Backstage With Tate McRae on Tour

Backstage With Tate McRae on Tour

Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Vincenzo Dimino

After teasing her millions of fans on TikTok for months, Tate McRae has finally announced the release date and title of her major label debut, i used to think i could fly, out May 27 off RCA Records. The 18-year-old Calgary native has already released several songs from the LP — ”feel like shit” and “she’s all i wanna be” — establishing the singer as a rising voice for her generation.

The artwork features McRae on the wing of an airplane in-flight, standing strong despite it being engulfed in flames beneath her. Building off the title and this image, her music unravels all of McRae’s insecurities and fears in love and life, but in doing so puts her in a position of power. And it’s resonating with her audience, who have collectively streamed McRae’s music more than 3.2 billion times so far.

“Growing up is chaotic,” she sings in her most recent single, an all-encompassing album theme for McRae and her peers navigating the turbulence of early adulthood. In an accompanying "chaotic" visualizer (with an official music video on the way), McRae sits in the window seat of a plane, when she wakes up to find the wing on fire and all surrounding passengers ignoring her. “Nobody said changing would be this exhausting.”

McRae is currently touring across North America through the end of April and will join Shawn Mendes as a supporting act in fall of 2022 between September and October. During a recent show in New York City, PAPER caught up with her backstage to shoot some polaroids and ask her about life on the road. Below, McRae tells us about her favorite cities, fan memories, pre-show rituals and more.

Backstage With Tate McRae

Most challenging song to perform live:

The most challenging song to sing live is my new song, called "chaotic." I performed it for the first time in Detroit and almost cried when I heard the crowd singing it back. That song was so personal and scary to write that it was difficult not to choke up while singing it.

Favorite song to sing live:

My favorite song to sing live is actually my song, called "that way." My fans absolutely scream that one. I love looking them straight in the eyes and singing it with them.

Fondest fan memory at a show:

Honestly, I try to cherish the moments that I have with my fans as much as possible. Any time someone comes to me and says that my music helped them in any way is always so special to me. The other day someone proposed at my meet and greet because their fiancée apparently listened to me the most out of any artist, so that was a very cool moment.

Wildest fan gift given at a show:

So many gifts from fans that I'm obsessed with: Custom mugs, cowboy hats, necklaces with "tater tots" on them, stuffies, flowers, paintings and so many others.

Favorite city to play live in:

Oh, that is so hard. DC and Philly were incredible, as well as all of Texas and Boston too. I could never decide, they are so loud and engaged. It’s the most surreal feeling in the world.

Pre-show ritual:

I do a workout with my dancers, a vocal warmup, then start doing my makeup. After I’m ready and changed, my tour manager will always come in and personally puts on all of our in ears and mic packs. It’s honestly our good luck ritual. If she doesn’t put them in, they usually end up falling out on stage.

Post-show routine:

We always get off stage with so much adrenaline that we try to calm down as much as possible. After packing up and taking off all our show makeup, hair and costumes, I’ll head to my tour bus and say goodbye to fans who are waiting.

Photography: Vincenzo Dimino
Editing: Carla DeMiranda