Published Jul 26, 2021 at 01:18PM EDT by Zach.
hen it comes to a successful and long-lasting meme, the elements that typically push it from minor trend to viral sensation include relatability, adaptability and, of course, being humorous. When Viner Nicholas Fraser dropped his song, “Why You Always Lyin’” back in 2015, it had all the right ingredients to become a hit — and hit it did, racking up over 30 million views since and sparking a separate meme format of its own.
To revisit Why You Lyin’ all these years later, we spoke with Fraser to take a stroll down memory lane and learn more about how exactly he came up with the parody song back in the day, as well as what he’s been up to since then. In the end, we might even finally unravel the mystery of the infamous toilet featured in the viral video at long last.
Q: Welcome, Nick. Thanks for joining us. Kick things off with a quick intro about who you are and what you’re known for online.
A: So quick introduction for those of you don't know, my name is Nick Fraser or @downgoes.fraser on Instagram. Honestly, I'm known for … how can I say this? Bringing my thoughts to life, how about that? [laughs] I feel like that's cool to say, and I'm a visual content creator that’s been working on videos on Instagram, Vine, YouTube for the past eight years. So I'm just really a director. A visionary, honestly, of whatever vision I create. I don't like to box it into one thing, but I'm definitely a director of videos.
Q: Tell us more about your background and how you got into making music and Vines early on. What were some of your earliest forays into content creation?
A: It was in 2012/13 when Instagram just started letting people make videos, and so I started making videos back then because I've always been a creative person. Whenever I come up with an idea, I just wanna see it physically. So when Vine was out, I was on it heavily throughout 2014 and 2015, and then YouTube. I didn't really get onto YouTube until after I put out "Why You Always Lying?" That was the first video I put out on my YouTube at full length, but I've been making videos since about 2013 now.
Q: Your famous “Why You Always Lyin’” song was first shared to Vine in August 2015 before you made the full music video. Walk us through the full backstory of how this song came to be, how you come up with the lyrics/concept, and why you chose “Too Close” as the reference track?
A: It's a funny story — actually, it's a weird story [laughs]. So I'm driving to 7-Eleven to get some donuts and gummy bears, which, by the way, are my favorite. I'm just driving, listening to “Too Close” on Pandora. It plays, and then I'm listening to it, "Baby why you crying, I get so excited." And then something just clicked in my head, a fuse just snapped. I said, "Wait." So I paused it and went on YouTube looking for an instrumental, and I found it. I started to play it as I'm driving. The volume is on a 100. I'm driving, "Why you always lying?" And once I said that, I stopped and said, "I might have just did some shit." [laughs] My mind just blew 'cause everything just started to come to me. Then when I did the, "Oh my God," it was like, I felt it. It felt pure when I came up with it to the point that I was like, "Yeah, this is it, this the one." But that's just the song, that's not how the video came about. So then the next day, I knew so much in my mind that this was it. I went and got a haircut that specific day, and then I was looking for certain shirts to wear. I'm like, "I need this to be very R&B, shirt open, chest out, I need that." [laughs] So then I'm just like, "What should I do?" I'm looking for shirts, I find a denim shirt and said "This is it." So I put the shirt on, I tell my brother to come outside and help me record something, and then the toilet just happened to be there. I didn't place that there, it just happened to be there because it was an old toilet from in my house that didn't work anymore.
So it's just there, I'm doing it, I put my foot up [imitating the video], and I'm like, "Oh, I'm just feeling it, it's crazy." Then I'm just directing the angles like, "I want you here, I'm on the wall. Telling them like this, do it like this." And I spin around and I come down, "Do it like this." It was a vision that I had, honestly. I don't know, it's weird [laughs]. When it comes to the original song, I know the words to the song and really enjoy it, so I already had the energy inside of me from that and from other R&B songs 'cause I just love R&B music from that era.
Q: Had you ever made any other parody songs before that, or was it your first attempt?
A: That was my first attempt at doing that. I've always been the type of person with my family at like family barbecues and things like that, birthday parties, and we're just playing around [making up lyrics]. When a certain song is on, me and my cousins play around and just come up with something for fun sometimes. I just applied it to something else.
Q: Specifically regarding the “mmmm oh my god” bridge in the song, where did that element come from since it’s something people pinpointed back in the day as a gem from it?
A: You know when you're frustrated at something like, "Oh my God. I had to sprinkle a little bit of sauce on it when I did it. It was like, "Mmm, oh my God." At that point, you're fed up like, "Why you always lying? You're in front of me right now. Why? Mmm, stop, stop fucking lying, please." I'm begging you at that point [laughs].
