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Tate McRae is in her 'live now, think later' era, and her fans are grateful

McRae, who was discovered on "So You Think You Dance" at 12, says she "dove right into passion" in recent relationships. Now, she's singing about them.
/ Source: TODAY

“Dance now, think later. Sing now, think later. Live now, think later.”

Tate McRae says those three sentences have defined her approach to life lately. It's led to some memorable “scenarios,” she tells TODAY, and an album with the name “Think Later,” which recap them in song form.

“A lot of this year was surrounded by relationships I went through where I didn’t really use my head in a lot of scenarios,” she says. “I just dove right into passion and lust and the feeling of the adrenaline of being with a person.”

“I kind of neglected ever using my brain,” she continues. That mindset is “a beautiful thing, but also ends with 10 times the consequences.”

But if McRae relied on thinking alone, she might not have landed at the precipice of pop stardom where she finds herself. The 20-year-old from Calgary was discovered as a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” at age 12; becoming a musician was not part of her original plan.

Tate McRae
Tate McCrae said she always thought she'd be a dancer. Now, she's a full-fledged pop star.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

“When I was a dancer, I definitely thought I would become a backup dancer or part of a company. I never really thought that becoming a singer and doing this was a career option because it feels like such a far-fetched thing,” she says. “There was never really (a moment) in my head where I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll be a pop singer.’”

When she was 14 years old, McRae released “One Day” on YouTube, a song she said she had written the night before. She already had a social media presence thanks to "So You Think You Can Dance," but this was her first time showing off her singer-songwriter side.

Before she knew it, her song had garnered over 40 million views. And with that, McRae entered “a whole new world I knew nothing about.”

“It’s interesting because I think I have a really bad case of imposter syndrome where I feel like ... I don’t even know what that was. Maybe that was just a lucky accident,” she says of her seemingly overnight fame.

McRae continued to release popular songs, shocking her family who thought music was “on the back burner" for her.

“It was just a fun thing that I had a passion for and wasn’t really meant to be shared with the world,” she says. “Then, when it did end up getting bigger, it was like a shock to all of us. We were like, ‘This is the wildest thing ever.’”

"Think Later" marks a "drastic shift" from the music McRae has released up to this point, which she previously described as “sad girl bedroom pop."

She said the music changed because she did.

Tate McRae
Tate McCrae performing on TODAY.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

“Between 17 and 20 ... you grow like 10 years. You’re just a completely different person,” McRae says. “You can see me evolving as a person in my writing. And I think that’s just (with) making bolder choices in my writing and pushing myself and challenging myself and also being more self-aware in my life.”

The single “Greedy,” which hit No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and been used in nearly 3 million TikTok videos, is a standout from the album.

McRae calls her favorite part of the song “the beat,” which she says is borrowing from “old Timbaland 2000s music.” But she thinks the song took off because of "the whole empowering factor."

“I think girls just listened to it and felt like badasses,” McRae says. “That was really cool to see that translate onto the internet.”

Of the “hundreds” of songs she wrote for “Think Later," McRae says “Greedy” scared her the most, “which I think sometimes is a great thing.”

So, would McRae says she’s in a new era of her life? “Totally.”

“Then I think my next album will feel like a completely different era,” she says. “That’s just the process of growing up.”