Each week at Embrace Disruption we introduce you to an influential person in the digital, blogger, arts, culture, film, or media world! Every Thursday, you can check back at EDPR to find out who we think is particularly amazing at ‘embracing disruption’ within their respective industries. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Music/Video Producer, YouTuber & Musician, Andrew ‘Gunnarolla’ Gunadie!
What’s your official job title, and where did you go to school?
Currently I’m a music & video producer, and Party-Time YouTuber! You probably know me as ‘gunnarolla’ – I’m at least partly responsible for music videos such as “Canadian, Please” and “The Comic Sans Song”. I also co-host and co-curate a live show about YouTube called “Like/Comment/Subscribe”.
I have an Honours BA in Media, Information & Technoculture from Western University, and a diploma in Television Broadcasting from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.
Elevator pitch. Describe yourself in a nutshell (or sea shell, or any shell for that matter).
Asian-Canadian. Funny & funny-looking. I love to make content that will make you laugh and make you think. I have a few big YouTube videos under my belt (not literally, that’s gross). More and more I love YouTube as a social platform – I love building and interacting with a community, and extending that experience with our tours and live shows. I’d like to think that I’ve facilitated many friendships, and at the end of the day, I just want to be your friend.
Why did you pursue what you’re doing now? What was the inspiration?
Well, I’m doing a lot of things now. Music has been the thread that has run through my life since I was born – I studied piano/keyboard, and went on to teach hundreds of students with the Yamaha Music Education System.
I didn’t really get into producing my own music, or seeing music as a tool for personal expression, until high school. It’s around that time that I also got into video production. I had a great group of friends to collaborate with, and we were always making stuff. Julia Bentley and I produced a ton of music together.
I’ve worked on a few television productions (Canada’s Next Top Model, The Conventioneers) but the job that made the most sense with my degree and my skill set would have to be Senior Multimedia Producer with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). I did anything and everything relating to digital video – multi-camera recording of events, AV for exhibitions, interviews, Festival coverage, trailers, clip reels, and all YouTube content.
All the while, I was active on YouTube, and it was a fun hobby, and a great place to exercise my creativity. “Canadian, Please,” released in 2009 and currently sitting at 3.7 million views, is our big viral hit, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I really started considering (and treating) YouTube as a potential “job” – or at least, a thing that I could dedicate more time to.
There are no limits to the YouTube content. And because the people who watch me are so awesome, I tend to draw much of my inspiration from them. If you are in tune with your audience, and you make an effort to interact with them, you will never run out of ideas.
What is the best part of your day-to-day?
I set my own schedule, so two-hour lunches are pretty great, as are designated nap time. I love the moment when a project is finally done and out there in the world. I recently completed a daily video series, and that was definitely a highlight of my day; sharing work, and interacting with the audience, building on their ideas, and using their feedback to improve my next project.
What’s the most challenging?
Because I set my own schedule, weekends basically don’t exist! I have to constantly remind myself that most people get at least one day off a week, so I shouldn’t feel bad about not working on a Sunday. To-do lists and scheduling blocks of work time in a calendar help to keep me on track (even though I don’t always follow them!)
A lot of the work that I do on YouTube is tough – so much of what I personally value constantly contracts what is “important” in the YouTube world. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it 1,000,000% and I don’t like feeling like I’m not succeeding. So I’ve had to balance what is important to me vs what I need to do to be “successful” on this platform. You don’t get a raise and you don’t get a promotion because you worked hard or because you were super talented. You have to play the game, and I hate that. I’ve had a lot of jobs, but this has definitely been the hardest. But I just can’t give up!
If you took a look in the cliché crystal ball, what do you see for yourself?
I’ve had a lot of major life changes in the past two years – I left a prestigious full-time job, did a ton of traveling, slept on couches and even in cars. I also got out of my comfort zone and started doing more music and live shows. I don’t have any regrets about these decisions – they’ve helped me realize what is really important in life, and the necessity of (calculated) risk-taking to really be happy.
That said, I would love to continue what I’m doing, but without the constant underlying fear that I won’t be able to make my rent, or that I will be forever alone because I have too many things going on at once. Hopefully that’s what my future has in store, but I’m starting to suspect that that’s just life…
How do you embrace disruption in your work and personal life?
My life is based on disruption! I mean, I tried the stable, predictable, traditional thing – and I definitely could have continued down that route. But if I hadn’t taken chances (probably the biggest one was leaving my full-time job) then I wouldn’t have learned about myself in the way that I did, through traveling, and through the relationships that I built after leaving my job.
Regarding risks and disruption, a friend once told me “decisions are never final: even if you make the ‘wrong’ decision, it’ll just lead you to new choices, and the option of making another decision” which I really impacted my outlook on life.
I’ve also recently had a few incidents in my personal life and with my family that have helped to put the bigger picture into perspective. I will never pass up the opportunity to travel, and I refuse to worry or complain about money. I am healthy and I have skills – I’m incredibly fortunate to live the life that I do.
What is the most memorable moment in your career?
I produced a lot of great work and worked with very important people when I worked with TIFF. It’s great seeing your work up on the big screen, and all over the Internet.
I’ve had a ton of highlights relating to my work on YouTube. I’ll forever look back fondly on my first cross-continent tour with Andrew Huang. We packed up a U-Haul truck and drove from Toronto to LA, stopping in a major Canadian and American cities for shows. I had never really driven long distances, I had never really performed live, I had never really met up with fans, Andrew and I barely knew each other, and somehow it all worked out. We met so many incredible people on that journey, and we didn’t fight once – which is a feat considering that we were literally inseparable for almost two weeks. Australia and New Zealand were also amazing, but we were pros by that point.
On a similar note, my first show with Andrew Bravener presented at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2012 in Toronto was quite the experience, even though I don’t remember much of it. We hosted this show for 12 hours straight. But we had amazing support– particularly from a group of dedicated crazies known as The Blanchettes (hey, Tarra!), and it really opened my eyes to how fun and valuable these live shows can be.
Tell us what you see yourself doing at 65 years old.
Probably what I’m doing now, with more naps and less duck lips. (Let’s hope.)
Just for fun: if you had to pick one app in the whole APPVERSE, what would it be?
I’m so bad with apps. I use my phone for email and social media; I don’t have much time for anything else! A friend recently introduced me to Voxer, and it’s been great for keeping in touch with my international friends.