Interview: Gunnarolla

Andrew Gunadie (known as Gunnarolla on YouTube) is a popular musician and video producer and won the 2013 Digi Award for Online Personality of the Year.

The Canadian has established himself as a top name on YouTube and has enjoyed success and rewards for his high quality content, including recognition from new Spotlight channel, YouTube Nation. Gunnarolla can also boast about having an involvement in the Toronto International Film Festival.

This talented YouTube creator has been a long time user on the site and has gone from strength to strength, with his music video ‘Canadians Please’ receiving over 3 million views.

Gunnarolla took the time to speak to Dan about his time on YouTube and the experiences that he’s enjoyed thanks to his success.

How did you first get involved in YouTube?
I uploaded my first video in 2006. It was a school assignment. I did a degree/diploma in Critical Media Studies and Television Broadcasting, so I was very interested in YouTube as a platform for easily sharing videos. In saying that, though, I wasn’t really aware that there was a thriving community on the site, and I didn’t think that anyone aside from my friends and family would be watching my stuff.

One day, an Australian YouTuber Johnee (johneepixels7) stumbled upon a few of my videos and left me a really thoughtful comment. He introduced me to a ton of other Asian YouTubers and we became friends – watching and sharing each other’s videos and eventually collaborating as well.

What first pushed you to produce music videos on YouTube?

I had produced a few music videos in high school – they weren’t anything serious, but I was very interested in video production. I had also been working in producing music on the side, with one of my friends, Julia Bentley. An opportunity came up to enter a contest on YouTube and I thought it would be a great opportunity to blend these two interests together. We didn’t win the contest, but we were pretty excited about the whole process and the feedback that we got – so we kept going.

“Canadian, Please” was, (of course!) our biggest and most impactful work to date. We wrote and recorded the song, and produced the video within 48 hours. I’ve become very interested in pushing the limits of production – how to create really interesting visuals on next to no budget, and how to involve the viewer in that process.

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You’ve travelled to places around the world, so what has been the highlight for you?

I’ve been very fortunate to do a ton of traveling in the past few years: Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, as well as various parts of North America. Every trip that I’ve taken has been amazing. I love exploring a new place, and connecting with our viewers along the way.

I loved my most recent trip to Thailand with Contiki Holidays. They sent a group of YouTubers, photographers, and bloggers on a tour around the country. We got to snorkel, cycle through the city and even ride on top of ATVs on safari. Thailand, in my experience, is a really relaxed and beautiful country. There’s tons to do and see, and so much great food too!

How did the opportunity to become involved with the Toronto international Film Festival come about?

I worked full-time as the Senior Multimedia Producer at TIFF a few years ago. I left (in part to pursue YouTube-related endeavours) but maintained a good relationship with a lot of important people there.

Shane Smith, the Director of Special Projects, approached me a couple years ago to put something together for Nuit Blanche, which is a contemporary arts festival that takes place all night in Toronto. I knew that I wanted to celebrate the “old” YouTube, so I curated and hosted a 12 hour programme with one of my favourite Canadian YouTubers, Andrew Bravener. We spent a year looking for those hidden gems, and put together 12 different shows. It was a great success, so we were asked to host again the following year, and we also got to present versions of the show in Montréal, and at Buffer Festival.

I’ve also worked with TIFF on some of their exhibitions, most recently, the David Cronenberg: Evolution show.

What’s it like getting involved in an event like that?

It’s a lot of work. We really care about the content that we put in the show – the curation is really important when you’re inviting people to watch something in a cinema that they could just be watching for free at home. So we spend a lot of time seeking out stuff that is weird, (sometimes unintentionally) hilarious, and maybe even thought-provoking. A lot of stuff in there will be things that you’ve never seen before.

We also have a lot of fun, too! We now have a dedicated group of viewers that stay for the entire 12 hours, a lot of them traveling from out of town. It’s great to facilitate an event like this where people can get together and celebrate something that they love. I love making people laugh and cringe and our show is so fun. It reminds me a lot of the old spirit of YouTube.

Do you have a favourite video/song that you have uploaded onto YouTube?

The latest thing that I’ve made is always my favourite. With that in mind, I’ll say that I’m very excited about my upcoming EP. It’s a collection of really fun music with a lot of puns and double-entendres.

I’m also really proud of Konkai, The Comic Sans Song, The Foreign Language Song, and Can’t Dance. I managed to achieve pretty high-quality visuals and sound, and I hope people will still be watching those for years to come. Canadian, Please will always be special to me, not just because it was our most popular work, but because of the cultural impact that it has had.

Do you think YouTube provides a good alternate platform for musicians and singers?

I think that it’s a great way to easily share your work and have your work shared by others. YouTube is saturated with content, though, so you’ve really got to have a strategy if you want to get noticed.

I wouldn’t strive for success on YouTube alone, but I do think that it’s a great launching pad for other opportunities.

Do you have any advice for people looking to produce their own music videos for YouTube?

Work with others! I read a quote recently that went, “it takes teamwork to make the dream work” and I think that’s very true.

Who are your favourite YouTubers?

This is so hard to answer! I have a ton of respect for what Hank and John Green are doing, and they’ve been so supportive. Meghan Tonjes, Mike Falzone, and Soundlyawake are the most genuine, hilarious people that I’ve met through YouTube and it shows in their content. I love Meekakitty and Nanalew’s videos too – they’re keeping things fresh and super high-quality. Andrew Huang is really pushing the boundaries of what we can do with music and sound also, and he’s just an awesome friend. I rarely miss a video by Natalie Tran or Ryan Higa – they always make me laugh.

Do you have any projects planned this year for your channels that you can tell us about?

There is going to be a lot more music and travel content. I’m about to release a new EP with some fun music. The first single MY D*CK (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CrbyLnHWMM) was recently featured on Huffington Post and YouTube Nation. And after that, I’m back to A-POP, my hybrid English/Asian music and style series.

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Daniel Mackrell

Co-editor at Tube Chum
Journalist. Former Winchester Student. Chelsea fan. @WINOL Alumnus. Co-editor, @TubeChum.
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