While we've all been spending our time doing different things during the quarantine, there are a few common threads that have emerged. One of the main ones is the proliferation in TikTok usage to pass the time — particularly among celebrities.
We've seen celebs tackling viral dance challenges, famous parents appearing on their kids' profiles, reality stars recreating their own iconic moments and more than a few other breakout trends, but perhaps our favorite example of a public figure utilizing the world's fastest-growing social media app has been singer Jake Miller's, whose so-called "Quarantunes" have racked up millions of views over the past several weeks.
The first video of the series came in the form of "How Long Will This Last?," a quippy tune about being stuck at his parents' house for an indefinite amount of time. While the post has since garnered over 360,000 views, it was the follow-up song that truly went viral: "Take A Walk," in which the 27-year-old star commiserates about his mom's obsession with going out for walks during the quarantine. The video has been viewed more than 5 million times on TikTok.
In the weeks since, Miller (at the encouragement of his sister, Jenny, and with the help of the rest of his family) has gone on to release nine "Quarantunes," each of which takes on a different topic related to social distancing and being bored at home during this time.
To hear more about Jake Miller's newfound viral TikTok fame — and how he hopes it will help bolster his singing career — In The Know's Gibson Johns caught up with the "Rumors" hitmaker over the phone. Read the full interview below:
In The Know: Congrats on all the success of your "Quarantunes" — we've been loving them! First of all, how does it feel to be a TikTok star? I think you can officially say that you can add that to your resumé.
Jake Miller: Oh, man. Well, hopefully I have other titles as well. [Laughs] It's definitely a lot of fun. It's just a great way for me and the family to kind of pass the time, you know? My sister was begging me for six months now to get on TikTok. I didn't really know much about it. I thought it was mostly dancing, and I don't dance.
But she kind of sat me down two weeks ago when I got home and that's when I was like, "Okay, light bulb." I'm just going to create little 20 to 30-second original tracks to show off my musical side and my production — create beats, sing on it, rap on it, just kind of show my music side and also have a little comedic side, and just try to bring a little light into this time of stress.
So it was the plan to just do a whole series? The first one sort of blew up, but you always kind of wanted to make it a series of songs?
No, not at all! We were just sitting on the patio, and we were talking about how we can make TikToks, I didn't want to create any dances to old songs of mine because I have new songs coming out as soon as corona blows over, but I don't have new music to promote yet because it hasn't come out yet.
I thought the only way that I could do that is to create new songs. So I went inside, we wrote this little funny song about how bored we were in like 30 minutes, made a little funny video to it, and yeah. It got hundreds of thousands of views, and then the second one we did got like 9 million views. So I was like, "Okay. I'm hooked. I'm hooked. I'm addicted."
And It's clearly a whole family ordeal where everyone gets involved. I'd love to just hear about the process: Once you have an idea for a song and from that to when you post it on TikTok, what's the creation process?
We usually just spitball ideas around now that there's a little bit more pressure for them to be good, because everybody just loves them so much, and they're getting so many views. So the pressure is a little higher than it was at the beginning, but it's just all fun and games. We're not trying to think about it too much. I think that's why they're so much fun to write and so much fun to make because, unlike music in a real studio in LA, there's absolutely no pressure.
We're just being funny, we're being goofy, we're just trying to pass the time and be creative. So, we're not thinking too much about it, but we just took all ideas out and I'll usually write lyrics, make the beat, and then me and my sister will produce what we're going to do for the video. My parents are always so excited to be in them, especially my dad.
It's also cool because it is showing off that you can produce all this on your own. That's a huge asset for you just in your career in general, and it’s really cool that you can just kind of do this mostly on your own.
Thank you! I mean, it all, to me, ties back into the music. That's the only reason I'm on TikTok. I don't want anyone to think I'm just a TikToker, obviously. I'm on TikTok to pick up more fans and have more people listen to my music and if you just now discovered me on TikTok, I think it's important for you to know I produce all my own music, I make the beat, I write the song, I write the lyrics, I do it all from my bedroom.
So I have hundreds and hundreds of real songs on Spotify, and all that stuff. So, I've gained a lot of fans over the last few weeks, and I think some of them have never heard my music. That's really why I'm doing it. So hopefully everybody goes and checks out my music.
That's a huge positive about this whole series is that people can discover you on TikTok, and then hopefully they sort of make that jump to your Instagram and to Spotify and to maybe even seeing you on tour. The opportunity there is so awesome.
That's the goal. I've been seeing all the numbers across the board go up in these last two weeks along with, you know, the 250,000 followers that I gained in last week on TikTok and I've seen a lot of other followers across the board. So many people are just DMing me on Instagram saying they've heard of me but they just heard this song on Spotify and now they're fans, and that's what it's all about. I just want everyone to hear my music.
And May 15, we're coming out with my first single, "SAVED ME." I'm just really excited about that. This is all pretty much trying to set that up and getting everyone excited for that.
Obviously, you're doing the "Quarantunes" now to kind of pass the time, and you have "SAVED ME" coming up, but how has this quarantine affected your existing plan for the year? Have a lot things been pushed back?
A lot of things got canceled. We had a lot of college shows, a lot of festivals, I had a whole Asia tour lined up for September. We were going to do a summer tour. Everything got canceled. But you just got to roll with the punches. Everybody's going through the same situation. I can't sit around and feel sorry for myself, and there are millions of people in much worse situations than me losing their jobs and stuff like that, so I'm thankful to be in a position and still be able to create music even if it's little funny tunes to keep the world entertained and keep people smiling.
At the end of the day, you are putting a lot of smiles on people's faces. You're bringing joy to a lot of people with these little videos. Is that feedback that you see in the comments? It must feel cool to be able to feel like you are making some sort of impact on people at this time.
Definitely. We started these just completely for fun just because we were bored. I had no clue what kind of impact it would have. They're not by any means saving anyone; I’m not trying to play the hero here. But we're getting messages left and right just saying, “We're looking forward to these every day now,” or, “These are the best things to come out of quarantine. You guys are lightening my mood up.” And I think everybody is just in a really weird position right now where everybody feels kind of the same. And any comedic relief can be helpful right now, I think.
Lastly, can we plan on seeing more? Are there are there more ideas in the works?
Oh, yeah. [Laughs] I don't know when I'll stop. I guess I'll stop whenever the views stop coming in!
If you liked this story, check out what E! News host Erin Lim has been up to during her quarantine.
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