If you haven’t heard of Pop Danthology yet, you are way behind – in fact, behind more than 1 million YouTube subscribers and thousands of Instagram and Twitter Followers. Pop Danthology is a mash-up of musical hits from each year, and has been acquiring a steady fan base from all over the world. The creator behind this musical masterpiece is none other than Daniel Kim, a Korean-Canadian born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Other than the short-lived piano lessons he had when he was five (he quit once he had to practice scales), Daniel did not have any professional musical training growing up. However, that did not stop him from exploring different instruments as a hobby and teaching himself how to play. What started out as a creative project to pursue his dreams of becoming singer, Pop Danthology in 2012 became an instant hit: his video had over 10 million views in just three days.
Besides producing Pop Danthology each year (which he blocks off 4 months for), Daniel now spends his time speaking at conferences and focusing on his other passion: mental health. His blog on OCPD (Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder) was at one point one of the top resources for self-help for OCPD and emotional needs of gifted children and adults.
- Growing up, what kind of music did you listen to?
Growing up, classical music was always playing around the house because that’s all my dad listened to. But in elementary school I listened to top 40 pop music, in grade 8 I listened to so much rap music, and in grade 9 and onward I listened to techno music.
- How did you come up with the idea for Pop Danthology?
I wanted to become a singer. Like many undiscovered artists on YouTube, I began making covers of popular songs. But there were so many better vocalists and instrumentalists on YouTube so I had to come up with a differentiation strategy. I decided to sing covers over my electronic dance music compositions. But it would take me so long to compose a track. Not wasting any time, the fastest I could pump out covers was one song per week. I originally thought this was not efficient enough (it’s actually best to come out with consistent content once per week on YouTube, even if it’s just one song. Of course I didn’t know this back then).
Thinking that this wasn’t efficient enough, I decided to combine 3 popular songs in one video and release that every two weeks. Then I combined 10 popular songs in three weeks. My fans really enjoyed my videos but I got a lot of comments of people requesting that I take my singing off, not because they thought my singing was so bad, but they wanted a track that they could play at the club with all the original singers. So then I made my first mashup without my own singing in it. Since then, I’ve been making one every year.
- Did you expect Pop Danthology to go viral?
I had no idea that Pop Danthology would go viral. I remember the morning after I uploaded Pop Danthology, my friend said to me, “Wow, you already have 30,000 views!” At the time, I was working a part-time retail job where I could not check my phone. When I was done work, I checked my phone and my e-mail inbox, my Facebook fan page inbox, my notifications, EVERYTHING was flooded. My video reached a few million views. I was so surprised.
- What is the biggest challenge when creating each Pop Danthology?
The greatest challenge when it comes to creating Pop Danthology is organizing close to 300 pieces of audio and thousands of spoken/sung words.
- What is currently on repeat on your playlist?
Mike Posner – I Took A Pill In Ibiza (Seeb Remix), R3hab & Ciara – Get Up (KSHMR Remix).
- You’ve opened up about your experience with OCPD. How has the journey been?
Opening up about my experience with OCPD has been amazing. Many people have come to me looking for help and I’ve been able to help them. People have shared with me that they were about to commit suicide until they read my hopeful writings on OCPD, some were about to divorce their spouse until they read my stuff.
- Do you think there is enough mental health awareness? If not, what do you think we can do to engage and educate more people?
I think there’s plenty awareness about mental health. I don’t really care to put my energy into building more awareness. I care much more about helping people reach sustained recovery, breaking the false ideas around the permanence of different mental illnesses, and helping people find their true identity beyond their various weaknesses and difficulties that just happen to have a label or name to it. We can all learn more about mental health if those who have gone through it, processed it, and have recovered from it make themselves vulnerable to others and speak more openly about it.
- Three things that you cannot live without?
(1) I cannot live without intimacy. My heart is so deep that when I don’t have a close relationship where someone knows absolutely everything little thing about me, I feel so empty and lonely that life is not worth living for me.
(2) I cannot live without faith. Without faith, I have so much anxiety and thoughts of “I am not going to be ok.” This faithless anxiety extinguishes my joy and I am unable to be in the present moment, even when good things are happening around me.
(3) I cannot live without something to die for. I am a man of extreme passion and would find life to be too mundane and purposeless without something I really, really deeply believe in.