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‘It Still Feels Unreal’: First Maltese YouTuber To Reach A Million Subscribers Opens Up About Choosing Memes Over A Medical Degree

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More than one billion people use YouTube on a daily basis. Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded onto the behemoth video sharing platform, and almost five billion videos are watched on a daily basis. With such staggering statistics, you’d expect it to be impossible for a person from the tiny island of Malta to gain any traction. But there’s one person who’s managed to defy all the odds.

Last Thursday, 24-year-old YouTuber Grandayy became the first Maltese uploader to reach one million subscribers. By the time he shared the good news with his fans on Instagram, in fact, he had already exceeded that number by over 1,000. Five days later, that number was closer to 45,000.

Lovin Malta reached out to the Maltese star to learn more about the lad behind the legend, and the long road to a million.

‘I spend all day viewing and working on memes.’

“It still feels unreal,” Grandayy started. “It’s pretty amazing, especially being the first Maltese person to get here! I never thought I’d have anywhere close to a million subs when I first started the channel.”

Grandayy started making videos back in 2007, when YouTube was still in its early days. “I made a few Runescape vids on my first channel grande1899, but what made that channel grow was the Minecraft note block songs that I started making in 2011.”

“Although I’ve never taken lessons in music, I was fascinated by note blocks and what people were doing with them,” Grandayy said of this very successful period in his YouTubing career. “By experimenting with them, I actually started learning more about music production, and I’ve even made a few original electronic songs since then. They’re still a big inside joke for my meme channel Grandayy to this day too.”

One of Grandayy’s Minecraft Note Block videos from 2011

This video has now amassed over 750,000 views, and is only one of dozens uploaded onto Grandayy’s old channel, which still boasts more than 315,000 subscribers

The young Maltese man actually has a medical degree, but is still a full-time YouTuber

“Everyone in my life is very supportive, which is really nice,” Grandayy says of his family and friends. “I honestly think that one of the reasons I’m even able to do this is that growing up, my parents never really stopped me from spending a lot of time on the computer or playing video games, even before I was making Youtube videos. I hear a lot of stories from friends and others about parents physically stopping them from using the computer, by hiding away games, consoles, or power cables for example, or outright turning off power to the computer or internet modem.”

“While my parents would advise me to do something else other than just sit on the computer all day, they didn’t really have much of a problem with it as long as I was enjoying it and I was still doing well at school,” the little Maltese celebrity elaborates. “I think this led me to actually love working on the computer, rather than feel guilty about it, and look where I am now.”

“Some people may think it’s pretty stupid to choose something like this over medicine, but if YouTube remains viable, it would definitely remain my top priority,” Grandayy said. “It brings a lot of stresses with it, but I just couldn’t think of a better job and I’m very grateful for it.”

Another 2018 upload from Grandayy

Uploaded last March, this 42 second has amassed nearly seven million views

The story behind the name Grandayy itself is a long one… and, in his own words, “possibly boring”.

“I first had to choose an online name when I made a Runescape account when I was like 11 years old,” he started. “And I chose Grande Milan since I used to support AC Milan (emphasis on ‘used to’). When I went to create a YouTube channel, the name Grande Milan was taken, so I went with the founding year of the club instead, 1899.”

“My Grandayy channel was originally called grande1900 as it was just a ‘dumping ground’ of any videos I didn’t want to put on my main grande1899 channel,” the Maltese YouTuber continued. “But as I started making memes and they started gaining traction, I changed it to Grandayy. It’s just a pretty catchy memorable name I think. It feels like an evolution of the name Grande, and “ayy” is a meme in of itself, so I think it fits well.”

One of Grandayy’s typical videos from earlier this year

A parody of Trump and Lil Pump’s notorious song ‘Gucci Gang’, this video has over 2.5 million views

Building up such a huge and loyal fanbase for more than a decade needs a hell of a lot of dedication, but Grandayy has certainly put in the time.

“While some of my memes are pretty quick to make, others take very long tedious hours,” he explained. “But when I’m not working on editing or brainstorming for ideas, I’m spending a lot of time mostly on Twitter, but also on Reddit and other social media, either interacting with the community or just browsing memes. I spend all day viewing and working on memes.”

“It’s a bit difficult for me to specify what inspires me, as it’s many things,” Grandayy said. “Definitely bigger channels, like Pewdiepie, and other meme channels like Dolan Dark, Cyranek, Flying Kitty. And just memes in general that I find on Youtube, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and so on.”

Another of Grandayy’s biggest hits

Mashing the classic Rick Astley meme with the more recent Shooting Stars one, this 2017 upload has just over seven million views

Reaching the top of the meme world has granted Grandayy with a couple of perks… one of which is a weirdly wonderful online friendship with some of the biggest names in the industry.

