"Tomboy" Destiny Rogers on Being a Justin Bieber Stan and Finding Her Authentic Sound [Q&A]
Destiny Rogers' first foray into music earlier this year was palpable. With the release of her debut single, "Tomboy," Rogers became a bubbling figure in the rising artist scene overnight. Yet, what was arguably felt to a wider degree was not how fast Rogers hit a million streams, but the way in which fans and critics alike gravitated towards her music. From the music video for "Tomboy" being played on MTV at the top of the hour every hour, to notable co-signs from the likes of Billie Eilish and Alessia Cara, Rogers' debut was the sort any artist could dream of.
With such a noteworthy start, it is easy to imagine Rogers as the sort of carefully put-together, meticulously-groomed major label priority. Yet, in spite of the deluge of support that has flooded in for her debut single and the release of the titular EP, there is an undeniable authenticity to Rogers, who seems to be as amazed by her sudden hurdle into the limelight as anybody else.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Rogers about everything from her impressive debut to being Justin Bieber's number one fan.
OTW: What was your relationship like with music growing up?
Rogers: Growing up, I was born and raised in Church. My dad is a worship leader, so he's also a musician and a singer. I was always around music, but music never really hit me until I was around nine or ten years old. When I was nine, I got a guitar as my first birthday present. I didn't know how to play it. I would just hold it around my neck and have this front that I knew how to play an instrument, but when I hit ten, Justin Bieber was starting to come up.
He started posting YouTube videos of him singing cover songs where he would play guitar and sing. So, I was like, "Yo, I have a guitar. Maybe I can try and figure out how to play." I grabbed my guitar and watched his fingers, and I would just copy his strumming, copy his chords. I was homeschooled, so I had a lot of time to do this. And once I learned one song, I would click on another one of his videos and learn another song. It just became addicting at that point; I just wanted to learn as many songs as I could.
OTW: Are you still a big Justin Bieber fan?
Rogers: Yeah, I'll always be a big fan, because I kind of owe him my career. I got into music because of him and found out that I loved it. I'm always going to be a fan for sure. So, whenever he's ready to give me more music, I'm ready.
OTW: You were raised in the church and on Mariachi music and AC/DC. Certainly not your common musical upbringing.
Rogers: My mom was Mexican, so I was raised on Hispanic and Spanish music, so I loved that. My dad just listened to rock and roll all the time, and I never really liked it, but I was really into Disney Channel too. So, like Camp Rock, The Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato. Disney had an influence on me as a kid as well.
OTW: Going off those early influences of Spanish music and Disney pop, how did you arrive at your own sound?
Rogers: When I was younger, I just did cover songs, and it was always Justin Bieber songs. As I started getting older and hitting 17, 18, I was like, "I can't be doing cover songs for the rest of my career. That's not going to get me anywhere. I need to find my own sound." So, I just did mixtures of artists that I loved and made it my own. I'm a big Post Malone, Kehlani, and Ella Mai fan. I love to rap and listen to a lot of hip-hop and R&B, so I took those genres and sounds, and I don't know how I did it, but I just did it. It took a long time obviously, but it's just my own.
OTW: What was your go-to cover song?
Rogers: Oh my god. It was freaking "One Time" by Justin Bieber. I'm serious. Every cover was Justin Bieber, off of every single album. I was a stan. I was like, "Okay, Justin Bieber released a new song; got to cover it. Let's learn it." But now, when I do covers, it's "Best Part" by H.E.R and Daniel Caeser.
OTW: What was it about "Tomboy" that made you think, "This is my introduction to the world?"
Rogers: So, how "Tomboy" came about was that The Streotypes and I were just in the studio, and I was like, "I need to make a song that I haven't written about yet." I was just writing the same thing over and over again, about relationships and heartbreaks. I just needed something different. And I was like, "Wait. Why don't I just write something about who I am?" Cause I'm a tomboy. Once I said that everyone was like "Tomboy" has to be the name of the song. So, I was in the booth spitting melodies and freestyling lyrics, cause that's how I always start a song.
