In today’s blog post of my interview series, I’ll be interviewing the American alt-hip-pop artist TeawhYB (through every action who has your back), or Tyler Baumgart. TeawhYB (32) was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin but then moved to Stockton, CA for two years. TeawhYB already started rapping and freestyling on beats during his high school years with his friends for fun. Even though he took a break from music to find himself, he never lost his passion and talent for music. Since his return to music in 2018, he has released multiple singles, most recently his 2020 EP What We Were. His collab-single Cabin with Caitlin McGarvey (they/them/theirs) went viral and became his most-streamed track on Spotify with over 420K streams.
Me personally I discovered him this year with his summer hit Cherry On Top and became a fan immediately. It actually happened automatically through his lovable and positive aura. After checking out his entire discography and listening to his production-wise diverse songs, message-full lyrics and warm vocals my favorites are: Cherry On Top (a masterpiece), Dance All Night, Sharpie, Taking Up Space. You definitely have to check out his YouTube channel to watch his fun and creative music videos. I’ll link some of them at the end for sure. In this interview, we will chat about his musical background, his lockdown lifestyle, and new music. So let’s start!
But first, since I’m a crazy Nicki Minaj fan, I know that she was asked in an interview in the early 2010s if there ever will be a gay rapper in the music industry. As a teenager I wondered the same, years later I feel honored to interview one of these great inspiring artists. And Nicki’s answer was ‘YES’, and she was totally right.
Dear TeawhYB welcome on erenblogs – Today’s Pop Music. I’m honored to have this opportunity to ask you some questions. Thank you so much for joining the interview series on my blog.
1. What kind of music did you grow up with and which artists inspired you as a teenager?
My Dad raised me on Classic Rock and the “decades” but I was really big into MTV and all the music videos growing up. TLC, N’Sync, Sum 41, Blink 182 on the more pop end, but then I was always really big into rap music so I studied the originations of hip-hop. I started writing songs after reading Tupac’s poem book: The Rose That Grew from Concrete. As a teenager, it was all of the Lil Wayne mixtapes, G-Unit, Swisha House, Dipset, but also Usher, Ginuwine, Jagged Edge.
2. Please name the first album you bought with your own money and the first concert you went on!
Chronic 2001 (Dr. Dre). I remember my friend tricking his mother into letting us buy it, then when I went home I was playing it super loud in my room and my mom made it a whole thing, was grounded for a week or whatever….worth it. For the first concert, my sister Abby took me to Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat for my birthday when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. It was the first time I went to a public event without either of my parents. Though Blue Oyster Cult never played (Don’t Fear) The Reaper aka The Cowbell Song, I did get the members of Foghat’s autographs on a CD.
3. Your solo music is very versatile regarding the genres you write and sing, what inspires you to mix sound elements from different genres? What kind of music do you listen to every day?
I like trying new things, finding new sounds, carving my own lane. I listen to just about every type of music and that often bleeds into my own work. Mostly, I live in the past. I love experiencing the 60s, 70s, 80s and re-living the 90s; it’s such a unique way to study history; music is a time capsule of the culture, the mood, the lingo. Makes me think of a simpler time that I miss.
4. How would you end the sentence: In school I was ……?
Up to no good LOL, I was a cool-kid athlete who got really involved in partying, eventually was outed as gay which only furthered my substance dependency. I was going to college parties as a freshman in High School so by the time I actually went to college I had pretty much done/seen it all.
5. In your interview with ‘The Secret Wave’ you’ve spoken about your coming out story or let’s say how you were outed by your crush to the entire school and village. This must be a terrible experience; I know from myself how such rumors can make your school years horrible. How old were you when you’ve accepted the fact that you were attracted to the same gender? And what helped you during this process?
Being aware of your identity is so much different than accepting it. I was in Middle School when I knew but it wasn’t until I was 24 or 25 that I accepted that as the reality and my future. I was 17 or so when I told this guy I had a crush on him because I thought he felt the same, he then outed me lol. The negativity that pursued was probably the reason I continued to date women, I wanted normalcy, I wanted to be accepted as I once was. I was dating this girl until I was around 24 and although she is a wonderful human being, I just knew I’d never be truly happy. So inevitably, I told her how I felt, we broke up, and she outed me at this bar I went to on my birthday to those I was with.
The people that stuck with me along the way, in high school, college, and beyond are the true heroes. Without them, I don’t know if I would be here, especially early on. My family helped tremendously because they didn’t treat me differently and that’s all I ever wanted. I stopped caring about what other people think of me.
6. Do you have any tips and a message to the LGBTQIA+ youth, especially for the teenagers who are finding themselves right now and are still in the closet?
If you’re feeling like it’ll never get better, you’re wrong. What may feel like the end, may just be the beginning. Coming Out can be a daunting task, one you may have to experience over and over again, so do it on your time, not anyone else’s. If you lose friends or family in the process I personally believe it’s best to not give bigotry a voice or time of day. Certainly, some things are unavoidable but try to focus on those who uplift you.
7. How do you start writing a song? Any certain order for the lyrics, melodies, and production?
Every song is different. Usually, once I have the beat, I’ll mumble lyrics for how I want it to sound and fill in lyrics as I go, kind of freestyle. I have like 200 voice notes in my phone with simple cadences, lyrics, and melodies that usually get the ball rolling and the rest kinda writes itself. Songwriting is definitely not easy, so I try to focus on the feel, the visual representation of the lyrics, and not taking myself too seriously. Lately, I’ve been obsessing over tiny details and inflections, creating harmonies, and adding to the production after the song is ‘complete’.
