The INTO Interview

Emerging Trans Artist Adam Ulanicki Talks TikTok Mashups and How His Transition Influenced His Music

*Photo credit: Rachel Israela

There’s power in music. With lyrics that tell stories and sounds that shape emotions, one song can touch someone in one way and for another, in a completely different manner. With Adam Ulanicki’s music, you can feel as free as you want to be and that’s all that he wants for his listeners. 

The 19-year-old German transgender singer is developing a sound that’s meant to make others feel seen, at home, and most of all, feel good. While known for his mashups on his large and ever growing TikTok account, Ulanicki mixes melancholic, classical elements (done usually through him playing the cello) within his songs and covers to create a sound that pulls at your heartstrings. While his first single, “Some Say”, was released this year in January, a snippet of it was released in 2021 on TikTok. 

Soon after, Ulanicki took a year-long hiatus from his public profile. He returned letting his fans in on his world, sharing that he realized that he is a transgender man and took the time to not only start his transition process, but to engage his music in it as well. The full version of his song “Some Say” became the byproduct of this process, ultimately becoming a duet that featured his voice pre-hormone replacement therapy and post-hormone replacement therapy. 

INTO spoke with Ulanicki about how he creates his mashups, who he would love to collaborate with musically, and what the experience was like highlighting his voice pre-HRT and post-HRT in his single “Some Say”.

Going from TikTok mashups to original music, where do you get your inspiration from?

So I think my inspiration comes from everywhere. This is how I cope with my emotions or my day to day life. And when I make music, I don’t feel judged or misunderstood. This is where I feel free. I play the cello in my mashups on my songs. My parents play classical instruments, so I think this is where I get this inspiration for the classical vibe. And I also love my childhood hits from 2009 around this time, like Rihanna or Jason Derulo songs. I also love Amy Winehouse.

Photo credit: Rachel Israela

You have created a sizable fanbase and following on TikTok with your mashups of popular songs. How did you get your start making these mashups and what is the process for finding the perfect tunes to put together?

So I think I uploaded my first mashup in 2020, like, when the pandemic started. I think I just had a lot of time on my own and in my free time, I just made music so I could just really get into it. I always wanted to get my music out, but I didn’t know how. So, as I mentioned before, like these old childhood hits, I was just singing them in my room all the time and then, I just came up with the idea of making a mashup. The funny thing is people are commenting “This works so well together.” I just kind of go with the vibe. I’m not actually listening to the lyrics, I’m just going through my playlist on Spotify with these old hits because these are all of my favorite songs and I just pick one and then I go with the vibe. 

When my voice is singing, it’s like a reminder of how my voice used to sound. But I’m falling in love with my new voice every day a little more.

Your single “Some Say” is a beautiful cover of a song by Swedish artist Nea. How did the cover come to be and how would you describe your own version?

I think ever since I heard that song, “Some Say” from Nea, I was instantly in love with it. I mean, you probably know the lead melody from “I’m Blue”, right? So when I heard that song for the first time, I was like, “I love that song.” I also immediately connected to the lyrics because I think I saw myself in them. I mean, Nea sings about love for another person, but for me, I understood it as finding that love for myself. So, yeah, I just fell in love with it and when I love a song, I make a cover or a mashup. It’s also, I would say, more emotional. It’s pretty cool because I have a collaboration with myself, kind of.

On that note about a collaboration with yourself, you were able to highlight your voice pre-HRT and then post-HRT as well within “Some Say”. What was that experience like being able to put both of those voices together into a song?

To be honest, it was kind of a strange feeling because it’s very nice that my old voice is not wasted. I’m still using it because this was a big fear of mine, being able to use the voice I had before. So I feel also blessed that I managed to combine my two voices, but it always hits me when the chorus starts. When my voice is singing, it’s like a reminder of how my voice used to sound. But I’m falling in love with my new voice every day a little more. It’s like they are starting to accept each other in one song, so it’s an emotional roller coaster.

Of course you’re mashing up songs, but let’s move on to collaborations. Who would you want to collaborate with musically?

Rihanna, because she’s my all time favorite artist. All of my childhood favorite songs [were from] Rihanna. I was always singing [her songs] in my room, dancing to her songs, crying to her songs, like everything. Yeah, I couldn’t name any other artist because I know Rihanna is the one.

Maybe we’ll see you with a Rihanna collaboration one of these days. Until then, we have some fabulous music from you. I’d love to know, what do you hope that fans take away from your songs?

I would say the same things that I take away from my music or from other songs. I want them to feel understood. I don’t want them to feel judged. I want them to feel free and at home when they listen to my music. When I listen to music and to my favorite songs, I get that euphoric feeling and if I manage to give them this euphoric feeling, that would make me very proud. 

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