EXCLUSIVE: That Kid spills the tea on his upcoming debut mixtape, ‘Crush’.


That Kid

That Kid as he appears in one of his Instagram posts.

By Mason Montano, Pinole Valley High School

Last week, American singer-songwriter and hyper pop star That Kid officially announced his upcoming debut mixtape, Crush. The reveal was met with much excitement from the underground pop community, who had been looking forward to the project ever since he began teasing it late last year, and over the weekend, I had the opportunity to interview That Kid about it in hopes of getting some more tea before it drops:

Before we talk about Crush, how has your life changed since releasing your debut single, “Dial Tone”?

“Well, I was 19, working at the mall, modeling, generally feeling really unsure of my direction in life, and never really thought music could possibly be a career for me! Since that song, I’ve really felt music could be a thing I do for a living instead of just a hobby! It helped me become a bit more confident within myself, and I’ve managed to make lifelong friends through it, so it’s changed for the better! There are still rough moments, of course, but [I’ve been] a lot happier since then.”

Why did you title the mixtape “crush”, and how is it’s sound similar or different to that of your previous work?

“Well, there were a few different potential titles! The whole mixtape is about romance and either guys I’ve had flings with or just fantasy situations. It came down to two titles in the end: ‘Speed Dating’ and ‘Crush’! I feel like with the project, overall, I was able to just let loose a bit more, experiment more vocally and production-wise as well! It’s not just hyper pop. There’s a disco-inspired track; a garage-inspired track; [and] a slow, watery R&B moment. I wanted to really just make a mixtape of music I wanted to hear.”

You’ve mentioned before that this is your third attempt at making a mixtape. Could you explain why you scrapped the previous tapes as well as why you ultimately decided to go through with this one?

“With my past attempts, it just didn’t feel right, [especially] with the 2nd attempt! A lot of those songs got finished, or I at least had demos of them ready to be finished, but [they] weren’t clicking with me and where I wanted to take my music! With this 3rd attempt, it felt like the right time. I was feeling really confident in myself as a writer and a singer, [and] it just was the right time to buckle down [and] truly commit to a project!”

When you revealed that you were working on your debut mixtape, you initially confirmed 12 songs, yet the final tracklist has nine. What happened that resulted in the tracklist getting cut short?

“If I’m being honest, it was a timing thing. I worked on over 20 songs for this project, and the three [that specifically] didn’t make the final cut were a little too unfinished! I think they’re great songs, and they will definitely see the light of day when they are done ’cause they aren’t dead to me just yet!”

We all know that “Taco Bell” is the most highly anticipated song from Crush. Given its history, were you expecting such an intense reaction from your fans when you announced it was now yours?

“Ah, the elusive ‘Taco Bell’! Honestly, I don’t think I was really expecting anything at all! The buzz around it can be a bit overwhelming at times, [especially] when I get constant messages of ‘Release ‘Taco Bell’!’ [and] ‘Where’s ‘Taco Bell’?’, but it’s really sweet, and it’s nice that people are excited for it. Hopefully people love it!”

Context: Ayesha Erotica is an American singer-songwriter and producer who is arguably the most infamous figure on the underground pop music scene. She gained a large cult following very quickly before quitting music in late 2018 after a hacker leaked sensitive information online.

“Taco Bell” was one of the songs originally planned for her third studio album, h****y.4u, which was ultimately scrapped following her retirement, and last summer, That Kid revealed that she had given the song to him. The scene went absolutely feral, demanding it be released immediately, and “Taco Bell” will appear as the fifth track on Crush.

Another highly anticipated track is your cover of Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru The Phone”. Do you feel it will be shocking for some to hear this classic 2000s bop in a hyper pop style? 

“Well, I love ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’. I think it’s one of the most romantic songs to ever exist, honestly. It started as a silly idea I had of doing a Jersey club-inspired rework of it, and eventually, we actually decided to do it! I definitely think it will be polarizing to some people! I like music that is polarizing though. Indifference means it’s just not interesting.”

Do you think covering such a well-known song could land you any mainstream attention?

“I’m not too focused on that right now! I would love to be, like, a main pop gay someday, but for now, I’m focused on building a core audience!”

The song I’m looking forward to the most is “Spells On U”. What was it like working with the one and only LIZ Y2K?

“I love LIZ! She was the first person to ever give me advice on getting into the music scene before I had even started the That Kid project. I’ve been a fan of her since I was 15, so it was incredibly surreal! She randomly followed me on Twitter after hearing the ‘Booty Call’ snippet, and I already had a demo of [“Spells On U”] with an empty verse, so I sent it to her, and she loved it! I met her for the first time backstage at the Slayyyter concert, and she told me she’d love to be on the song, and a couple [of] weeks later, she sent me her verse!”

Aside from the tracks we’ve discussed so far, what other songs are you excited for your fans to hear?

“‘7 Minutes in Heaven’ for sure! The song goes so hard! I think it could definitely end up a favorite for a lot of people. Donatachi and Ms. Cheeseburger ate with the production, and [Ravenna Golden’s] verse is so fun and flirty! Also ‘Kiss & Tell’! There’s a really fun ‘Paparazzi’ moment in the song [that’s] so chaotic. I love it.”

Can we expect any visuals from this new era?

“Possibly! I’m independent and funding everything myself, but I have so many music video ideas! I definitely want to do a video though.”

If you could pick any song from Crush to do a video for with an unlimited budget, which one would you pick, and what would you do?

“‘Taco Bell’ for sure! I’d love to rent out an entire mall with a Taco Bell in it just for the video! I’d have my best friend, Asia, make a cameo, [and] I’d definitely want a drive-thru scene with “Chad” [the love-interest described in the lyrics]. There has to be a really obvious, obnoxious product placement too! I’d want it to feel like a big commercial, really!”

What can we expect from That Kid in the future?

“Lots more singles this year! Maybe an EP next year! More tweets! Live shows! Also some more songwriting credits for other artists, which I’m really excited about!”

I think I speak for everyone in the underground pop community when I say that we’re excited too!

Crush is set to be released on March 31st, so mark your calendars, and stream it when it drops. And while you wait, make sure to catch up on the rest of That Kid’s discography here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7mUQPmZ6OzwtJEEXDOqyOY?si=siyytL3UQrisZn-MbYWbMA

This story was originally published on Spartan Ink on March 9, 2020.