‘There’s No Off Switch’: A Chat With the Brothers Behind 4YE


This week, we caught up with 4YE, or Jermaine and Trey Richards, via email. 4YE is a Toronto-based comedy duo. Jermaine and Trey are brothers, known for their YouTube channel that’s been around for over 10 years. 

The duo also operates a Black-owned fashion line and has a podcast titled “Random Order” about food, culture, and news in Toronto. Combined, the two influencers have over 1.2 million followers on their YouTube and Instagram accounts

The interview below has been condensed and edited.

 What’s the first thing you do to start your day online?

These days usually start with reading comments from our community. Our videos mostly attract pretty civil, like-minded people so oftentimes the comment section is a great place to visit for interaction, jokes of pure genius, and new ideas for our content.

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out as a creator?

I think it would’ve been cool to know that we would end up making a career through creating, bringing our ideas to life. It wasn’t a traditional path so it came with its challenges but then again, maybe we needed that fire there to make things happen. 

When did you realize you’d broken through and become a successful creator?

Trey: Possibly around 2016/2017, those years were sweet. Jermaine and I accomplished goals we had set for ourselves that once seemed so high, but still believable to us. Being in that moment and seeing our work pay off was critical, it was the biggest sign from the universe that we were on the right path.

If you hadn’t become a creator, what would you be doing right now?

Jermaine: Something with business. I think the urge to live on our terms would’ve manifested in another way.

Trey: I would for sure have some sort of placement in the culinary world, 100%.

What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?

We keep it real! We make the content we really want to make, say what’s really on our minds, and treat our audience like real people. Being ourselves proved to be the most comfortable way for us to exist online. Content that came from us attracted like-minded people with the same sense of humor and usually makes for very comfortable real-life interactions with our supporters.

What do you think of the idea of cancel culture?

Jermaine: I wish people would think for themselves. Mob mentality pushes a lot of people to adopt ideas that aren’t their own; it forces many to side with the greater opinion out of fear of being criticized themselves. Life is going to pay us back for our words and actions—no need to keep a filing cabinet of who’s canceled.

Overall I think it’s a convenient opportunity for people who make mistakes in privacy to look down on people making mistakes in the public eye, and get some social points out of it for choosing the popular opinion.

Trey: Half of the time when someone gets canceled, I promise you I have no idea. I get it, it’s cool, but I stay out of it. It’s important when it’s needed, but the internet has a way of blowing things out of proportion and it can be a really dangerous weapon when used wrong. 

How much of your true self do you show online?

Jermaine: For the majority of my time online, I’ve felt that my true self was most prominent, only filtered by the type of content I was creating. For example, if I was creating a skit I would write jokes I found funny, include messages I want to get across, write moments that make me laugh. Obviously, these elements of myself have to fit in with the rules of writing skits.

Lately, it’s been a more unfiltered version of my true self as we speak freely on our podcast & record regular everyday life moments in vlogs.

Trey: There’s no off switch, I go through it. We all go through life and that’s just what it is, putting up an act of someone you’re not is way too draining. It’s easier to be yourself. 

What’s one of the best interactions you’ve ever had with someone who follows you?

Trey: Honestly anytime we run into anybody it’s a good day. I just appreciate a good and respectful interaction. However! I love walking into a local pizza shop and getting free pizza.

Jermaine: We’ve had countless wholesome interactions that we’ll remember forever. I think some of the interactions that were most moving were the interactions we had during my scuffle with burnout & depression. There was a period of time when I fell back and started doubting my capabilities. As low as I felt there were countless people who I admittedly wanted to avoid but needed to hear from. I listened to them connect us and our content to some of their most cherished, funniest moments in their lives. It reminded me of our purpose and the roles we play. Second to those interactions, the time we got free pizza was pretty sweet.

What is your most treasured tool?

Jermaine: Not to be cheesy, but my mind! I was creatively blocked when my mind wasn’t right. But once I started to use my mind intentionally as a tool to attract my desires, I saw a whole other side of myself that I didn’t know I was capable of.

Trey: My soul is for sure my prize tool, it’s almost as if it’s a cheat code, to be honest. You can always depend on your soul to guide you through life, it will never steer you wrong.

What holds you accountable? 

Jermaine: Life holds us accountable. Without fail, what we put out, came right back to us. So we strive to be great. We hold ourselves accountable when we’re faced with the reaction we created with our actions. Our ego will sweet-talk its way out of accountability so, lastly, our people hold us accountable. We operate in a tight-knit, small group of friends and family with similar morals and values; who know who we are, who we’re not. This also includes our audience at times—we can count on them to keep it real.

Trey: I think the people following us and wanting new content nonstop hold me accountable, I feel as if I always owe them something. However, I also owe it to myself to keep myself in a good place mentally to continue to do what I do. 

Thank you, 4YE, for chatting with us! 

We’ll be featuring a new Q&A with a creator every week, so shoot an email to grace.stanley@clarion1822.com for a chance to be included.

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