Speaking to YouTuber EricTheYoungGawd on his favorite interview, meeting Wifisfuneral, and his goals for the future.
Eric Wells is not one to brag about what he does in his free time. For the past few years, he has been steadily amassing content on his YouTube channel named for his online pseudonym, EricTheYoungGawd.
At a glance, you can see the hundreds of videos on his page, which include music reviews, man-on-the-street segments, and, notably, tons of interviews. He’s even had three standalone mixtapes and traded features with internet music critic, Anthony Fantano. These are accomplishments that both budding YouTubers and future music journalists aspire to achieve.
Yet despite having done so much, Eric does not consider himself a journalist, at least not a trained one. Interviewing and creating content are just some things he does, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Armed with a microphone and his ever-present bonnet, Eric navigates each of his segments fluidly, carrying a natural charisma, genuineness, and sense of humor to every conversation he has.
I admittedly became familiar with Eric’s channel while looking for an interview with rapper and Mutant Academy founder, Fly Anakin. Eric’s video was the first to show, so I clicked on it and I was pleasantly surprised by how disarmingly conversational it was. I felt much more like I was watching two friends catch up over a beer than watching the typical, back-and-forth style Q&A. It piqued my interest, so I dove even further into his catalog and found interviews upon interviews with various entertainers coming from disparate ends of the industry. With a quick two-finger scroll, you could easily see names like producer Kaelin Ellis, comedian Jak Knight, pornstar Lena Paul, and singer Cee-Lo Green.
I sat down with Eric on Skype, in his infamous ‘Green Dungeon’ (one of his many color-coded nicknames for the rooms where he records his videos), to discuss his YouTube channel, his favorite interview, and his goals for the future:
How did you get started with your channel?
That’s kind of a difficult question because what I’m doing now and what I started doing…I mean, I didn’t really start. Like, the first video on my channel I think is me doing a voiceover of my little cousin cause I thought it was funny. It was something I posted on Instagram, but then I just posted on my YouTube.
Then, I reviewed some Nike flip flops because I thought that was funny because a lot of people review shoes and stuff like that. Sneakerheads have a big shoe review culture. I just thought it’d be funny if I just reviewed flip flops. I was very detailed and kept a straight face the whole time.
I mean, I guess, high school that’s when I kind of got in because in middle school this girl named Lauren [and] this girl named Nicole, they would always tell me like I should do YouTube because I was funny. I just never got around to it because I just didn’t know what I would do a YouTube channel about. But, I guess YouTube figured what I’d do [and] we’re here now.
How did you start interviewing?
Well, that stems from a story where I went to a Robb Bank$ concert in Jacksonville. At the concert, I had worn this ‘Free Gucci’ shirt that my friend had made. It was like Gucci’s face animated on the shirt. I just thought it was a nice looking shirt and I was like maybe somebody would compliment me on this shirt that’s an important person. We went backstage and we met Robb Bank$ and everybody.
As we were leaving, Wifisfuneral came up and was like, “Yo, this shirt’s hard. I’ll buy it off of you”. I was like, “Thank you, but I’m not gonna sell this shirt to you”. And he was like, “Come on, man”. I was like, “Uh, no”. He just really wanted the shirt. I’m like, “I’m not selling you the shirt [but] my friend who made the shirt is here. I can go and get him before he leaves and you can ask him for a shirt”. So I go and get Nate and he asked him for a shirt. [But Nate told him] “I don’t have a shirt on me. It’s at my house”. So Wifi was like, “Alright, cool. I could just ride to your house”.
It was me, Nate, WiFi, Naomi, and Trayvon. We’re all in a car and we go to Nate’s house. That was like my first time I’m like in a physical interaction with anybody with any actual notoriety. So that is pretty crazy. We were at a gas station and he asked everybody about what they do. I can’t remember what I answered, but I probably lied and was like, “Oh, yeah, I do interviews and stuff like that.” I don’t know. I don’t really remember how that happened. But I just know he was like, “Oh, you want to interview me? I never do too many interviews”. I was like, “Yeah, I’ll interview you”. So the next day, I interviewed him and kind of been doing that ever since.
What made you want to continue to do it?
That’s a good question. I don’t know what made me want to do it even more because I look at that first Wifisfuneral interview, because I interviewed him again after that, and it was a really bad interview. I guess, maybe, I thought it was fun. I still think it’s fun.
What’s been your favorite interview so far?
I had a feeling you were going to ask me that. I thought about it and I cannot give you an answer. There’s so many. There’s a couple that’s tied, I would say. I could say my first great interview that I felt that I did was when I interviewed Honorable C Note, the producer. That was the first interview where I felt like I knew him before the interview. I felt like we were just like old friends catching up. Every other interview before that..they were okay…but they weren’t like that. So that was my first great interview, but I don’t know. I got a whole bunch of things that I think are my favorite.
I like the Spoken Reasons one. I like the Kent Jamz one. I did two Kent Jamz interviews. Both of those are crazy. He’s Minister Louis Farrakhan’s grandson. That was pretty crazy to learn. I don’t know. A lot of [the interviews] where we talk about a lot of black stuff [are] always fun.
Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote. I love her a lot. That’s really one of my favorites. That’s a different interview. We spent like 30 minutes talking just about weird stuff. That’s probably the most different interview on my channel, definitely. I got a couple different interviews that I did that were okay, but that was like when we talked about animals and spirits and different cultures and all types of crazy stuff. So, I like that one a lot. I like the Mavi one a lot.
