“Ninety-five percent of my songs are breakup songs so I feel like I’m the worst person to give advice but at the same time, there are things that I did learn,” Trevor Daniel says.
As his luck (or lack thereof), has landed Trevor in a handful of unhealthy romantic relationships, the Houston artist found refuge in turning the toxic tales into emo-pop ballads — with trap and hip-hop influences. Standing as one of Houston’s rising pop-stars he fuses sounds from different genres to create dynamic soundtracks to modern-day romance ballads. The 25-year-old draws inspiration from Kid Cudi, Drake, and Kanye West — three experts in heartbreak hip-hop — and uses his musical talents to carve his own lane.
Trevor has always had a passion for music and was encouraged to pursue an artistic path by his musically inclined parents. At 15 years old, Trevor began recording songs in his bedroom closet and watching YouTube tutorials to learn technical production. In 2017, when Houston was devasted by Hurricane Harvey a 22-year-old Trevor made a decision to pursue music professionally. When he and his family evacuated, all the singer packed was his music equipment. When they returned to a flooded house, Trevor quit his daytime job and turned to music full-time. Inking a deal with Alamo Records, Trevor hit the ground running.
His breakout hit “Falling” was featured on his debut EP Homesick released in 2018. The song caught momentum, going viral on TikTok in 2019, and landed Trevor in the perfect position to launch a global career. Trevor emerged as No. 1 on Billboard’s ‘Emerging Artist’ chart the week of February 1 and gears up to match his mainstream success with Nicotine, the singer’s debut album.
He attributes his musical style to growing up in Houston and being exposed to the chopped-n-screwed culture combined with adolescent habits of listening to All Time Low, Mayday Parade, and A Touch Of Class. The sundry sources of inspiration may explain Trevor’s fondness of genre-blending for a fluid sound.
“I love the genre-blending thing that’s happening right now. I think it’s so sick because, I feel like when artists box themselves in, or when other people box artists in creatively and sonically, it kind of limits the potential of what we can hear or what can be made,” Trevor tells Teen Vogue.
Beyond music, Trevor is inspired by films. Listening to his debut album Nicotine, it makes perfect sense. His music explores the depths of romantic relationships with the drama and conflict found in the plot of any rom-com, all drawn from his own young wisdom. “I just had a streak of bad relationships ... I don’t want to say bad relationships. I’m trying to get better about that. They weren’t bad they just weren’t right. I’ll write a song about the same girl, twenty times,” Trevor explains.
Various highs and lows of dating are vulnerably exposed and explored by Trevor on Nicotine. The album title itself is allegorical in meaning, he notes, “I found myself not caring sometimes because I was in the moment. I liked how it felt around her.”
Adding, “It’s metaphorical for the relationship that I was in last year. [Nicotine is] a super addicting chemical and a lot of people don’t even realize how addicted they are, the damage that it’s doing and how bad it is for them. Throughout the album, there’s a lot of back-and-forth, like most of my songs, in my headspace figuring out what’s the right move.”
For Trevor, it is important to create honestly and align the lyrics and sound with real human emotion. He hopes to actualize his feelings in real-time on every track. Trevor in the studio adjusts his tone to transport himself and listeners to the moment in time described in song. “I feel like if I make a sad song, it’s like method acting. It’s the headspace I try to get into in the studio,” Trevor says. “I feel like you can feel when it’s forced. I don’t want to force anything in my music.”
On the lead single “Past Life”, co-written by Grammy-winning songwriter and Billie Eilish collaborator, Finneas O’Connell, explores the consequences of honesty over a melancholy guitar riff and upbeat synth elements. With ten tracks in total, Nicotine ends with “Falling” a final message about the dangers of toxic love.
In the future, fans will hear more than breakup tunes from Trevor. In fact, the singer is currently in a relationship (with the girl “Falling” is about) so a new sound and new message of love and togetherness may be on the horizon. “I’m always changing, little by little. I feel like in five years, I’m probably not going to sound the same.”
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue