Hugs and Pictures with DAVID CHOI, WESLEY FROM WONGFU, NICKO’S KITCHEN, CHESTER SEE, and COOKING WITH DOG via YouTube Fan Fest 2013

Wrote an article about the world’s first YouTube Fan Fest 2013, brought in by Branded and Music Matters Live. XINMSN featured it on their homepage under “Stories we loved”, nice! Did I charm my way in to get cosy with some of the digital economy’s current reigning stars? Yes I did. Did I ask some real good (or ridiculous) questions? I think I did. Here they are!

Read and weep, as celebrity blogger and xinmsn’s social media queen Estelle Kiora compares YouTube to the main media industry, and gets pictures and hugs from some of the globe’s hottest Internet icons to date. She shows you how she did it and spills her favourite answers from them in this exclusive article.

ABOUT ESTELLE KIORA: She currently owns an Influencer Agency, Zero Copycat Pte Ltd, where she links companies and campaigns up with iconic and influential individuals. She was voted one of the Top 10 Lifestyle Bloggers in Singapore in OMY SG’s Blog Awards, and writes about her search for love, party and adventure on her comedic and heart-warming blog, loveyouwrongtime.com .

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What happens when you hear that your favorite YouTube inspirations are in Singapore?

You stalk them, corner them, tell them you’re a celebrity blogger with xinmsn, throw out a big smile and ask them as many charming questions as you possibly can.

Of course, you’re shaking inside and you ask for a photo after. Should I be ashamed that I feel like a 14 year old fan? Maybe. But after all, it’s not everyone who gets to meet and greet the billion-view boy Ryan Higa, and the entourage of Social Media movers and shakers who you watch online every day (or in many people’s cases, it seems to be every night, say around 2am). Bing, Global Creator Dvelopment & Management Lead of YouTube gave a splendid summary of this fast-changing digital landscape and I was shocked to hear that 70% of the viewers watching most of these American sensations were from Asia. Yup, that’s us.

These YouTube stars have something that Hollywood doesn’t – they are relatable, and represent the dreams of you and me. We all know how rare it is to make it big in Hollywood, but these individuals have made their fame and fortune by vlogging (video blog style) about common issues that plague you and me, usually in and around their house. Sometimes, their friends, parents or even dogs make a cameo appearance. I was practically depressed when I realized that my two favorite and awesome YouTube personalities – Jenna Marbles and Natalie Tran – were not physically present at the YouTube Fan Fest, but whether you’re a fangirl or just fascinated at the level of social media stardom these individuals have amassed, here is everything else that you might like to know.

More than 20 global online sensations were brought in by Branded for Music Matters Live (a 3 day free concert spreading various locations) and most significantly, the world’s first ever YouTube Fan Fest #YTFF, a 2-night showcase broadcasted ‘live’ online and powered by HP (in partnership with Google and Singapore Tourism Board). I certainly had a hard time refraining from asking them ridiculous questions like, “if you had an elephant, what do you think you would do with it?”

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WESLEY FROM WONGFU PRODUCTIONS (US)
youtube.com/wongfuproductions
OVER 1 BILLION VIEWS

What did you say? You’re Wesley’s biggest fan in Asia but you didn’t know he was coming to Singapore? Well, it’s not your fault. Wesley isn’t officially part of YouTube fan fest, but that’s not going to stop me from talking to one of the world’s most popular YouTube sensations!

During my one on one chat with Wes, he confessed that he would love to live in Asia, perhaps in Singapore.

“THERE ARE PLENTY OF VIDEOS POPPING UP ONLINE AND SOME CONTAIN DRUG AND SEXUAL REFERENCES, POLITICS, OR RACIST REMARKS. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT?”

We like to use our videos to enforce positive messages, and we stay away from controversial topics like politics. I know we can’t please everyone, but we love our fans and wouldn’t be here without them. So we try and stick within a boundary of topics that they might like better.

“WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING 10 YEARS FROM NOW?”

Wow, I didn’t even know about YouTube 10 years ago so it’s really hard to guess what I’ll be doing 10 years from now. But I can definitely say that I hope to be creating something. I am a creative at heart, and I know I will still be creating things with WongFu, whatever that may be.

“FRIENDS FOREVER!”

That’s right! I will am very keen on blogger feature films, so I hope our Asian fans will like that.

“I LOVE WHAT YOU GUYS DO AND IT’S BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL SO FAR, BUT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD MAKE ANY CHANGES?”

I actually would love to live in Asia for a change. I shot “THE ONE DAYS” in Hong Kong and I loved the vibe of these dynamic Asian cities. I would like to live in Singapore.

“COME! LET’S DO AN EXCHANGE PROGRAMME.”

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DAVID CHOI (US)
youtube.com/davidchoimusic
OVER 100 MILLION VIEWS

You’ve entered David Choi’s bedroom and you’re floating on a dream of clouds, as he cooes out original love songs written for you and only to you. Okay, so maybe that’s not true – but it certainly feels that way when you watch his videos, doesn’t it?

It felt like heaven was smiling down on me that day as I sofa-ed down for a drink with David Choi in a more intimate setting, atop the “ship-like” building of the stunning Kudeta (Thanks to Charmaine Yee of HotFM 91.3 who hooked it up!). From his dopey expression in his videos, I expected him to be a reserved and quiet person, but he was charismatic and held good conversation with everyone around him. In contrast, Ryan Higa actually seems more calm and collected in person as compared to the comical craziness in his videos (which I won’t elaborate on here, since Mr Higa deserves his own piece).

“I FIRST SPOTTED YOU AND YOUR MAGICAL GUITAR IN WONGFU’S VIDEOS. DO YOU ENJOY MAKING VIDEOS AND WOULD YOU MOVE INTO FILM?”

I enjoy collaborating with others and I love the Wongfu guys, but I started making videos mostly because it was an efficient way to showcase my music. I’m all about my music and I would consider filming projects if they came to me, but I’m not going to go hunting for them.

“I HEARD THAT YOU’VE BEEN TO SINGAPORE ABOUT 6 OR 7 TIMES. WOULD YOU LIVE HERE?”

I think it would be cool to live here for a month.

“ONLY A MONTH?! THAT’S NOT ENOUGH! WES FROM WONGFU SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO LIVE HERE TOO. MAYBE YOU CAN BOTH BE ROOMMATES AND GET THE COOLEST BACHELOR PAD IN SINGAPORE. MAYBE A HDB FLAT.”

That would be fun. By the way, Wes is a very clean person. I’m also a clean person, but Wes is even cleaner than I am.

(The conversation then digressed into girls who have messy rooms, which I won’t bore you with.)

“YOU HAVE A LOT OF FANS IN SINGAPORE, AND ALSO AROUND THE WORLD. WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED FROM A FAN?”

It was a vibrating ring that you put on a special part of the male anatomy.

“WHAT!?”

And it came with a flavored condom too.

“COULD IT HAVE BEEN FROM A MALE? DID IT SCARE YOU?”

No it was definitely from a female. I know she likes me. I wasn’t scared, but it was interesting.

“WOW. SO MUCH LOVE.”

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NICKO’S KITCHEN (AU)
youtube.com/robjnixon
OVER 78 MILLION VIEWS

There’s something quite enchanting about watching Australians cook – just look at the success that Jamie Oliver has had. One thing is for sure – other than putting their “shrimp on the Barbie” (a popular Aussie saying), their down to earth-ness and laid back vibe make great ingredients in this hot pot entertainment industry. The formula for success though, doesn’t quite have the same spice – the nicest difference between YouTube and mainstream broadcast media is that it lets you be your own boss. You’re fully in charge of the background, execution and action, as opposed to a set of requirements when dealing with mainstream media.

Rob of Nicko’s Kitchen says a resounding yeah – he likes that YouTube gives him a complete reign of creativity and he doesn’t have to “dilute” his ideas.

“WE DEFINITELY DON’T WANT TO WATER DOWN YOUR RECIPES, ROB! HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR SHOWS COMPARE TO THE REST OF THE STUFF ON YOUTUBE?”

Music and comedy is widely appreciated but what I do with food – such as my bacon channel and baby food channel – is a niche market, so not everyone gets it. I feel like I have to put in more work to get views and get ahead.

“ANY MORE CHANNELS OR PLANS FOR YOU?”

It’s hard work running 5 YouTube channels so i dont think i’ll set any more up just yet. I think i hit a sweet spot with my fans, and I have a loyal following on the things I’ve created. Anything further and I’m spreading myself too thin, and you start cannibalizing your own views. So I’m good for now.

MOST OF THE INDIVIDUALS AT YOUTUBE FAN FEST HAVE A YOUNG GROUP OF AUDIENCE OR FANS. DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE A DEMOGRAPH OF OLDER VIEWERS?
It was nice to see the younger Asian fans tonight, but I do think a number of my channels appeal to people across age and ethnic groups.
Whether 14, or 41 or 71, a number of people do like my cooking ideas so I think I have viewers across all ages.

“WHAT’S THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING YOU’VE EVER COOKED ON YOUR SHOW?”

A cat.

“REALLY?”

No, it was a joke. I pretended to kill the cat but cooked a different meat dish. I had a huge reaction to that.

