When Theo Tams first entered the music scene in 2008, people were still buying CDs, Facebook and other modern social platforms hadn’t become popular yet, and the hot new way to listen to music was to buy it through iTunes. Things have changed drastically since then, and naturally, so has Theo.

He’s become an active advocate of the queer community, found clarity in his sobriety, and got married to his longtime partner. His mind and music, which are inevitably intertwined, have only gotten stronger with time and focus, leading to great songwriting. Over the last few years, he’s honed in on his ability to create story-driven songs with an R&B groove, and honest, relatable lyrics about real life.

Theo’s loaded release schedule attests to his work ethic; he’s been writing and releasing music consistently every few weeks, evolving and adapting as an artist. Take his recent viral hits like “Therapy” and “I Could Be Hot” for example – not unlike a certain mega pop star, Theo is reimagining his songs in another light, producing new versions that better reflect his current artistic abilities. He’s pushed himself as an artist, even challenging himself to sing in foreign languages to connect with fans from abroad.

“One of my favorite things to do as an artist is take other artists' songs and see how I can put my own spin on them,” says Theo. “So it's really interesting to turn the tables and ask that of myself. How many ways can I kind of reinvent this one song? Some of these versions are music cousins in a sense, but others are a completely different take on the lyric and the melody. That's what excites me because I feel like it shows just once again a new level of artistic commitment to kind of dive into these songs and really stretch how far they can go.”

For Theo, it feels validating that his music is able to cross boundaries and find audiences with fans, but these things don’t just happen overnight. Despite language barriers, Theo’s songs have streamed over 42 million times in Asia with no sign of stopping, proving that this isn’t just a viral moment. In some cases, it takes years before a song will click with an audience and get its moment. And then when you finally get your moment, how do you authentically reach out and really invite your fans into your life?

“It’s the responsibility of the artist to get to know their fans just as the fans want to get to know him,” says Theo – this is coming from a man who live streamed his wedding on TikTok so his fans could be there. “I have a love-hate relationship with social media but I personally love the cultivation of a community of fans and followers. I said from the beginning of my career that the 3F’s are family, friends, and fans. if you’re one, then you’re all three.”

All this is to say, Theo’s life proves that there is no such thing as an instant star. His 2008 Canadian Idol win got his foot in the door, but he has spent the better part of 15 years trying to keep it open.

“In some ways, I feel like I’ve been in the business of proving people wrong since I was born. As an artist, regardless of where you are in the game, we have to prove people wrong. I knew it was going to be a badge I had to wear, for better or for worse. What I’ve done since proves that the show was merely a stepping stone.”

And there is so much to look forward to, like the new lead single, “A Little Bit Off,” where Theo found the opportunity to try something different and show off his rapping skills. In “Maze,” he tries his hand at translating the popular Mandopop song by step.jad and pushes himself by singing in Mandarin. Pride month sees Theo assembling top queer Canadian artists to join voices on “This Little Light.” There are two sides of the coin to the campfire sing-along, “Number One Song” – a pity party on one side, and a grateful hype-up anthem on the other. “Backseat” is the song you put on when you want to turn off the rest of the world and simply enjoy the company of your partner. Then there’s “Lonely Kind of Love,” a follow-up ballad to his previous song, “Stay,” which sees him speaking candidly on marriage.

Theo reconnected with music and himself when he got sober a few years ago, and with his newfound clarity he understood that music has never been just one thing to him.

“It’s the thing I turn to when I'm excited, introspective, angry or frustrated,” says Theo. “Why can’t I also apply that kind of thinking to the kind of music I create? In the spirit of being as multifaceted as I can, I try to stretch what I thought was possible. It’s so exciting and humbling to know that music is still that powerful in connecting people to each other.”

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