Q: How rapidly did the song go viral? Do you remember a moment when you noticed it was taking off and becoming a sensation, such as when it was covered on many sites in September that year?
A: I do, actually. When I posted it to my Vine, a friend of mine from my Vine days named Victor Pope Junior, he's a comedian and an artist, told me that I should connect my Twitter to my Vine. Then it was spreading from Twitter and Vine at the same time. So, when I posted it, it was the next day when I was at a barbecue and I'm looking at my phone seeing certain people post it. I'm seeing all the notifications on my phone, Vine notifications going and going and going, and my phone was overheating. So, yeah, I had to get a new phone because of how rapid the notifications were just coming in at that time, and it was just mind-blowing.
So, at that point, I feel like I knew, but when it really hit me was when somebody sent a video to me of it being played on the radio. When I first heard that, it just hit me like, "Wow. This is real. This is crazy. I did it." When you work on something for a very long time in your life and you don't have any expectations towards it, and then something just happens for you out of what you truly enjoyed doing, it's really a blessing, honestly.
Q: What did your friends or family think of you creating such a viral hit and then becoming a meme? Were they happy, concerned or amused?
A: Well, my mom thought it was fake [laughs]. My mom would ask me all the time, "Is this real? What's going on? Is this real?" Then there were times where her friends that she hadn't spoken to in a while would call her and tell her that their kids saw me somewhere, and it was just a chain of events. My cousins and friends were happy and excited for me, and it was just a rapid thing that was happening constantly. It was a very surreal moment in time.
It's something you dream about, and when it happens, it's like, "Woah." It was just a very heart-warming feeling because so many people connected with it, and it just transcended to different countries and different religions — so many people incorporated it in their everyday life, and it was just mind-blowing and felt good to me. There were moments and times where it was just like, "Alright, what am I about to do? What am I doing? How do I come up with this?" But as a creator, we’re always going through those moments where we have to stop and just snap back into it.
Q: Many stated that “Why You Lyin’” was the “best Vine of 2015,” and the song is even still referenced fairly often today. Why do you think people love it so much? What about the meme and song has given it such renown online?
A: I think people love it so much and connected with it because I felt like I was the voice of something they've always wanted to say to everybody, but they didn't know how to say it to that extreme. So I felt like I became a voice in everybody's head about that one specific word [“lying”]. When you think of the word “lying,” you see my face. In the video, I'm smiling and don't have an angry face at all, so it's more like a joke [vs. being angry]. “Just stop lying about it. It's a joke at this point.” That's probably how everybody feels in their head. And the meme itself, that face of me on the wall looking and smiling like, "Stop." I feel like everybody connected with that.
Q: Now that there are thousands of tributes, memes and fan arts referencing your song out there, do you have any favorite examples or specific types that you find the funniest?
A: One of my favorites is the one where somebody made the meme of me on the wall using only Emojis. That's crazy and was so creative. And then the ones in various languages, of course. I really love the fact that it's in so many different languages that I didn't even know existed. So just to see that, it's crazy in itself.
Q: You said in an interview back then that you didn’t want to be known as the “Why You Lyin’ guy,” so can you tell us more about why it was important for you to move on and avoid that pitfall many other meme icons experience?
A: That was a good question. I feel like it was very important for me to not be boxed in by just, "Why you always lying?" and just the term, "the Why You Always Lying guy," because I've been making videos way before "Why You Always Lying." I understand how big of an experience that was, but "Why You Always Lying?" became its own thing. And yes, I may be the creator of it, but that's not the basis of it. Everything that I've ever done didn't lead up to that, and that's not even my favorite video I've ever done.
So for me to be called that, it's just like, “Okay. Now it's more of a challenge and I like the challenge of just putting on my creative ideas.” I don't think anybody that's a creator would wanna be boxed into just one specific thing. I'm so broad that that's not a factor in what I try to accomplish. My main goal is to inspire people to create whatever vision it is that they have, so I myself can't be boxed in if that's my mentality. "Why You Always Lying?" is just another one of my kids, just like all my other creations. I can't be generalized by one of my kids when I have so many [laughs].
Q: After that initial burst of virality, how did the experience affect your content? What types of things did you do in the years following “Why You Always Lyin’?”
A: After the years of “Why You Always Lying,” I went through a stage of revamping, besides doing my regular content. But after a while, I eased up on the content and had to basically remember why I started to do it to begin with — to be myself and share my ideas. So once I stopped, and I tapped back in to do that again, things started to go viral again, and I had a video that I created in 2017 where I'm basically talking about me when I'm feeling fresh that I became the persona or the epitome of — when you’re 100,000 percent feeling yourself.
