘TikToker’ category, it can be difficult for people to see you for who you are.

It is hard. I feel like when people only see me on TikTok, the one thing people miss out on is my personality. This album is like an inside perspective on who I am and what I’ve been through. It places people in my shoes and I’m allowing them to walk around my love life. On ‘Teenage Heartbreak’, I open up and show people a chapter of my life that they’ve never seen before.

You let people see a different side of you — you’re incredibly vulnerable on this record, especially with tracks like ‘America’s Sweetheart’ and ‘Lost Without You’. Is writing something that feels like a therapy session for you — something that you need to do to get things off your chest?

For the last six years of my life, I have bottled up every relationship I’ve ever been in. Maybe I would tell a few of my closest homies and my dad, but I kept a lot of my relationships and what was going on to myself. I realised I had so many pent-up emotions from all of these different relationships that went well and some that really, really sucked.

After some time looking back and reflecting, I started getting into songwriting more and I realised there’s a whole part of my life that I’ve never talked about. I started journaling and letting it all out. If you bottle up those emotions for too long, it can break you down and screw you up. Being able to describe a certain emotion or situation in my music was relieving for me. Songwriting became a space where I could show people who I am today while also showing my past. It’s about describing your past so they can understand your present.

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There’s a mix of sounds on this record; ‘Partycrasher’ is a gritty and punchy track, whereas ‘America’s Sweetheart’ is subdued and poignant. This juxtaposition reminds me of the grittiness and rawness of pop-punk music; no one song is like the next. Is that something you set out to do to showcase your different personas or is that something that just came naturally?

I went into the studio to make music without thinking about an exact sound. Most artists recognise what their sweet spot is, but, honestly, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing! I just go into the studio with a concept and whatever happens instrumentally with that idea is where it goes. One of the most important aspects of this project is that you never know where it’s going to take you which is the whole point of ‘Teenage Heartbreak’.

You worked with Travis Barker on this record and he’s been acting as a pseudo-music godfather to you and your fellow pop-punk artists that are on the rise. How has it been working alongside him? What have you learned from just watching how he works?

I’ve learned so much from Travis. Throughout making this whole record with him on production I’ve seen first-hand just how smart he is. He works one thousand times faster than I ever could. I say 100 dumb things before I say one single smart thing and I’ve never heard Travis say something silly in my life. He has a very quiet and creative mind and I respect him so much for it. He thinks about things before he speaks; you can play him something and he’s quiet the entire time until he realises what direction he wants to take it and then he has the greatest idea ever. He brings a distinct energy out in a song that a normal drummer just can’t emulate.

I saw the 24-hours with Vogue piece, which was not only a great insight into your day-to-day life but it also gave great context into your background as an artist. People responded to the video and sent you hate because you started on TikTok. I know you took the high road and asked people to respond with positivity, but does it get exhausting when you feel like you have to constantly prove yourself as a legitimate artist?

People definitely give me a harder time. There will be people who give me a chance and realize they were wrong but a lot of people won’t even bother because they see my name associated with the word TikTok and just not bother. Once they hear you enough on the radio, they can’t avoid you and that’s the best feeling. With that video, in particular, I wanted to post it because I knew my fans would back me up and show love. I wanted them to know that I was proud of that video and it was cool for me to do, so getting them to flood it with love was great.

Last month, you played your first concert ever at No Vacancy in Hollywood. What was it like to not only perform for the first time but to also be able to visually see people enjoy your music in person rather than gauging their reactions over social media?

It was cool. It’s definitely going to take some getting used to and I need to get in shape because I felt like I was going to pass out! It takes a lot more stamina than I thought. I take performing really seriously and even if that set was just a couple of songs, it was great to see people enjoying themselves. It was like a glimpse into future gigs. I’m not sure if it's going to be a full tour or pop-ups, but I’m excited.

I read that your online fame made you the target of bullying and you chose to switch to online school because of it. I feel like you have made incredible, mature decisions at such a young age by always choosing your path even if it was going against the grain. Is that mindset you always had?

I never wanted anybody to tell me what to do. If someone tells me to do something or if there’s a roadblock, I’ll find my way around it. Sometimes that’s bad — like not studying enough — but sometimes it positively helps me. I wanted to have a path where I wouldn’t have people tell me what to do all the time. I hated the thought of someone telling me to go to college. I had people around me that encouraged me to pursue something in the creative field and that has stuck with me throughout my career. Even back then my parents felt like it was something that could last long if I really wanted to do it. I’ve always had that characteristic.

Now that you’re on the other side of that part of your life, what would you say to someone who might want to pursue music but is dealing with negative people around them?

I would tell them that if you have a dream, you should always follow it. I’ve been told the same thing at every concert I’ve ever been to and it always sticks with me. My parents are big fans of country, so we went to a million concerts when I was a kid. When Blake Shelton or Brad Paisley would tell the crowd to follow their dreams, it really stuck with me when I was just a kid in middle school. It’s important to believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and always try to look on the bright side because shit will always happen but it’ll go away in time. You just have to stick it out.

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'Teenage Heartbreak' is out now.

Words: Kelsey Barnes // @Kelseyjbarnes
Photo Credit: Jordan Knight

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