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Interview: Shauna Dean Cokeland!

If you haven’t heard of Shauna Dean Cokeland, or SDC, you need to change that. Singing to her hundreds of thousands of followers, she’s bringing back the early 2000s. Juicy Couture tracksuit included.

SDC is part of a new generation of artists. She’s currently unsigned, having built her fanbase directly through social media.

When you scroll through her TikTok, you’ll find snippets of songs, vlogs, and everything in between. It’s an intimate peek into her journey that she’s sharing with her fans. 

I had the opportunity to interview Shauna Dean Cokeland, which you can watch here or read the transcript below (edited for clarity):

Hi everyone from WUSC! I'm here with Shauna Dean Cokeland, SDC, who you might recognize from TikTok. SDC do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I'm Shauna Dean Cokeland. I'm 18. I'm from Maryland. I’m a singer-songwriter. I go to high school and make TikToks and write songs.

When did you start making music?

I’ve been a musician my whole life. I was writing little songs as soon as I could, like, talk. I got serious about really writing songs and putting stuff online probably last year.

What made you decide to start posting and start putting yourself out there in that way?

Being a musician and writing songs has always been the only thing I want to do with my life. I thought, “why have I not started actually putting myself out there like that yet.” So, then I started making a TikTok every day from then on.

 What has it been like to get popular and build your fan base through TikTok?

It has blown my mind. It’s really blown my mind to see people connect to what I have to say and just have that very direct connection with my audience.

Was there ever a moment like a number of views or likes where you realized you were starting to get fans and get popular through this app?

Yeah, I think my goal for the end of 2021 was to hit 100,000 followers. At the end of the day, when I was at like 250,000, I was like "oh, wow!"

Has your songwriting process changed at all since you're able to get immediate feedback from your followers?

It has a little bit, yeah. Instead of writing like one song at a time, if I don't finish one, I just have to chunk the lyrics that I really like. I'll just share that chunk and then finish it up a little later. 

How have you been balancing school, recording, which you just started pretty recently, and everything else going on in your life?

I'm really, really busy, but I think I'm balancing it. Everything is getting done. So I think I’m balancing as well as I can. I'm in a music magnet program for school, so most of my classes are music classes. So for a lot of my projects I get to work on the same stuff that I'd be working on at home and stuff that I put on TikTok.

In one of your songs you have a line that goes “two whole times I've been recognized in public.” What’s that been like? Is it weirder when people you know in real life talk to you about your online presence or when random people come up to you saying they know you through TikTok?

I think random people coming up to me is definitely weirder than people in real life. I feel like it's kind of natural for people who know you in real life to go follow your social media, but being in the mall and somebody coming up to you and being like “OMG I love your music.” It's crazy. It really blows my mind like these are people behind the screen. They're real people living real lives, and thinking about me sometimes.

Are there any comments that ever get to you? Is there anything that you've seen that just sort of gets on your nerves a little bit with having that direct immediate access to all your fans?

Not much, no. Hate comments don't really bug me that much. I think I kind of got that discomfort with those kinds of comments out of the way really early because the first couple demos I released like Winter 2020 or so were really low quality. That's the best I could do at the time, but people really didn't like them. I got very acclimated to getting feedback. Sometimes the feedback is helpful; sometimes the feedback is like just “this makes my ears bleed, never sing again.” Yeah, I’m kind of chill with it. 

Obviously you use your account for your music, but you also showcase personal parts of your life. What has it been like balancing Shauna Dean Cokeland the musician and Shauna Dean Cokeland the person?

I think I look at everything Internet-wise through the lens of being an MCR fan and a Tumblr blogger for a lot of years. I never figured I’d be talking about that in an interview about my music. I want to go talk to 13-year-old me and be like “it’s crazy.” I think I can relate to people who get really into my music. My whole identity was being an MCR fan first for a lot of years, so it's really cool to be on the other side of that.

In your lyrics, you often refer to other artists that have made an impact on you. Is there anyone you haven't mentioned yet in your songs that you absolutely love?

I’ve mentioned Kesha, I've mentioned Eminem, I've mentioned Britney [Spears] like over and over and over again. I'll keep doing that, Britney. I don't think I mentioned Lady Gaga. I think she's a pretty big influence on me. I think I've mentioned MCR once. Yeah, I think those are my main influences right now.

What's been your favorite moment of this journey so far?

Going to Los Angeles, for sure. 

What was that like? 

I mean, it was a dream. First of all, I saw Los Angeles as a mythical place. A mythical place that just hands us all this amazing music and amazing movies and amazing people. And then I go there and I’m like, "wait a minute, this is a real place." It was like another country. Everybody dresses so cool there. That was one of the most mind blowing things. I recorded some stuff that I'm really liking. Met a lot of really cool people.

What goals do you have for the future? Any venues you want to perform? Any other milestones you really want to hit?

My main goal right now is just to put out some professional sounding fully produced versions of these songs. Yeah, I want there to be an EP. I want there to be an album. I want there to be music videos. I'm going to graduate soon. I'd like to go out to Los Angeles to spend way more time out there because I feel like it makes a lot of sense for me to be out there right now. And I want to play shows!

Are there any last messages you want to leave for WUSC listeners who haven’t heard of you before or your fans?

To new fans: Hi! Welcome! To fans I already have: I love you!

You can hear more by following Shauna Dean Cokeland’s TikTok, Instagram, and Spotify.

Maddie Tharp

DJ Possum and Cruzer only play the most alternative alt. Whether it’s Japanese Breakfast (the most important meal of the day) or Good Morning, you’re gonna hear some of the best music and the best banter.

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