by Ryan Meehan
“I’ve been creative my entire life, making bad jokes ever since I was a kid. It wasn’t until I started this channel in September 2011 that I found my current passion: creating videos, more specifically, ASMR videos.This has become my “craft”, ever since I was introduced to the medium in the Spring of 2012 and found out that the pleasant tingling sensation I felt all my life had a name. It was then that all my creative interests melded together, my love of comedy, nature, photography, art, film, video games, beer, food and so much more. I finally found the creative outlet I’ve been searching for all 40+ years of my life. I never thought I would be making videos, let alone running a YouTube channel. I enjoy recording, both visually and aurally, a variety of subjects and am always up for a challenge and am constantly looking to push the envelope…”
That’s the testimony of YouTube user Ephemeral Rift, one of the online pioneers of the genre known as ASMR videos. I’ve been exploring the world of ASMR myself now for a little over six months, so that’s why I was excited to invite him on today as my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: For those who might not be familiar with the ASMR landscape, how would you best describe the meaning of autonomous sensory meridian response?
ER: Pleasant feeling goosebumps, almost like a warm electric wave that instantaneously traverses throughout your body often starting from the neck and scalp and extending as far as the legs.
RM: When did you first come across ASMR as a form of relaxation; and how did you go about taking the next step towards actually making the videos yourself?
ER: Well, I’ve experienced ASMR all my life. My first memories would probably be getting haircuts and my hair washed. As for making videos, the ASMR medium or genre hit me like a brick wall. When I started my channel I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life creatively. I just knew I needed to keep searching for my outlet. My channel opened up back in September 2011 with some time lapse photography of clouds and one particular video that combined my novice Native American Flute playing with a trickling stream. It was that video that someone in the ASMR community found. They asked if it could be used in an ASMR project, and I asked myself “What is this ASMR?”. From there I looked it up, found the videos on YouTube, thought that I would give it a try and the rest is history!
RM: How integral do you think your intro “Hello, I hope you are doing well…” is when it comes to setting the viewer up for a pleasant and relaxing experience? What are some other aspects of the intro that are very important to make sure the viewers discharges themselves from the stressful feelings that have led them to your work in the first place?
ER: Well in regards to that phrase, I heard another non-ASMR YouTuber open their videos with it, or a variation of it, and I really liked hearing it, so I borrowed it. I always enjoyed that comforting feeling often felt when watching someone like Fred Rogers or friendly interaction. So I think I just wanted to pay-it-forward and pass along that feeling.
RM: What type of microphones are you using to do this? Are you more of a fan of dynamics or condensers when it comes to capturing close range audio sounds such as the ones featured in your recordings?
ER: I should probably know the difference between a dynamic and condenser by now, but no matter how much I’ve read about them, they just never register with my brain. I’m old, what can I say? But I use 2 mics: the internal X/Y mic of the Zoom H6 and for the binaural sound I use Sound Professional’s Master Series in-ear omnis. I probably should be using more professional grade mics, and I most likely will in the year to come, but I prefer to invest more into costumes and props.
RM: What were some of the first adjustments you realized you needed to make in order to make sure that your videos were getting better and that you were working towards developing the following you currently have today?
ER: Getting a proper external microphone (again, as I owned a Zoom H4N a few years before getting on YouTube when I first started dabbling in sound) to eliminate the hiss and internal noise of my camera, and upgrading from my HD camcorder to a more professional camera. Not so much because I was focused on quality, but more-so to create film-like videos, since I’m practically a cinephile myself. As far as a following, I never really focused on that. I just do my thing. If people like what I do, great! I’m very thankful for everyone that likes what I do. This is still a very surreal journey. If they don’t like it, that’s fine too! To each their own. I’m gonna keep on truckin’ whether I have 1 or 1 million people along for the ride.
RM: What are some of your own personal triggers as far as sounds that stimulate your ASMR; and have there been moments during the production of your videos that you have lost focus on creating the sounds for others and been overwhelmed by how you’re responding to the trigger itself?
ER: As for my triggers, I like everything, but my preference is the personal attention aspect. That’s what works in real life, whether it’s a customer service rep on the phone speaking in a pleasant voice, the dentist (yes, I’ve almost fallen asleep getting fillings) or someone fixing something for me. And no, I’ve never experienced ASMR during the creation of my videos. However the mindfulness of it is very relaxing, so it’s almost like my zen-time.
RM: I’m a big fan of the pestle and mortar with salt sound, but not so much of the basic pestle and mortar sound devoid of the salt grinding…What might be the reason for this variation in preference with regards to two sounds that essentially come from the same objects?
ER: That’s interesting. I honestly don’t think I’ve heard that one before! Maybe there’s some kind of psychological aspect there with the vessel being empty and you wanting it to be filled with something, so your mind is already made-up. That would be my best guess in scenarios like that.
RM: Did you receive any negative feedback regarding the “Relax with Satan” video that you did several months back? If so, what was the most intense comment you received about the premise of that video? How do you typically respond to someone who has negative things to say about what you do in the comment section?
ER: I’ve been receiving negative feedback throughout the life of my channel especially with the more experimental videos I’ve done, and that goes for “Relax with Satan” too. I honestly can’t recall the most intense comment, but most likely it would have been anything regarding the subject matter of the video and the possible moral implications it might have on children. At this juncture I’ve heard it all pretty much. I try not to get too caught up in the comments as often it can be hard to tell who’s being sincere or who’s trolling. I take most everything at face value, but with that proverbial pinch of salt. Sometimes I dish it right back.
RM: One of the better videos in your catalogue is the “Addiction Recovery Support Session” piece…How far away is the practice of ASMR from being used in seminars – much in the same way hypnosis currently is – in order to assist in the aid of promoting smoking cessation or substance abuse? Could you ever see yourself travelling around the country to do something like that if it became popular?
ER: I said this years ago, and that is we’re still at the tip of the ice berg as far as what ASMR can be used for. Somehow it needs to transition from YouTube to real life, whether it’s in art or some alternative form of health practice. You just need the right folks to somehow explain it and use it properly. As for traveling and doing something beneficial with ASMR, well I couldn’t travel at this stage because our son is still in elementary school, but in another decade or so if an opportunity presented itself in some form or fashion and he’s all grown up, who knows?
RM: Is there any particular reason that the videos tend to be right around an hour in length? Is that based on the amount of time it takes the average person to go to sleep, or does it have more to do with the quantity of sounds being created in hopes that there will be more triggers per video for the viewers?
ER: There are a few reasons, but it’s not about how much I can do in a designated amount of time. I enjoy what I do, so I often just go until the tank runs empty. It’s also a cathartic / meditative experience for me as well. Much like painting is for a painter. I also know that I personally prefer longer ASMR videos, so there’s that too. And I know folks use them for sleep, so it’s a combination of all that.
RM: Have there ever been any premises for your videos that you thought you had enough material for, but when you went to shoot it there just simply wasn’t enough there for a whole hour? Do you plan to take any requests from viewers in the near future? What’s the strangest suggestion for an ASMR video premise that you have ever received?
ER: I can’t think of any videos off the top of my head, but I think I’ve ran into the lack of material several times. Especially with the videos that are like 20 minutes or less. I do take suggestions from viewers, it’s just a matter of getting to them, and my own ideas, and keeping other series going. There’s only so much one can do! As for the strangest suggestion… boy that’s a tough one, especially since my idea of strange goes all the way out to Jupiter. I wish I had something for you, but knowing many of the creepy messages that many female ASMR creators receive, you might want to ask one of them for your answer!
RM: What are some other activities that you like to participate in when you’re not filming ASMR videos? Is there anything you haven’t had the chance to try that you’d like to experiment with over the next five years?
ER: I’d love to try stand-up, even if I fail. Just to experience that and see if I have what it takes, which I know I don’t, because you have to travel and tour and write. Plus we have a young son and we’re a very close family. I would also like to try my hand at acting someday. Other than that, my wife and son are my priority, we’re very close so that is most of my spare time when I’m not working my full time job or making videos. Spending time as a family, especially with our son, is such a huge priority for me. As for other personal spare time not spent around video production or family, is catching up on films or hiking in the woods (which inevitably means I bring my camera anyway). I like living a simple life but squeezing some excitement in here and there when the opportunity arises. Which is rare when you have a family!
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
ER: There’s a collaboration that should be coming out in December 2015 that is very ambitious. A new mask / character is due in December as well, think: Geriatric. Death will be paying a visit too, probably not long after this email. And just continue expecting the unexpected! Because I don’t even know what to expect from myself most of the time!
Ephemeral Rift on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ephemeralrift1
Ephemeral Rift on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EphemeralRift
Ephemeral Rift on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EphemeralRift
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