Kristen Hanby is a free-spirited individual who has taken this innate hobby of entertaining and turned it into a means of living.
At first glance, the 5.6M followers on Instagram might make you wonder what’s so special about this kid? For one, he holds nothing back when it comes to pranking his family.
Hailing from Jersey, a small island near France and England, where not much takes place, the 26-year-old channels his own creativity and hunger to achieve greatness on the daily, while living by the golden rule: stay consistent. Recently, the “Living” singer and rapper took the leap into music, creating feel-good records that stem from his own real-life experiences.
Hanby arrives fresh off the plane where he was up for 11 hours straight,
Did the music come first?
No. I always wanted to do music but I was too scared. I’ve got these songs from years ago, but they’re bad. Once the videos took off, I was like “I’m going to try the music out.” It’s going good.
Talk about being the Vine star that you were.
Being the crazy internet dude? I’m still going crazy, harder than ever. Music is something I’m pushing as well as Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
What percentage is each platform?
Where do I post the most? Put Instagram about 50%. Youtube I’m starting to push hard, but I’m trying to push the music extra hard too now. Hopefully, that will take up a good percentage.
Is Monster paying you to drink that?
Nah but have you heard of Bang? They just offered to sponsor me. They talk crazy money too!
Talk about your love for music and when it started.
It’s funny. Growing up, I see my brother and his friends always making music. Where I’m from in Jersey, the smaller island, they’d call themselves the Gory Gangstas. They used to listen to Tupac and Biggie, and used to actually rap and try to write. They were bad, but we used to freestyle when we were younger. Do you know a lot of UK artists?
Kano, Roll Deep, the old school ones. They were kind of the first ones to start it. You’ve obviously heard of Skepta. I’ve always listened and enjoyed music. Always that kid at the party freestyling. Everyone used to be annoyed, “Kristen’s drunk, he’s going to freestyle again!” Sometimes, I would kill it. Sometimes, it was bad.
How did you get over your fear and actually commit?
I only started ‘cause my videos took off. I learned not to give a fuck. It was the videos that made me not give a fuck anymore. I was like “I wanna make music!”
I actually like your song “Living.” Talk about creating this record.
That one’s hard. I was in Ottawa, Canada, where I’m going in two days. My friend produces for me. He made a beat there, we just went from there. We had it done throughout the whole day, it was kind of quick for me.
You say, “I was a bad motherfucker who was always getting attention.”
At school, I was the class clown. Always getting detention, being a bad motherfucker. In the yearbook, I’m called the Class Clown.
What do your friends think of you now?
They think I’m crazy but they don’t know about the pranking videos. No one does them back home so I’m the only kid from the island that makes videos. That’s why I do it with my family ‘cause none of the friends wanna get involved.
Do they get annoyed?
Yeah but they love it now, ‘cause I’m trying to turn it into a TV show. I’m really close to my family. Bring the whole family stuff, get them on Youtube.
What do they think about the music?
They pretend to like it just to show love. [chuckles] ‘Cause I’m actually rapping. I actually pranked my family over the weekend where I hid in the shower. My sister was pretending to make a video where they say bad shit about me. They’re all saying they hate my music then I hop out of the bathroom to scare them, but they didn’t know I was in the bathroom.
I’m hiding behind the shower curtain. They wanna talk shit about me ‘cause I’m always fucking with them. My sister’s like “yo, just talk shit about Kristen.” She’s egging them on to talk shit. “Go on, be honest about his music.” They’re like “his music’s kind of mehhh…” My little niece though, she was saying she loves it. She’s the only one who said she loved it.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist?
Just my own tour. I’m being booked 10 shows in Germany in September, which is dope.
How’s your fanbase there compared to over here?
Germany is my first biggest following. The dude who’s tour it is hit me up because he’s a fan of my videos. He asked if I wanna come on tour, I’m like “fuck yeah.” Lukas Rieger, it’s his headlining tour. He’s a big German artist. It’s 10 cities in Germany.
Have you performed…?
Nah, not performed live yet at all. Just in the shower, in the mirror, that’s it. [chuckles] I’m gonna try to do a couple of free shows before ‘cause I heard it’s kinda scary. It’s 1500 people at each show.
Do you manage yourself?
I do it all myself. [laughs] Just going with the flow.
Are you tired?
I love it! I got people to help me and shit, but mostly I do it myself.
How big is your family?
I got two sisters, a brother, all my cousins. We’re a big family. Have you seen this yet? [shows forearm tattoo of grandma’s face] I got it last week. My grandma’s a big part of my videos.
Sour Matt: She’s a legend.
I posted a bday post for her a month ago, it got 3 quarters of a million likes. They like her more than me. [laughs]
Does she have her own account?
