YouTube breakout duo Jayesslee talk about fame, faith and fulfilling the vision of God in their lives.
Contributed By Terence Lee Jun Rong
They have over 30 million views and close to 200,000 subscribers to their channel. Meet Australia’s most popular YouTube sensations—Australian-born Korean twin sisters Janice and Sonia Lee, 25, more widely known as Jayesslee. Apart from two sold-out shows at TAB, the restaurant and bar, the duo performed at City Harvest Church on the weekend of July 9 and 10, to the delight of their fans. They also shared a touching testimony about their mother who was stricken with cancer when they were just 7, and how actively she preached the gospel to others though she was ill.
When not performing, the girls—who claim that their training constitutes mostly “singing in the shower”—help out with the praise team at their home church in Sydney, New Life Community Church. City News met up with the talented twosome to find out more.
You performed at TAB to sold-out crowds. What was that like?
Janice: For us, having made videos and sung songs behind one camera, we’re not really used to a huge live audience. We’re never really used to the fame, the attention, but we were really blown away when we heard that the Singapore shows were sold out. I mean we’ve only interacted with these guys through Facebook or YouTube, so to really meet them face-to-face is really a huge treat for us. And we feel so loved to be able to meet our fans.
What made you upload your first video on YouTube in 2008? What inspired you?
Sonia: We first saw other musicians on Youtube, such as David Choi, Jennifer Chung and Kina Grannis, and we thought it was very interesting how they just uploaded their music from their bedrooms in their pajamas, so we just gave it a go. Honestly, it wasn’t to show the world our music, but it was more for our friends and our family. It was just the easiest way to show them our music. But more and more people started to watch it and request more songs, and that’s how it all started.
How has being Christian influenced your music?
S: I think our faith comes into everything that we do, everything that we sing, the places we go. We make sure that, before musicians or anything, we are God’s children. We’re His daughters, we’re His ambassadors. We incorporate that even into the secular songs that we sing. We want to make sure that wherever we go, we share hope and joy and love.
How has it changed your life so far?
S: I guess it’s the little things like going to the mall … Janice and I, we have to be more conscious about the fact that people do recognize us on the street now, we have to be more conscious about the way we act, the way we treat each other—we have to be much nicer to each other in public (laughs). I guess it holds us accountable.
Only in public … ?
S: Yeah, only in public, hahah. You should see us in our bedroom (pauses). The influence that we have now—that we can just speak a truth into somebody’s life and give them hope, has definitely changed our lives. So yes, it has changed our lives in crazy ways.
Earlier this year you performed during Freedom Sunday in South Korea in support of ending of human trafficking. Tell us more about it.
S: We feel so strongly about this because of it’s reality: people are actually struggling and they’re suffering behind our backs. These are real people, real lives—somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mom, someone’s sister, someone’s brother. I think when we took part in Freedom Sunday, we understood for the first time that, “Yeah, I can make a difference in even the littlest things, like the things that I purchase.” If you purchase certain products, you actually could obliviously be supporting these kinds of acts, like child slavery. Just being conscious of these little things can actually make a difference.
Are there any other causes that you feel strongly for?
S: Oh my, there’re so many! Through our work against human trafficking, we know that there are other causes that people feel strong about, just like how we feel strongly about this cause—such as abortion. It happens everywhere but people don’t speak about it. And of course, there are the issues that are integrated into everybody’s life, such as depression, loneliness, self-image and insecurities. That’s huge on our hearts because we went through it ourselves. We definitely support any organization that offers resources or anything that helps people out with that.
What has the Jayesslee journey been like?
J: It’s been nuts! Honestly, the opportunities are really opening up. After our video, “Officially Missing You” came out, we’ve received e-mails from companies, record labels, and we had the opportunity and the privilege to fly around the world and share our music and story, which actually was our dream five years ago. It was such an impossible dream, but just three or four years later, God has been so faithful in keeping his promise. Once He plants a seed, He will follow through. It’s been amazing.
What’s next for you both?
J: We don’t intend to stop singing, simply because we enjoy it, but we are doing this as God calls us and as God guides us, so if He does put an end to this career then we will go wherever He leads us. We do aspire to have families, and get married and have children, but we also love doing praise and worship at church, so we’ll never stop serving.
S: We actually saw a vision, Janice and I. We were standing before a stadium of thousands and thousands and thousands of people, and wow, it seemed impossible but I think visiting City Harvest Church brought us a step closer. I think it was the biggest crowd that we’ve ever sung to or shared our story with. We’re very hopeful as to where God will take us next.
Any parting words for the City Harvest Church?
J: You guys are amazing! God definitely has so much favor upon this church, this generation, and what He has started, He is going to complete and He is going to be faithful. We’re just excited to have been on this journey with you, even if it was just this week or just this day.
Jayesslee will be back in Singapore for the HTC Likes Awards 2011 on July 22 at 8 p.m. Alternatively, catch them on youtube.com/jayesslee, Twitter or Facebook.