Classically trained musician Matthew Olshefski has been devoted to music and the violin his whole life, but little did he realise a fun video made with his future husband would lead to him becoming the online sensation known as The Shirtless Violinist.
From Disney themed videos, TV theme tunes, pop songs and classical tracks, Matthew has shown his musical versatility across a range of YouTube videos that have proven to be hugely successful.
Matthew had a great chat with GCN about his musical career, on how it felt to become an LGBT+ YouTube star, and always making sure to give back to the community.
So Matthew, how The Shirtless Violinist tag begin?!
“It actually began on one of my first dates with my now-husband, Paul. He and I were discussing our dreams about the future, and I told him I always thought it would be fun to film a beautiful music video and post it on YouTube. I’ve been playing the violin since the age of three, so, naturally, it would be a violin cover of some sort.
“Paul, who confessed he always wanted to be a movie director, jumped at the idea. But it was actually his suggestion to lose the shirt! Just before we began filming, he told me, ‘You should do it shirtless! More people will watch the video.’ My reaction was – why not?! We’re just doing this for fun, and it seemed like a good idea at the time!”
Were you surprised by the popularity of the videos?
“Yes, we were very surprised! While we hoped it would get a couple thousand views, we never expected it to become popular! What surprised us even more were the articles that started popping up all over the internet. They were completely unsolicited. Somehow, bloggers and journalists were finding our video and writing about it. We were stunned, and realised we needed to make a second video. Then a third, until eventually we were making videos on a regular basis.”
Have your song choices, or the themes of your videos, been specifically chosen to cater to gay audiences?
“In the beginning it wasn’t our intention to create a gay brand, but we quickly realised that the gay community was gravitating toward our content. This led us to start making videos and telling stories that spoke to us and our community. And today, when we make a video, we definitely have the gay community at the forefront of our minds.”
Could you fill us in on your musical career beyond The Shirtless Violinist?
“I am classically trained, and I’ve devoted my life to music. I’ve played in symphony orchestras, opera orchestras, ballet orchestras, and chamber orchestras around the country. I’ve also recorded music for movies, television, and video games. I’ve been teaching violin since I was 16 years old, and have my own teaching studio in Seattle. I have also had the great fortune of joining Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban on their concert tours. Everything I do in life is connected to the violin. It is my truest passion.”
You organised a social media charity challenge in 2016, is giving back something that is important to you?
“It’s my personal belief that if everyone on the planet did a little something, anything at all, to make the world a better place, our communities will flourish. Whether it’s through fundraising, volunteering, or simply using your social platform to spread awareness, every little bit makes a difference.”
And finally! What could people who attend one of your live performances expect?
“They can expect beautiful music, creative visuals, a bit of storytelling, laughter, and, of course, something sexy! The violin is both energising and at times heartbreaking, so you’re sure to experience a range of emotions.”
You can get more information on Matthew and check out some of his videos on his website and social media channels!
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