You may know her for Tik Tok videos, which have accumulated over 148 million followers and over 11 billion likes. Still, Charli D’Amelio is heading into uncharted territory: The 18-year-old social media maven released her first single and music video, “If You Ask Me To,” on Tuesday (Oct. 25); after the song premiered on the season 2 finale of The D’Amelio Show, a Hulu docu-series following D’Amelio and her family.
The pop song was produced by Greg Keller, who also co-wrote the track with D’Amelio, Austin Saxton, Emi Seacrest and Michael Schiavo. Andrew Sandler, who has visuals for Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, and Machine Gun Kelly, helmed “If You Ask Me To,” which depicts teenage heartbreak and the ups and downs of being in love with someone.
D’Amelio says that the song tells a story with characters rather than a true story about herself. “I wanted to use this as a time in my life where I don’t have to talk about true experiences — so much of my life is so out there,” D’Amelio tells Billboard.
As someone who rose to stardom through her dancing, D’Amelio has always been heavily involved with music. Still, she never really got a chance to experiment with making a song or creating a video from scratch, which led the superstar down this new path. “I fell in love with the process throughout,” D’Amelio says, “Which is why putting this song out is so important to me.”
Just below, the social media star chats with Billboard about her new single, what it was like working with a team to create music, some of her favorite artists and more.
I see you worked with Greg Keller and Austin Saxton. What was that like for you?
For me, it was awesome working with them. They let me kind of put what I wanted into the song, and I got a lot of freedom from this, making it fun for me to experiment with what I liked and what I get to put out with my first song. And I think that that was something that was super fun, that they let me take the front seat. But obviously, they’re the professionals, and they know what they’re talking about. So they were there to guide me the entire time. And you know, we all pitched in to writing the song and figuring out what would be best for the music video and everything. And I was just very thankful that they gave me that freedom within the creative.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I think for me, I would like for this journey to be ever-changing and grow with me. You know, I wanna be able to try and experiment within styles and everything, and I feel like that’s the best part — working with the people that I work with. They’re able to give me that freedom to create whatever comes naturally to me and go from there and never have to feel like I’m stuck in a box where I have to make one type of music. And I think that’s something that really means a lot to me.
Who are some of the people you listen to growing up and even now that motivate you in music?
Sam Smith, Adele, my sister (Dixie) obviously, Billie Eilish. Growing up doing a lot of contemporary dance, a lot of those artists were artists that I danced to — that’s the type of music that drew me in, which led me to create “If You Ask Me To,” and kind of tie it all together..I wanna give it to other people, so they’re able to enjoy it as well.
You’re a famous Tik-Toker. What do you want people to know about you outside of TikTok?
I think I want people to see me for me as a person and what my character is, and what I’m made up of rather than my TikTok videos — which aren’t always spot on for who I am all the time. I think with this song and the show that my family and I have, you see a little bit more of kind of the process. I feel like people’s perceptions of me are going to change as I change and grow up, and I’m here to live my life. And however people take that, I just let them because that’s not fully up to me how other people perceive me.
You’ve accomplished a lot for someone very young. What’s next for you?
I think for me, I’m planning on figuring it out as I go. You know, that’s the most amazing part. I wanna see what I’m able to make next and where the vibe goes. And if it comes together to be an album. And if it’s a little venue that I sing at once to see how it is — I mean, I’m ready to kind of try it all, and I’d love to be able to do bigger things within music. But I wanna see what’s next for me, creation-wise.
What is the reaction you’re hoping people get after listening to the song and watching the music video?
I want people to be able to relate their own experiences into music. I think when you listen to it, I hope that you feel something and if it relates to a point in time in your life where, “oh, this is kind of similar,” use it. I love music that makes you feel, music that makes you think.
I think it’s such a powerful thing that you can use in so many ways, and I hope people enjoy it. Whatever it is to them, my connection with the song is going to be different from everyone else’s, and everyone else is just going to differ from each other. So I hope that people take from it what they need and what helps them connect with it.