YouTube Sensation- Stephanie Sansoni : Music chose me, not the otherway around | Sunday Observer

YouTube Sensation- Stephanie Sansoni : Music chose me, not the otherway around

“The decision to be a YouTuber is the best decision I ever made. I have tried doing so many things but I think I have finally found what I am destined to do. YouTube has opened up a vast array of opportunities for me and I feel truly blessed. But, it’s not always easy as at times I do feel that music is not a sustainable profession. Still, deep down in my heart I know that one day if I succeed it is only because of music and the talent God has given me,” says this YouTube sensation who thinks she has a funny surname. Her most successful video is the cover of ‘Shape of You’, which went viral internationally and has over half a million views as of today. Her personal favourite so far is her cover of ‘Saragaye’.

She holds a diploma in multi-faceted journalism and currently is an undergraduate at the University of Colombo majoring in International Relations. She is Stephanie Sansoni, one of the most sought after YouTubers in the country. In an exclusive interview with Young Voice, Stephanie revealed to us her love of music, plans for the future and incidents which led her to be the person she is today.

Q: What made you to become a YouTuber? When did you start making videos?

A: I wasn’t always a singer. But, towards 2009 I started playing guitar and singing, and then eventually I got into posting covers on YouTube. During school days I was afraid to post videos assuming I would get expelled. So, the first thing I did after I finished school was post a video in 2014. I did not post again until 2016 and this is the year in which I started posting consistently.

When I started uploading again, I had no intention of getting bigger or better. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d become a YouTube icon in Sri Lanka. But, it somehow happened.

Q: Tell us about your YouTube channel?

A: My YouTube channel has grown so much over the years. It is my 3rd year on YouTube. I have close to 50,000 subscribers and over 4 million video views. My channel has a mix of songs in English, Sinhala, Hindi, Spanish and Divehi. I also have live performances, a couple of tutorials and travel blogs.

Q: Do you have a musical background or did you learn all this because you like music?

A: I am a self-taught musician. Of course, music does run in my family and I am genuinely passionate about music. I never went for any voice training or guitar classes. I learnt everything on my own. I used to watch others sing and play and pick up techniques. Even now, I watch YouTube tutorials whenever I want to learn something new related to music. It took me a few years to build up my own style of singing and playing.

Q: You sing English songs and you sing Sinhala songs as well. Which has more response? What do you like most and what does the audience like most?

A: I personally love to sing English songs. But, most of my fans love my Sinhala songs better than the English ones. They always say that my versions of Sinhala songs sound very melodious and soothing. I also have followers from India, the Middle East and Indonesia. They always want to hear more English songs and Hindi songs. However, my second biggest audience is from the Maldives and they request Divehi songs.

Q: How many hits /comments/ engagement do you get per video? Do you usually monitor them?

A: Yes, I monitor every video I post. The average number of comments I get per video is between 100 to 200. Some videos that became very popular have around 1000 comments each. The comments are not the only thing I monitor. I usually keep track of watch time, likes, dislikes, shares, subscribers, average view duration, playback location, traffic sources, devices etc. Monitoring all of this is very important to understand my audience and create content accordingly.

Q: Tell us about your preparations before doing a video? How do you select songs?

A: Most of the time I select songs that are trending on YouTube. Aside from that, I always look out for the most requested songs and cover them. Once I select the song/songs, I rehearse well and make an arrangement. Then I use my home recording equipment to record the song. I keep the vocals as raw as possible since I do not like to incorporate effects and distort the natural sound. Once the guitar and vocals are synchronised, I go ahead and get ready for the video. I like to record vocals separately as it makes the audio sound crisper and clearer. However, I also do live takes where I set up the microphone and camera, and record and film in one go.

Q: When making a video do you take in to account the response you got for the earlier video or do you usually plan songs for the next video?

A:Yes of course. If I have requests, I try my best to oblige them. I also pay attention to constructive criticism and use it to make my videos better. I have no specific song list that I have planned in advance. I go with the flow and select the trendiest song to cover.

Q: How do you interact with your fans? How is the response so far? What were the criticisms if there were any?

A: I always read comments and reply to most of them whenever I can. I have such a good response and I am truly thankful to all my fans. I do get criticism and one of the criticisms I have got is that some songs do not suit my style. I understand that I have a western voice and sometimes certain Sinhala or Hindi songs don’t really compliment my style. But, then again I have to deliver what the majority likes or want to listen to. So, I try to find a balance between what I like to sing and what my fans like to hear and choose the song accordingly.

Q: Any memorable incident you would like to share with your fans?

A: I recall one incident that exposed my channel to a wider community. My cover of ‘Daffodil Male’ was re-uploaded on a popular Sri Lankan Facebook page (like a gossip/shaming page) with a nasty caption.It went viral overnight and so many people had tagged me in the comments.I felt so embarrassed to have been featured on a shaming page and I remember crying and trying to delete my YouTube channel.But, when I woke up the next morning, I had 5000 subscribers on YouTube. That’s how it all started

Q: Whom would you like to thank? Any message for your fans?

A: I would like to thank my friends, family and my fans for the support given to me. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I want my fans to know that they are my biggest inspiration and that their encouragement is all I need to keep going.

Q: Future plans for your YouTube channel? Any collaborations?

A: Yes. I have big plans. I am currently working on my original song and I am really excited about it. Other than that, I also have plans to collaborate with some of Sri Lanka’s famous YouTubers and singers.

Another thing I would like to add is that I have shifted my main focus from YouTube to performing live at events. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop YouTube. I will definitely be uploading a video every month. It’s just that I have come to realise that it is now time to take my next step. I want to be seen as a live performer aside from being recognised as a YouTuber.