In an exclusive interview with the Herald, South Auckland TikTok sensation Joshua Stylah has revealed he's still "upset" with R&B star Jason Derulo after the US hitmaker took his song without permission, and revealed details of his upcoming releases.
The 17-year-old student and music producer, AKA Jawsh 685, went viral on TikTok with his track Laxed (Siren Beat), racking up tens of millions of views, before he was caught up in controversy when Jason Derulo used the popular song without permission.
The Manurewa High School student told the Herald: "I'm still a little upset he used my beat without permission. An apology would be good."
It emerged last week that Derulo "went rogue" when he used the song, with a source telling Variety magazine: "Jason wanted the beat for a record - he wanted the song to be a Jason Derulo song with Jawsh as a producer.
"But Jawsh should make decisions of what he wants to do with it, not be bullied by a bigger artist into putting it out," they said.
The singer was instantly blasted for not properly crediting Stylah for his track after he teased his song 'Savage Love' on TikTok.
Many fans insisted that the megastar had "stolen" the song.
In response, Derulo tagged the producer on social media and said the teen "killed the beat".
But the Kiwi teen isn't letting the issue derail his budding career, telling the Herald he is "really excited" about releasing new music and working with vocalists.
"There are a few people in the works," he said, adding that he was "waiting for the green light" to get the projects rolling.
"I've been working on some of them for a few months now, some with friends on the internet others just on my own," he added.
The young beatmaker's social media shows he has been prodigious in producing his 'siren beats', with scores of catchy tunes appearing on his Instagram page.
Stylah told the Herald his global success, with tens of millions of streams on multiple platforms, all started when he began to create music on a broken laptop.
"I always loved making music and original beats," he said.
"I started playing around on my broken laptop in 2019 and just kept coming back to it every day."
• Teen sensation Joshua Nanai goes viral on TikTok with Laxed (Siren Beat)
• 'Feeling thankful': Teen TikTok star Joshua Nanai has major label deal, R&B star didn't 'steal' song
• Source claims Jason Derulo 'went rogue' when taking Kiwi teen's song
Revealing that he was heavily influenced by the siren beat sounds, born from the trend of playing music through sirens on cars and bicycles, Stylah said he didn't come from a particularly musical family but credited their support with being a key part of his success.
With such a massive introduction to the music scene, you might think that pressure was mounting on the young artist but Stylah said it wasn't an issue for him.
"I don't feel too much pressure, if any it would come from myself," he said.
Asked whether he was on a similar track to some of the big stars that have emerged from south Auckland, Stylah stayed humble and said that while it looked like he was heading in that direction, "you never know what is coming".
He originally posted the song Laxed (Siren Beat) on YouTube in 2019 but it was when it hit TikTok that it truly exploded.
It soon sparked a dance craze, with users around the world dancing to the song and shouting out their own culture.
Becoming known as the Culture Dance, the trend was hopped on by some of the biggest names on the platform and sees users transform mid-song into their traditional dress.
He told the Herald it was a "little strange" to see it blow up while he stayed in his family bubble during lockdown and worked on new music but said he loved knowing that his music was connecting with people across the world.
The teen has previously shouted out his neighbourhood, saying he was "focusing on all the positive things to come and getting Manurewa 67 on the map" and he told the Herald that support from his community during the stoush with Derulo has been important to him, saying he "loved all the supporters who commented positively for me".
He proudly represents his heritage on the island-themed track, with a shoutout to the Samoan dialling code and the now-prescient cry of "Leeshgooo" at the start of the song.
The unique 'siren beat' sound is a distinctly Pasifika music - that he has taken to the world.
"In 2017 I started hearing siren beats around south Auckland, and I really connected with it so I started making my own'" he said.
Stylah told the Herald it was "pretty humbling" to be able to share the sound around the world.
"It's cool to see people connecting with my music, and seeing the Pacific Island culture get some attention."