Before I talked to 347aidan via Zoom one evening in December of 2020, the 17-year-old spent his day hanging out on the online chat site Omegle, going in and out of one-on-one video conversations with strangers. "I go on there and I just spread a lot of positivity," says aidan, whose lid-heavy eyes barely show from behind his tousled, half-purple mop of hair. "I usually will start off the conversation by complimenting the person and then get into a conversation about life with them."
347aidan has learned that there’s value in not caring what anyone thinks of him, but at the same time he seems to have an overwhelming desire to make other people feel good. It’s why he goes on social media every day and reminds fans that they’re full of potential and it’s why, on this day, he talked to dozens of strangers through his computer screen.
The Ontario artist's amiable nature has paid off big-time. Aidan has been on TikTok for over a year, since back in the days when he still had short black hair. Judging from his first posts, he started off using the platform strictly to promote his music, but the page evolved into a more personal outlet where aidan talks to his followers, delivers affirmations, and shares whatever's on his mind. At the same time, his music expanded from a pretty straightforward assortment of raspy-voiced rap songs to a hodgepodge of hip-hop, DIY alternative, and grungy bedroom pop anthems.
During the first week of October 2020, one of his unreleased songs called "Dancing in My Room" started to gain momentum on TikTok after a creator started a dance trend set to a snippet of the song. Aidan already had a solid following of his own and helped to drive more attention to the trend, and by the time "Dancing in My Room" was officially released later that month, it already had over 20,000 TikTok videos made to the track.
Just a year ago, 347aidan was still relatively unknown. At the start of 2020 he had less than 3,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and under 10,000 Instagram followers after making music for almost five years. Now he's got over five million monthly listeners and considers music a full-time gig. By the time this interview is published, it's a safe bet that "Dancing in My Room" will have over 50 million streams. His next release is a collaboration with Kenny Beats, and his fan base is growing fast—even the strangers on Omegle are beginning to recognize him.
Are you still in high school?
I'm technically still in high school. I'm not currently going though, but I'm not dropped out and I'm not graduated. I'm just not currently going at this second.
You're considering music your full-time job now?
Yeah. 100%. Music's all I want to do in life.
When did you know that?
When I was 13. I was making music every day and I knew that was all I wanted to do. Didn't really care to go to school and didn't really care for anything else. I always had this thing in the back of my head that I knew that music would work out, so I never really cared to get crazy good grades or—I don't know—plan life at all. I just always knew music would somehow work out.
Was there anything that happened that made you realize you could make a living out of this?
Not really, to be honest. I think that I got to a point when I was 13, 14, where I was like, "Damn. I don't care if I'm broke with no money. I just want to be making music for the rest of my life."
Do you remember getting acknowledged for your music for the first time, outside of your friends and family?
Yeah. It's a lot crazier to imagine something happening than when it actually happens. I'd sit there for years and imagine getting a bunch of plays on my music, and then I remember the first time it happened, or the first time one of my videos blew up. In the moment it was the best thing ever, and it never gets old, but you get really used to a feeling. Nothing can ever beat the feeling of making the music. But it was definitely awesome to start getting recognized for the first time. It was definitely super cool.
Coming up in Ontario, did you feel like part of the music scene?
So the main music scene in Ontario would be Toronto, and the main Toronto music type is... I don't even know how to describe it. Definitely not the type of music I make. My music would be considered very, very, very weird in the Toronto scene. I'm definitely considered an outcast in that scene of music, for sure.
So did you find your people and your audience through the internet?
I built up purely from posting music snippets every single day. So I'd make some new songs every day, post the snippets of songs every day, and that gave me a little bit of local clout or whatever you want to call it. I mean, that didn't really do anything for me, definitely didn't pay any bills. But through TikTok and other social media apps I found my people, found people who really like what I do.
