Las Vegas can be many different things. For some, it's a source of reckless adventure. For others, it’s an epicenter for potential riches. The bright lights and continuous heartbeat of the strip pave way for global superstars - artists that, in many ways, embody the glamour of Sin City. Far too often, however, we see smaller communities and sounds that surround the area fall victim to the allure of Vegas. Competing with artists that can sell out world-famous casinos can leave up-and-coming artists who call the city home in the shadows of their own domain.
For Tyler Griffin, an artist better known as Papichuloteej, bringing a new style and sound to the city is a challenge he’s willing to accept. Vegas’s smaller music scenes exist primarily under the hip-hop sound. For a time, so did Teej, but after switching his sound to bedroom pop/alternative R&B, he essentially paved his own lane.
The 22-year-old is a natural creative in every sense of the term. His music is sleek and fluid - groovy basslines and dazzling synths inhabit much of Teej’s catalog. His voice is smooth and sweeping. Last Tuesday, Teej paired up with San Jose native Gabby Trinh on “Stars Align,” an undeniably catchy record that stands as proof of his ever-evolving, locally unique style of pop music.
When I asked Teej about his career to this point, he laughs and exclaims that much of it has been “right place, right time.” In his eyes, it’s all part of the plan. You see, Papichuloteej has a strong confidence in his own intuition - one that stems as a direct result of his musical talent. “I know that I’ll end up in the right spot,” he says. Over the course of the past year, the Vegas artist’s connection with Jarred Howard, owner of Stray Dogs Music Group, has allowed for independent creation under a manager who wholly understands the value of letting the musician paint his own mural. In addition to his new found collective, Teej has worked with Wanyá of Boyz II Men, as well as fellow Vegas native Scoop Deville (producer of “Poetic Justice”) among others.
Teej tells me that his biggest inspiration is Pharrell Williams. From a sonic standpoint, I totally understand his claim, but I think the inspiration runs deeper than that. Pharrell is a trendsetter - perhaps one of the greatest of our time. He pushed boundaries and shattered normalities and continues to do so. In many ways, Papichuloteej’s style goes against the grain of the traditional sounds of Las Vegas. I’m sure Teej does not care. In fact, I’d be willing to bet it’s what he wants. Papichuloteej is a trailblazer in the infant stages of his career. When the time is right, he’ll put his undivided energy into a project, and when that happens, don’t be surprised when it makes waves. He told you here first, after all.
Today, we sit down with Papichuloteej to discuss his music, inspirations, goals and ultimate vision as part of a 6-part series covering and speaking with one of music’s most exciting new assemblies - Stray Dogs Music Group.
Carter Ferryman : How did you get the name Papichuloteej?
Papichuloteej : "I rebranded last summer to my Instagram name which was Papichuloteej. I got the name Teej from my high school history teacher sophomore or junior year and I just kept rolling with that because I liked it better than anything I ever came up with. Also, Papichulo was something that my grandma used to call me so it kind of worked out when I made my Instagram name. I released music under Teej and then I realized Teej is the same name as a Hindu festival, so when people were trying to look me up, I would get dubbed and that festival is big as fuck! It’s a yearly festival for women in India, so I just rebranded to my Instagram name."
Speaking of festivals, I was told that you went to a South by Southwest writing camp, what that whole experience like?
"My homie basically told me to apply and he knew someone that was doing the camp that would look out and get me into it because I wasn't an official artist there last year. I got the opportunity to work with other artists that were coming into the camp and be on board as a writer. Any record that planned to get released; I would get credit on. Also, me being able to network was really cool."
Would you say songwriting is the strongest facet of your musical toolbelt?
"Yeah, I'll say song writing probably is."
How has being locked down impacted