By DeStorm, 01-May-2012 23:40:00
(Tuesday, May 1, 2012) - DeStorm Power: YouTube rapper, singer, trainer, personality, guru, comedian, host. DeStorm has all the powers of a YouTube superhero group combined, and he’s not afraid to use them. We got to see DeStorm’s colors shine over sandwiches and pastries at Porto’s Bakery in Burbank, where he helped our nearsighted cameraperson read the menu, marveled at my neon watch, and checked out a female or two behind the counter. Afterward, we were invited into his beautiful house for a candid interview and exclusive photo shoot where he revealed the many hats he wears. Read on to find out how DeStorm Power took his career into his own hands, how he approaches women, why some black YouTubers struggle, and why he’s so proud of his new mixtape, “Be Careful.”
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever received in snail mail?
DeStorm: The most surprising thing I’ve ever received in snail mail were some granny panties. She said she was my biggest fan. She was 74 years old, and she said she watches all of my videos so she decided to send me some granny panties. At first I thought it was a scarf, so I was like, “Hey guys, check this out!” So I pull it out of the box, and then I’m like, “Ooh, this is a nice scar–ahhhhh!” and it was a pair of her draws, her bloomers. Pretty bad.
The best music album of 2012 so far, beside your own.
DeStorm: Oh, I was about to say “Be Careful,” coming out May 1st. Besides that, I actually like “Watch the Throne.” I thought that was a really good album, Jay and Kanye. I thought it was good. I liked it. If I listen to an album and I like four or five cuts, it’s a good album. It’s very rare. These days people buy albums for one cut or two cuts, but I actually can listen to that not all the way through, but I can listen to a lot of cuts on that album and be very satisfied, so I thought it was the best album.
If you were an animal, you’d be a?
DeStorm: Cheetah, because they’re fast. You can get away and get to. Everyone wants to get away and get to their destination.
A book you can read again and again.
DeStorm: “The Alchemist.” I’ve read it twice. Every time I read it, it has a different translation. I read it when I was 18, and I read it again when I was 23, and I’ll probably read it again.
The last thing you splurged way more than you should have on.
DeStorm: I splurge too much on women. [laughs]
Alan: To be a personal trainer you have to be a good motivator. And I think you’ve said before that you want to be inspirational in your videos. Where do you think this comes from, wanting to have a positive impact on people?
DeStorm: I think it comes from my mother, just watching the way she raised us. It was always even if we had nothing she’d always find the positive out of it, and it kind of rubs off on you after years of seeing that. It was always like we didn’t have anything to eat but the positive side was that we’ll have something tomorrow. We don’t have this but the positive side was just count your blessings. It was always the “count your blessings” attitude, and I guess I just take that into consideration and I realized if she can take that everywhere with her then I can give that back to people because it’s that that got me here today, where I am. I found success by just counting my blessings. This is what you have, work with what you have. A lot of people complain too much. There’s always going to be someone less fortunate in every situation. Even if you haven’t eaten in a month, there’s someone who hasn’t eaten in thirty-two days. You always have to look into that situation. Everyone’s situation is different, and people handle pressure differently, but I just think that’s what brings it out of me to want to inspire. Every song I have is not super-inspirational, but I wanted to have a story at least told in every song even if it’s a little raunchy, a little freaky, a little wild, a little crazy, a little fun. There’s going to be a story told.
Alan: Early on, you posted two vlog videos that showed a lot of your personality. One was on the n-word, and the second video was on your attitude toward homosexuality. Why do we not see these types of videos anymore? Are you too mainstream now?
DeStorm: No, no! I post them on my second channel now. Every once in a while I still do advice on my second channel. It’s just that on my main channel, when you have YouTube videos people expect a certain thing when they come to this channel. So now that this channel is so big–back then I didn’t have the size of the audience that I have now–now that my audience is so big, I post videos that deal with music because that’s what the bulk of my audience expects or what they come for. On my second channel, people that are true fans they go and subscribe to that channel and they’ll see that I still do advice videos, and I still do something like “Getting Ready for 2012,” “Getting Ready for 2011,” “The Best Relationship Advice in the World.” All these videos are still new. You can only touch on racial or relationships or certain things so much. I still do them, I just don’t do them that often. That’s on DeStormTV. I got a lot of videos like that still.
Alan: You originally started your career as a ghost writer for major record labels. What was your experience like when you were trying to go through that traditional route as a struggling musician?
DeStorm: When you go on the traditional route, the thing is it’s difficult because your career is in their hands so it’s what they want. As opposed to now, I do what I want. Now that the album is dropping I get to do it on my terms. I was able to make my album come out when I wanted it to come out as opposed to when somebody else wanted it to come out. I think that’s the difference. Not having to follow their rules.
Alan: Comparing that traditional route to the route that you took–you built yourself on YouTube–what are the big differences?
DeStorm: The big difference is that numbers talk, bullshit walks. When you have numbers you can do whatever you want. It’s all about numbers because at the end of the day I proved it. You can say you hot, someone on the street can say they’re hot, and they might be the best artist ever, but if you can’t prove it in this society, that’s just how it is. Right now I don’t have to prove it anymore because the numbers show. Can you get a million views on a video? I can do that. Can you get a million people to watch you, subscribe to you, want to listen to you? Yes, because you can see the numbers there. When you have that, people will join and come along because they’ll be like, “OK, he proved that he can do this. He’s doing something right.”
Alan: If you could have, would you have preferred succeeding through the traditional route and becoming a musician through major record label releases? Do you feel like your career is any less because you just did it through YouTube?
DeStorm: No. I think back then, like most traditional artists, I thought that was the route you had to go. There are still people who subscribe and say, “Someone give this guy a record deal.” I’m like, “Really?” Do you not see that I’m very successful, and I’m doing much better than I would be if I had that? They don’t see that because that’s the only thing they know, and that’s all I knew back then. There really is no such thing as a record deal anymore. I mean, there still is but back then they would front the money. I don’t have to go on tour to make that money back. I just sit in my house and make a video for my fans who love me and enjoy what I do. I love going on tour– don’t get me wrong–but I don’t have to. I make my own decisions now and a lot of main artists don’t because they owe someone. Now that I’ve been through what I’ve been through, I would tell everybody to go this route because when you have control over your own career it’s amazing.
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Alan: That makes a lot of sense. You started on YouTube very resourcefully. You had a game plan for success. How much of your success do you think could be owed to smart strategy versus you just being immensely talent?
DeStorm: I think you have to give some to talent because people aren’t going to watch if you don’t have some talent. A lot of it has to do with strategy. You have to know what’s going on. There were times when I would stick to current events. I would watch what’s trending on Twitter and make sure I had one of the first videos up about it because I didn’t have an audience, and I knew that would bring the audience to see my channel like, “OK, this guy is funny” or “This guy is vibe. Let’s see what else he has.” There were times when I had to jump on those bandwagons. I don’t have to anymore. I have a built-in audience. Back then you had to have strategy. People are not going to love my music. They don’t know who I am. So if I put my music in my fitness videos then they got to love the fitness because all of it is facts. You see that I’m in shape, and you see that I know what the hell I’m talking about – why wouldn’t they watch it? If they have that, and they say, “OK, who’s the artist in this song?” then it’s like go over here and hear this. It’s one of those things where you have to have some type of strategy, but talent does play a certain role because you can’t sound like crap and expect people to just want to go and watch you. You got to be nice and polished.
Alan: You started off knowing that you wanted to be successful on YouTube and make money from YouTube. Can you remember that very moment when you became a partner? What was that like for you?
DeStorm: I went out and celebrated. Back in the day was not like today – to become a partner was so important. There were actually stats that you had to meet. You had to have this many amount of views, this many subscribers, this many amount of videos uploaded of original content within this many allotted time a week. When I got partnered I remember I had a thousand subscribers or something like that. I went out with my boys and we were celebrating. “I’m a YouTube partner! Oh my god! I can start making money!” My first check; it was like nothing, but whatever – I had my partnership. You can get your banner on the top of your page now, and people take a lot of that for granted. They don’t realize what a lot of the old school YouTubers did to get to that point. It was hell. You were posting everyday. That was our life. We weren’t eating, we were out grinding. These days you get one video, you get a partnership. People are like, “I want to work with you DeStorm” and I’m like, “You ain’t paid your dues. Pay your dues before you come to me with that bull. I don’t want to hear it.”
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