TikTok is changing the music industry and more and more often we see artists who started their careers on this platform. But what's not as easy is to stay on top of your game and keep drawing people's attention, as you can easily become a one-hit-wonder. Alexander Gumuchian, known as Bbno$ (pronounced as Baby No Money) is a clear example of someone who is breaking this curse. His single Lalala with Y2K went viral, being used in over ten million TikTok videos. Now presenting his sixth album, Eat Ya Veggies, the Canadian rapper confirms that he has a lot more to offer.
After a severe back injury that made him retire from elite swimming, he discovered music was his best coping mechanism. “I didn't have anything for 2 years and then I found music, and I felt like I had everything again,” he tells us. Who would have said that he would currently be going from stage to stage on the Eat Ya Veggies world tour?

This twelve-track album takes us through a genre-blending nostalgia trip, but just as his previous records and as one of his trade-marks, the rhythm is still fun and up-tempo. This includes collaborators such as Rich Brian or Rebecca Black, alongside producers like Y2K, who once again proves to be his perfect match. Even with all the success, he still manages to stay down to earth and seems like someone who's got a grip on life. What I take from this conversation is that even with all these stats he still doesn’t take anything for granted.
Lots of people have heard your massive hits but maybe not so many know who’s behind those songs. Who is Alexander Leon Gumuchian?
I'm a 26-year-old individual from Vancouver, (Canada). I hated music when I was 19, I had no idea that I would actually be successful. I was studying for a Kinesiology degree at university, which is intro-level medicine. So, probably the furthest thing away from what I'm doing currently. I've got a brother and sister, Ed and Stephanie, and a mum and dad, Tina and Vaughn. I'm Armenian, I like playing video games and eating good food – objectively good food, not subjectively good food.
Bbno$ stands for ‘Baby No Money,’ why did you go for this name?
I usually give a long-winded answer to this but, truthfully, I'm just really cheap. I like saving money and I have good financial intelligence. There's nothing more to it.
In your new album, Eat Ya Veggies, you talk about money, partying, love or getting your first job. Could you tell us more about the creative process and the connection between the twelve tracks it includes? And what about the title?
There really is no creative link between these songs. I just make individual songs and then I ask myself “are these good enough? Do I like them enough?,” and that's pretty much it. I just group them together based on whatever sounds good together as a whole unique project. Then I release that project.
As far as the title, I just really like eating vegetables. I'm on tour right now, and I had a beet smoothie to wake up with a kale salad in Cleveland (in the only place that I swear has any fucking greens in this whole city). As far as the album title, I had no idea I had to name it, and I just thought vegetables would be decent. Luckily, it worked and it's out and it's doing well. So, c’est la vie.
Your biggest hit Lalala with Y2K quickly became viral on TikTok and has been used in over ten million videos on the platform. What’s your view on how TikTok has changed the promotion game in music?
It's a blessing and a curse. I will say, I didn't really want to add another platform to use to promote myself on, but at the same time, I'm an infinitely bigger artist because of TikTok. So, it's a double-edged sword – actually, not a double-edged sword, it’s just a sword with a handle. TikTok has the very ability to blow artists up that genuinely deserve it, which is the coolest part of it. Whereas beforehand, years ago, it was practically all pale and radio, so it was very difficult for an artist to explode. Now, people are just blowing up left and right. I will say, it takes some songs and overuses them so much that people are just over the track immediately. But maybe that's just society changing as a whole and becoming faster-paced…
TikTok is cool, it's very entertaining. It's a little bit too addictive sometimes, but I don't think there's a better avenue to promote your music. Unfortunately, if it doesn't go, it doesn't go. It’s kind of black and white, as if you spent a bunch of money promoting it and it doesn't really do anything, then that just means the song will not be liked that much by the general demographic of listeners.
Talking about Lalala, the song starts with your famous line “Did I really just forget that melody?.” Were you in the studio and it just happened or was it planned?
No, that was one hundred per cent actually planned. That actual take where I said that was the same take from when I went in, so I may have read out a couple of the ending parts of the first few lyrics, but that first bit was as real as it can get. I didn't really know whether keeping it in was a good call or not but, you know, the less you know, I guess. Now look at it, it’s a ginormous song.
