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ZINE MUNCH #3: Two Shell, Shitposting, and One Direction (w/ @meetmeintranspecos)
On absurdist Instagram fanzines and internet music subculture
Mina* (who remains anonymous in interviews) runs @meetmeintranspecos, a meme page named after beloved Queens music venue Trans-Pecos. She started the page in 2018, and it strikes me as a sort of contemporary take on the fanzine, particularly in its focus on a niche section of NYC electronic music and the subculture that’s formed around it. I reach out via DM about interviewing her and we schedule back and forth a bit before talking around 6 on a Monday; It’s warm in Providence now, so I call her from a hammock on one of our greens.
Lucas Gelfond: What’s your participation in the local scene like, and what motivated you to start the page?
@meetmeintranspecos: [A friend and I] made the page on my birthday in 2018, when we were really stoned. We had been texting each other memes for awhile, mostly just stuff we had observed in the local DIY community that we wanted to be able to joke about, but it felt too risky to make those jokes coming from us, publicly as ourselves. We were just sorta like “what do you think about making it more public, we should make it a page?”
I was really into indie rock at the time and we named it after Trans-Pecos because I’d go there all the time. Throughout college I wrote for a music magazine, so I would take pictures and cover shows, and through that [the friend I started the account with and I] met. Since then my taste has definitely evolved, I still listen to everything [and many genres of music] but since the page started I’ve gotten really into electronic music. There’s just as good of a DIY community in New York for electronic as there is for indie rock, and so I DJ, and I find it really natural to meet people at shows and form friendships over music.
LG: What has it been like building that sort of community online, with the account?
MMITP: It feels so good and it's led to so many amazing friendships and connections. [For example] I’ve become real life friends with Asquith who runs the Lobster Theremin record label, and we actually hung out in London and I went to Lobsterfest. Not that I’ve ever really felt alone in what I like, but it feels good to nerd out with other people. It's hard to meet people that like everything that you like, and by just posting really specific things about what you do, you build a community of people that also share those interests or have similar tastes.
LG: In an interview with BuiltIn you talked about Lizzy Goodman’s book Meet Me in the Bathroom and the 2000s NYC indie rock scene as inspiration for the page, how do you think community forms differently now around music?
MMITP: A few years ago there was a huge wave of DIY spaces shutting down in every city; most of the DIY spaces discussed in that book are gone now. There’s too many to list off the top of my head, like Silent Barn, Shea Stadium, 285 Kent, all of those spaces are gone, and not having those places to gather really put the damper on smaller bands.
Miraculously Trans-Pecos has survived this whole arc, and I think it’s genuinely one of the most important places for building a DIY-oriented community, even though it’s a legit venue, like not technically someone’s apartment. I think smaller venues like that are really foundational to building a community that’s DIY-oriented.
LG: What kind of publications have you interacted with around music and how do you think they‘ve impacted how you approach it?
MMITP: I loved Rookie Mag growing up, and that was really inspirational for thinking about my own experiences and how I could document them and talk about them. They wrote a lot about music as well. As far as print publications, I can’t say much; I feel like I really grew up in the Tumblr era, and of Pitchfork and Noisey and all of that.
LG: You started with internet stuff on Tumblr, right?
MMITP: Yeah, I had a fashion Tumblr, it’s not like my meme account at all, but no matter what kind of Tumblr you have, and there were many ‘sectors’ of Tumblr, you got the same viral, funny posts and texts posts, and I think that shaped my humor a lot.
LG: Was there something that drew you to internet blogging or publishing?
MMITP: I made my first blog when I was in sixth grade, because it was a class assignment to have a Blogspot and publish writing on there.
LG: We had one of those too!
MMITP: Yeah, it felt really cool and important to write something and post it online and realize “woah, other people can see this, that’s so cool.” I made a Tumblr pretty young, like 2011. I had a pretty decent following, like 10,000 followers, but I would literally just reblog fashion pictures and occasionally upload pictures I took. It wasn't anything revolutionary, but that was probably my first experience of having an online community, because I made friends through there as well that were into the same fashion as well.
At the same time as well, and I need to give this more credit, I was a One Direction stan in high school, and was on stan Twitter for them in like 2011. I was just always online because you obviously have to keep updated with what One Direction is doing. There were really genuinely funny stan accounts too, my best friend had a pretty popular one, and that exposed me to how you can leverage a specific kind of internet humor and apply it to an interest. That’s probably where most of my style comes from if I’m being honest.
LG: What was it like to have access to that kind of audience at that age and how old were you?
MMITP: I started my Tumblr when I was 14 and had 10,000 followers by the time I was 18. Being a ‘Tumblr influencer’ was definitely a thing, but it was still more anonymous, because most people’s Tumblrs were not pictures of them, that’s how Instagram is; your Instagram is you, but your Tumblr is more your interests and what you want to see pictures of or read about. Tumblr was really good for building community but it never felt like, or at least in the Tumblr spaces I was in, it never felt like an ego thing, it just felt like, ‘we all care about this specific thing.
LG: Do you think running the page or participating in internet music communities has changed your music taste?
MMITP: I honestly feel like it hasn’t, it’s just a reflection of my taste and has allowed me to find stuff that’s similar to my taste through other accounts that make memes that I like. Like another example is a meme account that just shows the best clips of the HÖR bathroom [editor’s note: @bathroomdjgreatesthits], just finding accounts like that which repost stuff that’s similar to what I’m into, that’s allowed me to discover new stuff for sure. I wouldn’t say that’s changed my taste, I think it’s just opened up more ways to find related music online. I would never trust the Spotify algorithm to expose me to something new, but if someone posts a meme about a Sheffield bass DJ that’s extremely specific, I’m like “okay, I have to be able to understand this joke and listen to this DJ so I can know what you’re talking about,” and that’s been my strategy for finding music always, just go down the furthest wormhole I can go down, and that’s usually where the best stuff is. I think that also just comes with being really online, but then you find cool stuff.
LG: Yeah, that’s also my experience, I think I listened to Two Shell for the first time because of the ‘two shell is just overmono for heads’ tweet.
MMITP: Yeah, I love Two Shell, Two Shell is great.
LG: What are some of your other favorite pages or publications?
MMITP: Another passion of mine, which I haven’t made any memes about yet, is reality TV. I love the Housewives, I love Bravo, I love Vanderpump Rules. I feel like people often make assumptions about people that really like reality TV or they don’t see depth in it, but I think it’s really fascinating reflection of our society’s relationship with media. An account I’m obsessed with right now is @kardashiankolloquiam, where she uses the Kardashians as a prism to talk about, like, the internet, and parasocial relationships, and Baudrillard, and which is so interesting.
LG: How do you collaborate or interact with some of the other electronic pages, do you think there’s something resembling a scene around it?
MMITP: I’m in a group chat on instagram called meme gang and it’s all of the electronic meme accounts, some of the non-electronic ones as well, we just talk about electronic music all day, every day. That’s a good way for me to stay engaged with the electronic music world, with what’s going on in any news. We all just crack jokes in there constantly, like @catsquith is in there, and @bedroomdjfantasies and @businesstechnoinstitute, all of those guys are in there. That’s just a fun group chat to just goof off. Most of the Instagram group chat people don’t live in the US, but I do have a real life meme account friends as well who live in New York, like Eva who runs @soulseekingarrangement, Anna who runs @this.and.a.blunt, and Jamie and Kaitlin who run @katebush.420, we have a text group chat and all hang out pretty regularly. We all DJ as well and we’re all kind of involved in that community. We talk all the time about gigs and shows we want to go to, and when we hang out it’s not like we just talk about our meme accounts, we’re just friends, and it’s sort of incredible that a meme account can lead to that, because we all have the same interests but we’re all so different too.
I’m consistently interested in ‘hyperlocal’ or ‘hyperniche’ accounts and how they might represent both a continuation of and a break with more traditional printed zines or blogs, different in some of the aesthetics of shitposting but similar both in the way their creators assemble publics and communities, and the ways they make subcultures legible. What are your favorite small internet accounts? (You can reply directly to this email!)
Until the next!