The Evolution of Teddy Swims – From Rags To Riches

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I first found Teddy Swims when the hubs introduced his music to me. Actually, it wasn’t his music, he did a lot of covers. He wound up on reaction videos all over YouTube, because his looks hide the talent and voice he has. Teddy can belt out soul, gospel, hip-hop, hard rock, pop and even country. He’s got a YouTube channel that boasts 1.68 million subscribers (as of this writing) where he’s posted not only covers but original material as well.

He won me over with his rich voice, but also with his comedic video performances. This was my first introduction to Teddy Swims – “You’re Still the One” a cover of the Shania Twain hit. My laughter came from the fact that he’s toting that sweet tea around through the whole video!  My respect came from hearing that amazing voice.

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“There are no categories, no stereotypes, and no definitive statistics. Until we see every person as an individual, we will never reach unity.”

History

Jaten Dimsdale was raised in Conyers, Georgia. He was a product of The South – a football player, a musical theatre student, the grandson of a pastor – but he loved music. He wound up in several bands from high school onward, and he took lessons from each one – 80s hair metal, metalcore, funk, hip-hop, country alternative, and soul. He became active in Atlanta’s metal, punk and rap scene.

After experimenting with some beats alongside his best friend Addy Maxwell, the two ended up touring as hip-hop/rap artists! This is when he came up with his stage name Teddy Swims (or at the time, just SWIMS). It’s actually an acronym for Someone Who Isn’t Me. Why? Because at the time, he really didn’t take the rap tour seriously. It was a link in a chain that would lead him to success elsewhere. 

By 2018 Teddy Swims was actually in multiple bands, and that’s how he got in with the Elefvnts. 

Unfortunately, that year, he wound up living with his dad while looking for work or a break. Success came when he posted a video of himself singing “Rock With You”, a cover of the Michael Jackson song. It was meant to be a tribute, paying homage to the man on the 10th anniversary of his death. It was the first video to go viral and get views. 

Since then, he and his core family – or team – have moved out to a house together, where they have studios to work in. So, they’ve essentially had a year-long creative live-in. The household includes his producer, manager, videographer, photographer, and all of the musicians of Elefvnts. What came out of that was magically born of hard work and professional development. By the end, he had several covers as well as original works arranged. They filmed everything they could in his hometown of Conyers, Georgia, and used it for making the videos released that year and the next. 

Of these covers, it was his release of the cover “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that caught the attention of the music world and took YouTube by storm. Then, it went viral and was the star of multiple reaction videos by other content creators. This boosted his other covers and led to his popularity. Why did it happen? Because so many people took a look at a heavy-set white dude with a big beard, covered in tattoos, and misjudged what would come from him. As of the writing of this article this video has had nearly 18 MILLION views on YouTube. 

Soon after, other covers began topping that release in the millions of views on YouTube. “Let Me Love You” a Mario cover has 39 million views and the song that introduced me to the man, “You’re Still The One” a Shania Twain cover has hit 52 million views. He and his team went back and actually made an official video for that one.  Shania approved – link to tweet.

He signed with Warner Records in 2020, because he felt like the label listened to who he was instead of forcing his hands and voice into their desires. He and his band released the original single, “Picky”  and then wound up on a sold-out cross-country tour, taking his band with him. Later in the same year, he released “Broke”.

Style and Influence

Teddy loves his home state of Georgia and has been influenced by a lot of musicians that have come from there. People like Andre and Big Boi [from Outkast], Ray Charles, James Brown, and Otis Redding fill those ranks. 

Teddy Soul Music, which he believes he can hear when listening to a lot of other genres. And as an artist, he can handle so many genres, as he explained in an interview with Miguel Costa for Ones to Watch – 

“Sometimes we’ll write a song and it will come out so Country. And sometimes we’ll write a song that will come out so Hip-hop….I genuinely don’t know if I’ll ever find out what my [genre] is. I think we’re getting to a place with music where genres are absolutely fluid and [music] can be whatever you want it to be as long as it’s honest.”  

As an artist, Teddy has stated that he had put himself in situations wherein he’s gotten hurt or had heartbreak and then wound up writing all the better for it.

Collaborations & Connections

After releasing a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” Teddy donated all royalties to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. He added the following message in the description on the YouTube page:

“Love all who have love for all. Here we are almost 50 years after the release of this album and it still speaks volumes! A revolution has many channels. There are so many ways to use your voice! Protest on social media, protest on the streets, educate yourself, have the hard conversations, support black owned businesses and community organizations, and donate if you can! Do your part. I LOVE YOU!!

I am pledging $5,000 to donate across the following charities: The Love Land Foundation, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, ATL Solidarity Fund, Atlanta NAACP, and the Georgia Black United Fund. I encourage those who can donate, to support organizations in your local community that are working to create opportunities for people of color.”

Teddy Swims

Since beginning to see signs of success, Teddy has not only removed himself from his father’s house, he also pays all of his crew members, even during the pandemic. Most of the guys he works with have been around him since school and soon after.  They all grew up in the same area. Even though the name and artist are considered a “solo act” he has his entire team around him at all times. He prefers it this way. So, the band known as Elefvnts and the artist Jaten Dimsdale have combined to become “Teddy Swims”. 

During the pandemic,  they released a new version of “Broke” featuring country/country rock singer Thomas Rhett.

They have also begun working with singer/songwriter Dallas Davidson, Grammy Award-winning record producer/songwriter /music executive Dave Cobb, as well as Boy Matthews, a UK singer/songwriter.  

Teddy collaborated with Australian publication Cool Accidents to cover Matt Corby’s “Brother” this year. Check it out – “Meet Teddy Swims, The Atlanta Singer-Songwriter That’s Bending Genres and Melting Faces”.

Original Songs/Discography

Singles:

  • Picky 2020
  • Broke
  • My Bad 2021
  • Til I Change Your Mind

Albums:

  • Unlearning 2021

What’s New

His band, the Elevnts, work with him closely (they have lived together over the last year) and promoted the entire package under the name Teddy Swims. They along with producer and engineer, Lee Rouse, have an awesome system in which they can all be working on laying down music at the same time and collaborate extensively through the pandemic. 

During the pandemic, Teddy released “Broke” featuring Thomas Rhett. But he’s also been doing benefit concerts all along for live streaming.  His social media presence is spot-on and continuous throughout. 

He’s also been posting a lot on TikTok, so check those little videos out. He jams singing Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”, Dan and Shay’s “Tequila”, all the way to Dua Lipa’s “Break My Heart”. They also have some fun with it – this is a prime example of his sense of humor: SWIMMY VIBIN’  

Teddy’s latest EP Unlearning dropped at the end of May 2021 and has 7 songs on it. These songs are not just humorous songs. Some of these are very meaningful and absolutely all of them are belted out perfectly.

Most recently, Teddy Swims has announced that the band will be hitting the road in August to support the Zac Brown Band. If you want more information on touring, check out the links below.

Find Out More:

WEBSITE: https://www.teddyswims.com/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/c/TeddySwims/feature

As always, if you want to share more, or feel I’ve missed something, let me know by emailing untappedsoundnc@gmail.com.

Rachel Adams

I would have previously thought of myself as an audiophile. But by gaming and listening to my children and their friends, I've been introduced to an entire realm of artists that are not on the radio.