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YouTube legends Jacksepticeye and CrankGameplays on their new podcast 'Brain Leak'

Where 'intrusive thoughts' run free and 'everything is content.'
By Elizabeth de Luna  on 
Sean and Ethan huddle over a bloody brain on a dissecting plate.
Credit: QCode

Do you ever feel like your brain juice is just...leaking? Like all your wackiest thoughts and weirdest ideas are oozing out of the silliest shaped holes in your skull? That's the idea behind the new unscripted and unfiltered podcast Brain Leak(opens in a new tab), hosted by YouTube creators and besties Seán McLoughlin (known as Jacksepticeye) and Ethan Nestor (a.k.a. CrankGameplays).

The pair have never had a problem filtering themselves before — they're beloved for exuberant and sometimes off-the-rails gaming reactions and collabs — but on Brain Leak they're really getting candid. Each episode is a bemusing ping pong match between two delightfully irreverent bros and their bonkers brains.

The pod is produced by content studio QCODE (whom the guys tip their proverbial hats to for "letting the word vomit flow") and premiers tomorrow, April 19, across all major podcast platforms and a new Brain Leak YouTube channel(opens in a new tab).

Before the release, McLoughlin and Nestor sat down with Mashable to talk about how the podcast has reignited their creativity and scratched a super specific brain itch.

Mashable: I've listened to the first episode and, as someone who also has ADHD, I adore the idea that it's basically a long ploy for the two of you to finally just hang out.

Seán McLoughlin: We've both listened to podcasts for a while, and I've always been interested in doing one but never really knew what to do. It always felt like there had to be a plan or a big gimmick to it. And I was like, "I just want to hang out and chat and have fun and try and make each other laugh for like an hour every week."

Ethan Nestor: And it's not just the the audio podcast that we're excited about. We're pumped about the other things that we're able to make branching off the podcast, like visiting the Blarney Stone or bringing Seán to Maine and going on a lobster boat or something. It's honestly just an excuse for us to be able to hang out more and do stupid shit.

SM: We're terrible at keeping up with each other so this forces us to still be friends.

The best way to do that is to put something on the calendar as a work obligation.

SM: [The podcast] will tear us apart because now it's just for work.

EN: Yeah, we're contractually obligated to be friends.

How many episodes have you recorded so far?

SM: We have five done now. We wanted to get some of the teething issues out of the way before we release them fully.

Did you say teething, like a baby teething?

SM: Yeah! We're babies. We don't know what we're doing. And because Ethan's quite busy leading up to his Creator Clash(opens in a new tab) thing, and I've been traveling back and forth a lot, we banked a few of episodes. I think the next ones we'll probably do more in real-time where we get audience feedback.

As the episodes go, we have more serious episodes where we kind of just talked about our youth and school days, and then we have others where we don't talk about anything serious for an hour and a half.

We also have our terrible advice segment that's kicking off now. We're getting feedback, tweets, and actual audience interaction which we didn't really have for the first episode. I think as we ease into it, it's our excuse to let intrusive thoughts out. Whenever people ask for advice on something, it's like our excuse to be assholes for no reason.

The podcast is an excuse to be assholes for no reason?

SM: If I did it on my channel, I'd be canceled. But if I do it on a podcast, it's funny [laughs]. I think when you're listening to the podcast, you know, it's a different space than if you were watching a YouTube video, or playing a game and trying to talk at the same time. And the fact that there's two of us, we just bounce off each other and if a person laughs then that's fine. I just hear laughter and I know it's good.

How long have you guys known each other?

SM: We met at PAX East in Boston in 2015. We used to go to those and do meet and greets and panels and meet fans and stuff. I met Ethan at [Markiplier's] panel where he did a backflip and then gave me a hug. That sticks with you.

EN: Different times, truly.

Why was it a different time?

EN: I think that the community was just a bit different back then. Everyone was a bit more, I don't know, it was still a little bit of the Wild West of YouTube. There was still a lot of – in good ways and bad ways — people idolizing YouTubers back then. And so people were more prone to going out to conventions to see YouTubers and wait in line and stuff like that. It was still a bit more rare to be a content creator on the internet. And now I feel like everyone is streaming.