When you’re using an app like TikTok, there's an endless amount people on the other side of the screen. The only real way to get them to like you—outside of music, outside whatever you're doing—is show them you are a human being. When you see someone on another side of the screen, it's hard to imagine who they are as a person. You forget that it's a person behind that screen. So my whole goal with TikTok was to show people that I'm a human being behind the screen, and I want to see who they are as humans. That's how the music on there started going crazy, because people were starting to like my energy and what I was putting out, and then the music was just there with it.
Speaking to a lot of artists about TikTok, it seems like there are some misconceptions. A lot of people think, "Oh, I need to make dance videos or pay influencers to go viral." Looking through your page, it seems like a lot of what you do is just talking to fans.
Hell yeah. If you need to pay influencers to make a video to your song, that's basically saying that you yourself could not make a viral video on TikTok. Anyone can have a viral video on TikTok. People with zero followers and people with a million followers can have viral videos. That's the whole point of TikTok. That's how people get big on it, because anyone can see your video. If you need to pay these influencers to do it, it's basically just saying, "Damn. I cannot make cool enough content. I can't be myself with people enough to where they will actually want to fuck with my music." It's definitely a misconception.
It's funny because with one of my older songs, “Live How I Want”—this just probably four months ago—I didn't really have any followers. So I actually paid five people on TikTok, pretty big creators, to use the song. That song didn't really do anything, didn't go anywhere.
Fast-forward two or three months after that, I posted a video of me singing a chorus to my song “Demons and Monsters” and that video went instantly viral. Right after that, I posted a video of me talking to some of my fans with the song in the back and that video went viral too.
So yeah, you can pay these people to blow up your song, but then you just have a song that's popping—maybe, if it does well—and then that's it. I didn't want that. I didn't want just the song. I wanted to be more than that. I didn't really care if “Dancing in My Room” or “Demons and Monster” blew up. I just wanted to be a lot bigger as a person and help people as an artist. If you have one song or maybe five songs going crazy, and it's just the songs, that's dope, and maybe you can help a lot of people with the music, but I wanted to help people as a person.
To do that I needed to really blow my person up and who I am as an artist. I think that's what most artists should try to do, because again, any song can blow up today with apps like TikTok. It's so easy to blow up a song these days, but if you want to have longevity in music, you really need to get people to like you as an artist.
True, we've seen so many artists that just have one huge song that goes viral and then three months later, nobody cares.
Yeah. Instead of selling your music to people, you need to sell you as a person and give them a taste of who you are so that they actually get excited for what's coming next and not just about what's out now.
From watching you on TikTok, it seems like you're really comfortable being yourself. Did you ever struggle to try to be something you weren't?
Slightly. When I was in grade eight or grade nine, I would buy really expensive clothes that I didn't like, just to portray the vision that I had money or that I was cool or something like that, but that was only a thing for a couple months. I got over that super quick when I realized that I just didn't give a fuck what anyone thought. And then I just started wearing what I wanted. I think everyone in some part of their life had a time where they were trying to impress other people by not being themselves. I definitely went through that, but it made me a lot more comfortable with who I am and made me a lot more comfortable with not only being myself on the internet, but also being myself in person.
A lot of your music sounds DIY, but are you starting to enjoy getting into studios and working with other people now? I saw you were in the studio with Kenny Beats.
That was two days ago. It was awesome. Yeah so I'm currently staying with John Cunningham, and we made some cool stuff. The other day I had this session with Kenny Beats because my co-manager is friends with his day-to-day or manager or something like that. So Kenny ended up really fucking with my music and he wanted to hang out. We hung out and then within 20 minutes of being there we had already made two songs. We both work super, super fast.
I don't think it matters necessarily if it’s a bedroom or studio, it's just who's in that studio. If you're in a studio with someone who really understands the vibe and you work in a similar pattern, it almost feels like you're still in the bedroom. I don't think I'm ever going to start doing sessions every day at random studios, but definitely if there's someone that I really can connect with or feel alive with, then sure. I'll go hang out at their home studio or wherever they are.
Your music is raw and not fully polished or overproduced. Is that something you want to keep, even when you are in studios and working with people like Kenny Beats?
