An exclusive interview with 'Bondi Hipsters' web star, Christiaan Van Vuuren.
Who's saying what
"I just love the lifestyle in Bondi. It's like hedonism and health in this perfect harmony, like a vodka protein shake or something."
TheVine brings you an exclusive interview with Christiaan Van Vuuren, one half of the 'Bondi Hipsters' duo, whose cult videos have taken the cyber world by storm. Detailing the lives of two ‘hipsters’ living in Sydney’s Bondi, the mini clips follow the misadventures of Dom and Adrian, two young guys trying to get their heaps eclectic fashion label off the ground. With his partner-in-crime, Nick Boshier, Vuuren’s web series reflects the rise of the ‘YouTube-preneur’, a group of young artists, musicians, comedians, and performers who are making money from and building careers on YouTube.
We caught up with Christiaan and asked him loads of meaningful questions, things like ‘How would you define a hipster?’ and ‘How do you differentiate between Sydney and Melbourne hipsters?’
But, before you read the answers to these pressing social issues, we are proud to be the very first Australian platform to bring you Dom and Adrian's first music video. It has just been put online, so is still totes underground, and the hit numbers haven't started cranking up yet. We implore you watch before it gets as mainstream as a Kim Kardashian fragrance endorsement.
Christiaan, how would you define a hipster?
I would love to go into this in more detail, but a hipster can best be defined by the following simple equation... 1 part Emo + 1 part Hobo + 2 parts Metro = Hipster.
But a hipster would probably disagree with that at the fundamental level, since working out equations takes too much effort.
What’s worse, being a hipster or being an E!-Channel-Britney-loving-mainstream-consumer-machine?
That’s a tough call. However, my favourite part of this question is that although hipsters hate E! Channel Britney loving consumer machines, statistics prove that six out of every seven hipsters will actually stay tuned to The Kardashian’s for a minimum of three minutes and 47 seconds if they stumble across it whilst channel surfing...
In case you were unaware, hipsters have trouble staying on any one particular show for longer than three minutes and 47 seconds unless they stumble across a Michel Gondry film, or re-runs of Thundercats.
When would you say the hipster – and I don’t use this term lightly – epidemic hit Bondi?
Unfortunately for the people of Bondi, this epidemic has been what we in the medical profession like to call a “slow burner”. First sightings of hipsters in Bondi date back as long ago as late 2008, but in those early stages of infection, little was known about the contagious nature of this disease.
Originally hipsters were easily quarantined to areas like White Revolver and Cream Tangerine (often reaching as far as Oxford Arts Factory) but they saw a spike of growth in mid-2009 as FBi Radio was saved from liquidation, and the Indie scene continued to grow widespread in popularity. The first area to go was North Bondi.
By 2010 the World Health Organisation had officially declared North Bondi Italian, Beach Burrito Co and the Grassy Knoll disaster zones. From there it spread to Middle Bondi, as the retail market on Gould St attracted hipsters with the tempting bait of the season’s latest fashion styles.
Nobody knows how to do the “I don’t give a shit” look quite as well as Tuchuzy and General Pants. The only safe area was Bondi Rd, but by 2011 that was gone too... The cafes and restaurants that were “so Melbourne” were just too tempting for hipsters, and by this stage North Bondi had already been deemed as uncool by the hipster community, so they had to relocate somewhere.
But now... In 2012, they are on every street corner of Bondi. They DJ in parks and public places. They simultaneously shop in and host their own garage sales on the streets. They spill out onto Campbell Parade from every establishment, and they take over the Beach Rd Hotel every Wednesday and Sunday night. Is there no end to this madness?
How long has your web series been in the works for?
We have been playing with the idea since November 2011. We posted a few videos on YouTube in December to see how they would go, and after getting a lot of hits in a short period of time, and some really positive comments, we decided that we should continue with it and keep the videos coming.
Now we have 12 short episodes of Bondi Hipsters on YouTube, and since February this year, we have been putting a new Episode up every Thursday... And we will continue to do so! So if people want to subscribe to us on YouTube, to be the first to watch new episodes, then they can do so here.
How do you continue to make the series relevant?
The humour of our series started out by pointing out the ridiculous contradictions in the hipster’s social conscience and attitude towards life... A lot of the hipster ideals clash in the sense that they would love to help the world, but only when it doesn’t hold them back or stop them from doing what they want to do. It’s a selfish sense of “I make the world a better place”... But our web episodes have grown from that, to being a story about two guys that now verge on being sociopaths.
Dom and Adrian (our two hipsters) are wrong about life on so many levels, and yet they always think they are saying the right thing, or that they are doing somebody a favour. A lot of the jokes still centre around hipster’isms, but it’s more that we are using that sub-culture to amplify the comedy of what it is that these two dickheads are saying, and point out how wrong some of our attitudes are... We are aware that the whole ‘hipster’ thing will be dead soon, so it’s becoming more and more about Dom and Adrian as characters.