No. If she had one, it’d go crazy. She’d get more likes than me. Everyone would unfollow me and follow her.
Is she even aware of that app and what it means to this generation?
Yes, she gets stopped for photos a lot back home. I always get Snapchats, people sending me like “yo!” Following my nana around time, shit’s crazy. She’ll come back like “I got asked for a photo today.”
How often do you come to the US?
This is about my 6th time, I was here last week.
Favorite part about the West Coast?
Just that it’s nonstop. There’s so much shit going on here. Last time it was music videos. My homie Jackson was out here too. He left early, so I went back to start the family shit.
What’s a day in the life back home?
Wake up and blow up my family. Prank them.
Yeah, they’ll take their turns. They’ve all got their “oh that’s on you then.” Back home is literally recording every day. We have fun with it though, it’s not always work. They all have their own jobs and shit, but I pay them. I give them money to get in videos.
I bet Christmas is looking… fun.
This year’s gonna be crazy. [chuckles] I’m gonna take the whole family on a holiday for a vlog. The whole family!
What do they get you?
I just say don’t get me shit.
Talk about your new app, Pr4nk.
Pr4nk! It’s a prank app, there’s six pranks on it. Ex) Hair clips is spelled different. I invented it nine months ago and we dropped it last week. It’s had $140,000 on iPhones and $60,000 on Android so far in seven days, so it’s going good.
Why the 4?
Because four of them are free, you gotta watch advertising on the other two. There’s four free pranks on the app, you gotta watch an ad to play the other ones. It’s a free app.
Do you make all your friends go on it?
No, they’ve got better things to do than that shit.
Is it mostly for kids?
It’s a bit of both. I’ve got this one called spot the difference where you stare… I’ll show you.
I think I saw you prank your family with that!
Yeah! That’s my app. My goal is to literally take over the App Store.
At this rate, is it going to get there?
Yeah, we were #3 in the charts on the third day. We do an update every 14 days. It’s going to be fun.
Why 14 days?
Just so people don’t get bored, and then delete it. [chuckles]
How do you not run out of ideas?
I got some dude helping me. Over the last 9 months, we’ve made lists of ideas for certain updates, shit we’re going to do. It’s not going to be just a prank app, we’re going to turn it into a social media app. We got our plans. It’s going to have its own platform with a community where people can actually go there and make friends. Post their videos.
Are you trying to outdo IG?
Are you worried about the business side of it?
Hell no. I only worry about problems when they come.
Have there been any issues?
Nah ‘cause I’ve got a dude who does the legal side of it. I’m in this big social media group. I had this idea, I didn’t wanna tell no one. I messaged like “yo I need help with an app.” The first person who responded, I was like “fuck it, here’s the guy.” I sent him my idea. He came back with my idea but 10 times better, with it drawn out. We’ve been working for 9 months and I dropped it on April Fools Day.
What’s the worst someone has reacted to you pranking them?
Punched in the face. There’s an actual GIF. If you type in my name, I’ll show you now. It was my first time in LA. I was doing awkward elevator rides, messing with people. It was at Noho 14, I was staying with my homie Lil Richard. We were going up the elevator all day. I don’t do that in public anymore, people will beat my ass.
Who are some of your favorite influencers to follow?
The reason I started making videos, have you heard of Mighty Duck? He’s the original Vine dude, one of the first ones. He does family pranks, so I started doing them. We’ve been good friends since then. We’ve done videos together. Now, he’s messaging me and saying “bro I wanna be like you.” I’ve gone crazy so he’s like “I want to work hard again.” How crazy is that?
Do you feel like a role model to children now?
You get little kids obviously ‘cause it’s the social media wave. It’s cool. Little kids always message me like “I wanna be like you.” [laughs]
Do you feel like you have to behave more?
Yeah I do crazy shit, but I’m not disrespect to a person. I play it right.
What’s one IG account you can’t live without?
I’ll tell you who’s account I do miss, is 6ix9ine. Miss that motherfucker. He’s just the king of trolling, he doesn’t give a fuck. Every day you go on there, there’s something wild.
Who are your favorite artists?
Right now at the moment, I love Lil Skies. I’m a big Lil Skies. Maybe in the future, we can get on something together. I fuck with Lil Pinch. This artist back home named Izzie Gibbs. He’s crazy, but he’s not that big.
Whats big compared to you since you have 5.6M?
This dude has got 40K on Instagram, so he’s getting there.
What are you most excited this time around in LA?
The Soulja Boy video. It’s gonna be crazy because he’s a legend back home. Obviously here too, but everyone knows who he is. To get back home, it’s like “Soulja! That’s crazy.” It’s gonna be wild.
You’re not pranking him?
No… but you never know. [laughs]