Streamer MermaidUnicorn Brings Passion to the Twitch Music Scene

It's a little complicated, too

Alanna Sterling is a streamer busting at the seams with a kaleidoscope of undaunted artistry.

Known by their Twitch screenname, MermaidUnicorn, Sterling is drawn to the dramatic, the expressive, and the theatrical, with high-powered performances adorned with their signature rainbow hair and a patchwork background giving thousands a near-daily dose of live entertainment. 

Alanna Sterling on Twitch.

Alanna Sterling

Sterling came to Twitch in 2018 and has become a staple in the music scene with innovative performance art pieces. A young artist with something to prove, they knew they were meant for something greater and seized the opportunity to fulfill a dream deferred. 

"I live for the praise, I live for the love. I just want everybody to love me. I guess because I didn’t get a lot of love as a kid and now I’m spending my whole life searching for that. I know that may sound egotistical, but it’s what drew me to this," Sterling said during a phone interview with Lifewire detailing their growth on the platform in the music scene.

"I put so much passion into every performance. When people see you having fun and enjoying yourself, then people want in." 

Quick Facts

  • Name: Alanna Sterling
  • Age: 27
  • Located: Ottawa, Canada  
  • Random delight: Big break! Alanna started as a League of Legends streamer before switching to music months into their online career. They got their big break performing on popular streamer AustinShow’s talent show.
  • Motto: "There is no such thing as a bad emotion. All emotions have a purpose in life and no feeling will last forever even if it feels infinite at the time; it, too, will pass."

Under the Sea

Dreams were all Sterling had. That and music, of course. Born and raised in Ottawa to a tumultuous, fluctuating family dynamic, Sterling recounts their journey to self-acceptance. Moving between foster homes and school districts like a revolving door, it was hard for them to find proper footing in an ever-changing world.

A young virtuoso, music has been an important component of Sterling’s life. Throughout the years they’ve learned to play over 40 instruments, ranging from the piano and guitar to relatively obscure assorted instruments like the theremin and kazoo. 

A talent they say they inherited from their mother, music has been their saving grace and the one constant in their life. Piano at two, the choir at nine, and songwriting at 12. Music remains their most enduring love. 

"I always say music is my mother tongue. It’s the first language I knew," Sterling said. "I had my guitar with me always through all the moves. It was the one thing that brought me a little bit of joy when life was a little bit crappy." 

Songwriting, in particular, has been a tool of metamorphosis for the dark parts of their life. 

Alanna Sterling.

Alanna Sterling

Coming out on the other side of that darkness is what allowed them to find the light in life. The bright-colored outfits, the fantastical name, and the rainbow hair is not mere aesthetic preference. It is an affirmation. "It’s all about how to see the colorful side of life through the darkness. I just want to be living art in motion," they said.

The Mermaid Brigade

The authentic community of metaphorical sea dwellers who tune in to their streams is known as the Mermaid Brigade. They come to listen to original songs, give requests, and enjoy the unfettered talent that is MermaidUnicorn. Three years and 43,000 followers later, Sterling is exactly where they ought to be.

"For once in my life, I feel like this is what I deserve. Whereas before I had this constant impostor syndrome, but now it’s like this is exactly where I’m meant to be and I’ve worked hard to create this empire," they said. 

Despite all the hardships of their life, Sterling never lets it get them down. Their community has been a source of inspiration and adoration that has allowed Sterling to flourish in times of crisis. Their closest community confidantes, known as The Pineapple Cult, were there during medical flareups and chronic illnesses. Ever the consummate streamer, through it all they persisted. 

When people see you having fun and enjoying yourself, then people want in." 

"Your community is just a reflection of you. If you project love, you’re going to get it right back," they said fighting back tears. "It’s good to have a community that will support you through all of that and I hope that I can encourage them to be fierce and be warriors."

With a self-funded album on the horizon showcasing their many talents, Sterling said they’re not too worried about the future. Instead, they’re living for the here and now and want to continue being an inspiration to others going through similar struggles.  

"It sounds cliche, but I never had a role model growing up. I so wish I had a role model like me. Just someone to encourage me that you can do anything, you have that power," they revealed. "Someone to say that I could be as queer as I want to be and that it’s okay. I just hope I can be that person for somebody else now."

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