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A Woman Making Videos In Her Barnsley Bedroom Has Become An Internet Star In Japan

Kelsey Ellison has over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, and her videos, made in South Yorkshire, are being shown on Japanese TV.

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Kelsey Ellison lives in Barnsley and makes videos inspired by Japanese and Korean pop music in her bedroom.

These are not any old videos though; they attract thousands of viewers from all over the world and have seen the 22-year-old go on tour, release a single, and appear on Japanese television.

BuzzFeed News spoke to Ellison about her YouTube success and what inspired a teenager from South Yorkshire to adopt such a distinctive musical style.

This is the first video posted to Ellison's current YouTube channel from September 2010. She claims she uploaded it as a dare.

View this video on YouTube

Ellison said she began uploading videos around 2009 after watching clips by British YouTube star Phil Lester, but has since deleted them as they were "daft".

However after getting into J-pop (Japanese pop) and K-pop (Korean pop) and starting to teach herself Japanese, she returned to the video-sharing platform.

On her pop influences, she said:

It started in 2010 when I was looking for a song from a Japanese anime – I've been into anime since I was really young, when Cardcaptor Sakura was aired on kids TV.

I started to really like the J-pop songs in the beginning titles of the shows because they were so different to anything I'd heard before. I then found loads of music videos and people doing dance covers to them on YouTube.

I was so surprised to find a whole community on YouTube of people covering J-pop. From J-pop I found K-pop through related videos on YouTube and really fell in love with the fashion and how cool it is!

Ellison's clips quickly gained attention in Japan, and she began receiving messages of support.

View this video on YouTube

According to her website, the eighth video on her new channel was shown on Japanese TV.

Her channel now has 52,000 subscribers and the most popular video has been watched 800,000 times.

She described her success as "very surreal", adding: "I kind of forget until I upload a video and they leave amazing comments. But surprisingly a lot of my viewers are from the UK, Europe, and the US too."


This is her single "Pom Pom", which was released in April.

View this video on YouTube

Its release led to Ellison taking meetings with X Factor producers who had seen her YouTube channel and were allegedly keen to get her on TV.

The 22-year-old agreed to go on the show but claims the experience turned sour during the auditions phase and left her humiliated in front of 5,000 people.

Ellison created a vlog about her X Factor experience in the summer but was apparently later asked by the show to take it down. It still exists on YouTube though:

View this video on YouTube

In it, she accuses the show of treating her as a joke act, giving her no time to rehearse, and claims the judges criticised her for singing in Korean despite having previously told her to do so.

On what she would have done differently looking back, the singer told BuzzFeed News: "I would never have agreed to have done it when they offered me to audition, or let them tell me what to do and say.

"Because they are a powerful TV show I felt under pressure to please them, which I shouldn't have done. But now I have learnt how these shows work and how I can handle those types of sets, crews, and situations."

We have contacted ITV for a comment on her claims.

Facebook: kelsey.kimonotime

Ellison admitted she also sometimes gets negative and inappropriate comments on her videos.

"Offline, everyone is incredibly supportive and interested whenever I tell them, but of course online people can be very rude and judgmental sometimes," she said.

"It's annoying that you have to get used to it, but it's only a tiny thing compared to all the wonderful support I get."


In a recent interview with Shut Your Pretty Mouth, Ellison discussed the inappropriate comments she sometimes receives due to the way she dresses:

It's unfair that Japanese fashion and culture gets categorised in a sexual way like that.

It's the media's fault, as they only focus on that part of the scene. There are some men out there that find anything sexual.

You can't really avoid it, but you do have to be careful with who contacts you sometimes. I've had a few questionable messages, but I just block and delete.

After comments about her right eye, which was removed when she was a child, Ellison went on the record about it on her Tumblr page.

"When I was about two years old, I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer) in my right eye," she wrote. "I had to go through an operation to get rid of it, and to get rid of the cancer, they had to remove my right eye completely. So yes, that means I am completely blind in my right eye and the eye is 'false'."

It was following the operation that her mother took her to dance classes to help her become less withdrawn.

She told BuzzFeed News she finds it strange to now be considered a role model to her young fans.

View this video on YouTube

"I guess I attracted that kind of role because I'm young at heart and I attract a lot of younger viewers," Ellison said.

"I have a younger stepsister who is almost 13, and she fits into one of my main demographics. So whenever I'm filming something or about to tweet something, I always think would I say or show this to my stepsister?"

Ellison said she is currently working on more music and that she has something planned that will surprise her viewers.

View this video on YouTube

In April she is heading to Japan, and she will be performing at comic/anime conventions around the UK throughout 2015.

Ellison currently lives with her family in Barnsley and shoots the majority of her videos in her bedroom or living room.

On her future, she declares: "I plan to create things and do what I'm passionate about for the rest of my life.

"I may change my passions when I'm older, but I always believe you should strive to do what you enjoy before you regret it."

Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at

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