8. I know you have worked with many different artists together so far. I’d still like to ask: Who are your dream collaborations? It can be any singer, songwriter, and producer.
Frank Ocean is the one. Always has, always will be.
9. I’d say 2020 has been a horrible crazy year for the entire world due to the pandemic. How did you spend your days during the lockdown?
Once I got over the fact everything would be canceled, I focused my energy on my EP, What We Were, which released in June and even now I’m still working to get those songs heard. I also took up video editing and have been creating my own promo videos.
10. I’m interested in a typical quarantine day of yours, did you come up with new habits? In my case, I was definitely eating more than usual, and working out less I gained a lot of weight, shame on me.
My food and alcohol intake has definitely gone up lol. A typical day on lockdown; wake up, pour-over coffee, 20-minute exercise, clean up, email, work on music, scour the internet, walk the dog, and then tackle whatever else the day brings.
11. What did you miss the most during the lockdown?
Performing. So many shows, a campus tour, SXSW, festivals, opportunities to meet people… but also just the luxury to go out in public safely lol. It’s crazy to think about the scale on which our lives have been changed.
12. What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself while being isolated from the outside world?
I’ve learned how much I really rely on human interaction for happiness.
13. I wonder if there was a person, who made your quarantine days better? If yes, please tell us why!
My husband Greg certainly has been my rock. We’ve spent more time than ever together at home but instead of the relationship getting worse, it’s gotten stronger. All my close friends who hop on a Facetime when I need it, anyone who has been supporting the music, anyone who reaches out just to say something. I miss human interaction, so I appreciate every little thing.
14. Let’s get personal for the next question. So you’re happily married to your husband Gregory Baumgart. You two are an adorable, cute couple. I also love the fact that he supports your music career. My question would be if you two would like to become parents one day? I’m sure you two would do a great job.
Aw, thank you. I told Greg if he gets pregnant we’ll definitely be keeping it.
15. Now back to your music. Your party track Dance All Night makes me move immediately. My birthday is in less than a month and I will play this dance track multiple times on December 4th, that’s for sure. I love everything about this song. My question is when was the last you danced all night and why?
ALL NIGHT!? Probably the last show I had, which was the beginning of March. Dancing until I run out of energy at least.
16. Let’s talk about your song Taking Up Space. First, I love the production and your vocals. But I think there is more behind the lyrics, right? I can hear out a political statement and social criticism. Especially in the lines: “Cuz the ones who out here breaking the law, are the same ones makin’ ’em”, and “Kids are scared to play in the yard…they left with the scars…gotta change the way we live so they can rest in peace”. What is the message behind this song?
When you think about it, crimes that incur a monetary punishment are only applicable to people of low income. The rich and powerful live by another set of rules and people just seem to be okay with that. Sometimes I just feel like I’m taking up space in a world designed to see us stuck. I live pretty close to Minneapolis, MN where George Floyd was murdered by a policeman and I made this song around that same time. It felt like the last straw for a lot of us, including me.
17. Your latest release is Gin & Jealousy, a slow R&B track, which was released on November 6. I love the vibe you’ve created with Traffic Willis for this song and also the topics you’re singing about: mental health, self-love, and falling in love. It’s such a relatable song for many of your fans, I guess. How does it feel for you to open up and share your personal story in a song with the entire world?
I’m a pretty open book so it feels pretty normal lol. It is a personal story but one that I’m confident enough to share because it happens to be great advice. You must first possess love for yourself before you’ll be able to love someone else.
Now it’s time for this or that
Pizza or Sushi? Pizza, I love Sushi but I eat pizza almost every day.
Spotify or Netflix? Spotify because it puts money in my bank account, Netflix withdraws it.
Coffee or Tea? I’m a coffee addict but I love herbal tea. Based on consumption: coffee.
80s Disco Pop or Indie-Pop? 80s Disco was a whole mood. I wish I was alive during the Disco Club era, people don’t dance anymore.
Stadium tour or an acoustic session with few fans? Stadium tour mainly because I don’t have many acoustic songs. I’d also much rather perform for thousands and make personal connections after the show.
Summer or Winter season? Summer x100. Winters where I live last like 4-5 months and it gets exhaustive passed January.
Piano or Guitar? Oh, this is tough. I use a lot of guitar in my music so that’s the winner.
Green Bay or Los Angeles? Green Bay. Family, beer, cheese, and the Packers. I’ve been to every inch of that city and there are so many memories.
Dogs or Cats? I’m allergic to cats L which is part of the reason I’m a huge dog fan, but I also have the cutest golden doodle named Berkeley and I can’t betray his love.
18. What are you most excited about to happen in 2021? what can you tell us about new projects, you’re working on right now?
I’m excited to drop some new material actually. I have a joint EP with my good friend Miles Blvd releasing next year. We’ll be kicking off the release with the single Must Be New Here and a music video of us taking over a movie theatre. I’m kind of recharging myself until the new year, but I’ll be releasing some singles and looking to create my next body of work.
19. I’ve seen some videos of your gigs and I love your energy on the stage? I think you can turn every place into a party. Can we expect you to go on tour after the pandemic is over?
That’s what I’m known for. That’s the plan, whenever that may be.
20. One question you want to ask me?
What’s one thing you want to know about America that you’re not quite sure is true or not?
Do you all adore your international famous artists/icons like Beyonce, Britney Spears, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown or is it just the media?
Thank you, TeawhYB, so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you the best for your musical career and I’m looking forward to your next releases.
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