â€œWhen youâ€™re trying to get somewhere and youâ€™re surrounded, thatâ€™s when I get panicked. Iâ€™m not great with crowds anyway, but itâ€™s OK on stage. Itâ€™s when Iâ€™m surrounded that I donâ€™t enjoy it.â€
Not the words of a TV star or pop idol, although to many of his growing fanbase, Joseph Garrett is more of a celebrity than people in either of those categories.
Garrettâ€™s alter-ego Stampy is one of the most popular childrenâ€™s channels on YouTube, with 6.6 million subscribers and more than 4.2bn views since its launch in 2011. Last year, he was the fourth biggest channel on the service.
Most of Garrettâ€™s videos are made using Minecraft, the game that has sold more than 70m copies, with children comprising a huge portion of its audience. At its official Minecon conference in July, he was one of the big draws, conquering his nervousness to meet thousands of young Stampy fans.
Yet Minecon also showed the specific nature of the fame Garrett and his fellow YouTubers attract. â€œWe went to Minecon and for a couple of days you pretend youâ€™re a rock star. Then it ended, we got on the train home, and nobody looked twice at us!â€ he says.
â€œItâ€™s nice to step into that world and experience it, and I really enjoyed meeting as many fans as I could one-on-one in person. Itâ€™s nice to do that, but then to step away from it again and go back to sitting in a room making videos.â€
Those videos are filmed with a group of friends with their own alter-egos: Ballistic Squid, Lee Bear, Sqaishey, Amy Lee, Rosie and Finnball are household names for Minecraft-mad children, if not to the wider world.
â€œPeople like the fact that weâ€™re all just friends. Pretty much everyone I record with regularly, I knew before I or they were YouTubers. We met as friends and got into YouTube together. Weâ€™re not just collaborators, weâ€™re friends and you canâ€™t fake that,â€ says Garrett.
Those friends are featured in Garrettâ€™s latest expansion beyond YouTube: a book published by Egmont called Stampyâ€™s Lovely Book, which blends cartoons, quizzes, facts, a cake recipe â€“ cake being a recurring feature in Stampy videos â€“ and tips for budding YouTubers.
The latter is the most interesting aspect. Garrett thinks that many children arenâ€™t just playing Minecraft and watching Minecraft videos on YouTube: they have creative ambitions of their own.
â€œI would say that the majority of my audience has tried making video, even if itâ€™s just using their parentsâ€™ phone and filming the TV screen as they speak,â€ he says.
â€œEven if theyâ€™re not recording, theyâ€™re speaking as if theyâ€™re doing a video. At a recent event, I asked â€˜who in the audience is a YouTuber?â€™ and the majority put their hand up: they all want to do it.â€
Garrett joins a number of other online stars in the publishing world: last week alone, new books came out from YouTubers Felix â€œPewDiePieâ€ Kjellberg, Tyler Oakley and Zoe â€œZoellaâ€ Sugg. Garrett says he was determined to make Stampyâ€™s Lovely Book more than a cash-in.
â€œFor all the opportunity to take a generic activity book and just Stampy-theme it, thatâ€™s not what this is,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s very close to what Iâ€™m doing in my videos. Your reputation and the way youâ€™re perceived by your fans is so important, and you canâ€™t tarnish that.â€
The book is dedicated to Garrettâ€™s parents, who are involved in his career: his father designed the official Stampy logo, while his mother helps to moderate his Facebook fan page.
â€œAt the start there was a point where I had to convince them that what I am doing is worthwhile: it was a world they didnâ€™t understand when I was starting,â€ he says.
â€œBut they have been very supportive, allowing me to live at home working part-time when I started, and without that time to put into videos, none of this would have happened. Theyâ€™re still very involved.â€
Stampyâ€™s Lovely Book is the first of a two-book publishing deal with Egmont, but Garrett says his priority remains YouTube. Earlier in 2015, he launched a new educational series called Wonder Quest, commissioned and funded by YouTube and produced by multi-channel network Maker Studios.
The show, which aimed to engage children with science topics, did well: its standalone channel has more than 44m views, and a second series is on the way. Garrett says he is proud that the show and its spin-off animation series I Wonder has been used in schools.
â€œItâ€™s had such a positive reception from fans, parents and teachers. Season two is almost finished â€“ there are only two episodes left to film,â€ he says.
â€œItâ€™s hopefully more exciting and action-packed, and there are some very cool guest stars that a lot of my audience will know and be excited about.â€
Garrett was one of the first YouTubers making childrenâ€™s content to be commissioned by the service for an original series of this type. Wonder Quest also came shortly after the company launched YouTube Kids, a standalone app for children.
It remains only available in the US, where it has generated some criticism from consumer groups for the advertising that is carried alongside the videos. Details of its global rollout have yet to be announced, but when it does, channels like Stampy should benefit.
For now, YouTube is the main hub for Stampy videos, with Garrett noting that while he uses Twitter and Facebook, it is more often to respond to fan-art posted by his fansâ€™ parents.
â€œInstagram is a place where a lot of children seem to be allowed, so Iâ€™ve just made my Instagram account. Although itâ€™s only one picture of a cup of tea!â€ he says. Good luck finding that account: there are dozens of fake Stampys on Instagram.
Like most successful YouTubers, Garrett has a keen sense of who his audience is on that platform. An infographic in his book shows that 50% of his viewers are in the US and 25% in the UK, for example. Itâ€™s also split by gender.
â€œIf I look at my channel, itâ€™s slightly in the majority girls than boys, and overall in Minecraft itâ€™s pretty close to a 50/50 split,â€ he says. â€œAll of gaming has gone that way: the idea of gaming as a male-dominated hobby has gone now.â€
What about the future? Like childrenâ€™s entertainers on any medium, Garrett faces the dilemma of either growing with his current audience, or hoping for a regular flow of new, young fans as his older ones grow out of him.
â€œItâ€™s something Iâ€™ve been thinking about a lot recently, especially the way a lot of my success is tied directly to Minecraft. Thereâ€™s the possibility if Minecraftâ€™s popularity dwindles, and my audience moves on from that, do I try and move with them?â€ he says.
â€œIn terms of my target audience, thereâ€™s room to try to appeal to maybe a larger age range, but everything is always going to stay completely PG. Itâ€™s not like JK Rowling did with Harry Potter when you see how dark the later books got. Iâ€™ve got no plans to go that far!â€