The range of different producers and instrumentalists on TikTok is incredibly vast. Here are our 10 favorite instrumentalists on the platform.
TikTok is the perfect platform for producers. No app gives as much curated space for them to add visual elements to their process. Though the platform just made it possible for videos to go up to ten minutes in length, the short form (as it was originally intended for the algorithm) makes it so producers can present their craft as a compelling quick performance. The necessary zoom-in feel of the videos makes it so you’re able to get a more in-depth look at how sounds are made than even a live show.
Beyond fully-fledged composers, single instrumentalists also get to shine on the app. Guitarists, cellists, pianists, finger drummers, and more can utilize the duet feature to collaborate with as wide a range of other instrumentalists and vocalists as the app’s reach will allow. A space that initially seemed to cater to dance crazes and bts videos of literally anyone’s life or opinions has now become an avenue to expose true musical craftsmanship. The range of different producers and instrumentalists on TikTok is incredibly vast. That said, we’ve taken the time to highlight ten of the most compelling we’ve been able to find.
April Kae (@aprilkae.nyc)
Duet me, @maskedwolfmusic? See you in the morning when it goes viral. ☀️
April Kae, a New York City-based bassist, flaunts impeccable skill in rhythm, range, and making videos that make you smile wide. Her bass playing spans all genres including (but not limited to) funk, punk, hip-hop, and even ’90s pop girl groups. Kae also utilizes her platform to promote feminism, body positivity, and music education.
Ken James Kubota (@kenjameskubota)
Have you ever seen someone play the cello like an acoustic guitar? On TikTok, Ken James Kubota is skillfully expanding the range of the instrument. His R&B centered plucked sequences grab your ear immediately as you hear them. They are the perfect starting place to build a compelling duet if you are a smooth singer with love songs in your back pocket.
Fiona Kida (@fionakida)
Fiona Kida plays potentially the most ethereal sounding electric guitar on the app and encourages vocalists to add their flavor atop her sounds. Even if you aren’t a singer-songwriter just laying back and listening to her videos as you scroll down her page can be quite the meditative experience.
Kaelin Ellis (@kaelinellis)
The LOAFLAB-bred multi-instrumentalist and producer has brought his talents that have helped accompany major artists like Lupe Fiasco to the app. What’s most impressive about Ellis on TikTok is his range of content. He is incredibly adept at displaying how he layers sounds seamlessly, but Ellis also highlights his compelling collaborations with other producers in visual form. Whether he’s composing multi-part instrumentals or just seeing how he can sample pouring water out of a water bottle and put it on top of drums and synths, his content is always worth a watch and listen.
Steph Strings (@stephstringsmusic)
While this Australian musician also does sing and write songs, some of Steph Strings’ most captivating videos come from her just being alone with one of her many instruments. From playing the neck of a guitar with such finesse it sounds like a melodic percussion instrument to introducing you to the calming rhythms a hang drum or hand pan can make, Steph reels you in with consistent ease.
Electronic dance music has a key place on an app full of people dancing, but it also has a key place in giving validity to people who produce it with mastery. Producer Biianco shows off an undeniable range and style in her videos. What she’s able to present with various keyboards alone is something to marvel at. When she adds electronic drum pads and vocal samples into the mix in real-time, you get to witness all the technical elements that set up her dynamic sequences.
Finger drumming on an MPC is something that feels made for TikTok. Viewing someone really good at putting together beats like this feels like a live theatrical performance. Producer Alianna is one of the best at showcasing this skill on the app. Not only does her shit knock, but she’s really good at highlighting all the fun details and transitions.
The Pocket Queen (@thepocketqueen)
There’s an argument to be made that The Pocket Queen is the best drummer on TikTok. She really is the master of finding new and interesting rhythms with two wooden sticks in her hand. Her drum videos alone would be a reason to give her a follow, but when she puts full instrumentals together with multiple instruments you realize that she has zero limits to her musicianship. Her funk pockets specifically will have you making stank faces as you scroll through her page.
Low Leaf (@low_leaf)
Playing harp over a Yeat instrumental is something you just don’t see or hear every day. What’s crazy about when you hear Low Leaf do it is it makes you appreciate the beat more. She thrives on her upright string instrument but also expands her videos to layering those sounds with keys and guitar creating magical sounding loops. What keeps you going back to see her new content is that no matter if it’s something peaceful or a straight banger it always sounds like it’s her main style.
Queen Ife (@its.queen.ife)
Inarguably one of the best videos to watch on TikTok is Queen Ife making an afrobeats instrumental out of covid related objects. Even initially reading the sentiment on the screen is hilarious, but then when you hear how good the beat is your jaw drops. No one has ever finessed the sounds a Lysol can make like this and never will again. Laughing and dancing at the same time is really what social media is all about, or at least this video proves that it should be. Ife does also make amazing beats with real instruments, especially some of her drill stuff and even ’80s inspired stuff. But wow is she incredible at showing you how to make beats with whatever objects she has around her.
Miki Hellerbach is a freelance music and culture journalist from Baltimore, whose work can also be found on CentralSauce, Euphoria Magazine, Notion Magazine, GUAP Magazine, and Complex. He also regularly co-hosts the In Search of Sauce music journalism podcast highlighting the top tier work of other writers.