I don’t know. Apparently, the people that watch my channel, their favorite I guess is Lena Paul, the porn star. That has a lot of views. I guess, niggas are horny. I cannot answer why that’s the highest one but that is one of my highest. My highest viewed videos are the pornstars. So I guess those are everybody else’s favorites. I guess I just told you some of my favorites, there’s others too. I have over like 200 interviews I can’t even think but I have a lot of ones that I really like.
Jakk Knight, a comedian that I interviewed. He be with Zack Fox. I think they got a podcast coming out. That was one of my favorites. That’s probably my funniest interview right there.
So how did you start with broadening to the music reviews, the podcast, and the ‘Girl Talk’ segment?
I’m pretty sure I was doing the music reviews way before. I think the first album I’ve reviewed was Pinata by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. That was like 2013, 2014 or something like that when the album came out. I started off doing that and then I did the interviews.
I don’t really remember what made me review albums because I reviewed that album at my aunty’s house on top of her washing machine. I don’t know what was going on. I don’t know what I was doing. I wrote the review on a napkin, for whatever reason.
[For Girl Talk] I started doing that just because I was like, Yo, I want to give a place where women can talk and, you know, bare their greatest thoughts crazy or smart on my channel. That’s how I came up with Girl Talk. I [also] know a lot of guys are subscribed to me and I know they probably don’t want to see a sausage fest every time I do a video.
Are there any other segments that you’re looking to get into?
Honestly, I’ve hit a block. I don’t know what to do. I can’t think of anything creative since this quarantine. I haven’t really done anything creative outside of that one public interview that I did about Coronavirus a couple of months ago. Outside of that, I can’t think of anything. My mind is just not working. I would love to think of something right now that would be groundbreaking, but nothing has hit me. I’ve been thinking hard too. I think I’ve been thinking too much and that’s what’s been messing me up. I am not in the creative block at all.
How did the on the street video go? How did you feel while doing that? Amidst all the Coronavirus stuff going on?
I felt dangerous. I felt very on the edge because nobody wanted to do an interview with me with my mask on, for whatever reason, so I had to take my mask off. That second half of the video where I’m at the beach, I don’t have a mask on because of that. The first half I’m at Walmart and I got a mask on. Everyone at Walmart was cool with the mask. I don’t know. I think it was the white people. There’s a whole bunch of white people out there at the beach. Those white people did not want to talk to me with that mask on.
I noticed that your guests are pretty varied. It definitely showcases a lot of your different interests like sports, comedy, hip hop, it seems.
I was thinking about that the other day. I really take pride in the range that I can do. And I’m not a journalist, I guess I am at this point, but I’m not a trained journalist. I don’t go to school for journalism. I’m in school for psychology. I mean, you can apply it, but that’s a little different story. But yeah, I mean, I could freakin interview Lena Paul, the pornstar, one day and then the next day, I have an interview with comedian Spoken Reasons. From Spoken Reasons, I can interview Mozzy. That’s really fun to me.
If I just interviewed one type of [person], I would get really bored and stagnant. So I have to interview porn stars, comedians, rappers, r&b singers, athletes…I want to start interviewing doctors and stuff like that, like very unknown doctors. I want to interview lawyers. I wanted to do a documentary really soon, two documentaries actually, but Corona hit so I couldn’t really do it. I want to mix it up.
Do you choose your guests based on like, just people that you’re already fans of? Do people suggest some of these guests?
Um, yes, people do suggest some of these guests. That’s funny because I had somebody tell me that I should interview this gay pornstar. It’s funny that you word it like do I interview the people that I’m fans of. [People will probably think] “Eric’s tapped in with the gay porn, huh?” (laughs)
Nah, I use the site KTT. Kanye To The. It’s KTT too now. I got a thread over there and I ask people who they want to see me interview. I was gonna like make a post today on my YouTube community to have as people who want to see me interview. So it’s a mix between KTT people and it’s a mix between people in real life. There’s people I’m really big fans of and I want to interview them really bad, so I try to interview them.
What made you take a conversational approach to your interviews as opposed to conducting it like a stereotypical interview?
I think because I’m not a trained journalist. I didn’t know how to do it. That’s kind of just how it formed. I don’t know if that was conscious. It became a conscious thing after I realized it worked, but I mean, there’s no reason that I did it like that. That’s just, that’s the way that I guess I would interview. Just like, hey, let’s have a conversation with this person.
I think it just works for me because people can get to know the person on a very normal level. It’s like I’m getting to know a person. I’d rather just have a conversation with the person and just read off A-B-C question because I just feel like [the person I’m interviewing] will feel like it’s gonna be another interview. But like, when I’m doing a conversational style, I’m talking like them, I’m laughing, they’re laughing, and it’s just like, [they’d feel like] I never did an interview like this before. I want someone to leave like, “yo, that’s one of my best interviews”. And I feel like if I did a very regular, structured interview, they wouldn’t feel that way.
[Also] I feel like I have a personality. So that would kind of limit the interview in a very unnecessary way if I didn’t show my personality. I wouldn’t be utilizing everything that I have.
Where do you see you taking your channel in the future?
Um, another question I just don’t know the answer to. Everything is just a freestyle. I have no idea what I’m doing. People ask me for advice for new YouTubers and stuff. Like bruh, I don’t know. I don’t even know what I’m doing right now.
So, honestly, who knows? Maybe, I’m not even on YouTube in five years. Maybe, I’m Queen Latifah’s assistant. Maybe, I’m in my psychology field. Maybe, I’m a writer for a TV show. Maybe, I’m producing a TV show. Maybe, I’m acting because I like to act. I don’t know. I could be doing a lot of stuff. I could just be on YouTube with 14,000 subscribers. I could just gain 4000 or it could be freakin’ 40 million. I don’t know. Who knows? I really just hope it’s a good thing and I’m happy. Wherever I’m at in four years, I just want to be happy.