Artists like Rebecca Black, whom you collaborated with in Yoga, also started their music career by having a massive hit on the Internet. Have you discussed this topic? Does it bother you when people remember you as the Lalala guy?
I never really talked to Rebecca about the Friday song. I just hit her up. I was just like, “do you want to jump on this record?” and she was really willing. She's a super nice, fun, entertaining, hilarious person. I'm really glad that we made a song together, I thought it was an interesting concept to make a song with Rebecca Black.
And does it bother me when people remember me as the Lalala guy? In the smallest way, yes. But otherwise – dude, I am the Lalala guy so fuck everyone else, right?
So, do you think it’s more difficult to stay relevant when you’ve had such a big hit?
I do think it's more difficult to stay popping, but not relevant. People have TikTok brains now, so, they give the most of 15 seconds and then they move on to the next thing, as there's so much content out there. Am I doing almost a sold-out full tour? Yes. So, do I think that I'm not necessarily relevant? I don't know. I'm not the biggest artist in the world. Do I want to be? I don't know. Does it really matter to me? Not really. Is this better than education and university? Absolutely. Do I want to go back to school? Probably.
I'm not sure whether that really answers the question, but it's probably a little bit more difficult than it ever has been. But, once you hit the mainstream global appeal, then you're set. It’s just hard to do that.
The track Edamame features Rich Brian, whom I’ve heard you are a big fan of. How did this collaboration come about? How was it working with him?
He's a great person. Genuinely. I really, like Rich Brian as a person, and it's pretty rare to find someone that you fuck with that much as an artist, so working with him was tight. Everything just went perfectly well. And it was very, fun and entertaining. It just went the exact, ideal way that I would have wanted, and it just felt like making music with your friend. I would love to work with him again. I actually asked him, “yo, we should do an EP?” and he was down. So maybe we will do an EP together.
Your single I Remember talks about heartbreak and missing someone but at the same time realising you are better off alone. It’s quite different from other light-hearted, fun lyrics you’re used to doing. Do you see yourself experimenting with other styles? What do you hope people take away from this song?
Yes, I experiment all the time. What do I hope for people to take away from the song? Well, when I made Help Herself, I was in a different emotional state, I wasn't as happy. I was just probably going through SAD (seasonal depression). In Vancouver, there's no sun. So, it's pretty depressing all the time. And, sometimes, I don't want to have to write fun, goofy lyrics and I want to just do something more real, perhaps. I don't really know what people would take away from this song. But, if they can feel inspired that I wrote about some similar relationship situations that they've been through... I'm stoked that my fans genuinely appreciate my serious music. I didn't expect my fans to appreciate it that much.
Maybe in the future, that's where I'm going to pursue my music. At least I have the ability to do whatever they want musically, and sonically, because if I was doing the same thing over and over and over again, it would get a little bit boring. But I'm glad that people just like it. That's what matters.
Do I want to become bigger? Sure, I just think that matters more to me than having all the fame and success in the world.
You used to swim at an elite level but you had a really bad injury where you broke your back. That’s when you decided to study kinesiology and when you found music. Was music also a way of coping with the pain? Do you think if it weren’t for the injury, you wouldn’t have tried out venturing into music?
Yes, and yes. I think having a hobby or art form to express yourself in is an immaculate way to get out of your depression or put a motion towards something and enjoy yourself. When things aren't really going well, you just need to figure out a way on how to enjoy yourself, and I found it through making music and I'm so grateful that I have that. I'm so happy that music has given me so much happiness.
I talk to psychologists frequently and they're like, “you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, you use music as an outlet, and you should keep doing it for the rest of your life.” I feel like I'm genuinely mentally stable now and very healthy. If it wasn't for the injury, maybe I would not be mentally healthy. I feel like that injury was a real tough life experience to get over where I was borderline going pro swimming and then had to give everything up. I didn't have anything for 2 years and then I found music and then I felt like I had everything again. It was kind of a profound experience but I’m definitely happy that it happened. Now looking back on it, it sucked at the time, but we're up now, right?
Like many artists, you grew up and started your career on SoundCloud, and you’ve mentioned that you prefer this platform over Spotify or Apple Music. Is it because of nostalgia or because of how it works? Do you still listen to music and discover new artists over there?
Number one, I don't really listen to too much music anymore. I'm kind of just busy all the time. But when I do listen to music, nine times out of ten, I'll be on SoundCloud. I've never used Apple Music and as far as Spotify goes, I do think its discoverability is pretty nice. But I will say that SoundCloud has just more authentic music, because it's mostly people just wanting to make music for no purpose other than to put it up on there. I think that in its entirety, that is where the real musician and real art comes from because you're making art for no one, you're making it for yourself.
That's where the differentiation between Spotify and Apple Music is because sometimes you have to pay to get your music up there. Sometimes you have to distribute it and go through those loopholes... You can make a song on Ableton, and can literally directly upload it up onto SoundCloud. And that’s beautiful. But now everything is monetised on Spotify, Apple Music, which is a blessing, but it doesn't really show you, and there's no user interaction on there. Whereas on SoundCloud there are comments, and you can see other people genuinely going out of their way to show that they like it. I'm an Internet artist that has the ability to make a livelihood off Spotify and Apple Music, SoundCloud, YouTube and all these other platforms so I'm happy about it, it’s fantastic.
“I didn't really want to add another platform to use to promote myself on, but at the same time, I'm an infinitely bigger artist because of TikTok. So, it's a double-edged sword – actually, not a double-edged sword, it’s just a sword with a handle.”
You are currently doing concerts all over North America, and in 2022 you’ll be touring all in the United Kingdom and Europe. How has it felt going back on stage after all the restrictions because of the pandemic? What is a regular tour day like for you?
Regular tour day is: I play Diablo 2 until I go on, do an interview or get good food. Though there's not too much good food in Cleveland...
In terms of the restrictions, we're keeping it pretty close-knit, we're not opening the bubble on the bus. It feels good to be back. It was unfortunate that it took this long and I will blame the world for not participating in taking it as seriously as they should have, whereas I didn't leave my apartment for anything but groceries for about 3 months. So, everyone else should have done the same. Unfortunately, that's just not the way the world works. But, in the future, now we know now to take everything for granted. It's great to see my fans and the people that support me and make my job possible via just doing these shows and meet and greets. So, I'm happy we're back, for sure
You’ve got almost fifteen million monthly listeners on Spotify. How do you manage to keep yourself grounded with such big numbers?
Firstly, monthly listeners don’t really mean anything. It's weird that people base their understanding of how popular an artist is on that. Obviously, if you're Lil Nas X or Doja Cat, you are the most-streamed artist but, they are also extremely, extremely popular. So, those coincide with each other. But me having fifteen million monthly listeners and yet only having one million followers is like a complete differentiation. I would way much prefer having fifteen million followers and one million monthly listeners because those people are going to probably interact and come to my shows wherever they are in the world. That would be my understanding of how I keep myself grounded.
I truly believe having followers and people that interact with you is what matters more. That's where I get my happiness from, by seeing people that make my job an actual thing, and coming to the shows and listening to music, screaming my lyrics, I don't really care about all the numbers in the backend shit like that.
Doing shows is where you see and you feel like you're doing something right. I've never really been a person truthfully with an ego and I don't see the difference between me and my sister for instance. She's doing a PhD in Psychology and she's a bloody genius, I think my sister's far more successful than I will ever be.
Have you had to deal with people reaching out to you just for interest?
Like an old ex-girlfriend hitting the backup type thing? If that's the case, sure, I've definitely had to deal with that. It's not something I really care about. If you're on really, really bad terms with someone and they hit you up and say “hey, man, you're doing so well,” and they crush your dreams or some shit, then it's like, “bro, like, chill out, dawg,” but, at the same time, there's no point holding a grudge against anyone. There's no point in being angry with people for just reaching out.
Any collaborations you dream of?
I always say Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and Missy Elliott. I also really want to work with Ski Mask and Slowthai and the legends. You know, ‘the legends.’ I might be working with Weezer in the future, that would be tight.
Is there anything we should be expecting from you in the near future?
I need a vacation.