11-year-old George Dalton is likely best known as camp radio announcer “Arty” on Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp,” but lately has become a bit of a viral star with the release of his kid-friendly version of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.”
The success has been bittersweet as, while he has attracted plenty of attention with his cover video — not all of it has been positive. In fact, George has been the target of cyber-bullying and personal threats from both young people and adults online because of the video. We got the chance to speak with George while he was on location shooting a new movie, and he shared his feelings about the bullying, the one thing which has helped him deal with it the most, and the actual meaning of the video — which many people misunderstand.
Hey George, What’s up?
Where are you right now?
I am in Tennessee, filming a movie.
Can you tell us anything about the movie or is it all hush-hush?
I can tell you about the movie, its called Wild Man, and its about a guy named Bo Treadwell and he moves from Hollywood to Nashville, Tenessee and lives with his sister. He lives in a pink playhouse because there is no room in the house for him. So he lives in the backyard in a little pink playhouse and across the streeet is a woman named Laura, and she lives with her young son named Elliott. Elliott is kind of bullied at school and he wants to learn how to play football to be popular. So he goes up to Bo and he asks him if he will help him be his mentor for football. Its kind of a coming of age story between two people basically becoming men.
It sounds pretty cool, who else is in it?
I can’t say…
Okay. So Tom Cruise is keeping his appearance hush-hush.
Yeah. About the cast, I can’t say that much.
Alright. So you are kind of new to the biz. You have done a few shorts, and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer which we are going to talk about in a second, and you’ve got this music video that everyone’s talking about…but let us rewind a little bit. Tell us how you got involved in show biz in the first place, and what that journey was like.
When I was really young I started going into musicals and plays at my local theater in my hometown. I just did local plays.
Then my father passed away when I was 4 years old [from brain cancer]. We were all stunned that this could all of a sudden happen and thought that life was really short. I really wanted to do acting so I said “Can we move out to Los Angeles?” My mom agreed and we moved out to Los Angeles.
Lots of fun stuff happened: I got on Two Broke Girls and then I was on Wet Hot American Summer…so yeah, that’s my story! (laughs)
We first met you at the DragonBall Z: Resurrection F premiere in Hollywood…are you a big fan of anime?
Occasionally yeah, I’m not BIG into anime but I have a few favorite shows. Shoutout to Netflix…I really like The Seven Deadly Sins. I started watching that not too long ago.
What’s been the best part about working on Wet Hot American Summer? First of all, did you wrap that, or are you still shooting?
Actually, no one really knows if we are renewed for a second season but I hope we are.
Alright, well what’s been the best part about working on that?
Its great just being on set and the cast is so amazing, its such an all-star cast. Its amazing working with those people, and the set is so cool. I really like how I get to be in the 80s. Its so much fun working on set; the atmosphere is great and everybody is just so amazing. I’m so happy I got to be a part of it.
Who do you hang out most with on set when you are not shooting?
Most of my scenes are with Michael Ian Black, so we see each other a lot on set.
Now let’s go back to something that I am sure a lot of people are going to want to hear about: your cover of “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap. Tell us first of all why you chose to make that cover, what inspired you to do it?
I wanted to take a song that was popular at the moment and make a jazz version of it and at the same time make it kid friendly so kids my age could listen to the song more than they could [the adult version] I wanted to make young kids hear the song better — more kid friendly version with my own spin on it.
Right now it has about 1.5 million views [Now over 2 million – Editor.]. What’s been the most challenging thing to deal with after the video was released? Because you got a little bit of shade thrown at you and have been basically bullied online…what’s been the toughest part of all that?
Its just really hard to wake up every day and see on your Instagram feed, “you’re fat, “you’re ugly,” “you should go die,” “I’m gonna kill you.”
It’s so hard to see that and its so ridiculous that people…I didn’t personally offend anybody by singing that song so I don’t know whay everybody got so crazy about it. I was just doing something for fun, and I didn’t know it would get 1.5 million views. I didn’t think any of that would happen.
I think its really stupid that people are picking on an 11-year-old kid when they are 15, 16, 30, 28. It’s not okay.
