Since establishing a YouTube channel in May 2011, the Fung Bros. (David and Andrew Fung) have amassed over 1.4 million channel subscribers and over 216 million views. Focused on the education of Asian and Asian American topics through food, fashion, advice, and lifestyle videos, and with a recent return to Seattle, the International Examiner had the privilege of catching up with David and Andrew.
Kae Saeteurn: Can you guys talk about why you decided to come back to the Kent and Seattle area?
David Fung: I guess I have to set the story. We’ve been gone for about six years. In L.A., New York, these major media hubs, you kind of reach a point after six years where it’s like, “I’m either going to stay in L.A., New York for the rest of my life, or I’m going to bring it back home.” And we want to be closer to family. One thing is that we really believe in this region. I don’t think we would’ve moved back if I didn’t believe in the potential of this region. I think there’s really a lot of really unique, cool cultures that Asian Americans have in Seattle that needs to be showcased.
KS: With that, what challenges have you faced so far with just coming back?
DF: Definitely sourcing. For example, production editors or directors. It’s sometimes more difficult to source it in Seattle than obviously Los Angeles. Other than that, people have been pretty receptive. Obviously a lot of places that you ask to shoot at, they never imagine that they would ever be on video. People aren’t necessarily as ready to give “camera ready” answers when you ask questions. But I also think that’s also some of the charm about the city too.
KS: What has that been like for you moving from L.A. to New York, and now back to Seattle?
Andrew Fung: It’s been really interesting because we got to pretty much be in the two major markets of America, especially for Asians. We got to learn a lot. We saw a lot of cool things, and part of what we want to do up here is bring some of those flavors back to Seattle. Not that Seattle doesn’t have its own flavor, but it’s true that the Seattle Asian scene is not as developed in a way as these other markets.
KS: With that, what do you plan for your channel?
DF: I think you’re going to see a little bit more stability, and we’re going to be building production studios that allow us to execute different types of material. There will be a little bit less of the run-and-gun style that we had in L.A. and New York where you just kind of run into spots with cameras. We still will have that element, but you’ll see a few different formats pop up.
AF: In New York, first of all, it’s so expensive to have production space, and so we were always using the city. Along with the city comes a lot of outside factors, whether it’s noise, other people, the weather, how the city looks. If people thought that our videos were rushed at all, we’re going to take our time more, and it’s going to feel a little bit more comfortable.
KS: How do you plan to continue incorporating your content focused on things like basketball, fashion, music, and hip hop?
AF: We have a lot of friends that we grew up with that are really into all those things that are actually in Seattle, so it’s a pretty good situation because we have good relationships with these people.
DF: So have a whole roster of people that we grew up with or know through a variety of different things in Seattle where we’re gonna be able to plug them in, and they’re gonna be able to showcase what they have to the rest of the world.
KS: Moving to a broader aspect from your channel. In your opinion, what do you think is the current state of Asian Americans in media?
DF: I think we’ve finally reached a point where people are cognizant of the issues. Maybe prior, a lot of Asian immigrants were so concerned with getting by and surviving, that media was the last thing on their mind. But nowadays because we’ve reached a higher level of comfort, people can feel comfortable and say, “Yeah, you know what? I would like to see myself representing on television or on things that I’m watching.”
AF: And I also think it depends on what kind of media you’re talking about. At the end of the day we do need to show ourselves to our own people, and our own people know within ourselves internally that we’re valued. And I think that’s also something that YouTube and all those other platforms do as well.
KS: And do you feel any pressures being Asian American YouTubers and media influencers?
DF: Our parents were activists and they were part of OCA. They were part of a variety of different organizations, and they cared a lot, so I think the pressure comes naturally, just internally. But yeah, as far as pressures exist in the external community, sometimes. But to be honest, not as much as we place on ourselves because when you’re kind of raised in that “woke” Asian American activist sphere, you don’t need anybody telling about Vincent Chin or anything like that.
AF: I think it’s kind of interesting. From what I see is that a lot of these young kids probably under 18, under 17 years old, they grew up with Asian faces in YouTube, and K-Pop, and all these kind of Asian rise of Asian America and artists from Asia. I do think that they don’t, in a way, care as much, and also the racial stuff is not as important to them because maybe it wasn’t such a big deal because they always saw Asian faces. So I do think that a lot of the young kids are skipping on the internal representation, which is definitely different than what it was like even ten years ago.
KS: Your channel focuses a lot on food. With you guys recently teaming up with Swirle to host a pop up to bring Thai rolled ice cream to the Seattle area, can you guys go a bit into what that was like, and what your hope is for the Seattle food scene?
DF: It was a great experience to work with Swirle. On one end it was great to see their entrepreneur spirit. On a secondary, more cultural level it was cool to see Seattle get some sort of dessert that is mostly famous in the SoCal and New York area. I’d love to see the Asian American foodie culture or Instagram food culture, or hypebeast food culture, however you wanna perceive it, spread to Seattle. I think Swirle’s a big part of it.
AF: It was definitely really important for second generation, kind of like Chinatown business owners to start something. It’s important for people like [Swirle] to start businesses in Chinatown and keep it going, especially from within the community. Not to say that other people can’t open businesses in Chinatown, but you need the generations to keep going and to add a new flavor.
DF: And it’s important for Asian American kids to have a place where they feel like it’s for them. You know, it kind of acknowledges their heritage and background because it’s important to have spaces that you can call your own.
KS: Any advice you want to give?
DF: Play your cards in life. If you add value to the world, you will be surprised how many doors open up. I know that everybody’s born with different cards in life, but you don’t have to play your cards straight up. I don’t think anybody has to play their cards at face value.
AF: You gotta represent your own culture because if they do it for you, they will never do it right. So we have to own up to our culture and own it first before someone else tries to represent it.