Filming for the “Good YouTuber” video.
Photo Credit: David Carnegie

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to meet the Toronto-based Asian-Canadian “Party”-Time YouTuber, gunnarolla.

gunnarolla’s videos are about anything and everything: k-pop, sushi, Asian-ness, Canadian-ness, his love for the Comic-Sans font, you name it–and it’s there. With almost 50,000 subscribers and over 9,000,000 video views, it’s no surprise that despite the Vancouver rain, his last-minute visit to Vancouver still drew in a crowd of 50 dedicated fans. Most of these fans were from Vancouver, but some came from as far as Washington all the way to Stanley Park to meet him, talk to him, and even be a part of his video “Good YouTuber“.

He even took the time to answer some of my questions so I could share them with you! Here it is:

Sylvia: What is your full name?

Gunnarolla: Andrew Tiberius Gunadie

S: How did you come up with the name gunnarolla?

G: There is no real story behind ‘gunnarolla’ – I got some interesting theories when I asked my viewers to write a fanfiction, but I’m keeping those a secret until we can secure the rights to the feature film…starring Sandra Oh as me.

S: Do you enjoy it? Is it your passion? Why are you doing it?

G: I’ve always been a producer and a creator. A lot of that has centered on music and video. YouTube really started out as a hobby; it was just a place for me to share stuff that I was working on or that I thought was funny. I was lucky enough to be taken in by the Asian YouTube community, and my audience & network have since grown thanks to “Canadian, Please” and other creators helping me out.

I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t enjoying it. There’s even merit in the struggle – I’m naturally very critical and I like trying to figure this YouTube thing out. Content about content still makes for valuable content! I’ve made some great friendships with fellow YouTubers, and I’ve met so many amazing people on tour and in these meet-ups. It’s overwhelming. It’s those connections that make it all worth it.

S: Do you feel like Canadian YouTubers are different than American YouTubers in any way?

G: As people, I don’t think that there are any inherent differences between the Canadian and American YouTubers. Well, we might be hotter and funnier, I will go on record saying that.

I think it’s a lot like the film & TV industry. There are more business opportunities in the US, more money, bigger audiences, and more opportunities for collaboration if you’re in a major hub like LA or New York.

But Canada has its own stars, too – Corey Vidal/ApprenticeA, Andrew Bravener, MattG124, Andrew Huang, Gregory Gorgeous, Billy Reid, Nanalew, Shimmy, Peter Chao, The Chengman, The Wine Kone, FLuffee, and Honeychip are just some of the Canadians that I watch that immediately come to mind. Canadians are doing some great things, and I would love to see us all working together more often – whether in collabs, or just shouting each other out. Celebrating our Canadianness.

Screenshot from the “Canadian, Please” video. gunnarolla looking very Canadian.

S: A few of your older videos like the “3 Misconceptions”, “He’ll Never Be a Canadian”, “Yo you Chinesse f***” have to do with the subject of ethnicity or race. And some of your newer videos are about sushi or k-pop, so-called “Asian” things. Do you feel like your ethnicity dictates some of the things you produce?

I became a lot more interested in exploring the subjects of ethnicity and nationality since  the release of “Canadian, Please”. I got a lot of backlash for that video. There were a lot of racist comments; I’d estimate maybe 1/4 of them, from people who didn’t understand why an Asian guy would be a good representative of Canada. I was called everything from “chink” to “slit-eyed rice eater”. There were a ton of “go back to your own country” comments, which is hilarious, since I was born in Canada…

It made me more aware of how I might be perceived online and offline. I can’t erase the fact that I’m Asian. But I wouldn’t want to. It’s something that I’ll play up from time to time, but for the most part, I’m going to make content about things that interest me. I love kpop and I love sushi, but so do a lot of non-Asians. There are white people that can speak Asian languages fluently. I wish I could do that!

I’d love if my videos could broaden people’s horizons a bit – I got a few messages from non-Asians who told me they got into BIGBANG after I did that hairstyle tutorial. There were some great responses to “He’ll Never Be a Real Canadian” – getting people thinking about and talking about what makes a “real” Canadian. Obviously there are things specific to all the different cultures of the world, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be appreciated and enjoyed on a bigger scale.

Screenshot of gunnarolla’s sushi video. We love sushi too!

S: How does it feel being interviewed by an Asian-Canadian magazine? Do you feel very Asian-Canadian?

G: I love speaking to an Asian-Canadian magazine because I’m Asian-Canadian and hopefully your readers can relate to some of the things that I’ve said here. But I’d be just has happy to speak to a German magazine – though someone might have to get me an interpreter, I only know one German phrase.

Ethnicity is not something that I think about until it comes up in conversation. I don’t look at my face in the mirror and think, “Why am I so Asian?!”. I’m usually thinking, “How can I get rid of this gigantic zit? I have a video to shoot with 50 Vancouverites today.” You know, the stuff that every thinks about.

S: The group today seemed to be really mixed in terms of ethnicity. Is that not very common? I remember you said “Is everyone Asian?” at one point. Are your fans normally Asian?

G: A lot of my viewers are Asian, but that has to do with the communities that I’m a part of, and the content that I make. The people who make it to our shows and meet-ups come from so many different backgrounds, and I love it. I just love meeting the people who can sit through my videos. I feel like it would be torture. Maybe my viewers are all masochists.

S: Message to the fans or to-be-fans?

G: Always eat your granola. I wouldn’t be doing this without your support and your participation. You are amazing and I am so proud of the community that we’ve built. And if you have no idea who I am, you have some serious major terrifying catching up to do.

S: Anything you would like to add?

G: Nein!