Britain’s first national lockdown birthed an incredibly short-lived ‘renaissance man’; a type of confidence in the nation inducing baking, sewing, DIY-ing and more. We found ourselves interjecting the now-infamous zoom quizzes for an absent-minded scroll on social media.
However, as the weeks turned to months, we ditched clichés as our innocent scrolls turned into hour-long binges on the phenomenon that is TikTok, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
The video-sharing social media platform has exploded in popularity in recent years, and as a consequence, has pulled previously unknown musicians into the spotlight. Lil Nas X, powfu and BENEE (to name a few) are all thought to owe a lot of the success of their biggest hits to their track’s popularity on the app. A rising star of the scroll friendly app is found in Nathan Evans, a man whose sea shanty renditions lead him from the ‘For You’ pages of TikTok to the top of the UK charts with his latest release, ‘Wellerman’.
Nathan uploaded his first TikTok back in January, liking the “personal” touch of the app and describing it as a place where you could be simply “taking a video of yourself making toast and people would comment and talk away to you”. It was this interactivity of the app that led Nathan to sea shanties after fans began to comment cover requests of popular ones like ‘the Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Wellerman’. After uploading his rendition of the latter, it was quickly picked up by the masses. The audio now features on over 400,000 TikToks, with people choreographing dances, performing the shantie and even remixing it.
Peak meme culture seemed to be reached when the iconic four lads in jeans lip-synced it, with Nathan remarking that “once your song has been made into a meme, that’s you- you’ve made it”. However, this isn’t to say that Wellerman’s success can be credited entirely to it’s ‘meme-ability’. Nathan’s talent and perseverance have unironically made a fairly unknown genre cool,essentially doing what the Beatles did for pop music. Evans spent years regularly uploading both covers and originals online to various platforms before finding TikTok and consequently going viral, but it took a lot of work on his part.
When producer/DJ 220 KID found Nathan’s Wellerman TikTok, he quickly worked his magic on a remix and sent it over to Nathan, whose initial reaction was “oh my god, somebody with a blue tick is messaging me”. Little did Nathan know, this message would soon turn into a collaboration that would attract further attention from producers Billen Ted and spend weeks in the UK’s top 100.
There is still some uncertainty on the next step for Nathan Evans, should another sea shanty be released or should the singer/songwriter’s songs take the spotlight? Whichever path he chooses, judging from the wild success of ‘Wellerman’ and his incredible talent, I’m sure it will be a (sea) breeze for him.
Words by: Maisie Woodford.