CULTURE

Who is Emma Chamberlain? YouTuber, Met Gala Host, Architectural Digest Darling and … Coffee Entrepreneur?

Just as she reinvented the notion of social media fame and the very concept of a fashion influencer as we know it, Chamberlain Coffee is up-and-coming in the coffee world.

It's National Coffee Day! But do the cool girls even drink coffee anymore?

From the TikTok “That Girl” videos, you’d think they only drink ceremonial grade matcha or mushroom tincture or some other frivolous bevy. But Gen Z hasn’t yet dubbed coffee a millennial beverage or relegated it to pretentious hipsters. Have no fear, with Chamberlain Coffee, your caffeine fix is cool again.

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Load the confetti cannons. Get the parade ready. Social media star and undeniable it-girl, Emma Chamberlain, has finally made her return to Youtube. After putting her Youtube career on pause late last year, Emma made her highly anticipated return to the platform in none other than New York City – and as a New Yorker and long-time Emma fan, her video was everything I needed and more.

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Music Features

Interview: Dayglow Makes Sugary DIY Earworms—Just Don't Call It Bedroom Pop

Sloan Struble of Dayglow talks to Popdust about growing up in small-town Texas, selling out a tour that got canceled, and the viral success of his single "Can I Call You Tonight?"

Nick Wong

Things haven't really gone according to plan lately for Sloan Struble.

The 20-year-old singer-songwriter-producer is calling me from Aledo, Texas, a 5,000-person town just west of Fort Worth. Not too long ago, Struble was an advertising student at the University of Texas at Austin. After his song "Can I Call You Tonight?" went viral, he left school to pursue his indie-pop project, Dayglow, full-time. But things took an unfortunate turn when—as with just about every active artist you can think of right now—Dayglow's sold-out tour scheduled to begin this spring was canceled due to the worldwide health concerns. So Struble packed his things and headed to his childhood home, the same place where he self-recorded his debut album, Fuzzybrain, which is out now.

"I'll definitely look back at this past year and think, what the heck happened?" Struble tells me with palpable disbelief, referring to both the current pandemic (which prevented this interview from happening in-person) and his rapid rise to indie notoriety. To Struble, a job in advertising was a tolerable back-up plan—maybe he'd make commercials or music videos—but after his cousin showed him the magic of GarageBand when he was ten years old, a career in music was his main goal.

"I've always definitely wanted to do this," Struble says. "But it felt really out of reach. So I felt like once it was really obvious that I was not going to do advertising and be a musician instead, that's when I would do it."

Dayglow - Can I Call You Tonight? (Official Video) www.youtube.com


With mentions in a handful of local blogs, a shoutout from Gen-Z tastemaker Emma Chamberlain, and an album reissue on innovative record label AWAL, a path in music was undeniable for Struble. Below, he tells Popdust about those revelatory moments, how Fuzzybrain came together, and the future of Dayglow.

Obviously, Austin is known for its music scene. How did living there shape the way you make music?

I actually moved to Austin about a year and a half ago for school at UT. There's really not much of an artistic scene here [in Aledo]. It's kind of, like, Friday Night Lights-ish, where football is the thing that everybody does. So I kind of felt creatively isolated while I was growing up. I spent most of my time just seeing what people were doing with music via the Internet, and not really from anybody who was actually around me, which would have been the case in Austin.

Which artists in particular inspired you while making Fuzzybrain?

I was really trying to lean into, like, 2009 to 2011 big indie pop names. I thought that was a great era that went by really quick. Phoenix, I still love a lot, but I was really into Phoenix while making the record. Passion Pit a little bit, too.

Tell me about how "Can I Call You Tonight?" started going viral.

