If you’re not familiar with it, ASMR is an abbreviation meaning ‘autonomous sensory meridian response,’ a science sounding name for a reaction that some people get to a range of stimuli. This effect can be caused by a whole host of triggers but at least in the community on Youtube there’s a body of people who engage with it because of its ability to affect relaxation and restful mindsets. If you’re not familiar with what this looks like, it looks like a bunch of people making long videos with a strangely hushed affect.
And I watch and listen to them, to help me relax!
If you are familiar with it, hey, here’s some of the artists I’ve been watching this year, as the ASMR effect shifts around in my head and how I respond to it. One thing that people who don’t experience ASMR might not realise is that you can rely only on the effect being modestly unpredictable. Some stuff may cause it reliably for months and then suddenly, nothing. It pushes me to partake of new things regularly, and to that end, every year, I try to look at what artists are ‘new’ to me that I haven’t mentioned before.
Here then are four artists that I started paying attention to this year:
I feel like I’ve watched more Amy Kay, like maybe I watched her years ago and I never got around to mentioning her. That’s probably likely, because she has an entire queer-read story about you being some variety of monarch, who started out being referred to as a dude, and then as the story evolved, the woman you’re talking to starts referring to you differently. Then eventually the series splits into two threads, with one half referring to ‘my lord’ and the other ‘my lady.’
Oh and then a cult got involved, it was an interesting story.
Anyway, Amy Kay does a lot of different types of video. Some of it is very mundane, some of it is very fantastic, and you’ll know if it’s the kind you respond to. Also, and this shouldn’t be a thing, but in the ASMR space, there’s a common responsiveness to media trends. When a Harry Potter movie comes out, a lot of people will make Harry Potter themed videos. It’s just a heavy trend, and I try not to hold it too much against the artists who are algorithm-responsive, but I am grateful when I see people fade out on it.
Amy Kay does have some videos about Harry Potter content, but it seems to be a thing of the past for now.
Cosmo is an ASMR puppet. Cosmo is not unique as an ASMR puppet, but Cosmo is a puppet that does ASMR. And it’s a big friendly kind of puppet. You’re not going to see stuff that you won’t see from other ASMRtists by the way. Cosmo does roleplays about Recent Events (hi, Barbie Movie Tie In moment) and Cosmo does hand-focused gameplay videos (like Solitaire and Rush Hour), and Cosmo even does draw-along and ramble videos. In every way, Cosmo creates the most typical and normal content any middle of the road ASMRtist can produce, except for the alienation that comes from Cosmo being a puppet.
Alienation is important to me in ASMR. Roleplays don’t want to be realistic because they can’t be. Sometimes there are people who aim for normal, everyday kind of vibes, or expected behaviours, but because ASMR content is fundamentally weird (why are we all whispering?), the closer it gets to normalcy, the less likely it is to land for me. Give me something weird, give me something that recognisably can’t be real, and let me patch the gap in reality myself.
Cosmo’s great, and Cosmo isn’t real, but Cosmo exists and is my friend.
I’m really selfconscious about my ASMR habits, especially since a lot of the ASMRtists I follow are very attractive women, some of whom are markedly younger than myself, and that makes me feel… oogy. It does mean that when I find myself responding to an ASMRtist who isn’t a pretty white girl, I try to make sure I mention it, and share their work. In this case, ASMRdido got on my radar through long, patient, whispered explanations of mathematical game concepts – particularly, the Monty Hall problem.
The other thing he does that I find useful for study is long (long) videos of playing a softly sounded, wood-and-velvet game called Close the Box. Close the Box is a great solo game because it underscores how little pieces you need to make a game out of something and still make it engaging.
And finally, Lloyd’s ASMR is a channel that’s… I think deliberately weird. Lloyd really turns up the ambient sound so if you don’t like the SHHHHH of an empty room, you might not like these. They’re slow, deliberate videos, and usually you can see the structure being something Lloyd has props for, reiterated in a new form. Door to door salesman, visiting a store, visiting an old style store. It’s a bit like a comprehensive library in that if you like one thing you can probably find ten or twenty versions of the same thing, even if they don’t make sense. Like you don’t get door to door bakery salespeople.
Lloyd is someone I like because of his gentle demeanour and I like the way that I, forgive me, don’t have to pay much attention. There’s not going to be a really funny joke or something I need to respond to, the way that (say) survey question videos invite me to. I know what I’m getting and I know there’s a reasonably large quantity of it, but also that it’s not about to impress me. It’s just sweet background noise and I’m not going to need to be afraid of something shocking or funny happening.
There! Here’s some stuff I’ve been listening to this year and I think makes my ability to focus and study better.