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For some, it might come as a surprise that an up-and-coming artist would announce their debut album is their last. But for JVKE, it’s a sign of the times.

Born Jacob Lawson, JVKE is a pioneering musician exploring how music is majorly shifting with social media. Though he originally worked behind the scenes as a songwriter, penning hits for Jason Derulo and EXO, the 22-year-old singer stepped into the spotlight after exploding on TikTok in 2020.

JVKE grew up in a musical family in Rhode Island, spending time with his music teacher mother, singing at church with his brother, and taking piano, drum and guitar lessons. When he was 19, his breakout song “Upside Down” quite literally turned his life upside down. Massively popular TikTokers like Charli D’Amelio and Loren Gray used the song in their videos, transforming JVKE’s quarantine into a productive period of musical creativity.

Soon, labels were knocking at his door after seeing his viral success — but JVKE decided to remain independent through AWAL, wanting to be in charge of his own creative vision. He views collections of music as ever-changing and experiential, which is why he announced that his first album, 2022’s This Is What ____ Feels Like (Vol. 1–4), will also be his last. He’ll continue releasing music in new and innovative ways, beyond the boundaries of albums.

JVKE’s track “golden hour” sounded off as his next big hit in 2022, peaking at No. 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 as his debut album cracked the top 50 on the Billboard 200. The love song unites twinkling piano and soaring vocals, and it encapsulates a singular, raw feeling of radiance. The track’s resonant depth demonstrates JVKE’s ability to push the limits of music — and with a combined following of nearly 13 million, it’s no wonder his fan base continues only to grow.

“I’m just so passionate about creating and writing music — if I could be anywhere all day long, I would be in the studio,” JVKE tells “Now I’m realizing that people actually are open to hearing my creative ideas.”

Though his studio feels like home, the singer is currently embracing his calling to the stage. While traveling for his first headlining tour, JVKE reflected on his biggest career highlights with, from first going viral to performing with Alicia Keys.

On Going Viral on TikTok, Embracing Out-Of-The-Box Creativity

@jvke @jvke ♬ All TikTok Mashup (JVKE – Upside Down) – JVKE

I remember seeing [“Upside Down”] starting to go viral… I saw that [Charli D’Amelio] had used the sound. That’s when I knew that the song was just getting started. And it already had a million uses, which was insane for TikTok at that time, and then eventually went on to get 15 million videos created to the sound. That was kind of when I knew TikTok is powerful. I realized that I should start releasing my own music, because I realized I could promote it there.

I was always pitching to other artists trying to fit their mold, but I realized that the best form of creativity could come when I just release what I want to release. I found that people resonate the most when I released my own music versus trying to pitch for other people. Things kind of shifted once I realized that people actually liked my creative music, rather than me just trying to fit a mold. I started trying new ideas and not trying to box myself in.

I think no one can ever really predict virality for sure. But when it happens, you know, you have to be ready to just make the most of the moment.

On Releasing His Debut Album, Staying Independent And Listening To Fans

When “Upside Down” first happened, I was definitely approached by a lot of labels… then eventually, the viral moment started to die down a bit. I realized the success that I’m having right now can be kind of short-lived. But if I just take the reins and take responsibility for getting my music out there, then at the end of the day, I’m the only one that I can rely on. So there’s a bit more pressure there, which I think is good for an artist. Sometimes artists will sign to a major label, get a big check, and then they become kind of lax. I’m in it for the music. That’s the centerpiece.

I think things are changing way faster than people want to admit. It leaves us in a really cool spot, because we can pioneer some new ideas, but with that, obviously comes a lot of risks, because the safe place to do what everyone else has been doing. I’m very much looking ahead to what the future is going to look like and trying to think of creative ways to adapt.

I found a lot of success with… giving the fans more content to consume by just putting it out, even when it’s not finished, and just being okay with being vulnerable and not having this perfect, put-together idea. But I think that’s the fun of it. I think that people enjoy being a part of the process.

