While the saxophone-wielding, bandana-wearing Saxsquatch might have just completed a two-month national tour, appeared on "The Tonight Show" and recorded a cover of “Maneater” with John Oates, he owes his origins to Chapel Hill.
Local residents can call the Bigfoot star a neighbor.
“I want people to know I’m from the city,” he said.
Saxsquatch has amassed 1.7 million followers on TikTok, where he posts videos of street performances, including covers of '80s power ballads and other classics. He began posting on TikTok about three years ago.
He has also recorded his own original electronic music. Some of his hits include "Northern Lights," "Moondance" and "Madness," which were included in the video games Fortnite and Rocket League.
Saxsquatch said when he was young, he was encouraged by his grandfather, who he calls "Gigfoot," and sister, who he calls "Bigflute." He was also influenced by the French house duo Daft Punk and other electronic artists.
One of the first songs that brought him fame was his cover of "One More Time" by Daft Punk and he has performed in places like Asheville, Dallas and Boulder, Colorado.
“I fell in love with the saxophone after hearing the song "Urgent" by Foreigner," he said.
After pursuing other creative endeavors, Saxsquatch began posting his signature covers for Bigfoot fans on Facebook.
“At some point, I decided to make a social media account because I was kind of sad that no one believed in me, you know," he said. "I was just posting on there for fun, and when it got a lot of traction, I was really floored with all of these positive emotions, people believing in me. I started to post more and do more of my own original music, and it just kind of kicked off from there.”
Saxsquatch translated his social media success into stints at Bigfoot-themed festivals in North Carolina, Oregon and Georgia to playing for an audience of Bigfoot believers – a group that accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to Saxsquatch.
He said he believes that so many people resonate with the Saxsquatch lore because of the character’s wholesome, feel-good presence.
“No one can hate on Saxsquatch,” he said.
When he livens Franklin Street with the sounds of his saxophone, Saxsquatch said passerby reactions range from bemusement to astonishment to joy.
One afternoon in January, an onlooker who initially screamed when she saw the Saxsquatch said she enjoyed the spectacle and called her friend to share in the experience.
Further down Franklin Street, Saxsquatch distracted one UNC student, Preston Grady, from his work at Starbucks. Grady was greeted with a cover of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“First of all, Saxsquatch is so talented,” Grady said. “It was hysterical, so thank you for doing that and making my day.”
UNC student Greyson Francisco, who has also recently encountered Saxsquatch on Franklin Street, said he was surprised but ultimately enjoyed the experience.
“It added a little twist,” he said. "I said to myself, 'Only in Chapel Hill.'"
In the future, Saxsquatch hopes to reconnect with his hometown roots, collaborate with local electronic musicians and perform at independent venues in the Chapel Hill area. For now, he is content with continuing to share his love of music for others, whether that be on Franklin Street or on live television.
“It totally ignited my soul, and I hope that I can bring that same energy to other people,” he said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.