Skip to content
Inside Beat

Insider Beat: d4vd on leveling up with 'Beats on the Banks'

RUPA's newest rendition of "Beats on the Banks," is set to feature gamer-turned-musician d4vd. – Photo by Nick Walker

Like many teenagers, David Burke, known by his stage name d4vd, spends hours playing video games like "Fortnite" and losing himself in internet rabbit holes. The only difference between him and his peers is that he's managed to turn it into a line of work.

In just a few years, 19-year-old singer-songwriter d4vd has already achieved things most artists spend their entire lives building toward. His songs have amassed more than a billion streams on Spotify, he has toured across the globe and become the voice of a generation on TikTok, all before releasing his first studio album.

This week, he sets out to conquer another milestone – performing his first college show.

Ahead of his performance at the College Ave Gymnasium on Friday, d4vd spoke to The Daily Targum about his expectations for this semester's "Beats on the Banks," along with the unconventional catalysts for his blossoming career.

"I have something for everybody," he said. "I made the setlist, so everybody that enjoys any kind of genre will enjoy at least one song. And it's gonna be lit, so …"

The atmosphere of a loud, passionate college campus will be a new adjustment for d4vd, but the location is familiar since he was born on the East Coast in New York.

d4vd's formative years were steeped in jazz and gospel music, in addition to a love for poetry he had developed during elementary school. But the concept of blending these two ideas and pursuing music didn't cross his mind until later in life. Before that, he was fully immersed in the world of gaming.

"Fortnite" was an early favorite for d4vd, a game he realized he was better than most people at — he claims to have achieved the rare feat of an approximately 60-kill game back in 2018.

Naturally, he decided to start uploading his gameplay to YouTube and social media with songs edited into the background, an essential step in gaining traction online.

"You can't have music without gaming, you can't have gaming without music," he said. "I just treated music like it was another video game."

But, after his videos began getting flagged by YouTube's copyright system, he lost an integral part of his content. To replace this key aspect, he simply decided to start making his own music after getting some advice from his mother.

With only his phone and the acoustics of his sister's closet, he began recording the original music that would accompany his videos. While not perfect, what immediately set out his material from other aspiring musicians was his deeply personal and heartfelt subject matter.

"It was me kind of living vicariously through friends of mine, peers of mine, experiences they had — it was all personal," he said. "I think that's why the music connected so much. Everyone was experiencing the same thing."

Immediately, now infused with his own ethereal BandLab-produced tracks, his videos began to reach more audiences than ever before. The influence of platforms like TikTok, especially, helped d4vd become a social media sensation.

Even if you didn't know d4vd by name, a brief scroll through your "For You" page would likely have ingrained the lyrics to "Romantic Homicide" into your subconscious.

"They loved it. It was crazy. It went viral on Twitter and like, these 'Fortnite' kind of niche cliques and it just kept going up," he said. "(TikTok) was the platform that got me here, besides 'Fortnite,' so I owe a lot to them."

In what could have been a fleeting moment in the spotlight, years later d4vd continues to reach new heights and grow his fan base. While much of this rise can be attributed to his dedication, juggling music releases and gaming streams, it is also a result of his willingness to not take things too seriously. 

When d4vd was first blowing up, some listeners were thrown off by his unique, pitched-up vocals — in internet circles, he was dismissed as the "chipmunk guy."

"You got to notice when people are laughing at you and when people are laughing with you — people were laughing at me first," he said. "I was like, 'I don't care if they hate it, it's getting views. Let me just get more hate.' And then the hate turned into love at one point."

d4vd credits this self-confidence as one of the reasons he's in the position he's in today, along with advice from industry veterans like SZA to stay true to himself. 

He's been able to successfully navigate uncharted territory so far, but with mounting pressure, he seeks introspection. Recognizing that his sudden fame was the result of a perfect storm, he hopes that aspiring, young musicians from his upcoming shows take a couple of cues from his journey.

"Don't put yourself in a box," he said. "People try to find a visual identity too early, try to find a sonic identity too early — you can't be an artist. You have to become one."

Even with a strong foundation for a long, successful career, he's open to shaking things up. With a debut album in the works, he wants to elevate his sound and potentially work with some of his inspirations.

In addition to music, he's also mulled around ideas of enrolling in trade school and studying cybersecurity or getting more involved with visual mediums like TV and film. 

Regardless of what path he chooses, there are some unwavering goals near the top of his bucket list.

"I'm trying to get some 'Fortnite Festival' things happening," he said. "I want a skin and an emote. That's what I want."

For anyone too busy studying for finals and unable to make it to d4vd's "Beats on the Banks" performance, the artist will be embarking on his My House is Not a Home Tour next month.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe