22-year-old singer/songwriter Tucker Rivera appeared in the spotlight when his 2020 single, “West Coast City,” blew up on TikTok overnight. Currently sitting at 4.1 million streams on Spotify alone, this self-produced, acoustic track details Rivera’s mindset as he went through college with dreams of moving to L.A. and making it big in music. The Mexican-American artist now boasts 70k monthly Spotify listeners and over 70k TikTok followers. He’s also gained attention from Spotify’s Bedroom Pop and idk. curated playlists.
Until recently, Rivera didn’t have the freedom to focus on music. After graduating from The University of Chicago in 2021 though, he went all in. He packed his car and left his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and moved to Los Angeles. Rivera could finally put all of his energy into music without the burden of classes or full-time work. As a Dean's List student at UChicago, a student-athlete and double-major, he could’ve easily ended up with a top-notch job or graduate school offer, but he knew he wanted something different.
Rivera has produced almost all of his songs to date, despite never receiving any musical training. “I taught myself the ukulele, and I learned how to sing from doing it on the car ride home from swim practice,” he explained. Everything else, he figured out during quarantine. Until March of 2020, Rivera had never opened a production software. He downloaded Ableton that month and has stuck with it ever since.
Much of his discography is inspired by relationships. Girls he’s dated, girls he’s hated, and sometimes girls that fit into both categories. He admitted women are one of his biggest stressors and inspirations. Rivera has found simple, direct lyrics to resonate the most in songs, but will occasionally go great lengths to find the right words. “Sometimes I’ll write free verse poetry and just go on and on, then come back and choose lines that work as lyrics.”
As a kid, he kept Ed Sheeran and John Mayer in rotation and later became a fan of 2010’s rappers like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. These days, he gets inspiration from newer artists like Rex Orange County and Clairo. His dream collab, however, is Billie Eilish. He said with full confidence that we’ll look back on her song, “Happier Than Ever,” as having the same impact as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I hope she sees this bro.
The big "ah-ha" moment that started Rivera’s music career happened in fourth grade. As the only nine-year-old confident performing in front of others, Rivera sang “Jingle Bell Rock” as loud as he could at the Christmas recital. When friends asked why he sang so loud, he said it’s because “it sounds good.” He’s kept this same energy throughout the years. Whether belting out vocals in his childhood home or his current Hollywood apartment, Rivera's never been worried about others hearing him. Why would he? It sounds good.
With an EP on the way, keep an eye on Tucker Rivera as he makes a name for himself in the Los Angeles pop scene. After years of recording music on the side, the sky’s the limit for Rivera as he finally goes all-in.
“You like what you’ve seen? Now I have time.”
Pre-save his cover of Post Malone’s “Feeling Whitney.”