Every *NSYNC fan should be subscribed to “Girl, Were You Alone?” (GWYA), a weekly podcast hosted by mononymous superfans Christine and Ashley. Founded nearly a year ago, the series has already surpassed 50,000 streams, and even counts members of the iconic boy band as listeners. GWYA features special guests, updates on the lives of Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, and Chris Kirkpatrick, and heartwarming nostalgia. Christine and Ashley have created a great avenue for fans of *NSYNC to connect, and are attempting to manifest a reunion along the way. Check out our exclusive interview with the GWYA founders below!
LIFE ENTERTAINMENT: Other than being fans, of course, how did you become interested in podcasting?
ASHLEY: Christine and I have been best friends for a long time. I definitely said to her before, jokingly, “We should have a podcast.” But Christine is very savvy, and said: “You can’t just start a podcast just to start one. You have to have a niche; you have to have an idea.” Because I’m just thinking how fun would it be to record my conversations with my best friend.
Once *NSYNC did Coachella last year– I had already gotten back into fandom and I was like, “Oh, my God. I just want to hear everything about them. I want to talk about them.” Which is weird for a 30-something-year-old person to do. I thought, “Is there a podcast on this?” There was one but they hadn’t had an episode in a year, and I felt like this could be our niche.
LE: There was a gap in the market and you jumped on it. That’s crucial.
A: Exactly. Supply and demand.
LE: Boom. And now it’s 50,000 downloads in less than a year. Congratulations!
CHRISTINE: It grew pretty quickly, and neither of us had any existing base of followers. It was exciting to see how quickly we grew just organically. There’s a community… it was exciting.
A: Essentially, after Coachella there was all this buzz around, “Is *NSYNC going to reunite?” I think a lot of people started paying more attention to them and it just caught on like wildfire, considering how specific a niche market it is.
LE: How is the split as far as international and American fans?
C: I would say it’s mostly American fans. Maybe 10 to 15 percent international though. We have a couple in South America, a bunch in the UK…
A: The Philippines is still big… We chart sometimes [on Apple Podcasts].
LE: I understand that some of the former band members are fans of the show?
C: Lance and Chris have both been on the show. We’ve met a couple of times, and now we call [Chris] our best friend. [laughs]
A: He will actually respond to our DMs. He lives in Nashville, but he has friends that live in the mid-Atlantic area, which is where Christine and I are based. On occasion, he’ll come up and do these ’90s nights. We had the opportunity to actually chat with him, drink with him, and hang out at those events. He has been very encouraging. He’s been going live a lot on Instagram, and he keeps mentioning us on trivia nights every time he does it. We see these huge spikes in our follows. Like the last time, maybe 150 followers in a few days.
We have inside jokes with him, which is really weird. If you told me when I was 12 [years old] that I’d have inside jokes with members of *NSYNC, I’d be like, “Shut up. No way.”
LE: What is the origin of the “Don’t tell JC” rule?
C: Well, the whole reason we actually have this podcast is because of JC, because Ashley got super, super obsessed with *NSYNC again– but mostly JC.
C: We were spending hours on the internet every night, looking up JC. We started the podcast, and every episode we would just be saying the thirstiest stuff. It was not subtle. We call him Fine A** Daddy. That’s what we call him on the podcast. We didn’t want him to know about it.
A: Also, you expect that because they’re all performers and entertainers, they all like to be in the spotlight. But not him. He’s very reluctant, and when people talk about him a lot, compliment him, you can see it in interviews— he seems very uncomfortable. Any of the other members might think it’s really funny that we’re saying these things about them, and he would hate that. He would run in the opposite direction. It was like, “No, we just want him to think we’re cool and to like us. We can’t tell him. He can never know about it.” We almost made it a year, and then Chris had to go ruin it.
C: He said, “They call you Fine A** Daddy.”
LE: [laughs] That’s how he broke it to him?
C: He’s like, “There’s a podcast. It’s called, ‘Girl Were You Alone?’ It’s an *NSYNC podcast.” [JC] was like, “Okay.” And then [Chris] is like, “They said they don’t want you to find out because you’re their favorite. They call you Fine A** Daddy.”
LE: Oh, cringe! What was his reaction?
A: First he looked confused, then scared, and then he laughed. But he did call out Chris. He’s like, “Wait, you just said it’s supposed to be a secret, and then you’re going to put them on blast like that anyway?”
C: Also he said, “I’m the only one without kids.” Like, that’s not what we mean by that.
LE: The other kind of daddy.
A: You wrote “Digital Get Down,” you know what we mean. Okay?
LE: But he knows. He knows who you are. You’re in his universe, and that will never change.
A: He’s not very good at the internet though. Hopefully, he will never actually listen to the podcast. Hopefully, he’s already forgotten our names. We keep joking that the new rule is, “Don’t remind JC and don’t tell Chris anything.” [laughs]
LE: Are you already thinking about what’s next for the podcast and for your brand?
