Welcome to Streamers on the Rise, where we find streamers who are growing their channels, content, and audiences in extraordinary ways. Each week we’ll talk with a creator about what goes into livestreaming–both on and off camera.
In the far future, humans have taken their toll on the Earth. It’s brutal. Desolate. Uninhabitable.
At least, for us.
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For the machines we built, the machines who turned on us, it’s paradise. And they don’t take kindly to anything that threatens their sovereignty.
That’s why Zentreya has to gather forces. She’s a traitor to machinekind. A savior to humans. Sent back in time to prevent the future that made her.
She’s also a Twitch streamer.
Since joining us here in the 2000s, Zentreya-the-character has become besotted with memes, and has “downloaded all the necessary data needed to deal with you all,” she says in her official Twitch description. Her daily streams are a mix of gaming and chatting, and always heavy on interaction with her boisterous chat, which she affectionately describes as “like a little brother that doesn’t shut up.”
Behind Zentreya-the-character is Zentreya-the-creator, who (as is common in VTubing) protects her privacy and doesn’t share her IRL name, face, location, or other personal details.
She does share, though, that before she found VTubing and made Zentreya-the-character, she worked in retail for nearly 10 years, with some management positions giving her the kind of customer service skills and “a very unique way of figuring out how to bounce off somebody” that are now essential to her streams.
When she first started streaming in 2017, her broadcasts would bring in around 25 viewers. These days, she’s got thousands each stream, and her audience of 400,000 followers is growing larger by hundreds of people each day. She’s signed with VShojo, has her own figures coming out from both Youtooz and Novel Horizons, and is currently building out Zentreya-the-character’s world into something similar in scope to “the whole Marvel cinematic multiverse universe,” she says.
Check out our chat with her below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Thanks for being here with us! Ana recommended you as somebody that we should speak to who has a really interesting type of content and a really interesting audience. We are really excited to get to talk to you.
Zentreya: It’s a pleasure being here. My audience is…interesting.
Tubefilter: It is! I tuned in to a couple of your streams over the last few days and you have such an engaged and excited audience with so many in jokes. It seems so tight-knit.
Zentreya: They’re like a little brother that doesn’t shut up.
Tubefilter: [laughs] Okay, first question is, how did you discover and get into VTubing?
Zentreya: Basically, it all started with the whole solo corporate VTubers. I’m sure you’re probably familiar with them if you’ve kept an eye on the whole VTubing since it started.
Zentreya: Like Kizuna AI, and then you have the other ones as well. Well, that’s when it started blowing up, I guess, but not that much. I guess it was something that was fairly new. I think Harlow was just starting up as well. I started noticing this because the bigger something grows, the more eyes will see and spread it. I actually started watching Kizuna AI. It was incredible. Then I started watching a lot of the Harlow content as well.
If you jump into 2019, that’s when they really started getting off the ground too. I would be watching Coco, Pekora. My gosh, there’s so many who just started. I thought it was really, really cool being able to be whoever you wanted. Me being me, I decided to just jump into whatever. I wanted to try something new. I’m a very daring person so I decided to give it a shot. It just opened up a whole new world to me.
Tubefilter: How have things changed?
Zentreya: I’ve seen so many different VTubers now. The landscape has changed so much since 2019. You got some really crazy stuff out there now. I’m very happy that I made this whole jump into it. Everybody was very supportive. I actually started off with, I think it was like 25 viewers. This was 2017.
Tubefilter: Oh wow. A long time ago.
Zentreya: I would continue to stream, up to 100 viewers or so. Mind you, I wasn’t able to communicate at all either. I actually ended up developing a habit of hand communication, head acting, body language acting. Either way, it helped me really develop and find my characteristics as a VTuber, aside from my personality.
Tubefilter: Your model has a really intricate look and really intricate backstory. Can you talk a little bit about designing Zentreya?
Zentreya: I wanted something to go that meshed really well with my vocal communication. I’m a huge fan of cyberpunk and I got a little bit of inspiration from Gridman and Ultraman and also Kamen Rider. I started working very closely with an artist who had a very, very similar aesthetic to what I was thinking. We came out with this whole design, I absolutely loved it.
Tubefilter: It’s beautiful.
Zentreya: I love it so much. It was freaking awesome. From there we worked closely with Merryweather. We shared some ideas for the backstory. We are still expanding on my backstory as well.
Tubefilter: Oh, I didn’t know it was still a work in progress, that’s cool.
Zentreya: It’s not even close to being finished. Think of it like the whole Marvel cinematic multiverse universe. That has been my plan from the very start before this. I have thought years ahead of everything. Just getting everything in motion is the hardest part. We were able to come out with this incredible backstory together, which is on YouTube, and it was just awesome to see it all come to life. I can’t wait for the rest.
Tubefilter: Yours is one of the most complicated models I’ve seen. Especially everything to do with your face and all the elements surrounding it.
Zentreya: That’s what the artist told me. They were screaming at the end of it, but they were very happy with it.
Tubefilter: When you were talking earlier, you said you developed this system of communication because you didn’t used to use voice. I was curious when you ventured into voice and how you ended up designing your character’s particular voice. What was that process?
Zentreya: Well, as you know, I started off with no communication or anything, and then I work my way into a notepad. The notepad was the most interesting part of my streaming career. I had so much support by then. I still will never understand it, but I’m grateful for it. I really wanted to find a better way of communication.
I got with a friend, ComDust. I worked closely with her. She helped me, and I got with her programming person. We were able to figure out something for me as well. A private program. It was complicated at first. I’m a weird person when it comes to technology. I won’t understand it at first unless I get my hands on it. I started working with it. They told me everything, and I told myself, “Hey, this is going to be perfect. It’s not really anything like this out there right now.”
When I broke the announcement to the community, after so many years of not being able to communicate, they were freaking out, which is to be expected. No more notepad. They keep bugging me about bringing back the notepad.
Tubefilter: A fan favorite.
Zentreya: I’m not bringing you back! But either way, it was a very game-changing moment for me, especially for streaming. I started thinking to myself, “What can I do to capitalize on this?” I started working on cyber Zen and here I am now, perfectly matching and everything.
Tubefilter: Yes, the voice definitely fits her. It’s interesting how well the program communicates your intonation, and how realistic it sounds.
Zentreya: It’s funny because if you just heard me talking without anything on the screen, it just sounds like a bot. I really ended up developing and using body acting and body language to really make it all come together.
Tubefilter: In your earlier answer, you said that you started off with 25 viewers and had a fairly low viewer count, which is very normal, everybody starts off like that. Then you grew to 100 and now you have thousands of people who watch you. Can you talk about building your community over the years? Was there anything specific that you noticed that drew in more viewers?
Zentreya: Lots of memes, lots of shitposting–excuse my language–and lots of fighting. There was this weird thing, it wasn’t always like this. It was pretty calm back then, not that calm though. Then as more people start pouring in, and each person in your chat has their own personality, and so I would actually bounce off of each person I would see in the chat. I have a very unique way of figuring out how to bounce off somebody, whether it’s just like a funny moment, a crazy moment, scary moment, stuff like that. I developed this I guess when I was working outside of streaming at the time, because I would be working as a manager at retail. You have to deal with different people every day.
Tubefilter: Yes, tons of people management skills.
Zentreya: It set me up to be able to deal with the chat, I guess in some aspects they are similar, which helped a lot.
Tubefilter: Approaching it as management and customer service and people management.
Zentreya: Who would’ve thought customer service helped this much?
Tubefilter: Honestly customer service jobs are valuable for every single thing you’re going to do in your life.
Zentreya: Interaction is key. I guess as time went on, I just started bouncing off lots of personalities and everybody got the idea of which direction to take. Now I would just bounce back and forth at this point and it ends up coming out into some of the most either weird moments or hilarious moments.
Tubefilter: This makes a lot of sense as to why your chat feels so collaborative, then.
Zentreya: I try to make the streams as inviting as I can.
Tubefilter: What does your current streaming schedule look like? Is this your full-time thing?
Zentreya: This is my full-time thing. It’s funny because it wasn’t always like this. Of course, I would have to balance out this streaming thing with my other job back then. I would be working like four or five in the morning until like two or 3 p.m. Get like an hour of rest. Start the stream up, immediately stream from 4 or 5 p.m. all the way up until 12 in the morning. I guess just like rinse and repeat as much as I could.
