Winnipeg guitarist goes viral playing apps, ipads

One Winnipeg musician has captured the eye of YouTube, and thousands of people for his experimental music.

YouTube tweeted to its 47 million followers to check out Winnipegger, Steve Onotera's video

One Winnipeg musician has captured the eye of YouTube and thousands of people for his innovative music.

Steve Onotera, 27, is making a name for himself by recording songs with several instruments at once or ditching the instruments altogether and playing entire covers from his iPad.

"I just started sharing a couple little videos I recorded on my phone just basically to my friends" Onotera told CBC News.

That was in June. And it's only taken off since then.

On Wednesday, YouTube tweeted to its 47 million followers to check out guitarist, Onotera's latest video. It's a cover of the Daft Punk song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" using only his guitar, some accessories and a spoon.

"I was thrilled," he said. 

Overnight the video got more than 30 thousand views — a far cry from when he started back in June. His studio is his parents' basement. And his initial platform for sharing his videos: his personal Instagram account. 

"What I did is I would put a little hash tag [under the videos]: #guitar #cover and what that does that allows other Instagram users to find stuff using those keywords."

When followers began rolling in, he decided to take that as a cue and start his own YouTube channel.

The cover Onotera does of "Don't Fear the Reaper" has garnered more than 149-thousand views so far. Every sound you hear in the song, including his voice was performed on the iPad. He uses a guitar and voice altering app. The video took two weeks to produce.  

YouTube tweets to its 47 million followers to check out Steve Ontera's video (CBC)

"A big thing with that one was the editing process. To shoot the video, it takes a while to get those takes perfect ... It can be a long frustrating process but once it's done it feels very, very awesome."

Onotera, who goes by "Samurai Guitarist" online, holds a bachelor's degree in guitar performance and is first to admit his work is a bit of a gimmick.  

"The gimmick only works if there's an underlying sense of musicality in there," he said. "You can draw people in with a gimmick but they're only going to stick around if there's something very interesting, and something genuinely good musically happening in there."
He says stepping outside of the box is all part of getting noticed in today's industry. But he says technology makes it easy for anyone to do that. 
"I think it's very hard if you're approaching things with a bit of an old school approach where you go out, you gig, you go out, you gig and network," he said. "I think that's definitely a part of it but if you can access these social media platforms like YouTube, like Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter, it makes it so much easier for the musicians of today."

With hundreds of thousands of views and a growing audience the pressure to produce and experiment is on.  

"I've got some big ideas on the horizon." he said "Unfortunately they keep seeming to get harder and harder which is wearing a little bit on my sanity but it always feels so good to get them done and get them out there in the world."

"The next one I'm releasing is, I'm going to play the Beethoven Fur Elise and I'm going to play it on five separate guitars at the same time."

"I've got them all kind of lined up in front of me."

As for exactly how it will work, Ontotera says you'll have to wait and see.


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