Dean Lewis Talks Songwriting & TikTok

Thank you to Dean Lewis, Universal Music Group, & 1824 for this opportunity.

Dean Lewis became a hit in 2016 when his song ‘Waves’ soared to popularity. Now, Lewis has begun trending again, but this time on TikTok, with songs from his second studio album The Hardest Love

Lewis’ TikTok page consists of concert videos taken by his brother who tours frequently with Lewis, fans, and of Lewis’ music. In fact, Lewis mentioned that his brother is one of his top three must haves when touring.

Photo by Alisha Greyson for the Utah Concert Review

Most recently, Lewis put a call out on TikTok for fans to add a verse to ‘How Do I say Goodbye’ for a chance to be chosen as his opener on an upcoming tour. 

Having been in the music industry before TikTok began to change how the music business works, Lewis said that he noticed differences. 

“It’s a tough thing. I always think, look, TikTok is the way of the future, it is here and there the rules as an artist that you work with it,” Lewis said. “You can choose to not play that game, and you will just not have the success, it’s the reality of what it is. What is weird is this idea of you write a song for TikTok…”

Lewis said he has blended in from being a pre-TikTok artist by posting a song, noticing people are using the song as a sound, and then reposts things that use the snippet of his song. For ‘How Do I Say Goodbye’ Lewis and his team had 40,000 sound uses within three months without any outside help. 

“A lot of people might think ‘Alright, I’ve got 21 million monthly listeners right now, if I put a song out, it’s guaranteed it’s going to work…’ It’s not like that anymore. People can put out songs and they just will not work,” Lewis said. “You really have to find an angle and TikTok is really good for that and it’s also really difficult.”

Lewis said he hasn’t changed his writing process since gaining popularity on TikTok. He said he still writes a lot of songs until there are a lot of great ones and then Lewis tries to find the one that’s the best. He then finds the “angle” within that song for TikTok. 

Through songwriting, Lewis’ primary goal is to express himself, and he hopes that when he puts a track out it resonates with others too. 

Most of the tracks that have resonated with others contain a specific angle. ‘Be Alright’ for example, contains elements and angles of hope. 

“I didn’t grow up in a world where I would talk about my emotions a lot, or anything, and I still don’t really talk to my friends that much about it, I kind of express it through music. I remember I read the lyrics [to ‘Half a Man’] …and I was like ‘Aw can I say that?’ and I was really worried about it. Then I played it at a showcase and then there was people coming up afterwards and they were like ‘Oh my God, I’m crying can you send me that song?’” Lewis said.

Lewis said once he released the song and played it at shows, ‘Half a Man’ still seemed to resonate with the audience. 

Another example of this is Lewis’ ‘How Do I Say Goodbye’ which was written when Lewis’ father was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia—an illness with a 25% chance of living more than a year. When Lewis wrote the song, it was originally a way to express his emotion about the situation. 

“’How Do I Say Goodbye’ is real and genuine about my dad, and it connected to people because it wasn’t just, I love you, I miss you kind of song.”

Since releasing the song, however, Lewis’ father has gone into remission, but the song still resonates with many fans going through loss.

Lewis has been in the music industry for quite some time, inspiring many and giving hope to fans. What inspired him to become a musician was the English pop-rock band The Kooks.

“I watched every video on YouTube of him [Luke Pritchard] …same with Oasis, I watched a lot of Oasis acoustic videos…I was so drawn to it, I was like ‘How does he do this?’” Lewis said.

Lewis said that because he was so drawn to it, he realized that the passion he experienced in watching the Kooks and Oasis while also spending countless hours practicing, that music is what he should do.

Lewis’ Tour kicks off March 10 in Australia. You can check out his tour dates and website here.


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