People really need to stop bullying because other people have hearts too and they have never even met me and don’t know what I am like. They don’t know anything about me, so why something so rude if you don’t know anything about the person’s life or anything.
What’s helped you deal with that? I know its tough, especially at age 11, to get that kind of criticism hurled at you…especially when all you are trying to do is make something cool.
Its actually fans. When I see someone defending me online, and someone sticking up for me and being nice and saying “you’re such a great singer” that really helps me get through my day.
The haters just drive me to keep doing what I love. I am not going to stop. I have so many plans in the works for my music. I am not gonna stop. My fans really help me get to where I want to be, and [the fact] that they like what I do and appreciate it makes me so happy.
Awesome, that is a great attitude to have. If you could go back and change anything about making the video, or how it was promoted or anything like that, would you change anything or would you leave it exactly as is?
I would leave it as it is. I like the video.
Some people actually have started making up what they think the plot of the video is. No one really knows what the video is about and why I made it and what my vision behind it was. They just think I am a fat kid forcing young girls, who are actually my friends, to go make pies for me to eat. So people have completely got the wrong message about that.
So I just really want them to understand what I was doing. Maybe if I went back and made that video a little bit more clear on what the message was I was trying to make, that would probably be one thing I would change.
Well, do you want to tell us what your vision was and what you were actually trying to get across?
Basically the point of the video is me and a bunch of my friends we all go to these places…we were kind of taking the song and making it literal.
So we made all the references literal throughout the music video but making it a funny kid version. We went to all these houses and we start making these pies for all the neighborhood kids. When you see the kids looking through the window, that’s them trying to see what we are doing.
I am not forcing these people to make ME pies, we actually run a business. We are running a business in the living room. If you can see, they are on a typewriter and phones and I am signing a clipboard.
We are basically running a shop (laughs).
Well, that clears it up!
People…I just wish they didn’t get such a wrong message by thinking they were “housewives” and weird stuff like that. I think people need to know I’m a kid (laughs).
I just wish they didn’t pick on me so much, and maybe now that I told you what the plot is they’ll get a bit more clearer view of what it’s about.
Let’s hope so. People are ridiculous though, so you never know. Just keep doing you is my advice. Do you have any more music coming up?
I do. I recently released my Halloween song “Pet Semetary.” Soon I will be releasing Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” so that’s going to be fun. And in 2016 I have something a little big prepared…I am going to be releasing an EP. That’s going to be exciting. I hope people will be able to see all my writing ability and my original music.
When is that expected to drop?
That I cannot say just yet.
I don’t want to bet this topic to death because its not the happiest topic, but since kids are getting bullied out there and you are, whether you intended to or not, a role model for a lot of people…out of this whole experience of being bullied online, what’s been the best thing to come out of it for you? We’ve already talked about some of the negatives…but what’s been the best part,; what have you learned from it?
I have learned that…advice for other people that are getting bullied and want to do music online…just remember that not everybody’s going to like it. But at the same time, you are going to have so many people that like it, and the people that like it–that’s the good that comes out of it. When the people like it it makes you happy and that’s what’s so good. And then you get discovered and everyone loves you.
Its cool because you get Instagram pages dedicated to you saying “I love George Dalton” as their account name and “George Dalton Rocks,” “George Dalton Fan Page.” That’s the good that comes out of all of it.
The fans help me get through my day so much.
Besides the film you are working on right now back east, what do you have coming up next?
I will be making an appearance on the TV Land TV show “Teachers,” and that’s it for my acting career for right now.
Tell me something that people would be surprised to know about you.
I actually don’t like pies. I hate pies so much, I would rather just like…I don’t like pies at all.
I am obsessed with American Horror Story.
I love anything Disney. I have a major crush on Ariel, the Little Mermaid.
My natural hair color is actually brown.
Lots of surprising things there. Especially the pie thing.
I HATE PIES SO MUCH! They are the worse thing that has every come to mankind. The only reason we used them in the music video was because they made sense with the song (laughing).
Can we get you to send us a quick selfie from set?