By Davina Bhandari
Image from the Dan Newbie Twitter account.
When defining the most suitable use for your kitchen’s pots, pans, and wine glasses, your answer might be at odds with someone like Dan Newbie.
Newbie studies computer science and business, works as a computer analyst for Acxiom Corporation, and lays no claim to having a formal musical background. How he spends his free time, then, is somewhat unexpected.
As a self-proclaimed “fan of being different,” you might recognize Newbie from any one of his YouTube videos, some of which amount to around 1 million views. With a talent for reinventing covers of recognizable theme music and pop songs, he makes an instrument of whatever he can get his hands on.
His Youtube videos may change your mundane perception you apply to your everyday domestic possessions–for instance, would you ever imagine your collection of hair accessories comprising an orchestra for the “Popcorn Song”?
It all started on a snow day in Arkansas, when school and work were called off, leaving residents stuck at home and left to their own devices. Rather than relaxing, Newbie took the chance to put together his personal devices to manipulate a cohesive symphony of non-traditional musical creation. After hours of experimenting and days of editing, he posted his first video on Facebook for feedback.
“It was never meant for Youtube,” says Newbie, who finished his first recordings on an iPhone. “I never thought that two or three days later I would be getting messages from people in Korea, Belgium, and Australia saying, ‘Hey, we like your video.’”
As outside interest grew, the time and effort Newbie spent on the videos subsequently increased.
Now with over 27,000 subscribers, Newbie tells BTR that the responses to his YouTube page are both unexpected and tremendous, coming from a wide array of places, even countries he’s never heard of.
“I’ve also gotten negative feedback,” he adds, “like people saying that I could’ve done better things with my time and how these videos are a waste of time.”
Unsolicited advice also reaches Newbie, with strangers reacting with those cliche condescending comments, like how if he were “putting that much time putting work into finding a real job,” he’d “probably be a manager by now.”
On the other hand, supportive appeals come far and wide, ranging from requests on which song to cover next to inquiries from teachers who wish to collaborate on class lessons. Newbie even got tweeted a shout-out by Pharrell Williams in regards to his kitchenware cover of “Happy”.
“I’ve had a couple teachers here in Arkansas contact me to do a couple presentations in the fall to tell students that you don’t have to be a musician to make music,” he says.
They want him to educate children on how music, and inspiration, can come from anything.
In his life beyond the musical pots and pans, Newbie is an international student from the Congo studying at the University of Central Arkansas. Between classwork and his part-time job, finding the time to produce videos at a quicker rate is difficult.
The technicalities behind the production of these videos, Newbie explains, are more than one might realize. Footage is recorded in multiple parts depending on how many pots, pans, bottles, or glasses he plans on incorporating. These components are later uploaded and edited to play simultaneously for an orchestra-like final whole.
“The time it takes to create one of these videos is incredible,” Newbie tells BTR. “Time has been the biggest constraint right now. I wish I was able to make more than one video every couple of weeks.”
As far as the future of his YouTube page, Newbie admits he does not have an exact plan in mind. He is open to collaboration and hopes the page continues to grow in a meaningful way, and that he comes up with better ideas as the audience keeps expanding.