'Death of a close friend made me mature driver,' says YouTube vlogger Strell
Strell, the YouTube vlogger, is an inspiration for the bike lovers in Kerala. The videos uploaded by the vlogger in his Malayalam and English YouTube channels have many followers. However, his followers do not know much about him, including his real name. He has not even revealed his face to public as he wants to keep his life private. Strell opens up about his passion for bikes, rides and life.
Strell is one of the top motovlogging channels in Malayalam. How did you venture into this field?
I always wanted to travel and to ride different bikes. I started uploading videos as I thought my experiences about the bikes that I have driven, would be helpful to some. There were so many channels that used to upload professional videos back then. I thought some of those videos carried so much information and had excellent camera quality. But a few of them were beyond the understanding of common man. Also, I thought that people would be interested in videos that were natural and conversational in style. There was a lot of audience connection when I started making videos as if I was explaining things to a friend. That’s how I started making videos regularly.
Despite having so many followers on YouTube, your viewers do not know who you are. Why do you maintain this anonymity?
I did not reveal my face in the beginning as I was camera shy. I had also observed the lives of some popular YouTubers and understood that they could not enjoy some of the privileges of a common man in public places. That prompted me to remain anonymous on the internet and share my passion and experience towards travelling and bikes. To be concise, Strell is a part of my personality.
Motovlogging is not as popular as food and travel vlogging. Yet most of your videos turn out to be hits. What is the secret?
Like I mentioned earlier, when I started making videos as if I was explaining to a friend, the audience took up the position of the friend. I share a common interest with the audience. Apart from the people interested in buying vehicles, many motorcycle enthusiasts also started watching and commenting on the videos.
When did your passion for bikes begin? How did you venture into vlogging?
When I started going through some of my old albums, I understood that I developed a liking towards vehicles even before I could remember. I was a lot happier in the photos where I was sitting on vehicles than in some of the other photos. It all started with bicycles. The passion for bicycles turned into passion for motor bikes as I grew older. My parents developed confidence when I started earning and looking after the family.
Initially I thought that vlogging was not suited for me as I liked to stay from the public. But the conversational style of vlogging gave me the confidence. I don’t vlog when I travel. I prefer forests, mountains and villages for my tours. And so I believe that silence is better than words to absorb the feel of the place.
Strell has English and Malayalam YouTube channels. So you will have to spend a lot a lot of time for your videos. You also have to manage time with your family and job. How do you manage this?
I started the English channel five years ago. I started to feel that I didn’t have enough time when I started the Malayalam channel two years ago. Till then I used to think about the ways in which I wasted my time. Which is why I stopped using Facebook and TV. I felt that this made a lot of difference in my daily time management. Certain things like your family, job, friends and hobbies are an inevitable part of your lives. I find enough time for all this now. Although mobile phones were invented to save times, I found that it was also wasting a lot of time. So I try stay away from mobile phone or certain applications in it.
Strell’s riding can be described as fast and mature. It is doubtful whether our youngsters have such a riding culture. How is it that one can be fast and mature at the same time?
When I started riding bikes, one of my close friends died in a bike accident. Although illegal, all this happened during our school days. His death was beyond what we could take. We also had to witness his parents’ struggle without being able to do anything to help them. After that I was scared of bikes and speed. But I picked up courage again after a lot of years with confidence given by helmets, jackets and boots. But still, when I go past a certain speed on bikes, those memories come back to me. Speed has never influenced me as I understand if something happens to me the people will be affected the most are those who love me the most. It was this traumatic experience that helped me develop this fast and mature driving style.
Usually YouTubers have haters like they have fans. But Strell has only a few haters. Even the trolls are mostly positive. What is the reason for this?
Our channel spreads love and so it does not touch upon unnecessary subjects. We make sure to do positive content always. However, if someone is hurt because of any of my mistakes, I have no qualms about apologising. All I want to tell those who comment below my videos is that they should not speak negatively about anyone or any ideology in this channel. They can express their feelings towards me freely. As this was maintained from the start, I didn’t see any comments made by haters. This was also because I was able to study about the audience through my English channel.
Your dream bike and your dream destination?
Honda CBR 650 is my favourite bike. I also like sports bikes a lot. BMW S1000 XR is a bike that I love among the sports touring bikes.
I don’t have any dream destinations. I believe that the journey is more important than the destination. I prefer forests and mountains. In that sense, South India is my paradise. From the books that I have read and from what I heard from others, Europe is a place that attracted me. A ride through Stelvio Pass and Grossglockner on a European bike is one of my biggest dreams.
Are you happy with the revenue you generate from making YouTube videos? Does that help you lead a comfortable life?
I upload four videos a month on my channels. It would be difficult to take care of a family with this revenue. However, since I have a job and do not depend on my YouTube revenue, I am happy with what I am earning. I could have lived off this YouTube revenue if I was a daily vlogger.
What are your interests apart from bikes?
I like music as much as travelling and bikes. I meet with my singer friends frequently since I can play the guitar a bit. And just like every other Keralite, I also like different kinds of food and understand its cooking style. I make it a point to try the cuisines of the places that I visit. Although I’m not a big reader, I read articles related to psychology.