Generation Z, while young, carries multiple banners of identity. Internet culture dominates their lives. They live in constant connectivity through social media and phone notifications. There’s never a pause in the world of Gen Z which, for many, has led to side effects like desensitization towards the world, depression and toxic positivity, to name a few.
However, Gen Z is also known for a more casual approach to life, disinterested by the established norms of conduct enforced by previous generations, which gives Gen Z incredible potential to enact change. Artistically and iconically, singers Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo have helmed the Generation Z image: angsty and chilled. However, as more young artists utilize social media to their advantage, stars begin to emerge.
When imalls, the alter ego of Ben Sanchez, logged onto the Zoom, the influence of the video app TikTok could be seen via his appearance: long, flowy hair, a baseball cap, and a loose shirt covering his thin body. He would fit in seamlessly into one of the many TikTok houses scattered across the Los Angeles landscape—a scene not unfamiliar to the 18 year old who spent his youth between Wisconsin and Arizona.
imfalls, with his TikTok aesthetic and “chill vibes,” is a product of Gen Z both as a person and as an artist. He describes his music as “a mix of emo-rap/pop with pop and pop-punk—it stems off the whole reminiscent of love, broken-heart club vibe kind of.” For reference, imfalls cites 24KGoldn, who’s recently found success via TikTok with his song “Mood,” and sad-boy singer brakence as his major inspirations.
His origin story, the transformation from Ben Sanchez to imfalls: Gen Z embodiment, began roughly four years ago. “My whole family was into music” he said. “My brother was in a band for thirteen years, my sister’s boyfriend was a SoundCloud rapper for a little bit.” Imfall’s sister would play a vital role in imfalls creation as it was “in his sister’s garage with a really a bad microphone, GarageBand and Snowball microphone” that he first began to experiment with making music.
As his experiment would prove, music provided a much needed outlet for the singer. Growing up in a digital world where so much is left unsaid, and there’s the constant visualization and expectation to be living the “best life,” emotions have become a battleground for imfalls, which is why he turned to music. “I had a hard time getting my emotions out. I could never say what was on my mind, and when it came to music I can just tell everyone what is going on” imfalls concluded on the art form.
As a want-to-be emblem of the Gen Z demographic, imfalls knows his crowd. Like much of the world’s discography, his music focuses on love and connection. What demonstrates a clear understanding of his fanbase is the way his music is released. He latest song is the single “What’s the Issue” and will be followed by another single “We Just Got Started,” dropping in August. However, don’t expect an album. “Whenever an artist drops an album or an EP, you and I would never go through every single song, except maybe one time, but we’ll have our favorites within the first five minutes” explained imfalls.
This method of releasing music is referred to as the Russ model or strategy. Rather than dropping a whole body of work, the artist releases one song at a time, allowing the audience to give each song the attention it deserves. This method also has the advantage of delivering output consistently to a media-hungry audience. In today’s world where audiences have the luxury of too much choice, undivided attention is hard to come by. Artists must compete with multiple forms of entertainment (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube), multiple screens (iPhone, TV, iPad), and other artists who also want the attention.
Fortunately for imfalls, the singer’s frequent trips to LA give him access to the crowd he makes music for. At the various influencer parties he gets invited to, imfalls noted that the people he would talk to, even in the glamor of the metropolitan life, “seem so sad. They’re rich and they’re famous and they’re sad and alone. They don’t have anyone to really rely on.” imfalls, perhaps from his upbringing or the fact he still lives out of state, doesn’t allow himself to get swallowed by the lure of hedonistic materialism and superficiality which plagues his generation.
Music is a collective experience; millions of people listen to the same song and often a similar feeling resonates in each of them. Music connects all these millions of individuals and provides them a shared experience. imfalls understands this power and wishes to utilize it in his music. After witnessing and distancing himself from the LA glam—which for him becomes “toxic” after too long—imfalls wants his music to connect.
Before music, he was a boy who couldn’t express himself. He knows he’s not alone. He wants listeners to know they aren’t alone either, even if the falsities and promoted toxic positivity on social media say otherwise. This elevates imfalls to be more than a caricature of Gen Z, but a leader for it.
In today’s quickly moving world populated with a generation who’s interests quickly change along with it, it can be hard for artist and their art to gain traction or longevity. The internet allows anybody to become famous, but this means that anybody will be competing against everybody. A success today does not guarantee a success tomorrow.
imfalls hopes to overcome these challenges with his music. He shows vulnerability in his music by singing about his experiences which are ultimately human experiences. At only 18 years old with 17,936 Spotify listeners, a number which continues to grow, and the internet at his disposal, imfalls has the potential to become a Gen Z icon and achieve his goal of generational connectivity.
Listen to imfalls on Spotify here.
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