Yeah. I've actually never edited a song or had anyone edit my songs. So I don't really know how a song's done when they're edited. When I got to Kenny's house, I remember I took one vocal take and there was Auto-Tune on it, and I stepped out of the booth and I was like, "Take that shit off." He was like, "OK bro, I got you." So we just recorded it, raw vocals, and I'm definitely going to keep that sound for now. Eventually if I drop an album, I'm going to have a couple of songs in there that are polished and edited, but for the meantime, definitely going to keep my raw sound.
Like a lot of young artists, you don't really fit into a genre, but listening back to some of your old music and then some of your music now, it seems like you're getting a little more melodic and there's not as much straightforward rap. Do you think that's something that you're going to stick with or do you always like to go back and forth and do whatever you feel?
I think my favorite type music is that melodic stuff, but I also really love straightforward rap, so I don't really know. I think I'll definitely be dropping a lot more of the melodic stuff, but again, if I dropped an album, I'd be shocked if there weren't a couple rap songs on there.
Seeing a song like “Demons and Monsters” or “Dancing in My Room” connect with so many people, does it make you want to do more songs like that or does that positive reception not really come into play?
No. I don't really care about any of that stuff, because like I said, any song today can blow up and if I can make “Demons and Monsters” blow up and “Dancing in My Room” blow up, which are totally polar opposite, I can drop something completely different and make it blow up too. When I see a song like “Dancing in My Room” go crazy like it is, the only thing I take from that is that I want to drop something that's completely opposite and make it go even more viral.
Any song can blow up with apps like TikTok. It's so easy to blow up a song these days, but if you want to have longevity in music, you really need to get people to like you as an artist.
Who are your influences or who do you listen to regularly?
I listen to a lot of Mac Miller, a lot of XXXtentacion, a lot of Frank Ocean, the Beatles, Nirvana, Surf Curse, The Cure, Weezer, I've been listening to a lot of Vampire Weekend lately. Probably a lot more but those are off the top of my head.... Oh, and Earl Sweatshirt. I love Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator.
I've seen that you you have Beatles and Jimi Hendrix vinyl on the walls of your room, and that was a little surprising. I think a lot of young artists don't really go back that far. Was there something that got you into music from past decades? Was it your parents or did you go back to that on your own?
I grew up really liking old rock music. I loved AC/DC when I was younger. I love Queen and I love Jimi Hendrix. My mom loves AC/DC and Pink Floyd, and then my dad really likes Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Queen. So they definitely had an influence, but I've always loved that type of music. I think it's just a mix of what my parents would be playing and also me wanting to put my friends onto this old rock music like, "Nah, this is cool," when they'd just be listening to some rap shit.
You touched on this a little bit, but seems like instead of totally leaning into going viral with one song or trying to make everything a TikTok hit, you are thinking about building a sustainable fan base and connecting with people who are going to stick with you. Could you just talk a little bit about that overall philosophy, and was that always the plan or did you realize that by watching other people?
That was always the plan. I mean, "Dancing in My Room" being a big song right now, that's one thing, but at the end of the day, like I said, you get used to that feeling really quickly. Not to say it doesn't still bring me joy, but I'm almost bored of it and want to do it again and again and again. The feeling of talking to my fans or being in an Instagram Live with my fans is something that will never, ever get old, so I just want to keep building that bigger and bigger. And I mean, obviously the main way to do that is by continuously having these hit songs, but it's not the hit songs that bring that good feeling or that serotonin. It's more of the people appreciating it.
There's a consistent theme of being positive with you. But based on your lyrics, it also seems like you see the darker side of the world and society. Do you have to go out of your way to stay positive, or why is that so important for you?
My music's a very personal thing, so sometimes when I'm in a negative headset or mindset, I'll make music which might come out negative, but I never want to be negative to other people. When I talk to other people, it's always in a positive way because I want them to take something positive out of the conversation. When listening to my music, I want them to take something positive out of it even if it is a negative song. Sometimes when I'm in a bad spot, I'll make a song that's not too crazy positive, but if hopefully if the person listening to it is also in a bad spot, maybe them even seeing that I was in a bad spot can help them get out of their bad spot. So they can take a positive out of the negative.
