Singer JVKE’s world has been turned ‘upside down’ – in a good way! The viral TikTok sensation talks EXCLUSIVELY with HL about how Charli D’Amelio helped make his song a massive hit, and his upcoming video
In a span of a few months, singer-songwriter JVKE has come from out of nowhere to become one of the most popular names on TikTok, all thanks to his song, “Upside Down.” The infectious earworm was born from blending together elements from other viral videos to create a beat so perfect, it has practically become the app’s unofficial soundtrack. “Upside Down” has been used in over 13 million videos and has amassed over 5 billion total plays – and that’s just on TikTok. The official, full-length track has over 18 million plays on Spotify and has reached the No. 4 spot on the streaming service’s US Viral & Global Viral Chart.
“I had no idea when I was making this song that this would be the one,” the young artist says during an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife. This success isn’t pure happenstance. JVKE has been performing since he was a child (“I started playing piano when I was three years old,” the 19-year-old tells HollywoodLife) and he was leading performances at his church when he was 7. After making the decision to leave college to focus primarily on music, JVKE signed his first publishing deal. From there, he began working behind the scenes, writing music for Jason Derulo and K-Pop bands EXO and Super Junior.
With support from his mom – who appeared in the original “Upside Down” TikTok, JVKE has been able to work on making his dream of being a music superstar come true. He also got help from some TikTok tians. Charli D’Amelio and Loren Gray both used “Upside Down” in a video, which caused the plays to shoot through the roof. “I think when she used it had around a little less than 2 million views,” JVKE said about Charli, “And now it currently has 13 and a half million views.”
“Charli D’Amelio was actually one of the first TikTok-ers to use the sound,” said JVKE, “which I was very surprised about. And when she used it, I knew it was going to be something big.” JVKE spoke with HollywoodLife about how his world has been turned “Upside Down” after this viral hit, what fans can expect in the song’s music video, and the collaborator he wants to work with next.
HollywoodLife: Tell me about the success you’ve experienced with “Upside Down?” What has that been like for you?
JVKE: It’s honestly felt like a roller coaster. In the past month, it just all picked up really quickly. But I’ve been involved with music my whole life, though. I’ve just been waiting for a moment like this to happen. And so it was a dream come true, honestly.”
What can you tease about the music video you’ve been working on for the song?
The idea of the video is really cool. We’re really just getting the feeling of the song in a video, which is really awesome. I’m super excited to release that.”
Did you ever imagine you’d be a viral sensation on TikTok?
I started playing piano when I was three years old. I grew up in a very musical family. And my mom is actually a music teacher. She made sure to start me off young. Then I went on to drum, and then guitar after that. Taking lessons all the way up until the age of 14 when I heard that a friend had some beat-making software on his computer. I was super interested, but I’d never done it before. When I tried it, I completely fell in love.
It was like, I can take all the different skills I’ve learned from all the instruments, and put them into one, and create something really cool. From there, I just fell more and more in love with making music and being an artist. And eventually, just over quarantine, I started doing TikTok. I’ve been writing songs, and I have over 350 songs in my catalog from writing every day.
So, I released some stuff on TikTok, and then it just went crazy from there over quarantine, with the following of over 1.5 million in less than 30 days, it got over 100 million views. And all of this happened so quickly. And then we released the song after that. And it’s been doing amazing. But I had no idea when I was making this song that this would be the one. I was super taken aback by it.”
How does it feel having your sound used by TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio & Loren Gray?
“Charli D’Amelio was actually one of the first TikTok-ers to use the sound, which I was very surprised about. And when she used it, I knew it was going to be something big. I think when she used it had around a little less than 2 million views. And now it currently has 13 and a half million views. So that was really early on in the process. But it was just confirmation for me to know that okay, this is the one that we’ve got to put all our eggs into this basket and just push this one out. It was just so surprising. I’ve had a few audios go viral on Tiktok before but not to this extent. I was just so surprised when I saw all these different influencers making all these videos. I was just like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I had no idea this would happen.”
Do you know how your song made its way to Charli’s hands?
Honestly, I think it was just a TikTok algorithm. Just from using TikTok for the past while, I’ve noticed that TikTok favors good content, it favors talent, it favors quality content, and I’m sure that she probably just stumbled across it through the algorithm. A lot of times, the influencers can save an audio, and that’s where you get them using the audio multiple times, which is always really cool to see.
But everything with TikTok typically happens organically, which is really amazing. And that’s why I love TikTok because you don’t have to be signed to a label, and you don’t have to be a well-known person. You can go from completely unknown to the next superstar in a matter of a month or two by using TikTok, and that’s really what happens with a lot of these people.
Talk to me about visiting the Hype House recently. What was that like?
It was awesome. I’m actually doing some secret work with some of the people inside of there, which I’m sure I will let people know about on my social soon. But as for right now, I’m working some with influencers there, and we’ve got a bunch of big projects we’re working on, a lot of ideas. And it’s been awesome. All of the people are amazing. And the vibe there is awesome. It’s just a bunch of kids having fun and recording videos and just living life together. It was super cool to be there, in the culture there, just so fun.”
What are your thoughts on the potential TikTok ban?
I was a little scared about it, to be honest. I knew that someone would figure something out because a lot of people don’t know this, but TikTok is really at the center of culture right now. I truly believe that. And it plays such an influential part in the United States culture and culture all around the world. So I wasn’t stressing too much about TikTok. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t go away, and it seems like we’re getting things in order now, which I’m really happy about.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
A couple of names come to mind. One would be Benne who sings ‘Supalonely.’ She’s amazing. I listened to her EP when it came out. It was just so good. I think our vibes could definitely mesh well together. I definitely enjoy making positive music. Because today with the pandemic and everything, it’s just so easy to get down. And I think people are looking for something to lift their spirits. So it’s been awesome being able to see people have fun and dance and enjoy themselves through quarantine.
Another collaborator I was going to mention was Joji, and he just released an album. It’s just so good, so good. I would love to collaborate with someone like him, maybe someone like Charlie Puth. But I love so many different types of music. So I can see myself collaborating with just about anyone. And as you can hear in my song, it’s not specifically in just one genre. There’s a lot of different influences in there. So I’m excited to be able to collaborate with other people.
What upcoming projects have you been working on?
I’ve been working a lot on the upcoming music video [for “Upside Down”], which I’m excited to announce and release that’s coming soon. And we’re just putting the finishing touches on it, getting all the colors right, making sure all the clips are right. That’ll be out really soon.
I’m used to writing songs pretty much every day, so I’ve been trying to keep in the habit of that even while all of this stuff is going on. I’m preparing for a release of an EP hopefully and that music video coming up very soon. So definitely will be updating all my fans on all my social, so everybody knows when that’s coming.
You’re obviously very close with your mom. What makes that relationship so special?
We instantly had a connection with music because she had me growing up listening to lots of music. I was on a church worship team with her, growing up for about 10 years where she would be singing, I would be playing instruments. Sometimes I’d sing, she’d sing harmony. So we have a nice bond that definitely gets shown through my socials in the videos with TikTok and Instagram. And it honestly just fell perfectly into place when I had the idea. And I hope people can see the close relationship that we do have.
“Upside Down” is out now.