A girl sits in front of a camera and whispers softly into the microphone less than a few centimetres away. She focuses on the “s” and “tsk” sounds of her words, which echo in the otherwise quiet environment. It may sound strange, but this is a typical Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) YouTube video, designed for relaxation and mediation.
ASMR is a feeling of calmness and tranquillity characterised by a tingling of the skin — a bit like goosebumps. Having first appeared on YouTube in 2010, the phenomenon is growing in popularity as ASMR artists amass more and more followers. These artists use various methods to “trigger” that tingling sensation in viewers.
Here are a few of the most common methods, and the ASMR artists on YouTube who do them best:
ASMR artists speak in a slow, soft whisper to create a peaceful atmosphere. They mainly use “trigger” words — words which tend to include sibilant sounds like “s” “tsk”, such as sleep, whiskey, or swoosh, as these are most effective. Viewers may find it helps them to focus, relax or even fall asleep.
Check out: ASMR Darling
ASMR artist Taylor Darling has a rich, soothing tone to her voice and speaks with an air of ease so that her videos never seem contrived. In short, she knows what she is doing.
These ASMR artists create non-vocal ambient noises by tapping or scratching against different surfaces. Tapping against hard surfaces creates a hollow, crisp sound while scratching against both rough and smooth surfaces creates a long hypnotic hum.
Check out: Kaya ASMR
Apart from using her nails, Kaya also cuts kinetic sand and writes with chalk to vary the intensity of sounds. She uses a wide range of everyday items to create her sounds so that they are both varied yet familiar to users.
Just like acoustic triggers, noises are created by scratching and tapping. The difference is that artists use a special type of recording device called a binaural microphone. These microphones are shaped like a human ears, and the scratches and tapping made on the surface of the mic reverberates directly into the viewers’ ears. Viewers will not only be able to hear these sounds but also feel them, and the effect is similar to getting an ear or scalp massage.
Check out: ASMRMagic
It takes skill to be able to control the scratching and tapping you make on the microphone to produce calming sounds rather than just noise, but with ASMRMagic you’re in safe hands. She can also make sounds travel from one ear to the other which makes for a satisfying sensation.
In these videos, ASMR artists may dress up as different characters or workers from different occupations. They then act out scenes or deliver monologues which incorporate other kinds of ASMR triggers. These videos are usually scripted so that delivery is smooth and uninterrupted, allowing viewers to be more easily transported.
Check out: Gibi ASMR
Gibi performs lots of different role-play to appeal to various interests. She often chooses occupations which involves taking care of people, such as doctors, flight attendants and sales assistants. However, she has also performed as characters from Game of Thrones and anime characters; again, sticking with familiar entities usually triggers viewers more easily. In fact, Gibi’s most popular video was one where she role-played as a sales assistant at a gaming shop, which attracted more than three million views.
Slime is the newest kid on the ASMR block. It is a craze itself, but people also find the sound of slime being spread or popped oddly satisfying. Slime can also be visually relaxing; watching colours or beads being mixed into plain slime is entrancing and soothing.
Check out: Satisfying Slime ASMR
Apart from playing with the slime, this artist hits different trigger points by adding other materials such as beads to imitate scratching sounds, or food colouring which sounds like rain when dropped onto the slime. The beautiful colours of the slime make the videos just as visually appealing as they are sonically.
Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge