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ASU freshman goes viral with DIY breakdown of hit band's songs

April 25, 2017

What makes something go "viral"? Marketing companies spend billions of dollars trying to answer that question, but in John Fassold's case, he was just bored and trying to make his friends laugh.

The ASU student posted his YouTube video "How EVERY Chainsmokers song is written" just over a week ago, and it's now at well over 4 million views — and counting. Fassold, a Barrett freshman majoring in digital culture in ASU's Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, answered some of our questions about what life is like when something you create catches on fast.

Question: Any advice for someone whose video goes suddenly and unexpectedly viral?

Answer: If you go viral, I would advise not being wrapped up in every single thing someone writes to you. Don't say yes to everything and everyone, and just monitor the likes/dislikes so you can gauge whether the content you've posted is something you can continue with or if you should cease that kind of content for the future. 

Q: How have your friends and fellow ASU students reacted? 

A: My friends/peers have been nothing but surprised yet supportive with the entire thing. Many of them tuned in to watch me on the news, as did some teachers! They still see me as their friend or fellow student, rather than as some mystical "internet celebrity," which some viewers seem to put on me.

Q: Is there any “fame” that comes with having a viral video? 

A: There's a level of fame, I guess. My Instagram/Twitter followers have increased tenfold, but I won't get recognized in the street or anything. One time, in class, someone recognized my laugh and asked if I was the person from the video. 

Q: What inspired you to make the video, and what were you thinking when you made it? 

A: The only thing that inspired me to make the video was to make my friends laugh and 2 a.m. boredom that was brought about by the inability to sleep because of a coffee I had had earlier. While I was making it, I was surprising myself with how easy it was and how fun it was to make that kind of collection of Snapchats, and much of my laughter was incredulous, as if to say, "Wow, it really is this easy!"

Q: Any response from the Chainsmokers themselves?

A: Nothing has been directly said by the duo, but during the peak of the video's popularity, they did tweet something that said something about not listening to negativity, but this may have been directed at a musician named Deadmau5 who called them out for using a ghost producer/writer. But who knows, maybe it was directed towards me. 

Q: How long have you studied music?

A: I have been studying music for 13 years. Seven years were spent being classically trained by a teacher with formal lessons, while the last six years have been spent pursuing blues/jazz study on my own. 

Q: Does your music factor into your digital culture major?

A: I try to bring music into digital culture when I can, but as of right now, it hasn't been a focal point of my studies. This is likely because I just started my major, so the concentration aspect will likely come with more classes. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I see myself writing/producing for music artists, film or television, because I think I have a knack for creating catchy hooks and melodies, as well as creating well-crafted moods and musical environments for any application or medium. 

Q: Anything you'd like to add?

A: There should be a class for how to cope with being viral/sudden popularity, because I can easily say that I wasn't taught how to deal with this back in grade school!

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Deborah.Susser@asu.edu