Simply vacationing in Aruba this past summer with his family was not enough for sophomore visual and media arts major Danny Chamberlain. He felt compelled to make a video, fearful that a filming opportunity would slip by. The result: a goofy parody of Nicki Minaj’s hit song “Pound The Alarm” entitled “Pumpin The Arms.”
“My sisters hated me because they just wanted to enjoy their vacation,” said Chamberlain of the two-day shoot, which involved roles for his entire family. “But I wanted to make a video on the beach, in the resort hotel, and it’s an experience I will never forget.”
Chamberlain writes, directs, edits, and often stars in his videos, which have gained notice among the Emerson community after his parody of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy And I Know It.” The video, called “I’m Lazy And I Know It,” took off after being posted last November. Several people from other countries, including Russia and Malasia, have made their own versions of Chamberlain’s video, a testament to its popularity. Months later, the original hit the million view mark.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around it,” said Chamberlain, originally from Minneapolis, Minn. “It wasn’t an overnight sensation. I was in shock when it hit 100,000 views. And then it kept going.”
The viewership is humbling to Chamberlain, who never takes it for granted.
“I just try to keep a level head. Every video, I keep expectations as low as possible but aspirations as high as possible.”
Chamberlain — a cross between Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg’s man-boy persona and Weird Al’s zany reinterpretation of popular songs — has been posting videos on his official YouTube channel, Dizzy City Nation, for almost three years. According to Chamberlain, he gets his “awkward but genuine” sense of humor from his parents, who have always supported his hobby.
According to him, it’s advanced to the point of collaborating with other artists.
“Most of the time, they approach me,” said Chamberlain, who is getting into business with the local rap scene. “They see one of my videos and want me to make another, but for them.”
Kaino Lane, a local musician, is one of those artists. Chamberlain shot and edited the video “Never Been A Lame,” a hip-hop tune with a sound similar to the Lil Wayne song “Lollipop.”
“This is the first year I have been collaborating with people, and sometimes it’s a difficult process,” said Chamberlain. “I love to have control, but when you collaborate with people, you can find yourself on different pages.”
Chamberlain is paid by the artist who hires him, except when he is doing a project solo. Videos he makes, like the recent Katy Perry “Wide Awake” parody “At A Lake,” cost up to $50, all from his pocket. Over the years, he has accumulated the film and sound equipment needed to produce and edit, keeping costs on the lower end.
He says the process of concocting ideas, writing the lyrics, shooting the video, and editing it afterward can be exhausting and difficult — especially if he procrastinates.
“Sometimes it takes two weeks from idea to final product,” said Chamberlain. “Sometimes it takes two months. It all depends on how lazy or proactive I am and how much school work I have.”
But Chamberlain is proud of Dizzy City Nation, a brand where he believes creativity is boundless.
“I do it because I love it,” said Chamberlain, who hopes to turn the fledgling YouTube channel into something bigger after graduation. “I haven’t started turning a profit yet, but I hope it can become a self-sustaining production company someday.”