At 30 years old, Teddy Swims has spent the last couple years carving out a name for himself in the music world with soulful covers of songs like Mario’s “Let Me Love You”, Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”, and Chris Stapleton’s “Tennesse Whiskey”.
The Atlanta born-and-raised son of a preacher, real name Jaten Dimsdale, has racked up millions of views and followers on social media. He’s parlayed his tunesmithing and online crooning into a record deal with Warner Records, tours in Europe and Japan, and all kinds of brand deals, including a recent one for Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola on the launch of the company’s signature Ready To Drink canned cocktails.
“Of course it’s such an iconic drink,” says Swims. “I’ve had a few in my life. So, I’m excited man. As a Georgia boy, growing up going to the World of Coke, I’m excited to see Tennessee and Georgia come together. I think this might be the only thing we ever had right together. We seem like we’re rivals on everything else except on Jack and Coca-Cola… especially our football teams.”
Though Swims cut his teeth on covers, he’s set for a breakout year in the music world, complete with original hits like “Face Myself” with Elley Duhé, which follows on the heels of his November 2022 EP Sleep Is Exhausting.
In conversation, he tells me that the moment he felt like he made it was when George Lopez followed him on Instagram. Shania Twain also reached out with praise after hearing his cover of “You’re Still The One”.
There’s no other way to put it: The man has pipes.
Before a recent Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola launch party at a private house in the Hollywood Hills, I asked him if he had any sacred cows when it comes to singing someone else’s song.
Are there any covers he could never touch?
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. There’s a few songs like that in the world. I think it’s like, “You’re just better off not trying to go there,” says Swims.
“One of them used to be “Don’t Stop Believing”, I guess I kind of ended up doing that one, but I’m super happy it went along great. But I think there’s a lot of stuff like that with singers like Steve Perry,” Swims says.
“‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, that one right there – just don’t bother. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is really that song that I don’t think anybody should cover,” Swims continues.” I think you should just leave that alone. I’m sure that maybe there is a decent cover of it somewhere, but it just seems like a heavy load to pick up and all the harmonies and all the things in it,”
“I think Freddie Mercury might be one of those untouchable icons.”
“You can leave it to like karaoke, right?”, I add.
“Yeah, exactly. Yeah, a bunch of friends can do that together, but I don’t think you can ever touch Freddy Mercury. He’s just a freak.”
Before we wrap, I ask him about his tattoos. He answers my question with a question.
“You ever seen that old meme where it’s Jesus and he’s crossing up the devil in basketball?”, Swims inquires.
I tell him I have.
“So my entire back is dedicated to that. And we put like we put Jordan 1s on him and everything. Frankly the joke just wasn’t that funny based off of the pain. It was just not worth finishing. So I have a whole unfinished piece of Jesus crossing the devil over in basketball and I just was like, I think I’ll finish the rest of my body before I get back to it. ‘Cause it’s just not as funny as it is hurtful, you know? It just hurts me,” says Swims.
“Nobody’s looking at my back often anyway. I guess now that I’m in L.A., I get my shirt off a little more. I think my girlfriend’s the other person that really sees me with my shirt off and she’s never looking at the back at me no matter what position we’re in…”
Teddy has jokes.
But aalso, a heck of a good perspective on what making it means in the music business.
“I think the real definition of success to me in my head is the ability to give someone that same opportunity,” says Teddy.
“I don’t think no matter how successful I get, or the money, or how recognizable I become, I think success for me is always the ability to help someone get to the next level too.”