Meet the Indie Rocker Channeling Mister Rogers on TikTok
Back in August, a beloved children’s book character started doing the WAP dance on TikTok. Duke Depp, the 19-year-old behind @WillyWonkaTikTok, has amassed over 14 million followers dressing as the Johnny Depp iteration of the Roald Dahl creation and participating in viral trends. Now he even has his own content house. @MisterRogersTikTok has no such plans. The account, run by Super Whatevr’s Sky McKee, was created to promote the indie band, which also includes Chase Vernon. However, followers quickly took to McKee’s “wholesome” demeanor and encouraging content, apart from the music.
“People were like, 'You're like the modern day Mister Rogers,'” he says over the phone. “And I was like, ‘Oh, if I double down on that, I could just like put a face and name to the thing I'm already doing.’”
So he made sure to save the “Super Whatevr” handle as another account and became @MisterRogersTikTok. His videos consist of manifestations, hopeful messages, and of course, a red sweater. Now, with over 130,000 followers, the musician’s quarantine experiment might just be the thing the draws people to Super Whatevr’s first concert post-pandemic—and yes, people are already demanding he wear the Mister Rogers costume on stage.
You joined TikTok initially to promote your music, but has this pivot to Mister Rogers actually provided the band with even more publicity?
I think it's hard not to beg on social media, like, “Please go into my music, pay attention to me.” You kind of have to get in people's way to disrupt their day to show them. And I didn't really want to do that anymore. It's way more fun to just be myself. It's a lot less weight on my shoulders. It's more like having fun and being creative and being sweet with this small following that I got.
I love falling into the world of a creator, and if they've built a world around it, then you can really deep-dive. So the Mister Rogers thing, I just want to pay homage because he was part of my childhood. It definitely is helping the streams and it's growing the band socials like crazy, just as much as it would have, maybe more than if I was just posting my songs, ‘cause there's a familiarity.
How did your record label feel about you totally switching gears?
They're sweet. They love me and sometimes they don't really know what I'm doing or my intentions. And so they sometimes just go with the flow of my weirdness and my random ideas. I kinda just do stuff and take creative liberty, but no, they, they were really supportive.
Did quarantine inspire any other online projects with your music?
We got off a tour in February right before the shutdown, so I just tweeting at people saying “hi” and I ended up doing a song with Mark Hoppus from Blink-182. That is our most recent single that just came out. That's been the really cool part about the shut down. I've been able to talk to people that I wouldn't normally have friendships with and creative relationships with.
Why do you think people have been so drawn to the Mr. Rogers thing?
It seems that his legacy comes back into play every time things start feeling hopeless and helpless. Most of the comments were like, this is what 2020 needs. So I'm not trying to be Mr. Rogers. I'm trying to live on his legacy of just being kind and teaching positive affirmations and teaching things I've learned and just things people need to hear. I'm not like I am, I am him. I want to respect him, pay an homage and just have fun with it.