“We first heard about TikTok in 2019 when our manager was like ‘You have to get on there!’” Gregory Shilling told American Songwriter. “Interestingly enough, our first post was on September 12, 2019, and it was a video of us playing our song ‘Naked.’”
Along with his childhood friend, Stephen Santa Teresa, Shilling is one half of the Los Angeles-based pop duo, The Attire, and considering that it’s already raked in millions of streams in the few weeks since it dropped, it is pretty interesting that the band’s first post to TikTok was a performance of their song, “Naked.” Originally written in 2017, the single finally came out on March 19, 2021 after becoming a viral sensation on TikTok earlier in the month.
“It has been completely surreal,” Shilling said, thinking back on the single’s story. “‘Naked’ was written in the summer of 2017 in direct response to a hard breakup Stephen went through that previous spring. As we were writing it, we discovered we were writing about a universal feeling: the pain of only feeling loved during the sex. We both could relate to having loved others that only felt a connection with us during intimacy, so this song was ultimately very healing for us to write. As we finished the record, we had a sense that it could be therapeutic for others who have had similar situations.”
That “as we finished the record” part came a few years after the song’s initial inception, right around the time the duo became aware of TikTok. Obviously, their first post on the platform was a little live preview of its infectiously catchy chorus—clad with a breezy vocal melody, a driving beat and an irresistible bassline—but that’s not when “Naked” went viral. Rather, Shilling and Santa Teresa got busy learning more and more about TikTok, cultivating an active presence on the platform and posting frequent videos of song snippets and performances.
Fast-forward to March 2021—The Attire, as they were gearing up to finally release “Naked,” decided to try something that’s worked for a lot of other artists recently: tease the song on TikTok before releasing it. From Boyboy West Coast’s “U Was At The Club (Bottoms Up)” to Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” to countless others, the trend of songs becoming cultural phenomena before even being out is quickly on the rise. And—as The Attire and the 3.3 million TikTok views their teaser got can attest to—this technique can be wildly effective.
“We had no idea that it would garner the reaction that it did,” Shilling said. “This is such a useful and powerful platform for musicians everywhere. Anyone with the app can see your post on their ‘For You’ page and you can choose any 30 seconds of your song to be the official ‘sound.’ So, which snippet of your song you choose for those 30 seconds is truly worth thinking about. You have to imagine what people could create, think about, talk about, duet with or sing to within those 30 seconds—it should make you excited! The possibilities are endless. And with TikTok being one of the most important platforms for music, we feel it’s a vital move to make. So, yeah, we definitely recommend teasing the music beforehand; however, make sure to have a pre-save link available to point people in the right direction if they like your music (we forgot that part when we posted).”
Yet, for as much as a “numbers game” TikTok can seem when you get into the weeds of it, The Attire attests that the best piece of advice is still: “be yourself.” Even “Naked” kinda proves that, considering how the song takes such a personal experience and conveys it in such a universal way.
“We hope that listeners take away a sense of healing from this song,” Shilling said, concluding. “Many people have made note that this song helps them ‘sing the sad away’—that’s the perfect way to put it. Helping people feel better through music is our intention, always. Don’t get caught up in the quantity of numbers, but the quality of the message you share.”
Watch the official music video for The Attire’s new single “Naked” below: