Dominic Fike, a singer and songwriter, tried to audition for a part in the first season of Euphoria. It wasn’t his first audition for a major role on a TV show. He was also his first time acting. Fike was approached by the casting director of the show and passed several rounds without any problems. Sam Levinson, Euphoria’s creator, invited Fike to perform a final chemistry reading with Barbie Ferreira. Fike chose to do a little method acting and prepare as all the greats. Euphoria centers on a high-school filled with more drugs than a CVS. Fike bought some shrooms and went to the audition. This is where you can see the plot. He laughs and says, “I started peeking right when Barbie and I were reading.”
It could have been amazing. Fike believes in his instincts and things will work out. He looked at the script, and saw the letters moving around. Then he turned to Levinson, and he saw that the show creator was wearing a dress. Fike laughed as he recalled: “I looked at Levinson and I was like, Aren’t you wearing a gown right now? It was insane. I began making fun of everyone in the room.” It was a complete disaster. His agents called him back when he returned home with some feedback: “They were like What. The. He was a fool.”
Fike can now laugh about the experience because he made Euphoria’s second-season debut. He plays the role of Elliot, a guitar-playing rocker who talks his way into an affair with Rue (played here by Zendaya) & Jules (Hunter Schafer). Although Elliot’s actions aren’t very admirable, it’s easy to enjoy him. This is mainly because Fike is hard to dislike. He’s 26 years old and is thoughtful, funny, and has a calm, confident demeanor. He looks great in clothes, and you can see his mustache, face tattoos and bleached hair as a new standard for beauty. You get the feeling that Elliot is a big star from the moment he appears on the first episode. He’s there to do drugs in a laundry area at a party with Rue. I’ve yet to meet anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, who doesn’t think Elliot is hot.
One warm spring afternoon, Fike and I met at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Fike is a Los Angeles resident, but he has been working on his second album in a recording studio upstate New York for the past few weeks. When he was most well-known for his music, he got the Euphoria audition. His sound is unlike many other singer-songwriters of his age. The sound is a mix of beach rock and hip-hop, with a touch of Spotify-friendly pop. Fike collaborated with musicians as big as Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber, unlike many singer-songwriters of his age. In Fike’s instance, they happened at the same time. His talent is evident. He is in Paris on his way to meet Schafer, his girlfriend for several months.
It’s a great way for the social-media generation to be famous by singing the boppy songs Fike sings. It’s nothing when you consider being on a highly-rated TV show. Since 2004, Euphoria has been the second-most watched TV show on HBO, after Game of Thrones. The show’s final season is just days away, so America is currently in Euphoriamania. It’s weekday and most of the museum’s visitors are retired. But at one point, as Fike gazes at a column of Richard Serra ironwork, it seems like every girl under the age of 20 in the place is hovering nearby, giggling and not-very-surreptitiously taking pictures. Fike is charming and warm when teenagers ask for selfies. One teenage girl dressed as a Euphoria Extra hyperventilates. He tells me later that it’s easy to guess who he’s going to meet.
Fike’s rapid rise to fame was so unexpected that The New York Times and FX collaborated with Hulu on a 2020 documentary about it. He hasn’t had time to create a celebrity side of him–the easygoing, effortless persona many celebrities show to the public. He wonders aloud about the jellyfish at one point. “Don’t they have an aqua section here? Are you tripping? Are you thinking of an aquarium?”
Fike’s story is like this: Fike is of Filipino and African American descent and was born in Naples, Florida. His mom was in and outside of prison, but she introduced him and purchased him his first guitar. Fike was nine or ten years old when his dad left the picture. Fike claims that he crashed there for about one week before taking off on Fike’s small electric Razor scooter. Fike had taught his son the basics of guitar playing first. Fike was able to learn the rest from YouTube.
Fike met a local hip hop crew in high school and began uploading music to SoundCloud. Fike began booking gigs and stealing bikes to make gas money while he drove from one city to the next. Fike said, “It was crazy how I was living.” He was still betting on himself. I was like, “This is it. “I was like, ‘This is it.'” Fike’s fledgling rap career was halted in 2016 after he was charged for battery on a police officer. The altercation was described as an attempt by Fike to diffuse a conflict between his brother and the police. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six-months of house arrest.
