Viral musician turning heads with an unlikely instrument
This interview is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and AOL.com. See more on coverage here.
When you think of social media stars, short-form comedians and lifestyle gurus are probably the first brands of celebrity to come to mind. And that's what makes violinist DSharp so totally unique.
The social celeb has almost half a million subscribers to his YouTube page, which has also ramped up nearly 30 million views on his epic videos. Besides the fact that he has spearheaded a viral movement of music, DSharp utilizes an instrument that you don't often see popular among a millennial audience. He redefines what it means to be a violinist -- you don't have to be a classical member of the Philharmonic to go pro at the violin.
The string instrument is utilized in a totally unique way, bringing a sense of freshness to what might otherwise be a stale genre -- covering pop songs. DSharp features covers of all different types of songs. Whether it's Taylor Swift's 'Style' or Drake's 'Pound Cake', the social media star lends a unique sound to pop culture favorites. In addition to the audio pleasure he gives his hundreds of thousands of fans, he pairs many of his videos with a cinematic experience, even if it's just a closeup of him playing the whole time. He utilizes the innate emotion that is found in music with expert filmmaking and an expressive countenance.
DSharp, who partners with Collab (the largest independent multi-platform network for top social media stars), was featured at this year's Playlist Live, the annual convention that celebrates online content creators, where he got up close and personal with #KanvasLive. Stay tuned for how DSharp got his start in social media, how he chooses the songs he covers and invaluable advice he has for those who want to get started in social media.
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What brings you to Playlist Live and is this your first year here?
This is my first Playlist in Orlando, but I came to the one in DC. I'm here to meet with fans, and I get to do a little performance, learn some stuff myself, and meet more creators, it's just a really good time.
How did you get started in social media?
I uploaded my first YouTube video back in 2006. I'm not really sure what made me upload my first video, I just saw it was a new video platform, and it was a way for me to put stuff out there. YouTube was a lot different back then from what it is today. I started recording little videos at the house in front of my computer, and just playing popular songs. You know, people liked it. Then I became sort of an innovator as far as violinists and doing covers and popular music-- that wasn't really around in the public eye as far as on YouTube.
Did you have a moment or a video in particular that made you realize this was going to be something you wanted to invest in?
When I started Youtube I already knew that music was what I wanted to do, but one really big moment was when I posted a video cover of "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia. That was one of the first videos I posted that blew up and exploded. The video ended up being everywhere. Even the people from Swedish House Mafia gave some feedback on it. That was one of the really big defining moments that made me realize YouTube was something serious.
What's your favorite thing about YouTube?
The simplicity of it all, and being able to reach my following and my supporters so easily and so quickly. YouTube allows me to experiment and do other things, even things outside of music, like comedy stuff here and there, and I've started a vlog so people can see my day-to-day life and travels and touring. I love how it's made it so simple to reach everyone.
Talk about good opportunities for social media...
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How do you block out internet haters and what advice would you give to other people starting out?
You have to see past it, and know that for every 1 hater, there are 1000 people who really look up to you, and support you, and want you to do the best you can do. My main thing is knowing that there are so many people out there that I've inspired. See past all of the hatred. Ignore the haters, block them out, do your thing! It's you, it's your channel, it's your platform, do whatever you want to do! Just be you -- don't be afraid to be you don't be afraid to be different, that's what's going to inspire people.
What advice would you give for musicians trying to make their start on YouTube?
For anyone that's trying to get started up on social media, just do you, be yourself. Don't be afraid to show your true colors. It's not overnight for anyone. As long as you're happy with what you're doing, and you're comfortable and having fun with it, that is the main thing. If you're doing something that you don't like or enjoy, it's not going to have any longevity, because sooner or later you're going to get burnt out. Be you, and trust and believe that that's what will ultimately shine through. Same thing goes for musicians. Just do you, and let your personality shine through in your music. I don't like to try to sound like anyone else, and do you boo boo!
How do you decide what songs you want to cover?
A lot of times I look at the Billboard charts, the iTunes charts, what are people listening to, and what's hot. I try to put my own spin to it. Sometimes, I cover something because I really love it, I don't care if people like it or not. If I want to cover a song that's not necessarily something I love, I still try to put my own D Sharp pizzazz on it, and give it to people in a way that they wouldn't normally expect.
As far as my original music -- house music is in my blood, it's running through my veins. A lot of my original music is house music driven, electronic and EDM-based. I feel like I'm giving people a form of music they may not be familiar with, but I'm also doing it in kind of a new way, with live elements, live strings, and live vocals.
How did you first fall in love with music?
I think it was the day I picked up the viola. I was 11 years old. I've always been intrigued with music, and I didn't really know a lot about different instruments when I started to play, so I just picked viola. I took it home, and that was when I knew. I don't really know what I was doing with the instrument, but I knew I loved it. I was able to express what's inside my being.
What do you have planned for the future?
I'm doing my vlog, I'm finally putting out my original music soon, which is very exciting. I think people are going to really enjoy it. I'm going to be doing a lot more touring, and I have a lot more collaboration coming up, and I'll be putting out a lot more music. I'm always looking to take things to the next level, if that means getting into other areas of entertainment, maybe acting. You can find me on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere, and whoisdsharp.com.
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