“PEOPLE DO EAT STRANGE THINGS IN PARTS OF ASIA.”

I don’t mean this in an offensive way, but I actually had many Asian viewers and even a TV station call me and ask me for the recipe.

“THAT’S FUNNY AND ALSO HORRIBLE. COULD BE A NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL IDEA TOO.”

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COOKING WITH DOG (JP)
youtube.com/cookingwithdog
OVER 64 MILLION VIEWS

Now, I know I scared you with Nicko’s Kitchen cat story, but this lovely Japanese lady doesn’t cook dogs. A canine host named Francis shows you how to cook a variety of popular dishes in Japan, alongside a mysterious Japanese chef whose real name is not revealed. I checked it out for the novelty, and some of the recipes actually look quite doable. Japanese cuisine is also a tasty favourite in Singapore and around the world, but how does she choose what to cook on her show?

“WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR POPULAR REQUESTS ON YOUR YOUTUBE SHOW?”

I actually get a lot of requests asking me to showcase ramen noodle dishes, Japanese pastry, and items like matcha (green tea) roll cakes are popular. I found out that there are a lot of anime fans who hear about these dishes from anime shows, and want to learn more about them – especially for the sweeter treats.

“DO YOU LISTEN TO YOUR FANS SUGGESTIONS ALL THE TIME, OR IS THERE DIFFICULTY IN EXECUTING THE DISHES?”

What people don’t realize about Japan is that there are 4 seasons which greatly affect the ingredients and dishes cooked. Thus, I can only select dishes that are seasonal but I try to listen to my fans as much as possible!

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CHESTER SEE
youtube.com/chestersee
OVER 113 MILLION VIEWS

Chester See saw the loudest screams. (See what I did here with the see-saw? Lol.) Whether it was at the press conference or on stage, he was never without a noticeable presence, alongside his signature cheshire grin. I picked up a Ryan Seacrest-esque vibe – probably because, unlike most of the other YouTube icons, Chester did come from a substantial acting and professional hosting background. You could definitely feel the bro-mance in the air – he brought up stories about David Choi at least 3 times even when asked questions about himself. For fear of his rampage of female fans, I kept my questions as professional as possible.


“YOU’RE PRETTY IMPRESSIVE AS A ONE MAN SHOW AND YOU’RE DOING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT PROJECTS AS WELL. DO YOU CREATE, PRODUCE, EDIT, MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA AND DO EVERYTHING ELSE BY YOIRSELF, OR DO YOU HAVE A TEAM OF PEOPLE HELPING YOU ON THE BACK END?”

It all depends on the clip or the channel. On my personal stuff, I mostly do it myself and I do throw $1000-2000 into producing it. On the YOMYOMF channel, there is actually a team of salaried workers who carry out designated tasks. Sometimes, I work with a deputy producer and assemble a team to create something of a bigger budget and higher production value. You can tell – the clips are much, much cooler!

“SO WHILE WE SEE A VIDEO CLIP OF YOU OR OTHER YOUTUBE SENSATIONS IN THEIR BEDROOM, SOMETIMES THERE ARE A BUNCH OF PROFESSIONALS IN THERE THAT WE’RE NOT SEEING. HOW DO YOU THINK YOUTUBE COMPARES TO MAINSTREAM MEDIA? DO YOU THINK YOUTUBE WILL OVERTAKE MAINSTREAM MEDIA? ”

I think YouTube HAS already overtaken mainstream media. A lot of the younger generation or our regular audience don’t watch as much TV as they used to. YouTube is the new NBC. Oh wait, scrap that, I think YouTube has more views than NBC.


Met and spoke to two Chester See fans (Sylvia and Jolene) on the MRT after YouTube fan fest – they made him a homepage background on their iPhones. So sweet!

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Very frankly, most of these YouTube stars don’t have head turning Brad Pitt bodies or Angelie Jolie’s good looks (except for the dog of course, it’s so cute) – but their X-factor lies in their unassuming wit and wonderful ability to engage audiences from all over the world.

The adults (old foggies) don’t quite get it, but internet video platforms like YouTube are the new millennium generation’s television. There are no boundaries, and no one to tell you what is wrong to do or right – only your audience decides. In a competitive bid for hits, fresh content is springing up and being shared everyday. We love YouTube because it is a reflection of reality, and it’s on demand – we decide and watch what we want, who we want, when we want.

With YouTube’s new “partner” programme, any Tom, Dick, Harry or Ah Huat can now have a shot at Justin Bieber’s fame. For the first time in media history, the official judges of who will be the next big star is YOU AND ME.


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Stay tuned to xinmsn for more up-close-and-personal interviews with YouTube celebrities, including Ryan Higa and Eat My Kimchi!

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