When I met Victor for the first time, the then 17-year-old musician and I had arranged to link up at a coffee shop in Wicker Park to record an interview. Huddled in the corner of the crowded room on a snowy afternoon, I asked the up-and-coming artist, whose track “Tinder Song” I’d just discovered a month prior, about the artists that had been inspiring him most lately. At the time, he’d mentioned names like Jasper Bones, Banes World, and Cuco.

I remind him of that day now as we’re sitting in the chilly lobby of the Lyrical Lemonade office in the middle of summer in Chicago. He’d just gotten off the road opening for Cuco’s headlining tour, a full-circle moment that even Victor has trouble summing up in words. His new project, simply titled ‘Victor’s Debut’, seeks to take the experiences he’s had over this time period and sum them up in song form. The breadth of his music has grown along with him–a quality that comes through in the carefully arranged tracklisting of ‘Victor’s Debut’. While the first half presents more of the dreamy, emotional side that Victor’s music has explored deeply in the past, the second half undergoes a noticeable shift and evolution into more poignant, rhythmic cuts that let a listener into the artist’s background and personal struggles through vulnerable lyricism.

Now 18 years old and releasing his music as Victor Internet, Victor reflects on his time on the road, his new EP, and all the other changes in his life since we last spoke. Check out our latest conversation in the Q&A below:

MDR: What was it like going on tour with Cuco?

Victor: It was definitely very new to me. I didn’t expect it. It was just weird, ’cause I dunno if you remember like before it, before all of this, I was a big fan of Cuco. You know, I was like idolizing him. So I didn’t expect him be like, “yo, you want to come on tour?”. But it happened. I guess since we’re in the same circle, a lot of people already knew who I was before the tour. So it was just really cool. Like going on tour and having the crowd sing the songs back at me. It was kinda surreal. It was really fun. It was definitely a learning experience.

MDR: Yeah, last time we did an interview [January 2018], you put me onto his music. Now you’re being put in the same conversation as him and a lot of the other artists that you look up to.

Victor: I never imagined myself being up there with those people to be honest. I mean maybe in like three years, but it all happened so fast. So, I mean, I’m definitely very honored to be held that high.

MDR: How would you describe the dynamic between the two of you when you were on tour?

Victor: It was very big brother-ish. I fucked up a hotel reservation once and, and I was like, shit I don’t really have a lot of money right now. I was like stressing about it. And then he was like “yo if you need anything, I got you.” So that was like really cool. I didn’t think he would be open to helping me in that in that way. He was very encouraging. A lot of nights I would kind of beat myself up for a bad performance or something and he would just be there to give me words of encouragement.

MDR: I noticed your whole life fan base is super loyal and it’s grown a lot. Were you consciously trying to build your fanbase or Is it something that just happened? That’s good.

Victor: I mean, I’m Mexican [laughs]. I’m Mexican, I make music. I think that that in itself is like a lot to take in for people. Also, I don’t really think about this cause I don’t give a f**k about age, but I guess to a lot of people it’s a big deal to them that I’m 18, I’m Mexican, making music for a living. I guess that inspires a lot of people.

MDR: What can fans expect on the new EP?

Victor: The first four songs on the EP are softer and more balladic. I kinda wanted to get that out of the way. After the interlude, the last four songs are definitely very raw and a more mature sound. In a way, it’s kind of like me writing down my progress and how far I’ve come. I’ve definitely tried to tell a story and tell people who I am, for people who care. They’ll understand more about who I am as a person and the stuff I’ve been through, ’cause a lot of people would instead kind of pass me off as just “bedroom pop”.

MDR: How would you say your music has evolved with this project?

Victor: I’m definitely talking more about how it feels being away from my old neighborhood and like losing a lot of friends after getting into the music scene and kind of blowing up a little bit. So it was really cool to talk about those things. … Being alone kind of helps you break out of that box. I don’t really try and do anything. This is becoming Victor Internet, you know, it’s no longer like “Victor making ‘Tinder Song’ and making little bedroom pop music videos in his room.” If people fuck with it, then they won’t box me in.

MDR: Before the EP, you dropped the music video for “Veins” directed by Matthew Castellanos. What was it like working with a director and also making your biggest music video thus far in terms of production?

Victor: It was cool. It kind of feels like you’re in a Tesla–like you can auto-drive, just let go and that’s it. Matthew did ask me what I was feeling for the video. His process is funny. He made me record myself in my room singing the song like four times so that he could see my facial expressions to help him envision what the video would look like.

MDR: What music have you been listening to lately?

Victor: Well currently, I was revisiting the Drake and Future project ‘What a Time to be Alive’. The new Steve Lacey album was really, really good. There’s this surf rock band called Hoops. They have this album called ‘Routines’, and it’s just really happy music.

MDR: What artists would you say are influencing you the most right now?

Victor: Well, it’s still Frank Ocean. I feel like he’s always going to be number one on the list cause he’s just the king of experimenting and I love experimenting with music. I think it’s becoming a Rosalía now too. I’ve been listening to her a lot, and her appreciation for the flamenco genre; it’s so crazy, I think she studied it for like 13 years. Tyler is becoming a big inspiration now too. ‘Igor’ was really, really good. Um, so that’s, that’s definitely there. My own friends definitely inspire me; Just listening to Jackie [Hayes] and Billy [Lemos], it makes me want to do better.

MDR: What’s your favorite Frank project?

Victor: ‘Endless’. That’s like the cheater right there. Like that’s what he cheated with. I dunno what that project means to him. I don’t, I don’t know if he likes it or not cause he got [out of his contract] with it, but I love it. It’s an amazing work of art. A lot of the songs sound like they don’t make sense. That’s why a lot of people don’t like ‘Endless’ ’cause it’s just Frank f**king around. I love that, though.

MDR: It’s cool to see you and your friends all kind of coming up at the same time and growing together.

Victor: Yeah, I think we’re all right now in our own lane and I think it’s pretty cool. We’re able to do whatever we want. Whereas like last year we were all struggling, trying to figure out the whole playlist algorithm or trying to see how to get a writeup on Pigeons and Planes. But I feel like everything’s falling into place now, so we don’t really have to worry about that as much. We also help each other out with the connections we each have. And now we’re able to help people coming up under us, like Lower Lip Drip. There’s a lot of younger artists that look up to us, which is weird cause we don’t know what the f**k we’re doing at the same time [laughs].

Listen to Victor’s Debut here, and catch him on tour in your city (see dates here).