If quarantine has finally pushed you to download TikTok, you might have noticed a new song making waves on the social network. 

Stunnin’” is by Curtis Waters, a 20-year-old artist, producer, and songwriter who lives with his family in Cary. TikTok has emerged as a career-changing platform for artists whose songs go viral via widespread use in user-generated videos, and that’s what happened to Curtis.

Released in April, then picking up steam in May, “Stunnin'” garnered millions of views by being included in more than 25,000 videos. The song’s success on the app led to more than half a million Spotify streams in just under a week and a feature in Apple Music’s “Future Hits” playlist.

We’ll be diving deeper into Waters’s story in next week’s issue, but here’s a quick introduction in the meantime.  

“If you don’t have a resource, you have YouTube. Just pick it up and learn it. There’s really no excuse.”

INDY: You’re originally from Calgary, right? Tell me more about your background.

CURTIS WATERS: Originally I was born in Nepal, and I’ve kind of lived everywhere. I moved to India and then I moved to Germany and then I came back to Nepal. I moved to Canada when I was 10 years old with my family. And then I actually just moved to America in 2017 when I was 17 years old.

What do you think of North Carolina’s music scene?

It’s sick. I didn’t really know about it until this year cause I was really DIY, like I was super weird and didn’t want to work with anybody. But this year my goal was to work with more people. I have another song coming out soon with my friend Felix Wood. And I like Maasho, Jaxson Free, Marco Luka, Weston Estate, Lesthegenius, Zack Cokas.

There are quite a few really talented people that I want to get more involved with. I hung out with some of them before, but now, because of corona, it’s hard to really get into that. But I think people are so talented.

You describe yourself as DIY, could you tell me more about that approach to making music?

It’s just been about being self-sufficient. If you don’t have a resource, you have YouTube. Just pick it up and learn it. There’s really no excuse. From the beginning it’s been like, I make a beat, I sing, rap, I write the lyrics, I make the artwork that day and I release it. It’s really nothing too complicated.

And I’m not opposed to working with people. I like working with people when we’re friends, but I just don’t like the idea that, “Oh man, I need like a Metro Boomin beat,” or “Oh man, I need blah blah blah.” You don’t need anything; you just need yourself. You need internet connection, maybe? And that’s all. That’s all you really need.

What has been the most unexpected response from the success of your single?

I don’t think I can name people, but there have been just random famous people I knew since I was a kid that are hitting me up, and I’m like, what? And I’m bragging to my cousins about it, like, “Yo, look, this person hit me up!” And everyone’s like, “What? Your life is crazy!” So that’s the funniest thing for sure.

How do you plan on translating this viral moment into long-term success?

I mean, I can make all these goals and dreams. But all I can really do is make music that’s authentic to myself and not chase after that. Numbers are cool, but I just gotta be happy with what I’m making.

YouTube video

Comment on this story at music@indyweek.com.

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