Hear the stories behind the music with the Signal Path podcast.
Tapping a global network of musicians, producers, engineers and other sonic innovators, Shure brings you exclusive interviews with the people shaping the world of audio.
YouTube star Andrew Huang
For the latest episode, Mary Spender chatted with Andrew Huang at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Toronto-based producer is known for his entertaining and behind-the-scenes music videos, which have won him a massive following on YouTube. Rapping 300 words in under a minute, making a unicorn-shaped midi composition and covering “99 Red Balloons” using just red balloons are a testament to his quirky creativity.
Though he’s now famous for turning all sorts of unexpected household objects into musical instruments, his introduction to making music was far more traditional.
“I started on piano like many kids do,” Huang says. “I did the conservatory thing up to sixth grade. That was a really great foundation. Learned a lot about theory.”
After choosing guitar, bass and drums as a teenager, he started to teach himself music production: “I just had a little tape player and I recorded my songs on that. I was immediately interested in how that shaped the music. You know, how close to the microphone you are using. The medium you’re recording on.”
Long before YouTube existed and social media was widespread, Huang was busy sharing his music online via a LiveJournal blog and good old email. But even after the juggernaut video website started up, it took a few years for him to realize its potential.
“I was just posting whatever I felt like working on,” he says. “Where I eventually found my voice was in sharing my own creative processes. And really pulling back the curtain on how music is made in the studio. Sharing my new music while explaining how it came to be.”
It’s a formula that clearly works: Huang now commands an audience of 1.4 million followers on YouTube.
“A lot of the time, a YouTube video about how I made a piece of music will be more popular than that piece of music itself,” he says, adding that he has no problem if fans connect with him more as a personality than a musician. “It’s about bringing people along on this journey with me.”
So does he have any advice for prospective YouTubers?
“Do your thing without focusing on growth,” he advises, warning about getting too hung up on your number of followers or views. “Do it because it’s the best way to share your ideas.”
Huang’s prolific output – he estimates he’s cranked out some 2,000 songs over the years – has brought him a devoted following. One fan even had some of his song lyrics tattooed on her arm.
“It’s an incredible story for me,” he says. “This lyric meant a lot to her. It kinda pushed her out of this dark place and motivated her to change her life around. It’s something I still can’t completely comprehend.”
Listen to the full interview with Andrew Huang and subscribe to Signal Path from the podcast provider of your choice below.