Were there artists that did that for you?
Honestly? No. I've never been able to find that type of connection with artists in a personal way, sadly. I definitely want to be that artist for a lot of people.
I imagine a lot of your fans are reaching out directly to you and just telling you about how you've impacted them. Do you hear that a lot?
Oh yeah. The best feeling is, I'll have kids like, "Oh, you made my night way better," or, "You've changed my life for the better." Those are the best messages I've ever received.
You're still so new and it's such a weird time to be having a breakthrough year when you can't even connect in person with fans or travel and do shows. What has the experience been like so far?
I'm so glad that I blew up in this time. I'm so glad I'm not doing tours yet. When I do my first show, I want it to be the best experience for every single person in the building, and to do that, I need to build myself up a lot more. So me blowing up during this pandemic is giving me basically an excuse every single day to just get bigger and better. And then when tours do happen, I'll be completely ready to do it. That'd be awesome.
I remember the first time one of my videos blew up. In the moment it was the best thing ever... but you get really used to a feeling. Nothing can ever beat the feeling of making the music.
Have you performed before?
Never even been on a stage in front of people?
I performed in front of four of my friends once.
Is that something you look forward to? I mean, I know you're getting ready and still growing and preparing, but are you excited for that or nervous?
No. Not nervous at all. I'm super, super excited. Again, I just want it to be the best experience for everyone in there. So definitely still preparing, making sure I have all my ideas set for when I do my show so that when people are there, they remember it forever.
Besides looking at the numbers, how do you know when you have those big steps forward? What are you looking for when we're all just stuck at home in our bedrooms?
I think the biggest thing is... I don't even know. I mean, stuff moves really, really quickly. I was on Omegle today for three hours.
Omegle? I don't think I know what that is.
You don't know what that is? OK, so it's this: You go on your computer, it's called Omegle, and you're sitting there with a camera. It's basically a conversation like this, but with random people, over and over again. So I was doing it for about three hours, probably talked to a couple hundred people, but it was every other person being like, "Are you 347aidan?" That's a moment where I'm like, "Damn. These random people across the world that I'm randomly talking with know who I am." So that's cool.
What do you get out of Omegle? You just get to talk to a bunch of strangers for fun or is there...
Yeah. And you're just like, "Damn, I'm bored. I have no one to talk to. Why not hop on this app and talk to random people, or else I'll just have no one to talk to." And also, a lot of famous people do use it. So maybe the mentality is, "Damn. I might get to meet a famous person."
It's fun. I mean, there's definitely some weird shit on there because it's random people with a camera, but for the most part it's just people who happen to have no one to talk to, and they're just bored. So I go on there and I just spread a lot of positivity, and I usually will start off the conversation by complimenting the person and then get into a conversation about life with them, and then I'll do the next person, next person. Once you start doing it, it's really hard to stop doing it because maybe you'll stop after 50 people, and you can remember every single conversation because they're all so different.
Why do you start the conversation with a compliment?
To see how they smile after. Some people get really, really weird when you compliment them, but for other people, it's the best thing in their entire day. You can really tell by that smile that they get right after. Even if people who are super uncomfortable by it, they're only uncomfortable because they never hear it, right? It's cool to make people's days better.
That's really nice. So what is next for you? Are you planning things out for 2021 or just taking it one song at a time?
I have a song coming out in January. It's the one I made with Kenny Beats. I'm excited for that. Other than that, I think it's just building my fan base more and more and talking to these kids as much as I possibly can.
Do you have a 10-year vision of where you want to be?
No. Honestly, I don't even have a one-month vision of where I'm going to be, because if I did, I would try to do it so well that I would fail. I go with the flow and let whatever is meant to happen, happen.
That's good. You're so young, and you can't predict anything these days.
No, I can't. Shit changes in a second, for the better or for the worse. You just have to ride the wave.