On His “Pinch Me” Moment: Collaborating With Charlie Puth

@charlieputh This all happened because of Tik Tok. Everyone go stream Upside Down by @jvke featuring myself 😉 hi @bellapoarch ♬ All TikTok Mashup (JVKE – Upside Down) – JVKE

I have been a big Charlie Puth fan for a while now. And right when “Upside Down” happened, that was kind of my first moment where I was no longer behind the scenes, but I was actually able to be the artist and just kind of be in the moment.

It was crazy, because Charlie had connected with my team, and he had heard the song all over TikTok. And he was like, “Yo, I’d love to do a remix and just hop on the song with you.” And then I ended up going to his house, we made some TikToks. We went pretty viral together — like 30, 40 million views on different videos, and just us, playing the song. And that’s the sort of moment where it’s just like, pinch myself like, is this actually happening?

He actually asked me to go on tour with him, but it unfortunately conflicted with my current tour dates so I couldn’t go. But yeah, honestly, he’s kind of been a role model to me in different ways, even just him being open to the changes in the music industry. There’s so many changes happening right now, and he’s one artist who’s really embraced them, and embraced the up-and-coming culture around TikTok and all that. I always hoped to be like that; he inspires me to always be open to new ideas.

On Playing With Alicia Keys In Front Of His Childhood Teacher

That was a bucket list moment for me. Being a pianist myself, having grown up hearing Alicia Keys songs, I’ve always been a huge fan of her and all of her songs, her amazing songwriting and involving the piano.

She had reached out because her son had shown her “golden hour.” He was like, “Check this out, mom. You’re gonna love this song, trust me.” She heard it, and luckily, she really loved it. She called me up and she’s like, “Hey, I have this winter performance for my new Christmas album. And I was wondering if you’d want to perform ‘golden hour’ with me, and we can mash it up into one of my songs.” And I was like, “Are you kidding me? Absolutely. I’ll be there.”

I got to invite some of my friends, my family and my childhood music teacher. It was really such an emotional moment. I had a hard time holding it together. Honestly, it was that feeling of just being starstruck — it’s like, I don’t even know what to do right now. I’m on stage, looking at Alicia Keys while we play the piano together. Are you kidding me? It was crazy.

On Tackling His First Headlining National Tour


thank you.

♬ original sound – JVKE

You never really know what it feels like to have people singing your songs until you feel that it’s like, wait, this is actually connecting with people. And they actually take the time to sing along and listen to all the lyrics. It’s just like, the craziest feeling. So I love knowing that I’m connecting with people on such a personal level… I love being on the road, being on tour. It’s so fun.

For the kids who come, we usually find all the short kids and we bring them to the front in the little area, so that they can see the show right in front. For me, that’s such a sick thing, because this is likely their first show they’ve ever been to. And for me to get that moment with them is just the coolest thing ever.

The whole music experience isn’t complete without that touring element — being able to perform it and let all of my crazy ideas kind of have visuals attached to them. I’m all about just the full submersion of experience. There’s no better place to do that than on a tour.

On Celebrating With His Loved Ones


‘golden hour’ is out everywhere. ty guys for streaming ily

♬ golden hour – JVKE

Before I dropped out of college to just write music full-time, to make some money, I was teaching piano lessons to a lot of younger kids and different things. It was really sad, when “Upside Down” blew up and I moved out to LA for a few months. I remember having to text all my old piano students and tell them that I couldn’t teach piano lessons anymore.

But I got to film this TikTok with one of my old students, and we posted it and it did really well. That’s one of those moments where it’s sad to let go of the past… but it’s also the sweetest thing, because it all kind of comes together, and we get to all celebrate together. Those sentimental moments are one of the most important things to me. Even beyond the recognition, it doesn’t really connect unless you enjoy it with the people you love.

Recently having moved out and going all over the place all the time, there’s always a piece of me that’s wanting to go back home and just hang out. [My mom and I] had so many musical experiences together [when I was] growing up. Now, she’s probably going to be joining me on tour for a few days. She’s always been excited for all the things that have been happening. Even though I’m living out my dreams, I feel like we’re living them out together.

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