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LILHUDDY on the 7 Relationships That Inspired His Debut ‘Teenage Heartbreak’

Arguably the most fascinating story in the space right now is LILHUDDY, and his ongoing transition from crown prince of TikTok to bona fide breakout star of Zoomer pop-punk. Hudson had already enjoyed a charmed life since at least 2019, when he decamped from Stockton to L.A., co-founded the influencer compound Hype House, and saw his already strong social presence skyrocket, earning some 32 million besotted TikTok followers who hung on his every word, move and fit. In 2020 he leveraged that considerable influencer clout into a move to music, and without so much as a demo to his name he was taken on by industry vet Adam Mersel (Bebe Rexha, Ben Platt) of Immersive Records, who in turn paired Hudson with power writers and producers, including Andrew Goldstein, Andy Seltzer, Nick Long and Jake Torrey. With writing sessions beginning in lockdown summer of 2020 and recording that fall, they formed the creative team behind Teenage Heartbreak.

True to its title, the record mines LILHUDDY’s checkered history with adolescent love. The much crushed-on Chase, even at 19, has been in no less than seven relationships, inspiring 11 tracks’ worth of dramatic ups and downs. As the LP’s opening title track posits, “It’s a high, it’s a low, it’s a roller coaster.” There’s the blissed, thrashing infatuation of “IDC” and the mopey kiss-off of “America’s Sweetheart” – the acoustic single from last spring that evokes Hudson’s 2020 romance with TikTok supernova Charli D’Amelio. Mid-album, the singer wilds out and ends up with a car in the front yard on “Partycrasher,” while on the August single “Don’t Freak Out” he’s joined by Barker, All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter and Gen Z genre-hopper iann dior. Huddy implores his girl to bear with him while he acts up, explaining “I’m sorry/ I’m crazy/ Just hear me out” – just the kind of alternately self-deprecating, self-involved narcissism that’s long made pop-punk dudes at once irresistible and maddening.

LILHUDDY’s past 18 months have been fruitful: Immersive is now a subsidiary of powerhouse Interscope-Geffen-A&M; there’s the support of Barker, who contributes to all but one track on the album; he’s worked with Joseph Kahn, one of the biggest music videographers of the past quarter century; and landed a leading role – despite having no acting experience – in MGK’s short film Downfalls High, opposite the excellent Sydney Sweeney.

Social superstar status will open doors for you, but nothing is guaranteed, particularly when making this kind of pivot — but Hudson is proud to have silenced the skeptics so far. Ahead of the album, Billboard spoke to LILHUDDY about his reception from the music world, the wild ride of relationships that inspired the new LP, Gen Z’s genre-agnosticism, and a certain MILF-lovers classic that he’d love to cover.

Chase, it’s wild that you guys did the majority of this album before the record deal was signed.

Yeah, they put me in the studio and kind of said, “Show me what you’ve got.” And I ended up making the album. And they were just blown away each time I would send them a new song. And so, it just got to the point where they were like, “Oh this is really sick,” and “we’re starting to believe in this kid.” But Teenage Heartbreak was about 90 percent done, I think we only had one song still to do when the first single, “21st Century Vampire” came out [in January of 2021].

You worked with some writers and producers who are super accomplished. Was it intimidating for you at all?

Well, right off the bat I got put with Nick Long and Andrew Goldstein, my first session. And I thought Nick was really dope, he’s a very visionary writer and always working his ass off. Andrew is probably the most amazing producer I have ever worked with, and both are just very driven people, and that’s the kind of people I want to be surrounded with when it comes to the studio. And so to get that chemistry going straight away, I thought, “Okay these people are cool. I don’t know too many people in this space, and I don’t know how many I should meet, but this is working right now.” And so we were gonna keep doing it to see how it worked, and go into sessions for like a month straight and see how it goes. And then we brought a couple of new producers in, a couple of new writers. But it was really a crew of like six people that did the whole album.

A couple of weeks ago on Instagram you posted about being “in rehearsal.” Is there a tour in the works?

We don’t really know yet what we wanna do, and if we wanna take it on the road. It’s gonna kind of come down to how much the fans love it, and just kind of see where it takes us? And if it does really well I think we might tour, but right now we’ve been planning a couple pop-up shows. And also right now with the [delta] variant going on, we don’t really know what’s gonna be going on with state laws. Those might change, but we’re just hoping they don’t, and so we just might go and do a couple pop-up shows.

“Partycrasher” is the new single, and the pool party-rager video just dropped. What can you say about that?

Basically the video “Partycrasher” is a spinoff of Project X [2012], which is one of my all-time favorite party movies. And so we ended up getting the actor from Project X [Oliver Cooper, as Costa], the lead role’s best friend. And so, I’m showing up and crashing his party. And it’s a crazy time, we got ponies, we were slicing through with a samurai sword, we busted a piñata, all sorts of sh-t was happening. And the song – “Partycrasher” is actually one big metaphor for like, crashing into somebody’s life. It’s like, “Actually I’m not sorry that I’m crashing your party and that I’m showing up in your life and I’m gonna be staying here for a while.”

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