All posts by XCENTS

XCENTS is a digital interview magazine, dedicated to makers and creatives in the digital realm - writers, musicians, YouTubers and more - combining pop, net and geek culture.


Amanda Fucking Palmer. A Dresden Doll. An Evelyn. The one who puts Amanda Palmer into Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra. Former living statue. Occasional agent provocateur. Record breaker in the field of crowd funding. These are only a few ways to describe an artistic renaissance woman. In May 2012, she took to Kickstarter to fund an album and art book with her band, The Grand Theft Orchestra. $100,000 was the nominal goal. When the funding period ended after 31 days, 24,883 people had given a total of $1,192,793. This success earned her a lot of attention and a lot of criticism. The latter resulted in a much lauded TED Talk called The Art Of Asking in February 2013. And, in turn, this added yet another way to describe Amanda Palmer: author of the book The Art Of Asking.

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YouTube is full of young and hopeful musicians. Naturally, some are more talented than others. One of the best raw voices I have ever heard on there belongs to a singer who stands out from the crowd in more ways than one. A fan of the fashion style and the music of the 1940s and ‘50s, Addie Hamilton still stands at the very start of her career as a singer and performer. With her sights set on delta blues, swing and jazz standards, expect it to be a career unlike that of pop hopefuls.

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It is difficult to find an author who is more prolific than John Scalzi. More prolific on Twitter, that is. At the time of writing, there are close to 60,000 tweets in his feed. Tweeted since March 2008. Which is, roughly, the equivalent of ten decent-sized novels. In that time frame alone, he has also released four full-length novels, blog posts that probably amount to several novels (as a matter of fact, there are two books with selected blog posts from his website) and a plethora of other writing. And he was the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America between 2010 and 2013. Add to this the fact that the New York Times bestselling and multi-award-winning author is also a husband and a father and you have to wonder just where exactly he takes all that time from?

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If you want to know the best way for an independent artist to put their music out and find their own audience, without the help of a label, look no further than Kina Grannis. Over the last couple of years, the singer-songwriter from California has pretty much set the gold standard for truly independent musicians. From her YouTube channels to her Instagram account – rarely will you find another musician who consistently shows this level of quality in anything they put out. It might be the most well-rounded online presence of a musician that isn’t made by a marketing department of a major label. Of course all of that would still count for nothing if it wasn’t for a whole lot of dedication, talent and years and years of hard work. Kina Grannis is an independent artist to look to when trying to figure out how to do things, but it hasn’t been an instant success for her either.

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Good hello everyone – this somewhat quirky greeting has been around YouTube for a few years and you can even buy it on a t-shirt now. The person responsible for this phrase in hundreds of videos: Alli Speed. Between 1 May 2009 and 6 April 2014 she documented her life in daily vlogs with her then-partner. That’s 1,802 videos/ days. On 12 August 2013 the record for “most consecutive daily personal videos posted on YouTube” was certified by Guinness World Records, with 1,565 days at the time. While the daily vlogging is in her past now, Alli Speed’s YouTube story and her positive spirit continue on her personal channel with her own mix of travel vlogs, lifestyle tips and (drunk) gaming. And although her story is about as ‘new media’ as it gets, it is also as human and as personal as it can be.

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You could say that it is a very American story. Girl comes up with drink-based party entertainment. Girl meets boy. Boy helps girl with her business. Girl has a certain level of success. Boy suddenly turns into an opportunistic douchebag and sues girl over the thing they have been working on together. But then the story of Ali Spagnola and her Power Hour would be even more American if the ‘boy’ in question would have gotten away with his ridiculous claim. Luckily, the story has a happy ending that was also the beginning of bigger things for Ali Spagnola.

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Creepy crawly aliens using humans as hosts to hatch in. Victims going crazy and/or mutilating themselves, in order to get rid of these parasites. Also, football-playing aliens (well, not proper football – only the American version). That is the world of author Scott Sigler. It is a world in which he calls his fans ‘Junkies’ and in which his fans lovingly call him ‘Future Dark Overlord’. And it is a world in which he found and built his fan base by taking his novels, recording his own audiobooks and putting them on the web for free as weekly, serialised podcasts. The question is: Can the Scott Sigler approach to publishing be replicated?

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To the North American audience, she has given four years on the tech and pop culture show Attack Of The Show and flashed her V during the first season of The Voice. To the internet audience, she has given memorable moments like the Nerdist YouTube show 4 Points (with Alex Albrecht), probably the only Jedi with an 80s perm ever (in Saber III – Revenge Of The Threesome), a sexy Darth Vader and Dark Side cheerlader in the Team Unicorn music video parody All About That Base, and Betty “Dead Eyes” Capozzi on TableTop. With the one-year project @AliMinus20, she has given us what might be the best use of Twitter yet. Then, of course, there are acting roles, like on Battleground, Hulu’s first original scripted show. Actress, host, presenter, gamer, certified geek and all-round cool chick – it’s Jersey girl Alison Haislip…

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