“Throughout recent months, quite a few big Youtubers have followed me on Twitter and became fans of my memes which I’m really proud of,” he smiles. “These include the biggest YouTuber Pewdiepie, Jacksepticeye, Jacksfilms, Vsauce Michael and even Minecraft creator Notch! Sometimes they interact with me on Twitter or react to my memes on their Youtube videos for example, which is really nice every time it happens.”

“I’ve become somewhat online friends with most other meme channels now… especially Dolan Dark,” the Maltese lad smirks, referencing a similarly giant meme channel (with 899,000 subscribers) which he jokingly refers to as his arch-nemesis in many videos.

One of Grandayy’s “Anti-Dolan-Dark” parody videos

The two behemoth YouTuber regularly use other people to pose as themselves and call each other out in fake feuds

Of course, Grandayy is not without his favourites, and when it comes to YouTubers, he takes it all the way to the very top.

“I’ll have to say Pewdiepie is my favourite,” the Maltese YouTuber says of Felix Kjellberg, the most subscribed YouTuber, now sitting comfortably on top of an army of 65 million ‘bros’.” I genuinely watch most of his daily videos now. Other channels that I also watch are iDubbbz, Vsauce, Kurzgesagt, CGP Grey. And Dolan Dark (but don’t tell him that).”

The Swedish giant is a big fan of the Maltese YouTuber, and regularly refers to him by name, instantly recognising his handle among millions of fans. “That was fucking awesome,” Pewdiepie had said of Grandayy’s contribution to an ‘Anti-Pewdiepie Competition’ submission where he crowned the Maltese YouTuber as the winner.

Pewdiepie chooses Grandayy as his favourite parody video

This 2017 video has now amassed nearly six and a half million

“I honestly think one of the most exciting experience on YouTube was working on the one million subs special that I just released,” Grandayy reflected on a video uploaded five days ago. “Some of the biggest YouTubers with millions of subscribers each gladly accepted to take the time to film something for it, and most of them in just a period of a couple days, which I was genuinely surprised of and am still very appreciative of.”

Popular YouTubers Jacksepticeye, iDubbbz, Vsauce, Jacksfilms, Keemstar, Scarce, MrBeast, Maxmoefoe, and Anomaly (the Swedish YouTuber who recently moved to Malta) all joined into filming for the one million subscribers special. Five days later, the video already has over 470,000 views.

Grandayy’s One Million Subscriber Special, featuring some of the biggest YouTubers out there

All the YouTubers pledged their allegiance to Grandayy when given “the ultimate choice” between the Maltese lad and Dolan Dark for the title of Lord General of the US Meme Force

“Another experience that was very exciting, especially because I was much tinier on Youtube at the time, was when Deadmau5 liked and commented on one of my earliest Minecraft note block videos on the old channel,” Grandayy said. “It was a cover of one of his songs Strobe, and I don’t think it was even that good looking back. I remember that it took me from 80 subscribers to around 200 in a day, which felt like an enormous boost at the time.”

“And of course, receiving my first 100K silver play button trophy from YouTube in March 2016 for my first channel was awesome,” Grandayy said. “It was the first YouTube trophy to ever arrive in Malta too!”

Even with so much success under his belt Grandayy isn’t quite sure what did it.

“I think for both channels it was a combination of pretty unique content (not many others doing very similar stuff), actually enjoying working on said content, dedication and regular uploads, and pretty popular topics (both Minecraft and memes are very big on the internet),” he said.

“Focusing on my meme channel, it was the We Are Number One meme that I was making many videos about, that initially blew it up, from virtually 0 to over 100K subscribers in a matter of a couple months. I tended to adapt with the memes, and other huge memes that increased growth on my channel were Shooting Stars, Crash Bandicoot Woah, Big Shaq, and more recently the Gamecube Intro meme.”

One of Grandayy’s most popular uploads from 2017

The Maltese YouTuber made a name for himself with this particular meme, which warps the children’s song ‘We Are Number One.’ This video from July 2017 has nearly 13 million views

“Make content that you actually enjoy doing. You can’t fail if you enjoyed the journey all the way.”

Grandayy’s advice to aspiring YouTubers might sound simple, but is very essential.

“I think the thought of “It would be awesome if I was a Youtuber, what content should I make to get big on Youtube?” is not the best approach,” he says. “Make content that you actually enjoy doing. A much better mentality is ‘I love X and I have some ideas for content with it. Should I start a Youtube channel?’ That way, even if you never make it, which is unfortunately the likely scenario statistically, like with most things, it would still not be a failure.”

“You can’t fail if you enjoyed the journey all the way,” Grandayy smiles. “It would have still been a fun learning experience, and you can always continue doing it as a hobby for as long as you want. Then if you ‘make it’ and succeed, i’s just an added bonus.”

Subscribe to Grandayy’s channel if you haven’t yet and tag someone who’d love to go on a meme binge!

READ NEXT: Maltese Meme Master Becomes The First Maltese Person To Reach 100,000 Twitter Followers

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