Meet Nick, the YouTube artist known as “theASMRnerd”

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityNick has his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Victoria and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Nick is also known as the ASMR artist, theASMRnerd. He has created over 130 ASMR videos since February of 2013 and currently has almost 36,000 followers.

And I must confess, “theASMRnerd” is definitely one of my favorite ASMR artist names.

In my interview with Nick he shares why he chose his artist name, the type of content in his videos, the story behind his video “Preparing Scientific Samples”, advice for new ASMR artists, and what he would say to researchers and clinicians to get them more interested in studying ASMR.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to his videos and other resources.

ASMRnerd is a terrific name, why do you think of yourself as a “nerd”?

Nick, “I suppose I’ve always identified as a nerd; I’m studious, quiet, and a bit introverted. More importantly however, one of my strongest ASMR triggers is somebody explaining or demonstrating something they’re knowledgeable or passionate about.

When I created my channel, I wanted the name to reflect that idea. A “nerd” is somebody who’s an expert in a particular intellectual field, often to the point of obsession, and I felt that had the connotation I was looking for.

Nerdiness is furthermore associated with bookishness and “geek” culture, which is thematically appropriate for my channel. And although “nerd” has held a pejorative connotation in past (and still carries a hint of self-deprecation), I feel that it’s been “reclaimed” in recent years, as geek culture becomes more mainstream.

For all of these reasons, it seemed like a good fit for my channel.”

What motivated you to create a YouTube ASMR channel?

Nick, “The same thing, I think, that motivates many ASMR content creators: I watch and benefit from a lot of ASMR videos, and I wanted to give something back to the community!

The great thing about making ASMR content is that the barrier to entry is very low. Some people claim you need a fancy binaural setup, but I’ve seen countless videos filmed with just a phone or a webcam that are just as effective as those with high production values. So it was easy for me to get started.”

How would you describe the content of your channel?

Nick, “Games and gaming culture are a big part of my channel. I love gaming in all its forms, and since it’s a topic I’m knowledgeable and passionate about, it felt like a good fit for the channel.

What I discovered is that video games pair well with ASMR whispering by facilitating escapism, which I believe helps induce ASMR. Immersing the viewer in peaceful, fantastical environments helps take their mind off real-world concerns and allows them to simply let the audio and visual stimuli wash over them, which I find is conducive to ASMR. It’s like a mini brain vacation!

Many of my other videos are more conventional “show and tell” style, and focus on explaining, showcasing, or organizing things. These videos often feature gaming-related collectibles or books, too, but also cover topics like computer hardware, nature, and science.”

How do you try to make your channel stand out from many of the other channels?

Nick, “The honest truth is that I don’t worry about it too much. I think the very premise of my channel sets it apart from most others; my content has fairly niche appeal, even by ASMR standards. I just do what I enjoy doing, and what I think my viewers will enjoy seeing and hearing.

And I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor and establish a viewer base before ASMR really took off, which has been a major boon. It’s is probably the main reason my channel has achieved the modest popularity that it enjoys today.”

Which are your most popular videos?

Nick, “My most popular video is one where I type on a mechanical keyboard without talking. The sound of typing is a commonly-cited ASMR trigger, and I suspect that video has mainstream appeal.

My next-most popular videos are those in which I showcase the Elder Scrolls video game anthology and its included paper maps. These videos feature both whispering and soft speaking.

Following those, popular videos include an assortment of whispered gameplays, trading card sorting, and book readings. A notable popular exception is a recent video in which I demonstrate lab techniques for preparing scientific samples; more on that below!”

I love your video titled, “ASMR Whisper: Preparing Scientific Samples” – tell me about it and why you decided to create it?

Nick, “Thanks, glad you like it! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the lab lately for my grad studies. My work involves analyzing soil samples for a variety of wildfire-related environmental impacts. These analyses usually require careful measurements and sometimes the tools and materials make lovely, subtle sounds.

I’ve often thought this kind of thing would make for a good ASMR video, and I finally had an opportunity to film it! People seemed to really enjoy it, and I’d like to do more such videos, but it’s difficult to find times when the lab is quiet, so it might be a while before the next one. I’d like to integrate more science-related content into my channel in general.”

What advice or tips would you give to new ASMR artists?

Nick,

  • “Don’t worry about having a fancy microphone or camera, just make a video with whatever you have and get it out there! If after a while you find you enjoy making ASMR videos and would like to upgrade, consider investing in a versatile but reasonably-priced microphone like the Zoom H1.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things in your videos that the popular channels aren’t doing. The internet is unimaginably huge, and there’s an audience for just about anything.
  • Resist the urge to rush things in your videos; enjoy taking your time, savor the process.
  • Keep your uploads consistent, and interact with your viewers as much as possible. Make them feel special!
  • Try not to feel discouraged if you don’t get tons of views and subscribers right away. Building a viewership takes time, and there are lots of ASMR channels out there these days, so getting noticed as a new channel is an uphill battle. But even a few dozen views on a video means that you’ve touched the lives of a few dozen people, and that’s a very rewarding feeling. Try to visualize those people as an audience in front of you, and you’ll realize that it’s actually quite a few!”

Do you get feedback from viewers that your videos are helpful to them or do they just enjoy them?

Nick, “All the time! I’ve received comments from viewers with clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, and insomnia, from parents with difficult children, from students struggling with exams, and from so many others, all expressing how thankful they are for my videos.

It’s incredibly humbling, and I feel privileged to be in this position. It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that the time I invest in this hobby is multiplied thousand-fold and helps countless strangers around the world in tangible, meaningful ways. It’s easily the most rewarding aspect of my channel.”

If you could create one experiment to discover or confirm something about ASMR, what would it be?

Nick, “It would be fascinating to image the brain activity of individuals during the ASMR experience. The recent study by Smith et al. (2016) was a great start, and found significant and interesting differences in resting-state brain activity between people who experience ASMR and those who don’t.

However, they didn’t go so far as to image the brain during the ASMR experience itself. As the authors point out in their discussion, there are major challenges associated with such a study, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable, and it would be an incredibly informative and valuable experiment.”

Given the opportunity, what would you say to a room full of researchers and clinicians whom are trying to decide if putting the time and funding into ASMR research is worth the investment?

Nick, “I really like this question. I would begin by explaining the scope of the ASMR community; we’re talking millions of people and billions of views.

I would tell them that there is already peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that ASMR is a legitimate psychosensory phenomenon related to measurable differences in brain connectivity.

I would say that there is extremely compelling anecdotal evidence that ASMR has valuable therapeutic applications.

And I would emphasize that there are countless ASMR-related research questions ripe for the picking: What kind of brain activity is responsible for the ASMR experience? Why do some people experience it while others don’t? Why do triggers seem to vary so widely in their nature and efficacy? Is ASMR an evolutionarily-favored response? If so, how was it beneficial to our ancestors? If not, why does it appear to be relatively prevalent? The list goes on.”

Click HERE to visit Nick’s theASMRnerd YouTube channel

Click to visit Nick’s Facebook page, Google+ page, or Twitter page

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This post brought to you by ASMR University.  A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

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