YouTuber Spotlight: Julien Neel, a.k.a. "Trudbol"
A cappella - it’s a genre of its own on YouTube. A number of channels are devoted to groups who perform well-known songs using only their voices for lyrics and accompaniment. To some, a cappella might be a bit cheesy, but I happen to like it. I find the style offers an admirable display of a person’s range and talent, especially if they can use it to put a new twist on a well-worn song.
There’s one YouTuber out there who I think does a cappella better than most. Julien Neel, username Trudbol, is a French musician who posts regular a cappella videos, in which he performs four or more tracks (lead, tenor, baritone and bass) and edits them together to become a one-man quartet.
Compared to the other personalities I’ve written about in past YouTuber Spotlights, Julien Neel is a relatively small content provider. He doesn’t have a multi-million subscriber base like Toby Turner or Philip DeFranco (Neel has about 20,000 followers). What Neel lacks in popularity he makes up for in creativity, posting videos that usually include four video feeds of himself singing each part of a song, edited together to form a complete track. Check one out below:
Neel’s smaller audience also means there’s less biographical information available about him. After a few hours of research, I couldn’t find any definitive online bio, blog profile or Wikipedia page listing how he got into YouTube or what he does for a living. All I could turn up was this page, which suggests Neel was born in Athens, Greece and now lives in Paris, France, where he's studying for his Ph.D.
For his videos, Neel will usually take an old-fashioned song like “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”, “Summertime” or “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat”, from Disney’s The Aristocats, and separate it into four voice tracks. He’ll then record each one individually on audio and video, and edit the tracks together into a single video. The result is a barbershop-quartet style that feels both unique and creative.
While Neel doesn’t employ many fancy visual gimmicks in his posts, he’ll often joke around in each track of the video by wearing different outfits or pretending to engage with the other versions of himself. In this way, his videos aren’t just a bunch of singing heads, but include a bit of comedy as well.
Neel is also noted for his collaborations with other YouTubers, especially Israeli musician c-van (channel name: kartiv2) and French filmmaker faireset. These collaborations are also musical multitrack videos where Neel’s guests take up a few of the tracks he would normally sing himself.
I especially like the videos Neel does with c-van, because they record their contributions to the video separately in Paris and Tel-Aviv, and piece the video together without ever meeting in real life. Here’s my favourite video they worked on together:
It’s Neel’s partnership with c-van that led me to his channel in the first place. I had found c-van’s channel kartiv2 after she collaborated with MysteryGuitarMan (check out my article on MGM here). On c-van’s channel was another collaboration she had done with Julien Neel. It’s that progressive discovery of new channels that I especially like about the YouTube community, and I’m glad it helped me find a musician like Neel who could use a bit more recognition.
Neel and c-van recently launched a second channel together, called CookiePine, where they post more “collab” videos and answers to common user questions. This is one of the only ways to see Julien Neel speaking to the audience, because unlike most music-based YouTubers, he doesn’t end his music videos with clips of himself promoting future videos or special projects. Introspective channels like these can be a good way to create an online persona, which is essential for building an audience and potentially monetizing a YouTube channel.
From a technical standpoint, I have a lot of respect for Neel because of the work he must put into his videos. It can be a tedious process editing even a single stream of video, and Neel often handles four in each posting, and then mixes the audio so the four (or more) tracks sound like they’re all being sung at once. For that amount of effort, I’d like to see his channel pick up some more subscribers, so more users can appreciate Neel’s work.
What do you think of Julien Neel and his Trudbol channel? If you’re familiar with his work, which of his videos is your favourite? If you’re just hearing about Neel now, will you check out his other videos and subscribe to his channel? Post your thoughts in the comments section down below! You can also catch up on the rest of my YouTuber Spotlight series by following the these links: