The rulebook for would-be pop stars has changed drastically over the last decade. As social media has largely replaced tabloids, new artists in search of a certain kind of fame have been forced to stir up their own controversy instead of relying on headlines or paparazzi photos to do the job for them. For Slayyyter, keeping fans on the hook is as easy as maintaining a playful online presence from the same St. Louis, Missouri home where she creates her hyper-real, tongue-in-cheek pop music.
“It’s funny,” Slayyyter says. “When people ask me, ‘How did you get your music recognition?’, I don’t even have an answer for them — other than you have to know how to play the internet.”
The singer, 22, has built up over 35,000 monthly Spotify listeners from her bedroom in under a year, despite having released only seven singles and no EP or album. Charli XCX, a major inspiration of hers, has featured Slayyyter on her “The Motherfucking Future” playlist, and critics have begun to place her in the upper tier of pop’s underground.
Slayyyter has won many of her fans with a provocative Twitter persona that showcases her wildly uncensored sense of humor. She often pokes fun at herself in what sound like exaggerated personal anecdotes: “taking vicodin and wishing my ex would text me a dick pic </3,” “i dont send nudes i send tiddie art,” “thinking about the time i smoked crack to be funny and then ended up kind of liking it.” Asked about the latter tweet, she says, “I’ll do anything for a laugh sometimes, especially when I’m drunk, so sometimes that doesn’t always result in the best possible decisions.” Okay, but really? “I will say every tweet has a little bit of truth in the humor,” she adds.
Then there are her songs — consistently thrilling, high-gloss dance-floor disasters that recall the club-pop renaissance and tabloid-fueled celebrity culture of the late 2000s. Slayyyter cites Lady Gaga’s The Fame as a major influence (“That was the first album I ever bought for myself…I was infatuated with her”), but she’s just as enthusiastic about artists whose careers proved less lasting. “I love the flop pop stars of that time period — like Heidi Montag’s pop career,” she says. “It inspired me to make tacky songs that are just fun.”
Slayyyter, who’d rather not reveal her legal name, first picked up a “cheap, small, and awful First Act guitar” as a teenager, but it wasn’t until she dropped out of college last year that she began writing songs over ’80s-inspired lo-fi beats she found online. Her shift to high-production pop — “Myspace-Core,” as she calls it — happened this past summer. “I dated this guy for a year, and he broke up with me,” she says. “He was like, ‘When I met you, you wanted to be this big star. Now all we do is lay around, and you’re not really doing anything.'”
Following the breakup, Slayyyter took a trip to Las Vegas with her mother, where she did a lot of crying and decided to get serious about her music career. Not long after she got home to St. Louis, she received an unfinished demo from Ayesha Erotica, an underground pop producer whom Slayyyter discovered on Twitter. “Someone DM’d me on Twitter and was like, ‘You look like a blonde Ayesha Erotica,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know who that is, but that’s the coolest name ever,’ so I looked her up.”
In August, Slayyyter released her first-ever single, “BFF” — an uptempo dance-pop record, co-written, produced by and featuring Erotica, that boasts a hook about Juicy Couture lockets and cell phones and peaks with the line “You’re my sexy little BFF.” The song now has over 100,000 Spotify streams, thanks in part to Charli’s choice to place it and Slayyyter’s second single, “Ghost,” on her popular playlist of new music. “I always really respected Charli, just because she’s a great songwriter,” Slayyyter says. “I didn’t even know what topline songwriting was until I read an article of hers. I feel like all pop now is kind of inspired by her.”
Charli XCX is a fitting helping hand for Slayyyter, as she’s played the internet herself through viral music videos for her singles “Boys” and “1999,” and even going back to her appearance in the Clueless-inspired video for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” Charli often shares memes and chats with her most devoted fans on Twitter, where she’s met some of her musical collaborators and asked fans to submit songs for her Spotify playlists. In Slayyyter’s case, a similar subdivision of pop-stan Twitter helped propel “BFF” and “Ghost.”
This side of social media isn’t for everyone — see Alessia Cara’s recent break from Twitter due to trolls and Ed Sheeran’s long-running Twitter hiatus — but Slayyyter loves it. “My sense of humor is like stan Twitter,” she says, explaining that she doesn’t get offended when fans throw humorous shade at her online. “When people are like, ‘Stream her song today so she can eat Arby’s,’ that’s hilarious,” she adds. “That’s so funny, and kind of true, for me at least, ’cause I am very broke, so every stream counts, girls.”
Following her latest singles, “Alone,” which she describes as an “empowering, ‘don’t talk shit on me’ type of track,” and “Mine,” a flirty deep house track, Slayyyter plans to release a mixtape and finally execute her long-planned move to Los Angeles. “I need to look for some apartments and stuff like that, because I haven’t found one yet,” she says. “I probably should get on that.”
Once she gets to the West Coast, she’s looking forward to meeting Erotica in person for the first time and finishing her full-length debut album. In the meantime, she’s slowly making her way toward the kind of pop stardom she’s always dreamed of, one stan at a time.
“In the very back of my brain I’ve wanted to be a superstar since I was a little child, but that’s not always realistic,” she says. “It would be quite the Cinderella story if little old me ever was. I don’t know if that’s in the cards for me, but who knows? I just want it to pay my bills. Anything else is just a bonus.”