My YouTube channel has become a bit of a burden.
With my focus in my life moving toward wanting to share mindfulness and positivity in fun ways with people online, through music, writing and vlogging, I want to have my online presence dedicated to that. I’ve never wanted to be ‘famous’ or have some kind of internet persona; I’m just the guy who makes the stuff. It’s the stuff that’s important.
Sometimes I’ll meet people and I tell them that I run a daily YouTube show about mindfulness and positivity, as I have been for the last month or so. I tell them I get about ten thousand views on every video and they respond impressed and encouraged. Then they go to that channel and see a bunch of weird stuff: an audience of nearly a million that have mysteriously disappeared, a series of videos about Twilight from six years ago, a bunch of animated songs about Doctor Who, a video of me wandering around Walmart that has over three million views, and plenty of other things that are great fun, and that I’m very proud of, but aren’t really me anymore.
It ends up feeling like I’m dragging around this strange mausoleum to everything I used to be. I don’t want that. I want to have a presence online that represents my values now: music, mindfulness and fun. There’s no need to constantly extend this nine-year feed of content instead of just throwing out a life raft and venturing somewhere new.
Today I uploaded my last video to my channel and I started a brand new one. It’s exciting to have a new channel that is starting from scratch. It’s allowed me to do some things over, like having a channel with no advertising, so I can just do it for the love of it like I used to in the early days. It’s nice to have an audience of new active people that’s building instead of shrinking, people who are subscribing fully aware of what to expect, instead of bemoaning the changes and my unwillingness to ‘be funny like I used to be’. There is no ‘used to be’ now, because this is day one.
If I’m lucky I’ll have about ten thousand regular subscribers and contributors to this new channel, rather than nearly a million empty or angry ones, which would create a wonderful positive atmosphere for my work going forward :)
If you’re interested in following my new project, all the new links and details are in today’s YouTube video, right here. My old channel will still be there, just inactive, for people to watch the old videos if they want to. For me, though, it’s long past time for me to move on from ‘nerimon’.
We’ll speak again this weekend – I’m releasing a new song that I adore and think you will too. <3 Much love, Alex x
As you know, I’m releasing an album this year. It’s called Nowhere Left To Hide, it contains thirteen songs and you’ve heard two of those songs already (Scared Like Me and Make It Rain) and you’ll be hearing two more in the next few months; it’s a very personal album that I recorded last year and I’m really excited for you to eventually hear it :)
In the meantime, I’ve started work on another album, Legacy, an album that expands on the work I did reinventing old songs like Lady Godiva, This Kiss and Poison. My aim is to record an album of classic songs that never quite made it, haven’t quite lasted, to update and reintroduce them to a new audience.
I’ve recorded three of those songs so far and one of them – a Chumbawumba track – seemed like a good fit for the upcoming UK election, so I’ve decided to release it early.
Ugh! Your Ugly Houses comes out May 3rd on iTunes but you can watch the music video now and I’d be very grateful if you did and shared it with anyone and everyone you know: Ugh! Your Ugly Houses
This song is just one way for me to amplify a message. If you believe in the message and the song, share it yourself, rip the video and upload it yourself, but more important, do whatever your thing is. Get the message out there however you best think you can. <3 With love, Alex x
I’ve always used songs as tools.
Holding On began as a way of singing about unrequited love in my life. Don’t Look Back acted as a warning to anyone interested in romantic involvement with me that I am aware of my superficiality and my (at the time) struggles with commitment. Forever Yours was the musical summation of a realisation I had that sometimes it’s perfectly fine to just be friends with someone you like. I’ve Got What It Takes served as an anthem to keep my spirits up when I was trying to break the music industry and was instead ignored.
So it was that, in late 2013, I needed another pick-me-up for a new set of reasons, so I did what I had done so many times before and wrote a song to help me.
Make It Rain is the pulsing powerhouse of synths and bravado that I needed to remind myself I have the strength to get through things, that the conflict in your life can be harnessed and transformed into a force of power and positivity. The greater the problems that are thrown at you, the greater you’ll be for taking them on and facing the day. Those messages are all over this song.
“I will march with the fire that is building inside, and the world better watch out for me.”
Make It Rain is the next single from Nowhere Left To Hide – my previously-announced album coming out in October. It’s coming out on iTunes and other places tomorrow, but you can buy it on my website right now if you’d like to: Buy Make It Rain for just 50p
Did I always want to be famous on the internet? When I was a kid, the internet was teletext. I have absolutely no idea how to explain Teletext to people who never experienced it, but I will try; you would switch your TV to a certain channel, press a button with wiggly lines on the remote, and the screen would fill with this awful gaudy neon writing updating you on whatever you wanted – games, travel, sport, current affairs – while the audio of the programme you were watching would play on in the background. There were about a hundred pages to Teletext and if you wanted to turn to the next one, you had to wait for it to scroll through every single one of them before it would let you proceed. So no, when I saw that, I didn’t look at it and think, “One day, I’m gonna be famous on that.”