SM: Back then, people weren't really doing brand deals on YouTube videos, there was no copyright system the way it is now; the whole landscape has changed. People would only make money through ad revenue. It was very bizarre to do like a 60-second integration at the start your videos, that was unheard of.

EN: People thought you were a bit of a sellout if you did brand deals back then.

Seán, in the first episode you said you'd been feeling like you are in a rut in terms of content creation.

SM: Yeah, I do that. That's just my thing.

EN: [Laughs] Seasonal content depression.

SM: I think last year because of a lot of personal stuff happening around me, like friends moving away and people hanging out in person again, I was like, "Man, I don't have anyone that I can go meet," and I still wasn't able to travel because we didn't have time to do it. There was a lot of stuff in my head that got to me, and then I got back into therapy, started a new medication, and now everything's great.

I don't think the podcast came out of that directly, but I want to try harder to do all the things that I've wanted to do that I keep putting off. I just want to have more fun and not worry. After [being a content creator] for 10 years, it feels monotonous and like a cycle, it feels a lot like work. Trying new things, making it interesting again, having fun with it, and not really having to worry about things as much is my goal for this year.

What are some of the things on that list?

EN: It's less of a list and more of a scroll.

SM: YouTubers just always have shit they want to do. I wanted to do a narrative podcast as well at some point with a story I had in mind. Comic books are something that I've been interested in. TV shows, movies… I want to do it all, but I need to make sure that I'm taking the time to figure out which ones are best to do right now. If I jump in and try and do all of them all at the same time, then I hate myself and none of them actually get done.

EN: I think that having another person to bounce off of, to keep you accountable, is so helpful for my brain. That was one of the reasons why Unus Annus(opens in a new tab) worked was because I had to do stuff with another person. Sometimes the shared misery is nice. Seán and I have such good chemistry and our brains are the exact same. So it's super easy to make stuff when we both have a little mirror that we can shout into.

That practice, called mirroring or body doubling(opens in a new tab), has been shown to help people with ADHD focus.

SM: That's how I operate. Because if I do it on my own, I get nothing done. But then me and my girlfriend go to a coffee shop and sit down and I'll just start typing suddenly.

EN: I used to do that all the time. Back when I still edited my own stuff I would get on Skype with a couple of my friends and we would edit our videos together. And none of us would ever say anything, but it was nice to just be existing alongside another person.

Is there anything else you want to share about the podcast?

EN: Obviously, Seán and I don't live in the same place so we won't be able to record [in the same physical space] super often. And so when we do get to do that, it'll be a fun little gift for the audience. I'm really hoping that that the community gets excited about it. It'll be like a little Christmas every time those videos get uploaded.

SM: There's a big tendency on YouTube these days to get things right when you're uploading them. The title and the thumbnail have to be incredible. The idea has to be really good. It has to be super re-watchable, it has to be retention-based. But for us, [the format of this podcast is] more interesting because we don't think about any of that. I think that's more exciting because it feels like old-school YouTube where you just go and see what happens.

EN: At the end of the day, we just want to be as accessible as possible because it's just going to be Seán and I hanging out. And we know that our communities will like that a lot. We didn't really want the podcast to have a schtick because it can kind of get old after a while.

SM: Yeah, because I think we have a tendency — again with ADHD — to outgrow our schticks.

It always amazes me how many creators have ADHD because, like you said, it's hard to focus. But both of you have still been have been able to produce so much content and build entire careers.

SM: We get bored way too quick. Ethan's decided to get punched in the face repeatedly. I'm very excited to watch him throw hands.

I hate fighting, so I'll just have to see afterwards if he got knocked out or not.

SM: It's OK. We'll have a podcast episode on it. If he wins, we'll celebrate, and if he loses I'll make fun of him.

EN: We'll record it immediately after, and we'll call it like "the concussion-sode."

SM: We'll turn it into content.

EN: That's right. Everything is content.

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Elizabeth de Luna

Elizabeth is a culture reporter at Mashable covering digital culture, fandom communities, and how the internet makes us feel. Before joining Mashable, she spent six years in tech, doing everything from running a wifi hardware beta program to analyzing YouTube content trends like K-pop, ASMR, gaming, and beauty. You can find more of her work for outlets like The GuardianTeen Vogue, and MTV News right here(opens in a new tab)


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