Fike is able to turn his most difficult moments into breakthroughs. Fike moved in with his guitar to a friend’s place and began trying to create a new sound. He heard a bright, reggae-inflected song while in the shower one day. He leapt out of the shower and began to play “3 Nights”, his first hit. He recalls that he called people the day he made it and was shocked to hear, “Yo, I just made an amazing smash!”
Problem is? Fike was jailed for violating probation when the song went viral on SoundCloud in early 2018. Fike was able to meet with record executives via several inches of prisonhouse plexiglass, which seemed to only increase their interest. Columbia Records won a fierce bidding battle and Fike was released with a major-label contract and $4 million.
Fike was forced to record an album to prove he was worthy, go on a 32-date global tour and adjust to the spotlight while taking care of his friends and family.
Fike is able to turn any difficult topic, including his family and his incarceration or addiction, into a positive throughout our conversation. He describes jail as a sabbatical. “It was just a year to focus on me.” But Fike admits that it was difficult during that time, particularly while he was putting together 2020’s What Could Go Wrong. He says, “I was going through so many things then, and was heavily addicted to so much drugs.” “Trying to make an album was difficult in the midst all the pressure, drugs, my family being insane and me being insane. It was impossible.” Fike admits that he could have been prouder of his first album. Fike’s sunny side shines through once more. “Whatever happened was awesome,” he said. He’s optimistic about his second album, which he has waited for. He says that “this one” sounds really good.
Fike is hungry so we make our way to the cafe at the museum. Fike tells us that he recorded his album upstate to be able to focus on music for the first time since years. “I don’t want to return to L.A. at the moment. He says, “There’s too much trouble to get into, and to be honest with you.” “I have so many friends in L.A. and can’t help but be influenced by them at times. There is always something to do, and each studio is easily accessible. People just walk in and out of every studio all day. Upstate might have a fox and a rabbit, but you won’t see them.”
Fike was motivated by his first album and his unsuccessful audition. Fike realized that he was the only one who could stop his career-building rocket ship. He says, “Back when Euphoria first hit me up,” I was like, “I would make a great host for this show!” “I’m like one these fucking children right here!” Meaning: He was a heavy drinker and used a lot drugs, taking big-time libations. He says, “I was reallylly turning it up.” Although he avoided being a tabloid headline, his hedonism caused other problems: “I was fiddling up my relationships and then also financials–like I was just spending so many money on yachts. Fike says he isn’t “always drugging the fuck out” anymore after a stint in an Eric Clapton-funded rehabilitation center in Antigua. The Euphoria casting director reached out to Fike after they noticed he was moving in the right direction. Fike was then offered the Elliot position. He says that his second album has been easier than the first. He is also more experienced in music making. He says, “Last year, I was like, Let’s see what happens when I get in there and get wiggly.” “But now, I know exactly the sound I want and the kind of music that I want to make,” he says. According to Fike’s new album, it will include more rapping as well as a “more rounded” version of his rock-pop mix. He says, “Shit sounds great!” Kenny Beats, Dominic Fike’s friend and producer, puts it this way: “How effortless music-making and creativity are for Dominic Fike is something people aren’t used to understanding.”
Fike didn’t plan to continue acting until Fike’s Euphoria episodes aired. Fike says that Sam Levinson, the creator of Fike, didn’t want him feeling trapped. Sam was always giving me the opportunity to leave. He said, “Whenever you want to be a musician dude, let me know, and I’ll kill your,” which was Elliot.
Fike tells Fike that he is loved by Euphoria as he sits down at the museum cafe. To begin: He was rewarded with bigger acting roles. He says that he is about to do some “crazy shit” and will be committed to it for a long time. He also returns to be able to spend more time with his girlfriend.
He’s recently been thinking about the possibility of a new future. A friend suggested to him that he write a movie in which the main character “just keeps winning.” His life is like a good movie. You think it’s going be terrible? He is promoted.” There will be a sequel. It could be about Fike if the plot was slightly altered to include scenes where the protagonist fights through a few surefire Ls, failing a court-ordered drugs test, and doing shrooms prior to the most important audition in his life. Are you that kind of guy? He replies, “Honestly, kinda.” “I’m kinda killing it right now.”