Connect with us


TikTok sensation Hemlocke Springs is your next DIY pop obsession

Indie-pop singer Hemlocke Springs blew up on TikTok with her songs "girlfriend" and "gimme all ur luv." Here, the singer born Naomi udo talks going viral and new music. Continue reading…



Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

The TikTok algorithm can often be an overwhelming and tricky beast, dictating the content we consume before we even know what we want to watch. However, in the case of North Carolina-based singer/songwriter/producer Naomi Udu, known professionally as Hemlocke Springs, the algorithm can also be an unexpected blessing in disguise, giving us exactly what we need before we even know we need it. 

Udu’s two-minute synth-pop ditty “girlfriend” went viral on the video-sharing platform back in October 2022, amassing lightning popularity for its infectiously weird lyrics and quirky Talking-Heads-meets-Cyndi-Lauper bridge. People have used the song as a background sound for fun dances, makeup tutorials, and goofy cat clips. Some have compared Udu’s vocals to Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, Sarah Lynn from BoJack Horseman, and Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls, all characters voiced by actress Kristen Schaal. One particular user even created a clever animation of Louise singing “girlfriend.” 

Read more: TikTok breakout Aidan Bissett redefines what it means to be a heartthrob with his nostalgic pop-rock

Udu — endearingly tangential and giggly throughout a video interview with Alt Press — mentioned she admittedly had not watched the shows these characters appeared on and was taken aback by the comparison. “I never made that connection,” Udu says, “so now that’s just gonna be in the back of my head like, ‘Do I really sound like Louise from Bob’s Burgers?’”

With over 10 million plays on Spotify, “girlfriend” marks an exciting starting point for Udu’s burgeoning career. The 24-year-old recently finished studying at Dartmouth College for her master’s degree in quantitative biomedical sciences. She initially planned to take some time for herself after graduation before pursuing a PhD, but “girlfriend” shifted the trajectory of that path. “I realized the opportunity that’s presented in front of me to [make music], so I’m like, ‘Let me see where this goes!’” Udu says. “[Medical research is] always there waiting for me. I can go back to it, but I feel like this is something I need to grab and just go forward.”

Udu is one of several Gen Z DIY-pop musicians who have launched careers and developed niche fanbases via TikTok, joining the ranks of artists like mxmtoon, girl in red, and PinkPantheress. And like anyone who’s suddenly gone viral, all the attention has been both intense and exciting for her. “I’m just so grateful that people are still tuning in,” Udu remarks. “I see comments that are sometimes like, ‘Oh, you seem so cool.’ And I’m like, ‘If you say so!’ The fact that it resonates with people, that’s really cool.”

The irresistible charm of her music extends to her personality, as well. Udu knows how to engage with a virtual audience, whether it’s through doling out life updates, offering funny, intimate glimpses into her creative process, teasing out demos, or answering questions from fans.

Her interest in producing music can be traced back to high school when a good friend of hers introduced her to GarageBand. Playing around with the application turned music making into a hobby. During her time at Dartmouth, it became a calling of sorts. Udu scoured YouTube for tutorials on how to mix music, bought a pair of blue headphones from CVS, and came up with her stage name via a random name generator (she added the “e” at the end of “Hemlock” in honor of Lorde). 

Udu conceived her first single, the warm and fluttery “gimme all ur luv,” during a particularly intense school term this past spring, where she experienced a depressive episode and a bout of COVID. Procrastinating on her machine learning homework, Udu recorded “gimme all ur luv” in two days by herself, released it on SoundCloud in May, and then decided to post a snippet of it on TikTok. 

The snippet quickly received views, one of them being from Grimes, another self-made bedroom pop artist and one of Udu’s biggest influences. Grimes commented on Udu’s Tik Tok and soon enough, the song began showing up on the For You Page. “I was so stressed because the video was just me. I had a jacket that I was wearing I hadn’t washed,” Udu admits with a laugh. “If I were to go back, I would re-record it, but it’s OK. It’s all good!”

It was through that snippet that Udu met filmmaker Ana Peralta Chong, who made a viral TikTok using Udu’s song as a way of offering to direct the music video for “gimme all ur luv.” The two ended up working together, and ever since then, they have maintained a close friendship and strong creative collaboration. Chong even teamed up with Udo to direct the offbeat DV-styled video for “girlfriend.”

As Udu’s star keeps growing within the indie-pop space, she’s continuing to learn the basics of music producing, tinkering with a MIDI keyboard she hasn’t played yet (“because I’m stubborn!), and readying toward an album, with 17 potential tracks that she’s attempting to pare down. The record will be a “hodgepodge of stuff;” some tunes will echo the dreaminess of “gimme all ur luv” and the lightness of “girlfriend,” while others, like upcoming single “stranger danger,” which is due out this Friday, will be different. “I think that’s good because I don’t want to be boxed in,” Udu notes. “I want to explore more sonically.”


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *