In September 2015, Skrillex and Francois Dillon uploaded a vlog where they were heard saying random things like ‘No’, ‘No’ and ‘Bye’ before a 16-year-old remixed the audio”moomba-styleand cemented his YouTube debut with a channel called CG5. Today, the channel in question has 3.5 million subscribers, including more than one billion views – with absolute bangers based on popular video games, memes, and TV shows.
Original music on Dream SMP, Great Chungusthe Owl Duolingo and even the terrified noot noot even to healthy remixes and covers of Plants vs. Zombies and ‘Omae Wa Mou‘, 23-year-old singer and songwriter CG5 (born Charlie Green) has undoubtedly become one of the leading creators of music on YouTube who understands the tastes of his audience.
But what about CG5’s unique take on the internet and meme culture that has helped the artist build a loyal community across all media platforms? And given that meme culture is still vibrant, is that still a standout factor that more artists should start considering in the future? In order to break down the process behind CG5’s catchy beats, his latest single ‘strangest thing‘ and his non-linear approach to music as a neurodivergent person, SCREENSHOT spoke with the artist, who is also well known for creating masterpieces at registration the rapidity.
A nostalgic tale of initiations
Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, CG5 discovered his affinity for music at age five, using everything at his disposal to create a beat and beat to sing. Throughout his formative years, he was inspired by pop groups of the 70s and 80s like Hall and Oates and the Doobie Brotherswho continue to have a profound influence on his music today.
At the age of six, CG5 also became interested in producing music using basic rigs, which led him to master more advanced software as he got older. Although the multi-instrumentalist launched his YouTube channel in 2014 – he rose to prominence through his original songs – it was in 2017 that his success took off after tracks like ‘can i get an amen‘, ‘I do not have time‘ and 2018’Labyrinth‘.
In 2020, CG5 made new waves on ICT Tac with his trending single ‘absolutely anything‘, which currently stands at 7.2 million video creations. In fact, the single was also selected by Warner Music Groupprint label Rotating discs for redistribution, in turn marking the artist’s first commercial success. With a viral following on the video-sharing platform, over 400 million streams on Spotify and 20,000 members on its Discord Serverit’s safe to say that CG5 has nailed the art of capturing interest by creating and mastering everything in the field of music that meets the genuine demands of the masses.
Now if your 2020 lockdown had been synonymous with online multiplayer gaming Among usthen chances are you’ve already fallen down the musical rabbit hole of CG5 with his original songs, ‘Show yourself‘, ‘lie 2 me‘ and ‘good to live‘. Garnering over 90 million views on the former, the hit single is often revisited by gamers looking to refresh their nostalgic voids left by the board game of teamwork and betrayal.
While this sphere of gaming and internet culture offers enormous potential for musicians, it also places them in a dilemma rooted in uncertainty. “The culture of memes is short-lived,” CG5 explained. The claim verifies, considering how legendary art forms like Poo YouTube are on the verge of extinction. Damn, the whole Gentleminions Trend is also being cleared from our FYPs as we get closer to the release date of Minions: The Rise of Gru.
For CG5, however, a certain element comes into play with its viral successes based on the latest memes: the speed of their creation. “It worked in my favor because I can produce a song in a few hours,” the artist said. In fact, it only took CG5 two o’clock to cook up the whole song ‘Noot Noot’. Two hours for a meme-based masterpiece that has amassed nearly two million views and is nothing short of a masterpiece worth playing on repeat.
But sadly, the artist further mentioned how this dynamic approach to trends is a “difficult formula to stick to forever.” In turn, he has another piece of advice for musicians looking to go down the same path: “I say, do what speaks to you and you won’t regret it!” Reminds me of the tips and tricks on ‘how to make memes‘. The music industry has come full circle when it comes to its battles with internet culture, if you ask me. And we are all definitely here for it!
welcome upside down
In the past, CG5 launched its unique take on movies and TV shows like SCOOB!, Frozen 2 and squid game. On July 1, 2022, the artist released his latest single and music video in this category titled ‘strangest thing‘ – inspired by none other than his love for Netflix’s hit American sci-fi series, stranger things.
“stranger things is just an amazing sight! I wrote the song like it was a theme song,” CG5 explained. “I wanted to bring aspects of each season into the video.” And did the boy succeed. From the intro screen and Christmas light communication scene to minor details like Eggos, the grandfather clock, and even Steve Harrington’s spiked bat, the visuals of “Strangest Thing” capture the very essence of the TV show, accompanied by the playful tones of CG5 and impeccable vocals to complete the immersive experience, of course.
“I’m inspired by the 80s. Everyone loves the nostalgia and aesthetic and I’ve always been a fan of it,” CG5 continued. “I grew up listening to this music and to be able to capture that in a music video is a dream come true.” The video in question also has a snap-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter egg, which can only be spotted by a fan who’s caught up on all of their musical creations. Hint: It has something to do with ‘005’, similar to squid game-inspired’Inspector Royal‘.
While the artist takes viewers on a mysterious adventure with the music video and truly transports them upside down, it’s worth noting that CG5 curated the visuals first and then the music of ‘Strangest Thing’.
“The most exciting part of this project is that I didn’t even have a song until I had an idea for the video! I forwarded it to the manager, Justin (Marmo) Marmostein, and he did the challenge with his team where they created a treatment before we had the song,” he said. “Having the producer be such a fan of the show really helped bring the video to life.”
Although the creative freedom with this non-linear approach to music is in a whole different category, it also raises questions about the challenges the artist faces in the process. When I asked CG5 about his experiences, however, he pointed to an important aspect related to taking routes otherwise considered “unconventional”. “I feel like there was no challenge because the inspiration for the song was so powerful,” he said. “And my ability to visualize led the song to victory!”
“Music is my first language”
As a neurodivergent individual, music has always been CG5’s first language, and English, the second. When asked if neurodivergence has influenced the way he perceives and approaches his musical creations, CG5 replied, “Some artists can write about ‘the human experience’ better than me. However, if you give me a subject and a story that inspires me, I can better connect with the music I create and do something amazing.
“Being neurodivergent helps me get lost in the project and hyper-focused until it’s done.”
On online forums like Reddit, I have already met members of the neurodivergent community who make music for a living. But some of them admit they don’t disclose the same because of the discrimination others have witnessed in the industry. Although the pandemic has brought disability rights and access issues into focus and the music scene seems to be tuned in, the risk of “exploitation” allegedly still remains high.
Asked about his take on the speech, CG5 admitted, “I personally didn’t experience that kind of discrimination. When I made a short documentary video called ‘The complicated life of CG5‘ with the director Matt Fitzgerald, he did a great job of introducing that part of me to my audience. After that, I received nothing but positive feedback and found that many people who follow me have the same experience and can relate.