The trio talk TikTok and staying creative in lockdown.
Musical trio Sam Backoff, Savana Santos and Sami Bearden aka Avenue Beat were shocked when their song “F2020” blew up on TikTok, having 6,000 views to 13 million since June. The girls never thought their song about how bad this year is would be heard beyond friends. Now globally referred to as 2020’s anthem, it’s amassed over 32 million streams and is Top 25 on Top 40 radio.
Choosing to continually make each other laugh in these challenging times, while accepting emotional highs and lows, birthed their unedited truth in a song we all can relate to, f-bombs and all. “F2020” is exactly what we didn’t know we needed. The girls get even more real with us, reminding each of us to give ourselves a break when we burst into tears for what feels like no reason. They get candid, comedic and deep with some tips they’ve picked up along the way, and weirdly we have the pandemic to thank for this.
Check out the interview below…
Your latest song “F2020” has become a viral sensation, over 15M views on TikTok and so much more, were you surprised by how popular it became? When you wrote it did you intend it to be called the 2020 anthem? Sam Backoff: We were totally surprised by how much “F2020” blew up on TikTok! We were getting like 6,000 views before that and then overnight we hit 5 million views. We had zero expectations about the song ever seeing the light of day because of how many swear words we used, let alone having people call it the 2020 anthem! Literally insane.
Talk to us about the lyrics, did you cat really die? Did you really believe no one liked your music? So many people can relate to this feeling of being sad and bored at once, how have you pulled out of that feeling? Sam Backoff: The lyrics are filled with all of the shitty things that happened to us this year so far! Yes, unfortunately, Sami’s cat gumbo really did pass away. That was kind of the tipping point of all the shitty things that had happened, and it forced the song to be born into the world. We had just put out an EP of covers and our first ever single was pulled from country radio like a week before “F2020” happened so that kind of sent us into a mini spiral. It’s hard to push through that anxiety in your head telling you that nobody likes you or your music and you’re a weirdo. And I think the lyric, “sad and bored at the same time” kind of stemmed from the fact that we thought nobody liked our music and we were just kind of processing that emotion. I think we’ve pulled out of that emotion by continuing to create music and connect with fans. Our fans are everything to us. Getting DMs from them about how our music helped them through a hard time is literally everything to us.
What has been the biggest gift of this pandemic for you? And the biggest challenge? Sami Bearden: I think the answer to both is, time on your own. It’s a blessing and a curse all in one and kind of depends on what you do with it. We’ve all had the chance to be removed enough from our normal distractions that we have to confront ourselves. If you decide to take it as a blessing you decide what parts of yourself need work and what parts are already badass! But it can also drive you up the freaking wall haha!
We have been told you love to laugh and tell the truth, is that the way you have always been? How do you find ways to laugh when it feels like things are going so horribly wrong as you say in your song? Sami Bearden: We just got in the habit of trying to make each other laugh all the time! We’ve been friends for so long and been through so much together, so we always turn to humour to cheer each other up! It’s kind of a natural reaction at this point.
Like you, we believe in there being a collective consciousness, how do you think that’s relevant right now for others to know? How do you think people can help one another since we are all connected? Sam Backoff: I think since we are all going through a hard time and our distractions are limited, it gives people the space to sit with their thoughts and let their empathy lead their activism.
What do you do to help yourself connect in and what happens when you feel the heaviness and sadness, how do you get through that? Savana Santos: For me, a really important part of all of this is just giving myself the grace to feel whatever I’m feeling. Sometimes I’m going to be sad and sometimes it’s going to feel heavy, but when I step back and tell myself it’s really actually 100% okay to feel that way, I feel so much better.
Where have you been during the quarantine and tell us something that you learned? Sami Bearden: We’ve all been all over the place, to say the least. I’ve had some massive downs that were so overwhelming I didn’t see how it could shake out positively. And then of course, “F2020” happened and it was such a high but it definitely feels like a roller coaster, every time I think I know what’s going on I get pulled on another direction! You just gotta ride the wave!!
Have you been doing socially distanced activities? If so what? Savana Santos: A lot of reading. I’ve gotten really into poetry!
Which artists have most inspired you? Sam Backoff: We all grew up on different genres of music, country, classic rock… One Direction. But honestly, Nashville has shaped our songwriting the most. We learned how to appreciate a well-written song, how to tap into our emotions in a session, and how we can always be learning from everyone we work with along the way. Nashville has such a heart for the song. It’s definitely pushed us to continue bettering ourselves and our music.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue music professionally? Sam Backoff: I don’t think we ever really thought about pursuing music professionally, we really just were three awkward teens trying to find a creative outlet in our small town who loved music and hanging out in my kitchen with a guitar, and just accidentally turned it into a career. Universe shit.
What is the biggest struggle in your career so far and how have you overcome it? Sami Bearden: Our biggest struggle up to this point has probably just been staying true to ourselves and I know that sounds cheesy but it’s so true. Entering the music industry at such a young age puts you in the perfect position for a lot of opinions. You’re young and are still growing into who you are and what you want to say and there are a lot of people who try to tell you what they think and what you should say. Every time we’ve pushed through and stuck to our guns has paid off!
Any daily practices that you do that might be helpful for others to try out? Savana Santos: I downloaded this app called Calm, and I’ve been meditating as much as I can. It’s a really dope way to get out of your head and has helped me a lot.
What is your fashion aesthetic? Which designers do you tend to love most and who would you most like to collaborate with? Sami Bearden: I’m not even sure you could consider it an “aesthetic” let alone a fashionable one! We all kind of have our own thing going but we have one commonality.
What are you most excited about? Savana Santos: I’m excited for touring and to start back up again so we can meet all of our new friends!
Best advice for artists who want to pursue a music career? Savana Santos: The best advice is something that everyone says, but it’s so true. Be authentic. Authenticity is electric and magnetic, and it brings out a vibe that people want to be around. When we stopped trying to make the music that we thought people wanted to hear and started making the music that was us. that’s when stuff started popping off.