That's truly how I feel. When you're just loving yourself, your presence, your energy — that's the vibe I was showing the world, and then they gravitated towards it, which ended up being its own thing. People were dressed up like me for Halloween two years in a row. It was crazy. So to see that happen just inspires me. The way I inspire people inspires me to push forward and do everything that I want to do because, clearly, I feel like God chose me for a positive path: He chose me to do something. So when I feel the energy coming through my body, I have to push it out.
Q: Speaking of your followers and fanbase, can you tell me a little bit about what they're like, or any wholesome things that have happened over the years?
A: My fanbase is all over the place honestly. Some people duplicate the things that I do and send them to me as inspiration. They’re all over. They're in Canada, LA, New York, London, etc. One that really stuck out to me was when I first blew up. I was walking towards a parade, and I went to buy a Guyana flag because that's the country my family is from. So I went to buy it at a shop before I went to the parade, and then this little girl sees me, and her face lit up in a way that I've never seen anybody's face light up like in my life. She looked at me like she was so shocked. And then she just came and gave me a hug, and it was just like, "Wow, something I did made you that happy." That's truly an amazing feeling, truly.
Q: You mentioned the meme NFT craze has also piqued your interest lately, so can you fill us in on how you first learned about crypto art, and why you decided to create your own for “Why You Always Lyin’?”
A: How I first learned about crypto art was a friend of mine, Brian, who was a photographer. He's into crypto art, and he kinda explained it to me and broke it down a little bit while I also did some of my own research. When I looked it up, I was just like, "Wow, this is a very dope concept that they're creating crypto art for things that happened." So with me, why I wanted to turn what I did into an NFT was because I personally feel like it was a moment in time that created a shock or series of events and left a mark on history that people will talk about for years to come.
I feel like “Why You Always Lying” was a very prominent moment in that timeline of the internet, and I honestly feel like it was one of the most influential, not only Vine videos, but online videos of all time and affected a lot of people in ways that I didn't even think were humanly possible. So I feel like it's something that, if the internet ever had a museum, it would be in, so I figured, why not turn it into an actual piece of art to really staple it like, "Yes, this is a time, this is a moment in history that people will remember."
Q: Although you just recently began posting some new stuff to your YouTube, you’ve continued creating content on platforms like Instagram over the years. Can you tell us more about some of your recent stuff, such as The BNFFTS Cooking Show, and anything else you’re planning to do in the near future?
A: I've always been into cooking. When it comes to the BNFFTS Cooking Show, it's more so a show about having the minimal bit of supplies in your house, and then making something that's gourmet you can really devour. It's just the best experience ever. So I know everybody has been in situations where they’re like, "I have this many things in my house. What am I gonna do, how am I gonna put it together?" So we basically take those situations and then showcase them, even with things that we've experienced separately or together.
When it comes to my videos on Instagram, I slowed up on it for a little bit because I've been working on a big project, so I'm putting out the cooking show, and also, I've been executive producing and putting together a musical project. It’s a compilation album of different artists working together that wouldn't normally work together. I'm putting them together on an album, and I'm producing it and even on a couple of songs myself too.
Q: In closing here, one thing that’s long been a point of discussion regarding the music video is the toilet in your backyard. Will we ever know the truth behind this seemingly random aspect of “Why You Always Lyin’s” legend? Or is it better left to mystery?
A: [laughs] The truth behind the toilet is, it was just in the right place at the right time, and it simply got picked. It wasn't planned, it wasn't thought of, it was just in the right place at the right time. As soon as I saw it, it clicked in my mind, and I had a brain blast. That was it, and the rest became history. I never threw away that toilet. I still have it and it's in the same location, the old house that I used to live in, still there in the backyard. That's my grandmother's house actually. I'm gonna take it and probably frame it 'cause I framed the shirt. It looks very dirty now, but it's still there [laughs].
Q: Any final word, closing statement or additional info to add?
A: You can follow me on Instagram and stay tuned to what I'm about to do and see all the projects that I'm about to release. I’m @down.goesfraser on there, and my YouTube is the same thing. If you're with me now, God bless you, if you're not with me, God bless you too. We're still here, we're still enjoying life, and everything we do is out of love and passion for what we're doing and staying true to ourselves. And shout out to Know Your Meme for this conversation 'cause I don't really do interviews like this, and I feel like this is the best one that I've ever done, so bless.
Watch our interview with Nicholas Fraser for the video version of our discussion below.
Nicholas Fraser is a content creator known for his viral video and song Why You Always Lyin', which became the subject of memes in 2015 and beyond. To keep up with Fraser, you can follow him on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, or check out the upcoming Why You Always Lyin' NFT auction on Foundation for more.
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