On the last week in February, Katelyn Tarver dropped arguably the most addictive song of the season upon the internet. An exuberant pop banger with a seriously relatable message, “Weekend Millionaires” chronicles the lengths in which people — you, me, all of our friends — go through in order to feel cool. This sentiment rings true for pretty much who’s ever stood in line at a party (or bought a dress on Friday, only to return it on Monday), but Tarver’s been in show business long enough to have an especially unique perspective.
The 25-year-old Georgia native first got her musical start on the American Idol kids spinoff American Juniors, but after booking acting gigs in shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush, she had to put her singing career on the back burner. Now she’s back in front of the mic and getting ready to release her debut album. Just in time for the weekend, we chatted with Tarver (AKA the nicest future pop star ever) about acting, her “mom-like” music tastes, and the ultimate weekend millionaire no-no.
Most people know you from acting. How did it feel to put your song out there and fans see you as a musician?
It was terrifying! But it was also so, so exciting. Fortunately the response has been great.
Why did you decide this was the right time to drop “Weekend Millionaires”?
I’ve worked a bunch of songs the past few years, and I was just trying to find the right song — and sound in general — that felt like me. I wanted to be proud of it and make sure it represented what I want. I was just anxious to get “Weekend Millionaires” out into the world, and I just sort of had to eventually go for it.
You first started as a singer, and even competed on American Juniors. How has it been to put it on the sideline for a bit?
Music has always been my main dream. As a little kid I loved to sing, and when I was 13 I went on the show American Juniors. I spent the summer in LA after that, and it made me fall in love with music and performing. But shortly after I was offered some acting opportunities, and I love acting as well. I guess you could say I sort of fell into acting, but I’ve always been pursuing music at the same time. Music is such a slow process– you have to take the time to find your sound, and you don’t want to force anything. I’ve always viewed myself as a singer and songwriter first, so the fact that people know me from acting is pretty funny.
Tell us about your album!
Well, I released an EP back in 2011, and then toured a few times. After that I’ve just been working on the album, writing songs and going into the studio. I’m recording with the producer Ludwig Goransson, who’s worked with Haim, so I’m really excited.
What bands inspire you?
I love Alabama Shakes, and I’m so excited for their new music. I just discovered Borns, and I’m also obsessed with Misterwives. Lyrically, I’m inspired by John Mayer; he really is a great writer. I’m also inspired by Motown bands, as well as The Supremes and The Jackson 5. I feel like I’m listing all my mom’s favorite bands right now! Laughs
Since “Weekend Millionaires” was such a hit, what’s next for you?
I’m hoping to have shows booked in the coming months. I think I’m going on tour later this summer, and will hopefully release more songs. I’m in the process of figuring that stuff out right now.
“Weekend Millionaires” revolves around the idea of chasing that feeling of cool, and sometimes being someone you’re not in order to get there. In your opinion, what’s the ultimate “weekend millionaire” move?
Oh man, it has to be buying a nice dress and keeping a tag in it so you can return it after you wear it. No judgment, though! I mean, we’ve all been there. The whole thing about finding the “scene” happens in every city, but living in LA you see it firsthand and experience it yourself. It’s about always wanting to seem cool and at the right place with the right people, and we all get caught up with that. You don’t have to be young or out at a club to experience it, either — it’s anyone who wants to get to the next level and feel like they have made it. I experience it in my life when I am out at a cool party, feeling good, and suddenly I’m back to real life on a Monday.