Gen-Z Prodigy d4vd Talks Bananas, Backflips, and Meeting Beyoncé
For some, a teenage boy’s dark room just might be the scariest place on Earth. But for d4vd, that’s where greatness is made. The video game enthusiast began making his own music after being hit with copyright claims for the Fortnite soundtrack montages he put on YouTube. So his mother encouraged him to make his own music, resulting in the TikTok hits “Romantic Homicide” and “Here with Me,” which earned him a deal with the appropriately titled Darkroom Records, home to Billie Eillish. Now, at just 18 years old, the Queens-born, Houston-raised singer is taking the alt music scene by storm and garnering attention from the likes of Giveon and SZA, for whom he’ll open on the second leg of her North American tour starting September 20th in Miami. But first, he headlined his own two sold-out shows at the El Rey in Los Angeles last week to support his debut EP, Petals to Thorns. Once he finished signing autographs outside, the prodigy called us to give us a sense of what life’s like on the road, from traveling with family and perfecting his backflip to waving at Beyoncé and Jay-Z from afar at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris.
RUSSELL: How are you?
d4vd: I’m great. How are you?
RUSSELL: I’m doing great. Where are you right now?
d4vd: I’m in L.A.
RUSSELL: And you just played two shows, right?
d4vd: Yeah, I did. It was amazing. The crowds were amazing. I mean, the vibes were immaculate. The energy was there.
RUSSELL: Was it your first time in L.A?
d4vd: No, I played on my first tour ever a couple months prior at The Echo in March.
RUSSELL: How did those compare?
d4vd: The El Rey, they blew it out the water. I’m gonna be honest with you. I wasn’t a fan of the show at the Echo from my point of view. The crowd kept giving me everything, but I didn’t feel like I gave that back. So I had to make sure that when I played in L.A. again, I gave above and beyond and outperformed them because in the Echo they outperformed me.
RUSSELL: Got you. So you had to redeem yourself. What did you have for breakfast?
d4vd: I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I woke up 30 minutes ago. But I eat breakfast any time of the day.
RUSSELL: So what’s in your system right before a show?
d4vd: I usually have two bananas for the potassium because like, scientists say that one banana gets you through a 60-minute workout, and my show is 60 minutes. So I have that and a ginger shot and I always eat like, five or six pineapple slices as well.
RUSSELL: Are you a big health nut?
d4vd: No, I’m the worst eater ever. It’s just that before a show I gotta snap out of it. I am the most unhealthy person ever. I’m not gonna lie to you.
RUSSELL: Have you taken any collector’s items from the cities you’ve visited on tour?
d4vd: I try to get a magnet and I try to get a bracelet from every show. I have way more than this. It’s just that, you know, you take a shower, you take off jewelry. But I’ve collected at least two of these bracelets from my fans at every show. They just throw them on stage and I put them on.
RUSSELL: If you’re a fan, what’s the best way to get your attention while you’re on stage?
d4vd: I mean, you can just scream. Most people just scream and I hear it. I try to respond to everybody. So it’s not like it’s a specific method. Just scream and I’ll hear you.
RUSSELL: What songs get the best reaction from fans?
d4vd: Oh my goodness. I bring out my little sister Emily for “Here with Me” and they go nuts. My sister sings with me for that song.
RUSSELL: So she comes with you on tour?
d4vd: She does. The whole family does. It’s just like they’re part of the band at this point.
RUSSELL: So you’re from Queens. Where’s the best food in New York?
d4vd: In Brooklyn there’s a place—I forgot what the street is—but there’s this Jamaican restaurant that goes crazy. You got the best Jamaican patties, the best rasta pasta, the best everything. It’s called Golden Crust and it’s so good. Everywhere I go, I look for good Jamaican food.
RUSSELL: When you’re on the road, what do you miss the most about New York?
d4vd: The constant on-the-go mentality. Everybody is really doing their own thing. Houston’s very chill and relaxed and when you get to New York, everybody is like hustling, hustling, hustling and I love that. I love being around workers.
RUSSELL: Any pre- and post-show rituals?
d4vd: Pre-show, I definitely do a lot of prayer with the fam. Post-show ritual, I get off stage and I try to talk to as many fans as I can actually. I remember in New York, specifically the show I did in Brooklyn, I literally had to stand on top of somebody’s car to sign everything and all that.
RUSSELL: What song are you never taking off the set list?
d4vd: “Take Me to the Sun.” I love that song. That’s a song with the backflips. I’ll do a back when I perform that.
RUSSELL: So you’ve got some gymnastics background?
d4vd: Yeah, four years of gymnastics. And then I was in parkour for another four years. My parents wanted me to do some extracurricular and I was terrible at sports. So I was like, “Let me learn a backflip and get all the girls in middle school.” The rizz was immaculate.
RUSSELL: Has a backflip ever gone wrong?
d4vd: I mean, there’s been a backflip that went wrong but it wasn’t embarrassing. It was more fun. I did a backflip and then somebody was holding up a sign and for some reason I tried to read the sign as I was doing the flip. So I turned my head and ended up going, like, at least 70 degrees to the left and I landed on my right foot and spun. I think I got the video somewhere but it was fire.
RUSSELL: So you got your start because you wanted to make your own music to evade copyright claims on Fortnite. Is that right?
d4vd: It is.
RUSSELL: Do you still make time to play while you’re on tour?
d4vd: It’s hard to do that because there’s no way to do it in the tour bus because the TVs are like, glued to the wall. So I can’t plug anything in. But every time I get back home and I’m gonna have some free time between shows and stuff, I’m always Fortnite streaming.
RUSSELL: Are there d4vd fangirls and fanboys on the stream?
d4vd: Yeah, of course. It’s like, “Can we play 1v1?” People try to bet on their skill too. Like, “I’ll play you and if I win, you give me $100.”
RUSSELL” But you don’t let them win. Like, “Ok, we’ll do one v. one, but I’m going hard.”
d4vd: No, exactly. I win every one v. one. Like, I’ve gotten worse at some games. I’ve definitely gotten progressively worse at Call Of Duty, but I’m the same on Fortnite. Like, I can never get better at Fortnite. I want to be a gamer. I really could if you think about it.
RUSSELL: So, what time do you show up to the after-party?
d4vd: I’m probably the first one there, to be honest with you. I never try to be late. If I can control what time I arrive, I try to be early. I was in Paris for the Louis Vuitton fashion show and there was an after-party and I heard that Beyoncé and Jay-Z were gonna be there, so I was there before everybody and I got to meet, like, Leonardo DiCaprio. Toby McGuire was there too. I sat right behind Beyoncé and Jay-Z and Zendaya.
RUSSELL: Were you starstruck?
d4vd: I kind of was. I finessed it though ‘cause they had everybody move out the way ‘cause they had to take pictures by this bridge thing and I was pretending I was security. I was like, “Yo, move, move, move.” Then Beyoncé waved to me and I waved back.
RUSSELL: What’s been your favorite or your most memorable celebrity encounter?
d4vd: I had a lot of memorable ones. So I’ll do like a top five. Number one, this is the first one ever. I did my Genius interview at the same time Ice Spice did her’s and we crossed paths on the way out and I was like, “Hi, Ice Spice!” I wanted to say so bad, “I’m a munch,” but you know, I wanna be very respectful. I was like, “Hi, nice to meet you. I love your music.” She was like, “I love your hair.” I was like, “Oh, thank you. I love your hair too.” And then my mom was like, “Why is her skirt so short?” Bro, I was laughing so hard. Number two was obviously the Louis Vuitton thing. Number three, Pink Pantheress, Lil Nas X, and Giveon came to my show on Friday. And oh, yes. I met Tyler the Creator at the Louis Vuitton show as well. I’m gonna be performing at [Camp] Flog Gnaw and I was like, “Yo, I’m the guy with the number in his name. How are you doing?” He was like, “Oh yeah, I know you. Thank you, my love.”
RUSSELL: Okay, you should have led with Tyler. [Laughs]
d4vd: No, I forgot. It left my mind for a second. But I’m not ranking them. No order.