This decade’s hippest vessel for musicians, TikTok is a platform where would-bes seemingly need some intervention of fate to find success. It has an algorithm saturated with dopamine-inducing content, designed to boost already-popular creators. For bassist Blu DeTiger, that fortunate and, in retrospect, career-defining moment of virality came in March 2020, a week before pandemic lockdowns, when her bass cover of Doja Cat’s “Say So” caused her online popularity to skyrocket.
But DeTiger didn’t need the algorithm’s divine providence. When she started posting on TikTok, she had 15 years of performing experience — and sincerity. She didn’t put on an act for her phone camera; she let it capture her raw talent, making it hard for viewers to look away from her buttery bass covers of Prince and Megan Thee Stallion. Now DeTiger has 1.3 million followers, and nearly 300,000 TikTok videos feature her song “Figure It Out.” Posting did more than give her something to occupy herself during lengthy quarantines.
“It really saved me during the pandemic,” DeTiger says. “It was bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people.”
DeTiger’s career started with a show at the legendary, now-defunct CBGB in New York when she was 7 years old. She got her local break DJing in New York City clubs, playing live bass over her sets at the age of 17, before she was legally allowed to enter most of the venues where she performed. At her first gig, a bouncer took away her fake ID.
“I was basically 21 for like four years,” she jokes. “But I didn’t even like to party or drink. I was really going to work. … And when I was going to NYU, I’d go to the library after my DJ sets to do my homework.”
DeTiger planned to support several artists on tours before they were nixed by covid-19 restrictions. Within the last year, she’s added festivals like Bonnaroo and Governors Ball to her résumé. She played “Saturday Night Live” with Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers. Brand partnerships have landed her photos on Times Square billboards. But DeTiger, 24, says she still hasn’t had her “I made it” moment.
“I’ve had a lot of mini ones,” she says, “but there’s always going to be a bigger one.”
That’s the gist of her newest single, “Elevator.” It’s a tune that combines her indie-pop influences with her club kid roots, and prominently features her distinctive bass skills. The lyrics, she says, are a reminder that she’s in control of her own destiny, and that she knows where she’s headed: In fuzzed out, half-spoken vocals, she sings, “Load me up in a slingshot, send me over the moon / Baby, I can be a big shot, too.”
Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. (doors open) at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 930.com. $20.