That was an extract that I cut out of the District Line but thought I’d share with you :) Much of my opinions on fame and the internet were covered in the book without this, particularly in my theatre analogy in the Waterloo & City line chapter – I’d been carrying that analogy around with me for years. I even wrote it up as a Tumblr post once and sent it to a bunch of YouTube friends to ask for their opinions; Tomska said I should post it, John Green said I shouldn’t. I’m glad it finally found its home in my book.
I’ve started writing a new book provisionally titled ‘Food For Thought’ which is about the nature of human consumption in all its forms – in the meantime, The Underground Storyteller is still available on my site and you can read the first chapter free (or share it with friends) by clicking here!
I’m also releasing a new single this month – I’ll be writing you soon to tell you all about it.
You are a beautiful human being,
I just uploaded a video to my YouTube channel, filmed last October in a French monastery called Plum Village. My friend Erlend (pronounced ‘Alan’) sat with me on the deck of a Vietnamese Buddhist master’s house and we chatted about various things. I thought I’d splice it together and share it with you.
When I returned from Plum Village, I had made three important life decisions:
1) I wanted to make YouTube videos again, when I previously thought I was done with it
2) I wanted to rent out my flat, instead of living there
3) I wanted to use the money from both those things to go travelling and see the world
I also, as a sidenote, became a vegan. This wasn’t even a decision; it required barely any thought at all. Someone explained to me one day that you can have a full and nutritious and healthy diet without involving yourself in the affairs of animals, and I had never realised that before, so I thought, “good, I should do that then”, so I did, and still am.
This explanation does not seem good enough for anybody who isn’t also a vegan.
Like (I assume) most people, I like to live my life exactly the way I want to live it. I don’t care much for doing things just because that’s how other people do them, or because other people would find my ways strange or different or challenging. I want to be allowed to be me. A friend of mine told me recently that she’d never met anyone who was so unwilling to play by the rules, to which I said something to the effect of, “I’m happy to play by the rules – so long as they still make sense after I’m done thinking about them”.
Inevitably, this outlook has presented obstacles.
I don’t think I’ve been out with anyone in the last four months of veganism who hasn’t, at some point, brought my attention to the fact that I’m a vegan. People are obsessed. They think about it far more than I do. Declaring oneself as a vegan is a sure-fire way to immediately transform all the non-vegans in proximity into some kind of nutritional science research team; suddenly I have to find myself fielding a debate about adequate sources of protein and daily requirements of vitamins and the natural behaviours of human ancestors when I don’t even care about any of that. I’m just happy doing something that works for me and I’m not sure why other people aren’t.
I don’t, after all, make anyone explain to me why they eat meat – and nobody would expect me to. It’s ‘normal’. I have (falsely) been led to believe that life is just like this and you have to accept it; you have ‘normal’ and you have ‘everything else’. If you want to be ‘everything else’ – if you want, as I do, to be vegan, or wear toe shoes, or go off and meditate twice a day, or make videos on the internet, or only own six items of clothing – then you just have to expect widespread commentary and criticism wherever you hang your hat.
Eventually, what ends up happening is that every time you walk on to a Tube carriage wearing your toe shoes, or whatever, you become immediately aware that everyone nearby is looking at you and pointing you out to their travelling companions and taking subtle photos of you with their phones, and you get so sick of being the focus point for people’s judgment that you just start dressing in a way people will ignore because you just want some peace and quiet. And as one final prod, the first time you see your friends in your new-look ‘normal’ outfit, they will often chuckle and say, “finally grown out of that then! Knew you would!”, oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t a phase, and it wasn’t a mistake, and it’s just been beaten out of me by people who don’t bother to be accepting when it’s easier for them to be dismissive.
When I went to Plum Village, it was the first time in my life I realised that there are other people in the world that understand it’s okay to be the weird one. It doesn’t have to be a big deal to be a toe-shoed minimalist vegan (or, as I was years earlier, a caveman-shirt-wearing minimalist musician writing a book about trains). Not everyone recoils when they hear about it. Not everyone reacts with hostility or demands an explanation, or looks at my plate with pity as though I’m undertaking some great self-inflicted suffering. It sounds silly, but I’d never realised this. I just expected to be pointed at all my life for making different decisions, oblivious to the fact that maybe the problem isn’t me, but the people on the other end of those pointing fingers.
It’s mental that I had to go all the way to a Buddhist monastery to learn that. I had to fly from London to France and stay with strangers and monks, with no phone or internet, just to find people who don’t lower their eyebrows when they hear I don’t want eggs.
The video I uploaded today is not about me being vegan. It’s just a video of me chatting for a few minutes with a friend I made at Plum Village. It’s very simple and unremarkable, but it’s a nice memory of a time when I felt very at ease and peaceful and free of the judgment of the world outside. I like having it on my channel as a reminder that people know it’s okay to be the weird one.
It IS okay to be the weird one.
Feel free to watch it here if you can find the time and think you’ll like it.