Tayler Holder John Galbraith photo

I got an intriguing email a month or so ago about the “Most Followed Country Music Artist on TikTok, Tayler Holder, set to appear at People’s Choice Country Awards and appears as a CMT 12 Pack nominee,” and I noticed that he was coming to perform at the State Theatre in Portland on Nov. 30. Well, having not featured a country artist in this column for quite a while this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to remedy that failing, so I contacted his publicist and asked if a phoner would be arranged … it was by the publicist, Brad Taylor, who conference-called Holder. Holder and I chatted on Oct. 24 when the singer-songwriter was in Nashville. What follows is the majority of our conversation which began thusly:

Q: In the interest of total transparency, I must state that I’ve never been on TikTok but I understand that it has done very well by you.
Holder: Oh, yes sir, it has! I mean, you not being on it is a good thing, man, because that whole social media world thing gets so, so messy, dude; but it has, man, been a blessing and a curse.

Q: Well, let’s talk first about the blessing side of it.
Holder: Yes, sir. I’ve been involved with social media since I was about 16 years old — I got into it pretty young. I was doing the Vine stuff and YouTube and Instagram back in the day. When TikTok came around I was like kind of iffy about hopping on it … but my friends talked me into it. I ended up getting on it and it absolutely changed my life and in the span of two years, I gained 20 million followers across these platforms and had just so many opportunities that got brought to me. It changed my life, man, it was the best thing that I’ve ever done, ya know?

Q: Yeah, I can see what you mean; but what about the ‘curse’ side of it … what was the nightmare?
Holder: The nightmare? The cons of it, for me — at least that had me struggling for a while — is that I really didn’t put it into perspective of how much of a private life I wouldn’t have anymore … it’s very invasive into my privacy. My entire life is out there on the internet and everyone notices my every move and they’re watching it. There’s a lot of criticism, man, and one thing that makes it hard for me to deal with is how many people jump to conclusions — they start painting this image of me just based on some short-form comments that they’ve seen without even knowing me. But I guess the hardest part would be how public my life is since a young age.

Q: Yes, that certainly shows the dark side of the internet. Let’s talk about the show you’ve got coming to the State Theatre on Nov. 30, but first let me ask: Have you ever performed in Maine before?
Holder: I have not performed in Maine; and it’s kind of crazy how this tour even came about because I’d only played about three or four shows ever before I accepted this tour, so I’m super fresh to like performing and live shows and all that stuff. In fact, we just played our first three gigs in Knoxville, Atlanta and Chattanooga, and then we head out on the rest of the tour this coming week, as well. I’m super excited.

Q: How did those first three shows of the tour that’s going to bring you to our fair state go?
Holder: The first weekend was so good, it was super nerve-racking for me because, like I said, I’m still super fresh into this. My hardest transition was coming from that TikTok hit to being an artist, let alone a country artist, so going out there I was so nervous, man.


Q: Just out of curiosity, what’s your performance position on this tour?
Holder: I’m the first of three acts so when I got out on stage and saw that it was damn near packed out, and they’re reaction to my music was great, in fact, there were a lot of people singing my songs back to me … everything was crazy and so cool, man, it was a good time! But I go on first, like I said, and then my buddy Matt Schuster plays right after me, and then Dylan Scott, who’s the headliner, plays.

Q: As far as albums, EPs and singles go, what do you have available nowadays?
Holder: I have a single coming out at the end of this week called “Goin’ Out Sober” and then we’ve been working on a bigger project hopefully next year. But for now all of our songs are doing good, being this early into it, but we don’t have a gold record or a hit song yet or anything like that, so we’re chasing that right now. We’re pushing out a bunch of singles until we get that.

Q: Now, do you write your own material or do you have other writers doing that?
Holder: I’m doing a little bit of both now. I was writing all my stuff, then writing just with a couple of my friends, and now being in Nashville there’s obviously people that literally only do writing. They are great at what they do so I’ve gotten interviews with some of those people and I’ve been accepting outside songs and cutting outside songs, as well … so, yeah, we’re doing a little of both.

Q: Is it hard going from being a TikTok influencer to a mainstream country performer?
Holder: Yeah, but we’re doing it really well and really different than any other influencer, and I strongly believe that I’m going to be the first influencer to prove it is possible to crossover from being that TikTok hit to mainstream. With what we have planned for this new year and whom we’ve been in the room with so far, no one has done it as fast as that yet … just being out in Nashville for seven months and then booking an opening spot for Dylan Scott is super unheard of, so I think that we’re definitely doing something right.

Q: It certainly sounds that way to me and I wish you nothing but luck with your career. Is there anything, Tayler that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this feature?
Holder: Umm, just keep an eye out for us, keep streaming the music and keep an eye on what we’ve got planned for the top of the year, we’re hitting the ground hard next year … this is just a trial year for us. So I would just say, really keep up with my life and keep up with everything because it’s only going to get more interesting! (https://itstaylerholder.com)


Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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