Read all about Sports Editor Sasha Ryu’s interview with 18-year-old musical sensation Steven Shapiro (A.K.A. @chaoscanine). Below, you can also find the full interview transcript — exclusively on the El Gato website!
At only eighteen years old, Steven Shapiro is one of the few people his age who can truthfully say his Instagram following is larger than that of most small countries. In the past two years since the Florida-based musician first started uploading his original guitar compositions and covers to his account, @chaoscanine, he’s already accumulated nearly 300k followers.
While it’s true that Shapiro runs one of the fastest-growing music accounts on social media, it wouldn’t be right to reduce him to just another ‘internet sensation.’ Although Shapiro’s videos are admittedly sensational in nature — racking up hundreds upon thousands of views in days, sometimes hours— his success is the furthest thing from luck or coincidence, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight.
Over the years, Shapiro has perfected a creative and unique video style that’s become immediately recognizable as his own. Traveling to a picturesque location, then securing a camera on the inside of his guitar, Shapiro films his fingers plucking across the strings with breathtaking sunsets and lakes in the background. The pleasing visuals paired with the soothing melodies often inspire a visceral, cathartic feeling among Shapiro’s viewers. Every time the artist posts a new video, hundreds of comments flood in, saying the videos have helped them on a deeply emotional level.
An incredibly compassionate and thoughtful individual, Shapiro strives to use his platform as a way to provide others with comfort. Not only does he take the time to reach out to his supporters individually, he also makes it a point to be genuine and vulnerable, unlike so many others in his position, who present an unrealistically perfect persona of themselves online.
Shapiro embodies some of the most admirable traits a person can possess: creativity, passion, persistence, empathy, and unbelievable talent. The success he’s had is clearly well-deserved, and the widespread positive impact he’s created with his content only further speaks to the quality of his character. If you haven’t heard of him until now — you’ve truly been missing out.
1. Do you have any memorable fan interactions?
The “fan” interactions that I consider the most memorable are of the people that have told me how I’ve helped them through their anxiety or personal problems. I struggle a lot with my own anxiety and personal issues, and I know that music is a huge escape for me, so it makes me extremely happy to hear that I’m that kind of escape for someone else.
2. Who/what inspired you to start playing music?
So many artists have inspired me to want to make music, that it would be difficult for me to pinpoint exactly one. If I had to choose, it would probably be classic rock artists like Led Zepplin and Blondie because that’s what I listened to when I was growing up.
3. Did you expect to become this successful?
Not one bit to be honest. I never thought I would hit 100k, let alone 300k. I actually have very early DMs back from when I hit 10k, with people telling me I’d hit 100k soon, and my replies were always very doubtful haha.
4. What advice would you give to musicians that are just starting out?
First, don’t stop just because you don’t get it quickly. I only got into seriously practicing after a YEAR of me playing the guitar. It’s also never too late to start. Some of the best musicians I know didn’t start until they were 20, 30 — sometimes even later — so when people ask if it’s too late, I always say no. Finally, look into getting a private teacher. It’s really the best option if you can afford it. If not, YouTube is definitely an option for teaching yourself.
5. You often use your platform to send positive messages to your fans. Why is this important to you?
I try to give glimpses into my personal life because I know that, by [being open about] all the pain I’ve experienced, someone will be able relate to it. It always helped me when people I admired talked about their issues, because I [was going through similar things]. It’s awful to be alone, and to know you’re not can be unbelievably powerful.
6. What do you want to do when you ‘grow up’?
I definitely want to continue creating videos and other kinds of music.
7. Why do you enjoy music?
It’s always just been that thing for me, ya know? It just provoked such emotion for me that I fell in love with it instantaneously. It’s crazy how intimate of a connection it provides and how it can make complete strangers understand how you’re feeling.
8. What is your greatest passion in life?
Tennis. I’m kidding, definitely music and expression.
9. Why do you think you’ve been able to become so successful?
9 I think, in all honesty, it’s because I’ve never stopped trying even when the times got tough. There’s been countless upon countless reasons for me to stop making videos or to continue to grow, but I always let my persistence carry me. I think if you’re persistent enough, and you keep on getting back up, even after getting knocked down for the tenth or twentieth time, you can truly achieve anything [you set your mind to].
10. What’s your filming process?
I go to a location that I think is really beautiful and compliments the atmosphere of the song. Then, I play the song while a videographer records the visuals.
11. What’s the story behind your username?
It’s actually pretty random haha. I knew that I wanted to have something with the word ‘canine’ (cause I thought it sounded cool), and I love alliteration, so I thought ‘chaoscanine’ would be a [good fit]? I fell in love with it, and I haven’t looked back since.
12. How many hours a day on average do you practice?
I practice 1-2 hours a day, however, I’m always trying to practice more (as every musician should always want to become better).