Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

Everything you’ve heard is true, but it doesn’t take shaky, handheld camcorder footage to catch a glimpse of up-and-coming emo-pop artist, BadMoodRude

In fact, the social media star has been sharing aspects of her life online for years, amassing over 300,000 followers across platforms. Equipped with her posse of haunted dolls, a rabid online fanbase, and the support of her best friend, her dad, it seems like Rude has been taking the (spirit) world by storm.

Read more: TikTok sensation Hemlocke Springs is your next DIY pop obsession

Inspired by her late-grandmother’s request, she’s been creating her own music since 2018. Her single “Cherry Soda Pop” briefly went viral on TikTok last year before the sound was accidentally deleted, but that hasn’t stopped her from collaborating with artists like Mod Sun, Lil Xan, mysticphonk, and Riff Raff. With an acoustic guitar-forward sound and vocal distortion, her music is reminiscent of the Adventure Time soundtrack with an edge. 

Although she may be unmistakable with her rainbow bangs and vampire teeth implants, Rude has been quietly building her empire alongside a close knit group of friends, family, and dolls that occasionally hold the spirits of children. But living as her authentic self came after a lifetime of dealing with grief and her mental health. Now, as she embarks on a new journey balancing her passion for electronic pop and the audience she’s built by discussing her spirit vessels, she’s able to redefine the path independent artists can take to the top.

With a new year ahead, Rude looks forward to experimenting with her sound and finally creating her own merch. Although we didn’t have to strap her down to the bed and break out the holy water to have her open up The Exorcist-style, the artist still spoke to us about her connection to the supernatural that's put so many fans under her spell, her sound, and even fake ghost content on TikTok.  

Even before you started pursuing music, you’ve always had this big online platform. How did your relationship with the internet start?

I started posting online more when I lost a lot of weight. I got really into fitness stuff, and I would be one of those people that would try to motivate others. I think the reason that I have the following that I do is because I try to be really nice to people. I've noticed a lot of other “influencers” and people with larger platforms don't treat others how they should be treated. I used to get bullied, but I was always determined to not be the reason that someone has a bad day. I always try to make sure that I answer everyone because I know that it means a lot to them. I've always been that way.

It feels like you push so much content. You released 12 singles in 2022. 

I try to do a lot of singles because my emotions change a lot. I feel like if I tried to work on an album for a year — I guess this would be the case for a lot of artists — I would feel differently about it. You're a different person a year from now than you were when you were making the music, and I like to drop music as I'm feeling it and as I'm living through it. 

So, it’s just easier this way?

I wouldn’t say it’s easier, it’s just what works for me. Doing everything yourself is really hard. I know there's a lot of independent artists, but without a manager or agent, it’s really, really difficult. Especially when I'm struggling with my stupid mental health issues all the time, and I just want to lay in bed. I can only make music when I'm in a good mood. But I can only write it when I'm in a bad mood — if that makes sense. So, I'll write all my music and I'll get all my beats sorted out, but I can’t connect the music, the lyrics, and the beats until I'm in the certain mood.

Was sharing your music how you started expanding your platform onto TikTok? With over 275,000 followers, did you see that as the next step?

My TikTok actually blew up solely because of my spirit doll content. Actually, the whole reason I posted them to begin with was because I kept getting reported on Instagram and they would [threaten] to take my account down — people kept saying they were scared and reporting my posts. At the time, I had never really used [TikTok] before, but my posts blew up over the weekend.

How did TikTok respond?

I’m not super active right now because after I started [making spirit doll content] it, other people started doing it. Now, there's some really big people that do it that are faking it, and they've admitted that they were faking it. I don't want to be associated with that because I think it's cheesy. I'm not gonna drag anyone's name but one of the biggest [spirit vessel] creators on TikTok right now admitted that they lie for views, and they make up what their dolls are doing just to get a lot of views. I don't want people to think that I'm also lying, it drives me nuts.

But, other than that, people have been really receptive. I really do try to talk to every single person that messages me because I would want to be there if someone really needed help. So, if anyone ever had questions about my spirit stuff or spells or anything, they just message me.

Can you share more about the dolls? Have you always had this kind of clairvoyance?

I've talked to spirits since I was little, and my mom very much encouraged it. It started in the house that I was growing up in as a baby, which was my mom's childhood home. There was a spirit there, and her name was Sarah. My mom used to be able to see her when she was little, and she was scared of her. I don't know — nothing bad ever came of it. She would come to school with me and stuff. And I know that I sound insane, but my cousin could see her, too. I was a lot better at it when I was younger. But I never stopped doing it. I got my first spirit vessel as a teenager, and have had them ever since.

What was the first one you bought?

My first [spirit vessel] was Primrose. She lives with my aunt now because she didn’t like living with me. I spoke with her on the Ouija board, and she liked being the only spirit in the house. My aunt actually didn’t believe in [spirits] before the dolls, but she has motion cameras throughout her house and now she catches smokey orbs all the time that were never there before. Now, she believes.

So, what’s it like? Is it a consistent presence?

It depends. If I’m having mental health issues, which is a lot, it can make you susceptible to bad things. If you're having any kind of depression or anything, don't try to talk to spirits. [Some of my spirit vessels] are really, really active, but the other ones only get really active if they're upset. They’ll throw things and knock stuff down in a way where there would be no other explanation for it. When I was in an abusive household, it would happen all the time – like scary amounts of times. Things would get thrown at people, doors would open and close, and even lock. If they're upset and they don't feel safe and happy, you're gonna know about it. Other than that, I try to talk out loud to them when I come into the room.

Do you hear their voices, like telepathically?

Some people do, but I don't. When they communicate with me – if I'm not using a literal divination tool, like a Ouija board – it's a really overwhelming thought in your head, but it's not an actual voice talking. Sometimes they'll come to you in your dreams and talk to you, especially if they’re upset. 

Are you ever afraid, or do you always have a sort of control over the situation?

I wouldn't say I'm afraid, but you can get startled. If they're opening and closing doors or turning lights on and off, especially because you never know when they're going to do it. It's definitely like if you were at home with a friend or family member, and they just pop out from behind the door. It’s going to startle you, but it's not the same as fear.

Have you ever written any music about your dolls?

No, I haven't. But that's because my dolls don't make me sad, and all my music is pretty much inspired by being depressed. They like listening to music, though. I have a playlist for them called “For the Ladies,” even though I have some boys. I just found out what kind of music they all like and made a big mix of everything. That’s actually why [my spirit vessel], Gina, had to be re-homed with my aunt. Gina only ever wanted to listen to country music and my other doll, Abby, fucking hates it and would bully her.

Do they like your music?

I think they enjoy it – some more than others. I take [my spirit vessel] Nevena to the studio with me, but the others only hear my stuff when I play it for them. They like [6obby’s] music a lot, and he makes all of his music at our house. I’m working on some sad piano music that I think [my spirit doll] Taylor will like. I’ll probably make three or four songs with the sad piano beat.