C: Well, we just started a Patreon. We got 50 patrons within the first day I think.
LE: That’s awesome.
C: That was exciting. Next big thing, we want to interview Joey Fatone… We haven’t interviewed him yet. Other than that though, where do we go from there? Just follow our dreams.
A: We just keep going. If we can keep the podcast going, then that would feel like success. That’s really what we want. But yes, Joey is the next one.
C: Hopefully we could interview Justin Timberlake… that seems crazy. It’s crazy.
A: Justin is a mama’s boy, right? Everybody knows this about him. We interviewed an author named Kelly Clinger who wrote a book called “Chubby Girls Don’t Cheer.” She is very close friends with Justin’s mom. I think they vacation together and stuff. I’m like, “All right, we’re already friends with Kelly. From Kelly to Lynn, who is Justin’s mom. And then once we have Lynn, he’ll do whatever his mom will tell him to do.”
LE: That’s the plan. You got the back door.
C: The real end game is to manifest an *NSYNC reunion.
C: That’s our main goal. Then if it does happen, for us to be there. Have some kind of VIP.
A: Early on, we used to have this whole segment on the podcast that we called our “Big Ol’ List of Reunion Conspiracy Theories.” It was like, if we saw any of them out together, or if any of them brought up a reunion in an interview. But when we spoke to Chris, he expressed that it’s actually really difficult to get together and hang out as friends– which they always want to do– because everybody freaks out and there are all these conspiracy theories around it. So then we felt bad, and we were like, “OK, we got to move from conspiracy theories to trying to manifest it.”
There’s practically a whole group that built themselves around this idea, they’re called Mission *NSYNC. They’ll do watch parties or stream parties on Spotify, YouTube, all of that, just to put it out there in the universe, that, “We want you guys back; we’re still paying attention.” They’re doing a really great job.
LE: Do you guys have merch?
C: Too much merch, maybe [laughs]. It’s on TeePublic. We have probably 10 or 15 different designs up right now, and then we’re releasing some more. We’ve got a lot of really fun stuff on there. Some inside jokes from the pod, some inside *NSYNC fandom jokes.
LE: What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned running this podcast over the past year?
C: I think the biggest one is that not everyone is going to like you all the time. Neither of us have really ever been in any kind of public-facing anything. It’s a lesson in not taking things personally.
LE: Like the trolls and things like that?
C: Yes, yes. That was a big takeaway.
A: That has been the hardest part, and it’s one of those things that I’m so grateful that it’s the two of us. We’re trying to live that and go, “Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay,” and really believe that. But it goes around in your head, and it’s hard to not believe it sometimes.
Then the other thing that I feel like I’ve learned a lot about– I work my day job in internal communications, so I”m just learning a lot through trial and error with social media marketing and things like that. Neither of us knew anything about podcasting or editing before.
C: Basic podcasting skills we definitely learned. Ashley initially was editing it all, and then I learned to edit.
The part about not everyone liking you is because we’re both– at least I am– a super people-pleaser, so I always want everyone to like me and it’s hard to get out of that.
A: And we’re trying to build a community too. I think that that’s a big part of why it grew so quickly, because we tried really hard to make sure we were interacting with people. We started with just Instagram and Twitter. We wanted to make sure we were responding to people, and that took some time in the beginning, but as the community has grown, we still want to have that feeling. Now there’s a Facebook group. We feel like we want to be in those groups and having these conversations.
It’s one thing for them to like the podcast, but the number of people who are feeling very closed off from the outside world, who have said that this community is getting them through this time… that’s more than I ever could imagine.
C: It’s something we didn’t even anticipate. It wasn’t that we went into this saying, “We really want to make this great community around the podcast.” First it was the podcast, and we wanted to include people. We would ask for voice memos from people. We wanted to make it not just the two of us talking all the time. We didn’t even realize that there’s so many people who have met each other and become really close friends just because they got into the podcast, and joined the Facebook group. It’s something I never expected to happen from just starting a podcast about *NSYNC.
LE: Last question, and it’s a cheesy, *NSYNC question. You can’t say the title of your podcast, but what is your favorite line from an *NSYNC song?
A: I think it’s fair to say, “This is a battle we’ve won,” right?
LE: You have the same answer?
C: Yes, it’s, “This is a battle we’ve won.” We were driving to and from New York for a weekend to go away together. We were listening to *NSYNC, and “This I Promise You” came on. There’s this line where JC says, “This is a battle we’ve won.” He sounds so beautiful on it, and as soon as it happened in the car, I was like, “Rewind it, he sounds so good there. You have to listen again.” I made her rewind it five times in a row, and that was actually what made her get back into being obsessed with JC and *NSYNC.
LE: It triggered it.
C: It was beautiful; so beautiful. Oh my God… listen to that part.
A: Now we keep saying, “We have to get a tattoo! Not only to commemorate *NSYNC, but also the podcast. And that’s got to be it. It’s got to be, “This is a battle we’ve won.”