Once we finished the song, we all had this idea that this has to be the first song we drop cause when people listen to the song, they're instantly going to know who I am. That's important to me. I want my fans to feel connected to me as a person and not just as a singer.
OTW: Were you expecting the reaction you received to "Tomboy?"
Rogers: No. Not at all. I just put out "Tomboy" for the world to have and keep, but the fact that celebrities found it and are reposting it, like Alessia Cara, JoJo, Billie Eilish, and even MTV airing it every hour when the music video dropped, definitely made everyone in my hometown flip out. I'm just getting a lot of fans and it's nice. I'm super blessed.
OTW: Speaking of celebrities, we hear Ariana Grande knows who you are.
Rogers: I'm not leaving any details out, because this is just an amazing experience. So, I went to my homegirl Taylor Parx's Grammy nominee party. I was wearing a little Adidas sweatsuit, and I knew I looked fly. And I thought to myself, "Maybe Ariana will be there today," cause Ariana and her are BFFs. I was like there's no way. Ariana just dropped her album thank u, next last night. She's probably out doing stuff. So, I walk in and I see Ariana. I go into the backyard, and I'm keeping my eye on her, making sure she's not leaving my sight cause I just wanted to be close to her. I was scared to talk to her.
Then I go into the house, and Ariana is putting makeup on in the mirror. I walk by her, and as I'm walking by, homegirl touches my shoulder. She goes, "You are so cute! I'm Ariana. It's nice to meet you." She gives me a hug, asks what I do, and how old I am. I was like "Oh, I'm a singer and I'm 19." She was like, "You're 19 and you look this cool?" I was like, "Maybe. I don't know." So, she knows who I am. (laughter)
OTW: Skate culture features heavily in the music video for "Tomboy." And you've mentioned that you wanted to be a professional skater, so at what point did you decide that music was indeed the passion you wanted to pursue?
Rogers: Skateboarding was my first passion. I wanted to go pro before I found out I love music. I thought I was amazing because I was the only girl skater in my hometown. I was skating with all the guys, so I was like I'm fire, until I saw other girls that are better than me. (laughter)
I would say it hit me when I was about 12. I got into skating when I was six years old and then when I hit about nine, I was like, "Skating's my life! I'm going to do it. This is going to be my career." I started posting sponsorship videos and sending my videos to different skate brands to sponsor me. I had a whole plan; I was crazy. I was really passionate about it, but when I got into music, I started developing a love and passion for it. I still skate, but music just hit differently. It was like, "Music is going to be the one. I have to do it." There was no turning back when that happened.
OTW: So do you still rep Thrasher?
Rogers: (laughter) I had one Thrasher shirt, but it shrunk on me. I never really repped Thrasher. I just had a shirt that I got from Zumiez and that was it.
OTW: Now that your debut EP is out, what's next in store for you?
Rogers: I want to start doing shows. I want to start hitting every state, make my way around the whole US, so I can meet the supporters and the fans and make more along the way. And, of course, just making more music.
OTW: This year has been a year of firsts for you, from dropping music to performing at SXSW, so what was going through your head the very first time you were preparing to go on stage?
Rogers: I was literally like, "Finally." Like every kid, I had always practiced in front of my mirror, blasting music really loud. I had done local shows back home, but it always covers with my guitar, but this time I was out of California; I was in Texas. "I'm about to perform my music that's not even out yet for the first time. I'm a new artist." There was a little hesitation there because nobody knows who I am, but I just put that in the back of my head. I know my music's fire, so you just have to have that confidence and it'll take you far.
OTW: I love your confidence. Do you have any advice for being confident in your own skin or craft?
Rogers: My confidence built overtime. I had some issues with people saying some things about me not fitting in but I flipped it and used those words to empower myself and stayed true to who I am. My words of advice would be to do what makes you happy and not listen to anybody that has anything negative to say.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Rogers: I'm a fan of Kiana Ledé. I love her song "EX," and I believe she's going to go far. She's coming up and getting all the recognition she deserves. I love King Princess. Pink Sweat$ is tight.
OTW: Any parting words?
Rogers: I just want the world to know I'm half-Mexican and can sing in Spanish.