Tubefilter: What an intense schedule.
Zentreya: I guess ever since 2019 to 2020, the community really just started building up the support, and I am able to now do this full-time. Most of the time I’m usually waking up at eight o’clock or nine o’clock in the morning to look at the emails. I get a few work stuff done for social media because social media presence is important. I start the stream around like 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. CST and stream for like six hours. Take care of any more work stuff that I need to do off-stream for an extra two hours. Then I will sit down with my community and just watch YouTube videos and stuff like that with them every day. To have a community presence, I usually take two days off which are mostly dedicated to working and making videos or doing off-stream work. What is a day off?
We are excited to reveal some in-progress work on our figure in collaboration with @zentreya and @VShojo !
Final finish not yet applied, so she is shinier then she will be. 🤣
Decals also not yet applied.
Final colors TBD#anime #figure pic.twitter.com/bSENrUxkPj
— Novel Horizons (@NovelHorizons) May 15, 2023
Tubefilter: I was just going to say, I’m glad you get time off to relax, but I guess not.
Zentreya: I don’t know how some streamers can take a month off. I can’t even. I get paranoid if I take even three or four days off.
Tubefilter: It’s clear you’re very dedicated. It makes a lot of sense that this is basically your 24-hour thing.
Zentreya: Ten years of working retail has made me into a workaholic.
Tubefilter: Retail will do it. When did you sign with VShojo? How has that experience been for you since you signed with them?
Zentreya: I signed up with them I believe in 2020, near the end. The staff has been absolutely amazing to work with. They have made things a lot easier on me, especially with getting partnerships and sponsorships. I have more freedom to choose who I want to get partnered up with and stuff like that. They take very good care of me and it’s just been quite the ride.
Tubefilter: I’m really glad it’s been good for you. I’ve talked to a lot of creators who really took off during the pandemic, and many of the people I speak to are really overwhelmed with all these managerial and business tasks behind the scenes. It’s really heartening for me to hear that you and other creators are able to find teams that can support them, because I really feel like a lot of people feel like they have to do this by themselves, when they don’t. When you have that support behind the scenes with partnerships or with even just answering emails, that can make a huge difference in what you’re able to do.
Zentreya: Right. There’s a lot of managers on Twitter who are looking for people to help. You just have to be careful and just find the right one for you.
Tubefilter: Yes. I feel like a lot of people are intimidated by the process of trying to find one, but it is worth it. I’m glad it’s worked for you.
Tubefilter: What’s been your favorite part of streaming on Twitch overall?
Zentreya: I guess being able to have my community be built from the ground up on there has been the coolest thing to witness. And seeing, I guess, the landscape change over time. It’s been very interesting to us. There have been so many moments that have been captured because of being able to make your own clips and stuff like that. You know that the chat likes going crazy with clipping moments, which helps me in part, make content. My editors are always happy to take all those clips. It makes their job easier. The community has just been absolutely the best part for me–and of course, Ana, who just recently became a Twitter manager. She has been such an awesome person to work with, so shout-out to her as well. She’s been super helpful with me. Very kind.
@zentreya Guess I’m a psychopath. 🤷 #reaction #facts #relatable #horror ♬ original sound – Zentreya 🐲 VShojo
Tubefilter: Do you have any sort of plans or goals for yourself over the next year or so that you’re excited about?
Zentreya: As I said earlier, I’m bringing two worlds together. Dragon Zen and cyber Zen has been the goal from the very start. I’m just making my own story and everything. I’m hoping to get my own manga out there as well. There’s so much stuff in the future right now. I can’t spoil everything.
Tubefilter: Yes, no spoilers. No worries.
Zentreya: I’m very excited for so much stuff that’s coming up this year. I’m working very hard behind the scenes on getting everything done. Lots of stuff. This has been the most…What’s the word? I guess “explosive” content this year ever out of every other year. This has to be the most content exposure I’ve seen come from my channel. Content explosion. Very excited.
Tubefilter: Great! I’m officially done grilling you. That’s it. You’ve survived. Thank you so much. This was fantastic.
Zentreya: Oh, it was so awesome. Thank you so much for having me.