I was going to be an advertising student in school, so I can't help but think about advertising and marketing tying in with music, because that definitely is a part of being an artist, for better or worse. I was very careful in the way that I presented it, but I didn't do too much in terms of promoting it. I just kind of had faith that if I just let it go and the timing was right, then it would kind of just fit into that pocket of YouTube and Spotify. I emailed a couple of small blogs. There was one in particular called Honey Punch, who is awesome—it's run by two sisters. I sent them an email, and I was like, "Hey, I have this song, I feel like you might like it." And they posted about it. At the time, I didn't have any related artists on Spotify, but because they wrote about it at the right time, all of my related artists afterwards were COIN and other big indie names right now. I think all of that somehow got it into the algorithm—it sounds kind of like the matrix when I'm like, it's in this algorithm!—but yeah, I feel really, really blessed. I mean, I don't want to discredit my hard work because obviously I spent a lot of time working on it, but I also feel really lucky that it just worked, you know?

So what was the timeline of all of this?

I think I put "Can I Call You Tonight?" out on Spotify in late January 2018, and then I made the music video a couple months later. And then those, hand-in-hand, started growing. It's been seriously pretty mind-blowing, because it blows up more each day. It's reacting a lot stronger now than it did initially, and it's almost two years old. So it's pretty cool that it's still growing and seems like it still has a lot of room to grow, which is really exciting.

Dayglow - Listerine (Official Video) www.youtube.com


You'd be on tour right now if it weren't for everything going on, and I know a lot of independent artists are taking a huge hit because of it. How are you coping, and how can fans help their favorite artists in lieu of tours?

I really, really love playing shows, and I think a very big part of why I want to do music is so I can be on stage and perform. But thankfully for me, most of the money I'm making right now is from streaming. Touring is new for me, so personally, I'm not necessarily taking a huge financial hit, but I know a lot of other people are, and my bandmates are. I think it's been pretty encouraging how the first question everyone's asking is "how can we help you?" I think that's pretty awesome that everybody's concerned about artists, and that makes me feel good. But buying merch [helps]. People are probably listening to a lot more music now that they have the time at home, so just keep listening to music. Hopefully this ends soon, and I can go on tour again, so come to those shows!

You originally self-released Fuzzybrain and recorded and performed everything yourself. Why did you go that route?

Since a very young age, I always thought it'd be really cool to be in a band, but I didn't grow up in a place where a lot of people had that same idea. I was making music on GarageBand, and I kind of reached the point where I had used all of the loops GarageBand had available. So I was like, "If I want to make music, I have to know how to play these other instruments," because I didn't really know anybody else that wanted to. So I taught myself the bare minimum of each instrument, and over time, I've just gotten better at each of them. But yeah, it just came from a very personal passion. It's just something I love to do and I love being in creative control.

You get associated with a lot of "bedroom pop" artists, which of course is a very literal descriptor in your case. I remember around the time that Clairo's first EP came out, she said she felt limited by the "bedroom pop" label. How do you feel about that term?

It's hard to address, because bedroom pop is a very specific sound, I think. And I just really don't sound like it, in my opinion. I know I'm young and making music in my bedroom, but I definitely don't think I associate with the bedroom pop scene. It totally makes sense why I've been placed in it, but I think recently, people have kind of realized that I don't really fit into that. I still want people to know I'm really creatively involved in DIY, but I also feel like bedroom pop a lot of times is made to be played in a bedroom, you know? It's mood music, or for when you're chilling out—I want my songs to be festival songs. But that's interesting that Clairo said that. And now she's playing shows with MGMT and Tame Impala! I'm so jealous.

That's a good segue into my next question, because you have a song seemingly about wanting to run the world ("Run the World!!!"). Is there any truth in that?

[Laughs] It's very sarcastic. I mean, I think I'm a fairly levelheaded and humble person when people get to know me. I obviously put that song out without knowing so many people were gonna hear it. It's a song that I knew people close to me were going to hear and immediately laugh. But now it's strange, because people who have no idea who I am hear it, and I'm like, "Do they actually think I think that?" But I think it's always fun to be ironic and sarcastic with music because I want to be optimistic and show people that I'm having fun with what I'm doing. But in order for the optimism to not be ignorant, I think you have to address things like [narcissism and pessimism]. I think it's fun to poke fun at things without being mean.

