• MUD

How Mad Tsai Is Becoming the Sound of a Generation

The queer bedroom artist from California is finding all the right words to describe how Generation Z feels about relationships, sexuality, and being a teenager today.

Mad Tsai is a queer singer and songwriter known for “that friend” “killer queen” and “boy bi” who has gained popularity for the original music he posts to his madsteaparty TikTok account. His content has earned him over 2.5 million followers on the app. He launched his TikTok account in January 2020. He began attending UCLA, pursuing a double major in Music Industry/History and English. 
Photo Courtesy of Mad Tsai

How has the last year changed you, both as a creator and as a person?


This past year has definitely been a critical point in my life in terms of figuring out who I am as a musician and as a person, and I’m still kinda in the process of fully discovering what I want and where I want to go in life. This past year has hit me like a truck (in the best way possible), with my TikTok going viral, the release of my debut single and music video, social media campaign partnerships, moving back to LA for university, etc. I’ve definitely used a lot of my time in quarantine just focusing on myself and my priorities-- what do I want to get out of music? What kind of sound and aesthetic do I envision for myself? Where do I see myself in five years from now? I’m constantly asking myself these questions and I’m so glad that this past year has given me the space to figure them out.


What has been the biggest moment of your life so far?


That’s pretty hard for me to answer because I feel like my biggest moment is always awaiting me rather than having passed already (I like being optimistic about the future!). But probably I’d say that the biggest moment of my life might be when I filmed my first music video for “Boy Bi," because that’s probably the moment when it sunk in that I was actually doing music as a career and this loose concept for a mini-teen-rom-com set in a high-school that I had envisioned months prior had actually come to fruition. So much effort and so much planning went into that video, and I’m happy with how it turned out and how much fun the day of filming was. I’m definitely dreaming of bigger and more fun music videos in the future, though. :)


Mad Tsai is a queer singer and songwriter known for “that friend” “killer queen” and “boy bi” who has gained popularity for the original music he posts to his madsteaparty TikTok account. His content has earned him over 2.5 million followers on the app. He launched his TikTok account in January 2020. He began attending UCLA, pursuing a double major in Music Industry/History and English. 
Photo Courtesy of Mad Tsai

What’s one thing you hope never changes?


I hope that my ambition never changes. I’m always furiously writing lyrics, concepts, and ideas in my notebook about things I want for the future, and I genuinely hope that my drive to make these things happen never leaves me. I’ve worked my butt off and have faced a lot of obstacles because I like to dream big, but I think my ambition is what drives my best ideas. I hope those obstacles never deter me and I’m able to keep on dreaming as big as I can.


What does it mean to be a creator in today’s world?


I think being a “creator” can take on any meaning that people want it to. Creator doesn’t have to be confined to simply social media or the arts. Being a creator for me means doing what you’re passionate about and sharing that with the world in some way or another.


Your single “Heartbreak Honeymoon” is amazing and also the perfect song when you're looking back about a toxic ex. Tell us the background of writing this song and how you devolved the idea of alphabetically expressing all they gave you during your relationship.


I appreciate that! I definitely don’t think of “Heartbreak Honeymoon” as just a “hate to ex-partners” song and I hope I don’t come across as a bitter ex because of the song, but I definitely think it was cathartic for me about releasing my feelings about a past relationship I had. I had dated someone for a few months and we broke up when I found out they had been seeing someone at the same time and had made me feel crazy for confronting them about it. I left that relationship without a lot of closure and with a lot of guilt that I had let myself be gaslighted by someone who played me like that, so I wanted to take back my narrative by writing “heartbreak honeymoon”. I wanted it to be cathartic and purposely different from my other songs, which were more mellow and upbeat. The song flowed out of me really naturally because I was essentially listing off the things my ex had done to me while we were in our relationship in alphabetical order, which I thought was fitting considering they constantly infantilized me and made me feel inferior all the time. The alphabet aspect of the song helped me turn-the-tables on an ex who made me feel like a child, as I’m teaching him the ABC’s of how they messed up our relationship.


Mad Tsai is a queer singer and songwriter known for “that friend” “killer queen” and “boy bi” who has gained popularity for the original music he posts to his madsteaparty TikTok account. His content has earned him over 2.5 million followers on the app. He launched his TikTok account in January 2020. He began attending UCLA, pursuing a double major in Music Industry/History and English. 
Photo Courtesy of Mad Tsai

What was it like creating your very first music video for "Boy Bi" at such a young age?


“Boy Bi” was a song that I had written in five minutes and released as my debut single, and it came as a shock to me when I got the approval to make this music video. I had a loose concept for a teen coming-of-age short film centered around a main character being confused with a male and female love-interest, and we had a lot of discussions with our two co-directors, Caitlyn Phu and Aamir Khuller about the direction we wanted to take it in. There were so many hurdles to jump because of COVID-19 and having to find locations and permits, actors and wardrobe, etc. It was an absolute nightmare in terms of pre-production, and I was pulling my hair out for months on end trying to tie this production together. We scheduled to shoot an entire music video in one-day, we were struggling to get location on lock, and everybody was scrambling to get tested and vaccinated before the shoot. But the day I arrived on set I was able to catch my breath because all of our hard-work had finally come together. It was honestly so much fun and the memories of that day are gonna stick with me forever. We had an amazing crew and cast and I’m so thankful for everyone on set that day that killed their roles. I couldn’t have done it without such an amazing set of people, and I’m glad that we pulled this production off.


What is something not a lot of your fans know about you?


Something that my fans might not know about me is that I’m vegan! I was a pescatarian and working at a poke shop at the time I released “Boy Bi," and I had

worked there for around a year when I quit to pursue music full-time. But when I quit, I had eaten so much fish everyday that I had gotten so sick of eating fish, so I decided to go full-vegan. I’ve been vegan for around a year and I think it comes as a shock to a lot of people who meet me that I don’t eat any meat.


What piece of advice would you give to new and rising young artists?


As for advice I would give young artists trying to get into the industry-- I would say that you should put your music out there into the world, regardless of how bad you might think the reception might be. I was terrified to post my songs on the internet when I was growing up, but I feel like getting a lot of those cringey and emo songs that I had written in middle school gave me the confidence to post the songs I write now. What’s the worst that can happen? I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gathered up the courage to post the songs I had written at 13 onto the internet, and I’m eternally grateful that I did.

 

This feature is part of our Trailblazers to Follow 2021 campaign, which is honoring artists, actors, and internet personalities that are changing the game. You can visit our Trailblazers portal for more interviews.