During Ramadan, Zubair attempts to connect with his culture through food content on social media ... he ultimately ends up getting schooled by his grandmother on how to prepare a traditional dish.
Creator Shimmerwali: “What Helps me is Producing more than Consuming” — FannBoy Friday
"Even though I try to consume good content, I think whatever you watch and listen to does affect your mental [health]."
FannBoy Friday is a weekly column from Shahjehan Khan that highlights American Muslim creatives.
Shah-Ameer is “a Pakistani dude who makes stuff,” like videos, music, streams and podcasts. He’s been making content since the age of 10. (Adapted from https://www.patreon.com/shimmerwali/about.)
We met when I asked my good friend Ali Sahir for some recommendations since I’m old and uncool now. I should probably interview him next!!
(Shah-Ameer’s interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Shahjehan: You're a lot of things. How would you describe yourself and what are the things that you're passionate about?
Shah-Ameer: I say I'm a content creator, but also an artist as well. So I blend the two things in, like social media and all that stuff. I create on mostly all the social media platforms and then try to see how I can fuse those together and just build up my personal brand around that.
Shahjehan: Is one thing more of a favorite for you than the others, or are you into everything that you do equally?
Shah-Ameer: I'm into everything I do. [For example] With making music, I think any artist can agree that sometimes it's hard commoditizing it. Like you want your art to be art. Don't want to sell that. And so that's where I keep it a little bit more precious and make that art for myself rather than trying to sell [it]. And then with the content, I think for me it's easy to make and sell that because it's promoting other content that I make.
Shahjehan: What's an average day in your life if such a thing exists?
Shah-Ameer: So I try to make it average … I think what's important is to have some sort of consistency. When you have a boss, it's much easier 'cause someone's looking over you. But when you don't, you have to be your own boss in a way. So what I do is I wake up pretty late, like 11, 12. And I try to go to the gym at least two to three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So I can feel good and be creatively inspired and whatnot. And after I come back from the gym, I'll eat a lunch etc. and go straight to editing. Like basically I stream Mondays and Wednesdays on Twitch. I talk to my chat, play video games on that website. And so then what I can do is make clips from that. And I'm basically editing all that, Monday through Friday. Just little clips on for TikTok, Instagram Reels and other platforms. And so most of my time is, editing and whatnot. And then any free space I have, I spend that on music and releases that I have upcoming.
Shahjehan: Do you have any assistants?
Shah-Ameer: No. I have hired a few editors for these platforms like TikTok and Instagram and stuff like that. But not like a full-time position … With my own content, it's mostly just me.
Shahjehan: What are some of the pros and cons of being a digital creator? Are you making stuff because you still like to, do you feel like a need to do it? And what are the things that inspire you to keep making more stuff?
Shah-Ameer: I think the pros are you can set your own schedule. I think that's awesome. Like freedom of time. I think it's beautiful that I can wake up whenever, I can sleep whenever, and I can work at my own pace without someone like down my neck. All the pressure is just on me. And that for some people that might be a con, but I enjoy it. I didn't want to be in one area every single day and then come back really tired. I wanted to work on this whenever … I like the freedom of going somewhere or editing at home.
The con is I probably have to spend more hours to compensate. But I still enjoy it. It's just there is some sort of like financial pressure that I do have to fulfill. I think the instability of the income is also a con … like when you're down, you're like, oh my gosh, this sucks. Like I'm done for, and stuff like that. So I think the instability of that income is exciting, but it's also a con. I think when your videos or your content isn't received well … you second guess yourself, and I think that's very difficult, rather than if you're at a stable, you just show up and you're guaranteed that paycheck.
Shahjehan: Other than working out, what else do you do to take care of your mental health?
Shah-Ameer: I think if you asked me this a few years ago, I'd be like ‘oh, social media doesn't bother me’. Social media started popping around when I was like 12, 13, so I grew up with it, [it] was ingrained. But now I'm like, ‘okay, wait, I can't always consume’. And I think what helps me is producing more than consuming. Even though I try to consume good content, I think whatever you watch and listen to does affect your mental [health]. Sometimes you can't avoid random things that are going on in the algorithm that kind of make you feel worse. And sometimes you don't even know if it's making you feel worse, but, I think what's really important is like exercising and giving yourself sunlight. I remember in the pandemic, I just did not go outside for a week and then I [felt like crap]. And that's the only reason I do physical activity. Like before I was trying to get jacked and big.
Shahjehan: I can 100% relate with that, it's totally for my brain.
Shah-Ameer: Yeah. And I produce better work when I'm happier and I do physical activity. And I think, before I was [all] grind grind grind. [But] it's nice to just hang out with some friends, just chill, not even think about anything. Just having that time, whether it's once a week or a couple times a week …
What do you do?
Shahjehan: A lot of the same stuff! My mental health comes from working out, five, six times a week and nutrition and my wife and also the friend thing. In the last two years I made a pledge (post-COVID) that I was going to spend more time with my friends and be more intentional about just being with people without an agenda.
Shah-Ameer: That's super relatable. I feel like for creatives or artists, anytime you meet someone, you are like, ‘wait, does this have to be good for … my career?’ And I think a lot of other people just hang out, they chill. Like they don't have to think about it, but we subconsciously are thinking about it. Then it gives us more stress while we're with somebody that may not further our career or whatever, and then we feel guilty, ‘oh my gosh, I'm supposed to be working’ or something like that.
Shahjehan: What are your goals or plans for this year?
Shah-Ameer: I'm just trying to generate more revenue from content. And then also just release more music and try to figure out a way to promote the music … It is just very difficult for me … even though it's weird saying oh, I'm a content creator, so I'm good at mass producing content, having it visibly seen in a large scale … You don't want to sell it in a weird way. You want it organic. And for me I'm trying to bridge that gap …
Luckily, all these platforms [are] paying creators a crap ton … it's been helping a lot, and [this is why i wanted to] expand, meet [and connect with] more people, especially talk to you. Anytime I can have that opportunity and network, I think it's always a good thing.
Shahjehan: Who are some of your inspirations?
Shah-Ameer: I've been really liking what Ramy Youssef has been doing. I think his show is very different and a lot of people may not like it, but I think that is a reality [for] a lot of people. And he shows … multiple angles of realities. I think he's … very good, very talented. [I look at] the way his show is shot (cinematically) and how weird it is. I think he's not afraid to be weird.
I know [he’s not necessarily Muslim but] I think Donald Glover's just somebody that I've always looked to being like, wow, this is dope that you can do multiple things and be great at all of 'em. People say stay in your lane and you might get further along if you just focus on one thing … but I think Donald Glover is somebody that I look at and I'm like, okay, I can express myself in any way and not feel like this is wrong. And just, do my best and then see how I can tie them all together. He is a great writer, he's a great comedian, he is a great songwriter, he is a great actor …