How have you been adjusting to people who don't know you listening to your music, and making assumptions of you based on your art?

It's really strange, if I'm being honest. I think it's incredible that more people are listening, but nothing can really prepare you for it. At the end of the day, I'm just a person, but it's a really weird thing when most of the people who know who you are only view you as an artist. It's taken me a while to view myself as a person who makes art. It's an incredible opportunity, but it's definitely a weird transition.

Where do you see your career headed?

I have no idea. That's the thing—I wish I could get my mind to think of something [regarding the future], but everything so far has just blown my mind so much that I can't set goals. I want things to keep going the way they are. I hope people are still listening and I'm still making things that I'm proud of. And I guess that's all I can try to do.

What's been your favorite memory over the past year or so?

Everything's so wild right now. I mean, I guess the most iconic thing is that I had a completely sold out tour that didn't exist. It's kind of funny, but obviously terrible. But I played Austin City Limits last fall, which was the biggest click of, like, "This is crazy!" That was a really big moment for me.

Dayglow - Hot Rod (Official Video) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Hot Girl Quarantine: "Savage" Will Be the Song We Associate with Coronavirus Forever

As its dance goes viral and we're stuck in our homes, "Savage" will remind us of this dark time years from now.

Earlier this month, Megan Thee Stallion released her most vulnerable project yet, Suga.

The Houston rapper quickly rose to massive Internet virality last year with her declaration of "Hot Girl Summer," a manifesto she's illustrated in countless tweets, candid videos, and of course a synonymous song (which became a Top 10 hit). Her popularity has set the hip-hop world ablaze, and she isn't burning out anytime soon.

"Savage," a characteristically cutthroat banger from Suga, is just the latest cut from Megan's growing discography to flourish on social media. On March 10, TikToker Keara Wilson first posted a clip of the dance she choreographed to "Savage." Since the original, Wilson has uploaded multiple TikToks of the dance, accruing hundreds of thousands of likes. She also posted a nifty tutorial for maximum trend potential.

Keara wilson on TikTok

Keara wilson on TikTok www.tiktok.com

NEW DANCE ALERT! 🚨 if u use my dance tag me so i can see🤗 @theestallion #writethelyrics #PlayWithLife #foyou #fyp #foryoupage #newdance #savage

As with all the best viral dances, Wilson's routine spread like wildfire, spawning recreations from TikTok royalty like Addison Rae and Charli D'Amelio, as well as from other Gen-Z favorites like Emma Chamberlain, James Charles, and Liza Koshy.

addison rae on TikTok

addison rae on TikTok www.tiktok.com


@sherinicolee OK MAMA

charli d'amelio on TikTok

charli d'amelio on TikTok www.tiktok.com

@keke.janajah

Soon enough, of course, the dance caught the attention of Thee Stallion herself, who shared her rendition of it from the comfort of home in a onesie. The caption reads "#quarantineandchill." As we're all cooped up in our houses, (hopefully) working remotely and (hopefully) practicing social distancing, the "Savage" dance has henceforth dubbed the foreseeable future as Hot Girl Quarantine. Years from now, when we're all finally allowed back into the bars and parties have resumed, "Savage" will begin playing in the distance. We'll look at our friends longingly and say, "Remember when we survived a pandemic?"

We all have songs that we associate with a certain event or period in time. Ex-Tumblr kids will remember the black-and-white clad aesthetic circa 2013 that became inextricable from songs like the 1975's "Chocolate" and the Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather." Green Day's "Time of Your Life" is to high school graduations what Medicare for All is to Bernie Sanders' platform.

Now, the Very Online generation will forever associate "Savage" with the coronavirus. With so much free time on our hands, Internet scrolling is the new 9-to-5. With gyms on lockdown, dancing in our bedrooms seems like the most natural way to get endorphins. I, a grown adult, begrudgingly made my own painfully unsexy TikTok to "Savage," and would recommend you do the same to distract yourself from...everything else.

Though we won't be hearing it in clubs or at get-togethers with friends, "Savage" is still bound to become even more popular and inescapable as our time indoors trickles on. It's sassy, it's moody, it's nasty—in a weird way, it's just like a global pandemic.

Culture Feature

This Haunts Me: YouTubers and Their Disposable Wealth

I'm losing sleep over a video called I Went Shopping Without Checking The Prices.

Monica Church on YouTube

I really enjoy watching YouTube videos about personal finances.

Whether it be savvy tips from Chelsea of the Financial Diet or the ruthless roasts from self-made millionaire Graham Stephan, I find a sense of comfort in the money-centric sector of YouTube. No matter the status of my savings account, these channels make me feel marginally smarter, give me a boost of confidence while home-brewing my morning coffee, and remind me that finance doesn't have to be scary.

Evidently, the YouTube algorithm thinks I'm interested in any video about money, whether its creator is fiscally responsible or not. Last night, I was recommended a video posted by a user named Monica Church, titled I Went Shopping Without Checking The Prices... In New York City.

I Went Shopping Without Checking The Prices... In New York City www.youtube.com


Church is a Seattle-based influencer with 1.26 million subscribers and, like me, is 24 years old. She's just one participant in this video trend, whereby YouTubers flaunt their wealth by going on a mindless shopping spree, waiting to discover how much they spent until the camera is rolling to record their reaction. To stir the pot, these buyers often pick something up from designer stores, like Church did in Manhattan's shopping hub of SoHo.

In her video, Church reveals that she spent $440 on a yellow hoodie, $110 on a plain white t-shirt, and $1,150 on a Balenciaga purse with kittens on it, just to name a few items. The grand total racked up to over $2,000. "You'd think I got it at American Eagle for, like, 40 bucks," Church said of her new cashmere sweater, purchased for a cool $275. Although she did sing the praises of each item she bought, there was a subtle sense of regret. She also included a giveaway where she bought a $700 gift card to the Children's Place for a subscriber who had six adopted siblings.

However, this isn't even the first time Church has filmed a shopping spree without checking the prices. Whether intentional or not, she's filming these videos because she knows she has enough disposable income to do so, and she knows the novelty and shock factor of it will generate views. I only single Church out because her video was the first of its kind I discovered. Many others have posted their own iteration of "I Went Shopping Without Checking the Prices," which shines a harrowing light on how influencers depict wealth and consumerism.

Popular YouTubers like Church make most of their money from partnerships and video sponsorships, although some AdSense money plays a factor in their income, as well. There are numerous factors that go into exactly how much ad revenue goes back into the YouTuber's pocket, so much so that the precise amount is almost impossible to calculate. However, Influencer Marketing Hub reports that every 1,000 views equates to $3-$5 for the creator in AdSense alone. If this is accurate, then advertising has earned Church at least somewhere between $827 and $1,379 (and counting) for this video alone.

While "making it" on YouTube isn't always as easy as some might think (it takes most creators years until YouTube alone can sustain them), the consumer-driven nature of the platform and normalization of high spending has irked me exponentially more, the older I get. And of course, YouTube wasn't always like this. Its first video was uploaded in 2005, but it's only been in the last five years or so that a noticeable shift has occurred in what drives YouTube's top creators: money.

One of my favorite YouTubers is Tiffany Ferguson, who hosts a very thoughtful and nuanced series called Internet Analysis. She recently uploaded a video titled The Dark Sides of Flex Culture that criticizes the normalization of luxury items within the YouTube community and its societal implications (not to mention the fact that luxury brands often exploit their workers).