Another thing we try to do is pick relevant topics for each episode. The way we have got it set up, is that Dom and Adrian pick a topic, and then rant about that for a couple of minutes. It means that we can keep discussing relevant and current issues. We are also about to release a film clip to a song about life in Bondi. It’s all about how “organic” their lifestyle is.
Do you guys live in Bondi?
Nick lives in Paddington, and I live in Cronulla... But we have both spent time living in Bondi, and we both still spend a lot of time there.
Do you get recognised around Bondi?
When we have our wigs and silly clothes on, yeah. More and more, lately. People from Bondi seem to really enjoy the videos, because they know how many of those types of dudes there are everywhere!
Tell me your best hipster story.
I met this hipster who was telling me about this massive concert that he was organising with all of these massive bands performing, on this huge stage with an amazing sound, and how it was going to be the best party ever... And it was all going to be to celebrate and promote “Earth Hour”... And so I was like “Isn’t the whole point of Earth Hour to turn off all electricity?”.... He was like “Nah, we’ll get some solar energy, or use bikes to get there or something”.
What’s your favourite/ the most ridic hipster phrase you’ve ever heard? You say ‘totes amazeballs’ a lot.
I think that ‘gorgetastic’ is one of the more annoying words that I've ever heard used... But I equally dislike totes, maybs, gorge, brill, awks, redick, devo, casz, presh, deets, sitch, addy, and deffo.
And rar'gey instead of rage. That one does my head in.
How do Sydney hipsters differentiate from Melbourne hipsters?
Sydney Hipsters are more influenced by the beach and coastal culture... More cut off shorts, and more broken thongs.
What message do you hope your series will evoke?
That hipsters are fun to laugh at.... And that just because you want to make the world a better place, doesn’t mean you actually are.
What’s the worst response you’ve gotten from the miniseries?
Our feedback on YouTube has been really good, but you always get a few people that will be nasty for the sake of it... I think the worst comment was something along the lines of “this is not funny, would you f*ck off and die already?”... People flag them as spammers pretty quickly.
Which other YouTube series’/ personalities do you watch?
At the moment I love Italian Spiderman, Danger 5, Trent from Punchy, and Freddie Wong.
Why YouTube? Did you ever consider pitching the series idea to the ABC and producing something like Summer Heights High or We Can Be Heroes?
YouTube is a great platform to get it out to a lot of people, and to grow an audience quickly. The guys at YouTube are very supportive of their Partners. Nick and I are both part of the YouTube Partner Program, which pays users an advertising revenue share.
The idea that we’ve got is to prove the characters on YouTube, build an audience for it, and then to take some ideas based on a more traditional narrative structure to a more traditional broadcaster. YouTube is a good start because it provides global reach – more than 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute and it’s now at four billion views a day.
We will continue to use YouTube to create bespoke, reactive content, quickly, and then partner with a more traditional broadcaster to tell the full story. I always think that you are better off walking into somewhere like ABC with an idea, and also a million people that have seen it.
What advice would you give people keen to start a mini-series of their own?
Set a date, and shoot it.... It’s so easy to talk about an idea, or to develop an idea forever, or to always dream of the perfect people to play the characters, or the perfect network to show it at the perfect time-slot... But just set a date, get some mates together, and shoot it. The technology is there now, and it’s affordable. You can have the same access to very similar quality technologies that fully fledged professional studios have got access to. Get a Canon 5D/7D and a copy of Final Cut, and you are well on your way! Then put it on YouTube and share the balls off it. If you build up enough hits, you’ll get an email inviting you to join the YouTube Partner Program, and then you are open to new ways to fund your creativity.
Did you always want to be in entertainment?
There was some part of me that wanted it, but I never chased it. I always thought that it was too far away. Everyone always tells you from an early age that it’s too hard to make it in that industry, so I never gave it a go. But then I got really sick, and something inside me clicked that if I got better, this is what I would chase.
What are your plans for the future? Should we look out for any other YouTube projects?
My brother Connor Van Vuuren and I have spent the last twelve months making a 60 Minute Comedy Fantasy called SICK! that is going to broadcast on MTV in April, so we are excited about getting that out there. The story was based on my real life experience of contracting TB and being quarantined in a hospital room for six months, but my brother and I wrote a fantasy around escaping quarantine into a magical world in a computer, where all the digital interactions we all know so well come to life as real environments... Here is a look at the trailer.
Look out for Nick Boshier in SICK! as well. He’s one of the standout performances in the whole thing, so it’s exciting to be working with him on some other projects as well. Nick Boshier and I have got a bunch of new YouTube web series’ that we are going to be putting online this year, and we’ve got a couple of other shows that we are busy developing with the help of networks. Some of them will have online elements that live on YouTube; for others we’ll be looking to the network’s owned online properties.... And there is a feature film we are trying to get over the line for later in the year, but we’ll have to keep you posted on that one!
Thinking about starting your own web series? Head to YouTube. (Even though vimeo is sahhh alty...)
In the meantime, you can check out Christian's YouTube channel here, and the 'Bondi Hipsters' series here.