For the past six months, none of Aidan Bissett’s teachers or classmates at Jesuit High School were aware that he had just scored a huge record label deal.
As Bissett, 18, was wrapping up his senior year of high school, he was also sending snippets of indie pop songs recorded in his bedroom to Capitol Records, the same company that put out records by Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles.
In mid April, Capitol Records officially announced that the Tampa native would be joining their roster and launched his new single, Communication. The rest has been a blur.
“I still can’t believe it,” Bissett said. “I’m literally living a dream right now.”
The Bissett family moved from Tampa to Portland, Oregon, when Bissett was 5. By second grade, Bissett asked for his first electric guitar. His dad, Paul, remembers how an instructor sent him home from his first lesson with Back In Black sheet music.
Bissett experimented with other passions, like playing football, but music remained a big part of his life. When the family moved back to Tampa, Bissett was 15 and started a band called Offshore with school friends. They were the opening act at a small bar, playing in front of about a hundred people he’d never met before.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is it,” he said. “’This is what I want.’”
That band dissolved after the other members became consumed with sports practice. But Bissett kept playing, tinkering around with music production software and watching tutorials on YouTube. When the coronavirus lockdown started, he used his time at home to learn covers and work on original songs.
“The pandemic, as horrible and terrible as it is, has been a blessing for me in the sense of creativity. It kind of allowed me to be confident in a way that I wasn’t confident before,” he said.
“I was like, “Well, I’ll make a TikTok. The guys can’t make fun of me now because we’re not in school, so they won’t see me.’”
The covers and snippets of his original music started gaining traction. Bissett got connected with TikTok-famous artist Blu De Tiger, who helped him work with a producer on his first song, Different.
“All my friends are like, ‘What, dude, where did this come from?’” Bissett remembered. “‘Why have you been sitting on this?’”
He released two more songs after that —More Than Friends, and Worst Girls of All Time. Then he heard from Capitol Records.
“Next thing I know, I have the executive vice president of Capitol Records sitting on this Zoom and I’m like, ‘Wait a second...this wasn’t supposed to be real.’”
Capitol Records will put out Bissett’s first album, with an option to do several other albums, Paul Bissett said. They will also provide support for touring, marketing and sales.
“From a parent’s perspective, it’s the greatest thing in the whole wide world,” he said. “Not because he signed with a record label, but because the opportunities that they’re going to give him will provide him the education and the access at a level that we could never provide him.”
After the label released Communication, everything changed for Bissett.
His song has appeared on huge Spotify playlists, like ‘New Music Friday,’ which has over three million listeners. He’s received a flurry of messages from new followers (he’s up to about 110,000 fans on TikTok). And one Friday afternoon, during the last period of the school day, he got a text to check his Instagram. A little blue verification check was waiting for him next to his profile name.
“It was such a surreal moment,” he said.
While balancing his final assignments and preparing for AP exams, Bissett has also been spending his weekends writing new songs, soaking up inspiration from his favorite artists, like Wallows and Tame Impala, or soundtracks from shows that he loves.
“I want to write a song that could be in Dawson’s Creek,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bissett is planning to attend college, choosing between Belmont University in Nashville and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
“As much as I love Tampa, I would like to try something new and see the rest of the world a little bit,” he said. “High school is great. But I’m ready for that next step.”
After putting out more songs, he’s hopeful about touring next year. He dreams of coming home to play at local events, like Gasparilla Music Festival.
“I really would love to be the guy on stage connecting with the audience and really feeling the music,” he said. “I think that is priceless.”