Regardless of being exterior the goal demographic of the social media app, 54-year-old Hal Walker has discovered an entire new viewers for his music on TikTok.
Walker, a Northeast Ohio musician, categorized the style of music he performs as “unique” and “acoustic.” He likes to play conventional devices in modern, fashionable methods. Take for instance the khaen (pronounced like can), a free reed instrument that hails from Southeast Asia, within the space of Laos and northeast Thailand.
“I completely respect the gamers of Laos and Thailand, however I’ve by no means realized their methods,” Walker stated. “I picked it up and began making up my very own songs.”
A Kent native, Walker graduated from Theodore Roosevelt Excessive College in 1984. After faculty, he moved again to the realm in 1988. He typically performs solo and has been featured at venues just like the Kent Stage and the Akron Civic Theatre. He additionally serves because the music director for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent.
Out of the few khaen gamers on the earth, Walker is certainly one of three that reside in Kent. The handpan, ocarina and banakula — the latter of which is the namesake of his TikTok username — are different devices featured amongst his musical movies.
Previous to the pandemic, Walker typically carried out in colleges. He at all times saves time for a question-and-answer interval throughout these displays. Within the spring of 2019, a fifth grader requested if he was on TikTok. Although he was not, she insisted he needs to be.
Walker stated he went dwelling that evening, downloaded the app and uploaded his first video: a rendition of the track “Shallow” by Woman Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
“After which nothing occurred,” he joked.
Although he bought about 20 views and some followers from that first video, Walker stated he solely checked the app each on occasion. Then on New Years Day this 12 months, issues modified when he posted a video of himself taking part in the banakula for 15 seconds. It acquired 100,000 views on the primary day it was up.
Fittingly, Walker’s TikTok username is “@banakula” (pronounced bah-na-KU-lah). It’s named after the African instrument. A banakula is a percussive instrument consisting of two gourd shakers tied along with string. Walker first took curiosity within the instrument when he noticed certainly one of his buddies taking part in it as he walked down the streets of Kent. Walker stated he has been taking part in them ever since.
Walker stated he has posted nearly day by day for the reason that starting of the 12 months. His account has grown to greater than 200,000 followers and his movies have garnered about 3.5 million “likes.”
“Going viral” on TikTok is perceived in another way by every consumer, Walker stated. Customers have completely different thresholds for what they think about a “large video” to be. For instance, he used to get enthusiastic about getting 20,000 views in a single day. Now, he will get excited when he will get 1 million views in a day. His largest video has 2.5 million views. It is of him taking part in the khaen and speaking about it, too.
Usually, Walker stated, he hears TikTok described as only a place the place youngsters document themselves doing goofy dances or skits. His expertise is completely different, nonetheless. He makes use of his movies to teach folks about musical devices and present them what they’ll do. TikTok is a tremendous platform for expressing his creativity, Walker stated.
Sounds of Walker taking part in the khaen have been not too long ago sampled by artist LLusion in a monitor titled “Playboi Slowed Banakula x Llusion.” Presently, over 93,000 brief movies on TikTok have featured that audio. A few of the hottest ones have over 20 million views. It was some of the fashionable sounds of the summer time, Walker stated.
Walker stated the overwhelming majority of the suggestions he receives is optimistic. The remark sections of his movies are stuffed with folks speaking about how his music strikes them.
“I do not know why however this music, like, makes me cry,” Walker stated, studying one remark. “No voice, simply the melody portray an image of a terrific journey of progress as an individual.”
Walker stated TikTok may be very addictive and does have content material that may be inappropriate at instances. Nevertheless, he encourages those that simply wish to view content material on the platform to start out watching him and music creators like him. The extra movies you “like,” he stated, the extra TikTok’s algorithm learns what movies it ought to suggest to you.
Sadly, Walker does not know the key to going viral on TikTok. For these concerned with creating content material, he urged people new to the platform hand over the will for extra views. Quite, he urged they maintain creating the content material they wish to create and see the place it leads.
“I am simply placing up content material that I wish to create,” Walker stated. “Folks make requests on a regular basis for Zelda songs or play this, play that. I usually do not pay a lot consideration. I simply kinda maintain doing what I wish to do.”
When the pandemic hit, Walker began a reside present on YouTube referred to as “This Second in Music.” Each Wednesday and Friday, The Hal Walker YouTube web page hosts a distinct musician. This Saturday, nonetheless, a particular episode will premiere.
Walker can be speaking with musician Jayme Stone from 8 to 9 p.m. at this time. The episode may even be reside streamed on Fb at Hal Walker Music.
“It is sort of like I’ve been ready my entire life for TikTok,” Walker stated. “I’ve at all times performed very well in expertise reveals and TikTok is sort of a by no means ending expertise present. My specialty is wonderful musical concepts which are lower than a minute.”
Reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kaitlynmcg_rc.