Since posting her first YouTube video a year and a half ago, 17-year old South Jersey-native Christina Grimmie has amassed a huge following of over 800,000 subscribers to her YouTube page.
Her massive fanbase helped her beat out Kanye West, Rihanna, Shakira, Selena Gomez and Nicki Minaj for the title of #1 favorite musical artist on YouTube.
The self-described goofball is incredibly down-to-earth and humble despite her Internet stardom. With her new single “Advice” set to be released by Radio Disney and performed on the Disney Channel as well as a full EP dropping on June 13 on iTunes, it’s only a matter of time before Christina Grimmie is a household name (if she isn’t already).
Check out our exclusive interview with Christina Grimmie in which she discusses her plan to stay out of trouble, her soul influences and her opinion of reality TV show “Jersey Shore.”
You’re touring with Selena Gomez this summer and you opened for her and Allstar Weekend at The Concert For Hope on March 20th. How was it being in the spotlight for the first time?
So great! By the time I got to my third song I was like ‘Am I really on my third song?’ It just flew by. It’s just really fun and I can’t wait ‘til I go on tour. It’s just gonna be so great.
You had said in a previous interview that your friends encouraged you to put your music on YouTube. How have you dealt with the fame that has come from it?
I hate when people have big egos. My friend Lauren encouraged me to go on and I did and I really honestly wasn’t expecting anything out of it. Things started getting bigger and bigger. I have God, Jesus Christ, I’m Christian. I try to stay as grounded as I possibly can. And I have my parents that help me and my friends that are really great accountability partners to me. I don’t consider myself a famous person, so I just kind of do my thing and my fans love it and that’s what makes me happy.
Has your life changed at all? Are you getting recognized when you go about your normal activities during the day?
Well not a ton, but I’ve been in the mall a few times and people will be like ‘Oh my gosh that’s Christina Grimmie!’ and then to me it’s just like ‘Get out! I live around here,’ you know? (laughs) It’s crazy but it doesn’t happen an incredible amount. It’s kinda cool here and there. I kinda get that look or a second glance. It’s new for me.
How do you plan to avoid some of the problems other young stars have had?
Well for me, in my life I’ve just had too many role models and too many people that I’ve seen fall from that and for me, it’s just such a letdown. After watching that it’s almost like I never want to become that. I don’t want to be anything like that and because I have such a strong family unit – [and] my friends are just always there for me – they will tell me if I’m getting off track. My family is just so great. My brother is my best friend so he tells me. If I’m getting a little bit off or being a little egotistical he’ll bring me back, my parents bring me back. It all comes down to the family unit.
You have some very funny videos up on YouTube and your sense of humor really shines through. Where do you think your sense of humor comes from?
My sense of humor definitely comes from my friend Sarah. We’ve grown up together, we were in kindergarten together and we’re just goofy kids. We do goofy things. When I was little I had this old video camera and I set it up and I would pretend that I was on comedy shows and soap operas and things like that. I’ve always kind of had that humor in me but [especially] when I’m with my friend Sarah, who I have a series with on YouTube, “Above All That Is Random.” I just put up my third one and people love it. It’s just funny and people need that comic relief rather than always being serious. You need some kind of humor in there which is why I like doing that kind of thing especially with my friend.
We read on your YouTube page that you can’t read music. Have you tried learning to or are you planning to learn anytime in the future or no?
You know what, it’s not something I could even put into my brain now. I’ve actually had lessons before and it just did not get me anywhere because I end up reading the page by ear anyway. I would look at the way the notes were lined up and I’d be like ‘oh okay, I think it’s supposed to sound like this.’ It just never worked and I honestly don’t plan on learning them. We just don’t get along very well. (laughs)
You always drive with your iPod?
Who are you listening to these days?
Obviously Christina Aguilera. I’m such a big fan of all of her songs. I love it. Definitely her. I’m a really big dubstep fan and I really like DJ music and stuff like that. I really dig on the dance stuff and I’m also a big metal fan: Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden. Even like Aerosmith, the rock and roll kind of stuff. I have a broad range pretty much. I have giant green headphones that I listen to, so for me the heavier the better. (laughs)
You’ve done a rendition of Nelly’s “Just A Dream.” Do you listen to any hip-hop as well?
Hip-hop I never really got really into mainly just because I’m not a big fan of rap. I do like R&B artists like Beyonce. I’m a big fan of her mainly because of her vocals. They’re just so awesome. I love her and Christina Aguilera and that whole urban kind of feel is really great, especially with my voice. I have a more soulful kind of voice. When that song came out I knew. I was like ‘I want to do this for YouTube so badly’ and it just so happened that I got to do it with Curt and Sam which was amazing.
It was interesting how well it worked. Who are some of your other influences?
She (Christina) is the main one. Well vocally. I don’t really respect anything that she does because she kind of has a crude image going. I understand no one probably knows who she is but there’s this singer and her name is Stacie Orrico and I grew up listening to her. She has Christian contemporary music but it’s kind of urban. She has a really awesome voice and I was so drawn to it. I think the reason I do have a soul voice is because I grew up listening to her and she was my huge, huge influence. I wanted to sound just like her, I wrote songs that kinda sounded like something she would do. Growing up that was my inspiration and then I got into Christina Aguilera a little over a year ago. I can’t put anyone even really close to Christina Aguilera besides Stacie Orrico.
Above: Christina Grimmie goofing around with Selena Gomez.
You’re from South Jersey. Do you watch Jersey Shore?
(Laughs) Okay let me just … I really don’t like that show and it definitely misrepresents South Jersey people. Like me, I like to consider myself a down-to-earth kind of person and people that I know … we don’t act like that. We don’t act like whatever the heck they are on the Jersey Shore. They’re, I think, more north Jersey, but I just think it kinda gives New Jersey a horrible name. Considering I’m from New Jersey I don’t really approve of that show, but that’s me. (laughs)
So I guess it’s safe to say you don’t really watch it at all, even as a guilty pleasure?
No. I’ve actually watched about five minutes of it I was like, ‘is this really what this show is about?’ (laughs) I don’t. It’s not even a guilty pleasure show.
Christina’s album comes out June 13th at midnight.