The Dark Sides of Flex Culture www.youtube.com


In the video, Ferguson mentions 18-year-old YouTube phenomenon Emma Chamberlain, who helped pioneer a recent genre of goofy, unglamorous, arguably "relatable" teen content, heavily centered around her self-deprecating sense of humor. Chamberlain started her channel in 2017 with DIYs, thrift store hauls, and vlogs by herself, eventually going viral with a video called we all owe the dollar store an apology. Chamberlain now has 8.5 million subscribers and regular partnerships with Louis Vuitton; her most recent video, as of today, is a vlog documenting her experience being the cover star of Cosmopolitan. If this is the lifestyle of YouTube's so-called "average teen," what does this mean for, well, actual average teens?


Every day, YouTube's 2 billion users watch over a billion hours of video. Their press page states that the number of channels earning six figures per year grew more than 40% in the last year. The lines between ordinary people watching YouTube and the arguably-average people profiting from it grow more and more blurred by the day, making luxury items—especially Balenciaga bags bought without even checking the price—seem like a universal commodity. The omnipresence of these goods and excessive spending is being normalized in viewers' subconsciouses, thanks to users like Church—users who market themselves as your girls-next-door despite carrying $1,150 handbags. Consider me, and my bank accounts, haunted.

MUSIC

Surfaces Want Us All to Have a "Good Day"

The indie pop duo sat down with Popdust for an exclusive interview.

Capturing the sentimentality of summer is imperative for indie-pop duo Surfaces.

Surfaces - Good Day (Official Video) www.youtube.com

"Sunny days bring out some of the most positive aspects of life," the duo said in an exclusive interview with Popdust. "Summer always brings new experiences and encapsulates happy nostalgia." Perhaps that's what makes the irony of "Good Day" so endearing. "No more school, no more rules" lead singer Forest Frank croons over snapping fingers and a light strum of the guitar. The single wasn't released until October, and with school very much back in session and the weather shifting into the grey of winter, "Good Day's" bubbly persona hits listeners in a tender spot this time of year. The video, which finds Frank and guitarist Colin Padalecki relaxing near the pool, further captures the song's bright essence. We chatted more with the band about their first tour, their new album, and how they got into feel-good pop music.

How did you get into music?

C: "I was never formally taught any instrument growing up but I had a natural fascination about the music creation process. Being an avid music listener (like most people) I just had to know what was going on behind the curtain. I've always enjoyed writing, but weaving in music production seemed to give words a whole new purpose for me."

F: "My family had a piano in our living room that always caught my attention. I feel like I could sit at it for hours and never get bored. I loved coming up with melodies and discovering new chord structures. When I was around 17 I saw someone making beats on YouTube and instantly wanted to give it a shot. Once I started I didn't want to stop. Colin and I met up a few years later and the rest is history."

Tell me about "Good Day." What was the creative process like?

C: "Good Day is kind of a functional song in the way that it could be anyone's soundtrack to having a good time outside. The bossa nova chords and laid back drums are supposed to support the lax mood. It's one of the least intricate tracks we've released, which helps it to come across as an easy listen."

F: "We went 'big production' for our previous videos, so we wanted to try something more minimal. We wanted it to feel like the viewer was watching us chill in the back yard of a house…nothing special. Also, we wanted to match the minimalism of our artwork/brand in a way we hadn't done before."

How is tour life? Tell me about your upcoming tour?

C: "We wrapped up a summer tour a few months ago that was actually our first tour ever. It was awesome to see our fans singing the lyrics and genuinely enjoying themselves. Living in the positive environment we had been trying to create all along was such an amazing feeling. We are looking forward to keeping the same energy and intimacy on a bigger scale across the country. We hope every person who is able to make it to this next tour walks away feeling like a better version of themselves. That has always been the goal!"

What can we expect from your new album?

F: "This next project is basically a culmination of everything we've made so far. There really is something for everyone. It can't really be described by genre, but it feels cohesive. To us it sounds like the wholesome/positive energy of oldies music packaged in a more modern mix. There are a few songs that hit what our fans would expect, and others that are entirely new flavors. We are always trying to find new ways to express ourselves, which always keeps things interesting."