If the name “Alex Aiono” sounds familiar, there’s a chance you’ve heard it from one of several sources. The singer, vlogger, and multi-instrumentalist has a YouTube channel that averages a million views per day, but that’s not all—he’s also signed to Interscope Records, and he’s a DJ for Radio Disney. He’s definitely a rising star in the music world: his mashup of Drake’s “One Dance” and Nicky Jam’s “Hasta el Amanecer” has over 61 million views, and he recently released a song called “One at a Time” with none other than T-Pain.
We recently had the chance to chat with Aiono over the phone. He talked to us about everything from tour life to his new music to what he does in his free time. Read on to learn a few fun facts about the 21-year-old, including his favorite video games and scary movies.
TYF: You’re currently in the middle of the “Feels Like” tour. Has anything especially funny, interesting, or exciting happened on the road so far?
Alex Aiono: We spend a lot of time on tour just making fun of each other, and you can see a lot of it in my tour vlogs that I put up on my YouTube channel. And other than that, we have a great time with the fans. They’re always amazing; they’re always a great time. Hmm, anything that’s really embarrassing or messed up… When our bus broke down, that definitely was not super fun.
TYF: Whoa, yeah. Speaking of fans, you’ve been holding special instore events at FYE where you can interact with your fans. What would you say is the most memorable fan encounter you’ve had?
Aiono: When I first started my YouTube channel, I did this one contest on it. And whoever won the contest… No matter where you were in the world, I was gonna come out and fly and meet you and hang out at your house. It means a lot to me because we did it in Australia, and I’m about to go back to Australia and play a sold-out show. I was thinking a lot about it in the last couple of weeks ‘cause I’m going to go back to Sydney, and last time I was there, I was doing that contest.
TYF: I read that you play half a dozen instruments. Which instruments are those?
Aiono: (Laughs) Oh, man. I’ve lost count of the instruments. Definitely the piano, the guitar, drums, bass, ukulele… And then I’ve dabbled in so many others, from violin to brass instruments. Everything all around the board.
TYF: If you were to learn one more instrument, which instrument do you think that would be?
Aiono: Oh, man. I think I would want to get more into the saxophone or the trumpet or something. (Laughs)
TYF: You recently collaborated with T-Pain on your song “One at a Time.”
Aiono: I did!
TYF: What was that experience like?
Aiono: It’s so awesome, because when I was growing up, he was super influential—especially to me, but to everybody, you know? All of my friends… When they first found out I was working with him, they were like, “Man, that was our first ringtone! ‘Buy U a Drank’!” It’s really awesome looking back as a ‘90s kid. He was really making hits even ten years ago, and he’s still making hits today, and I get to be a part of that process… It’s so awesome.
TYF: Yeah, definitely. How did you guys connect?
Aiono: I’ve gotta give a big shoutout to my label. It was all through my label. They were looking for different songs and opportunities, and that opportunity came about, and they jumped right on it, and fortunately, T-Pain and his camp were very interested and believed in my process and everything, and we got straight to work.
TYF: You started getting a lot of attention for your music when your “One Dance” cover went viral on YouTube. Was there a specific moment that inspired you to try to make it on the site?
Aiono: I feel like with YouTube, I never had the “make it” mentality. I think it’s about connecting and having fun. I started so that it didn’t matter where you lived; you could just hear me sing. I really just wanted to connect and do vlogging and singing and all of that… That’s where it sprouted from. Once the “One Dance” mashup started hitting, I recognized it a little bit more as the opportunity it was. But at the beginning, I really didn’t have any intention for it to be a big base which I could jumpstart a traditional career from, you know?
TYF: You currently host two Radio Disney shows. What has that experience been like so far?
Aiono: Oh, man. I love my Radio Disney family so much. They have been so amazing to me and I am very lucky I get to host two shows. It’s been awesome because I get to be on the other side of things. Sometimes instead of being interviewed, I feel like I wanna interview somebody. [With Radio Disney,] instead of being the music, I get to talk about the music. The process with them has been so great.
TYF: On your website, you say, “There’s so much negative energy in the world right now, I just want people to feel good.” Besides music, what do you turn to for more positive energy in your life?
Aiono: I mean, naturally, music is a big release for me. But I think any form of self-entertainment. I love going to the movies or reading a book or watching a TV show just to dive into a different mentality and get completely away from whatever I might be going through.
TYF: What are your favorite movies?
Aiono: I’m a big sucker for those super corny action films, so everything from The Fast and the Furious to the Transformers series. I love superhero movies. Those are my favorite. But I also like scary movies.
TYF: What’s your favorite scary movie?
Aiono: My favorite scary movie… I have two. I have one that’s my favorite scary movie because it’s funny/corny, and then I have one that’s like, the scariest movie I ever watched. I feel like the scariest movie I ever watched was The Strangers because it’s inspired by true events and it’s not, like, a ghost thing. It’s something that could really happen. Those scary movies are so freaky to me.
TYF: Yeah, the ones where it’s like, “Based on a true story…”
Aiono: Yeah! And you’re just like, “No thank you, I’m all right.” (Laughs)
TYF: What was the funny/corny scary movie that you mentioned?
Aiono: Oh, the Purge series. It’s starting to get scary because it becomes more and more realistic every time, but outside of that, it’s fun watching something like that, [something] that still, even in today’s harsh reality, is pretty far out of reach.
TYF: In your most recent vlog, there’s some footage of you playing video games. What are your favorite games to play on the road?
Aiono: So video games are a pretty new thing for me. I didn’t grow up with video games. I grew up just making music and having fun outside and stuff. But I just got into it, and video games are like, my new addiction. They are so much fun. Especially when we’re on the bus… We’re on the bus so much [during] this tour because we’re driving from each location. We spend a lot of time playing video games. I like sports games a lot. 2k Basketball, UFC.
TYF: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers before we wrap up the interview?
Aiono: Oh, hi, readers! (Laughs) No, I’m just messing with you. I wanna to say to all the fans out there that they’re the best fans in the world. We just got to play another amazing show last night on the “Feels Like” tour, and I’m just very, very lucky that I get to have you guys.