We speak to the indie auteur about his favourite online obsessions, from queer Tumblr memes to ‘specifically black’ Instagram comedy
Dazed Faves is the series where we talk all things online – that surreal meme account you’re obsessed with, weird conspiracy theory subreddits, ASMR YouTubes or slime Instagrams.
Shamir’s cathartic new record, Revelations, cements the soon-to-be 23-year-old musician’s metamorphosis from house pop wunderkind to guitar-wielding indie rock auteur. Its predecessor Hope was the result of a weekend-long recording binge during a dark period in which he considered quitting music entirely, and his latest is equally stripped down and deeply personal, focusing both on his own struggles and those of his generation at large.
“I feel like Hope and Revelations are like sister records, and I think they’re both a journey,” he says. “Hope is full of questions, and I think Revelations is full of answers.”
While the album is full of honest, occasionally bleak reflections on his recent personal and professional hardships, it’s thrilling to hear Shamir finally have the chance to channel influences like Courtney Love, Blake Babies, and Velocity Girl into this grunge-inspired project that feels like the young artist fully taking the reins on his career. The singles “90’s Kids” and “Straight Boy” each tackle weighty subjects while showcasing his sparkling knack for melodies and pristine tenor.
The latter is a critique of self-centered tendencies of straight males as well as a send-up of the commodification of allyship. The former is as vivid an account of millennial anxiety as we’ve heard lately; it’s fittingly both droll and dire which fits a generation all too accustomed to making World War III jokes on Twitter. “We talk with vocal fry / We watch our futures die,” he sings in the opening verse.
The “90’s Kids” video is a mesmerizing crash course in meme history with Shamir’s vocals and lips animated into everything from Salt Bae to a yelling Meryl Streep (which he says is his all-time favorite). “I knew what I wanted to do because I’m like, “What’s a universal way that ‘90s kids transfer their anxiety and problems and energy into the world?” he explains. “Memes.”
With memes on the mind, it makes sense for Shamir to take part in our Faves series, where we speak to artists about their online obsessions. A week before the release of Revelations we caught up with Shamir over brunch in Philadelphia, discussing the ineffable appeal of Trisha Paytas, queer comedy, and the Twitter hero who showed him where he could get a gluten-free Philly cheesesteak.
FAVE TUMBLR: MILES JAI
Shamir: Miles Jai grew up in North Las Vegas with me. I was roommates with his best friend. He’s also in my first video (for ‘If It Wasn’t True’). His posts are so funny. A lot of it is very queer and gay-specific too. Pretty much every time I open up my Tumblr app, instead of going through what’s already on my dash I type in ‘Miles Jai’ first, go through his Tumblr, and then go through my dash.
FAVE TWITTER: LANAKANE
Shamir: So she became my angel in life. I had been living out here (in Philadelphia) for maybe a year-and-a-half and got strict about not eating gluten, and I just really wanted a cheesesteak. I’m like, ‘It’s not fair, I live in Philadelphia, I can’t eat a cheesesteak.’ She gave me the info that Joe’s in Fishtown has gluten-free rolls. I was like, ‘Girl, you lying?’ And I went there and they had it and I was like, ‘You are an angel.’
So I think she lives in, like, Jersey and after I followed her on Twitter we were DMing. She’s definitely into comedy and is just so funny. She had this one great tweet where I was talking about people who still think gender and sex are the same thing, and how also those people like to bring in science – when obviously they don’t know about science, because they still think gender and sex is the same thing. And she’s like, ‘Everybody’s a scientist when it comes to gender, but nobody’s a scientist when it’s like 80 degrees in the middle of October.’ And I was like, that’s so fucking true! All of her other posts are so funny, I love her Twitter.
everybody's a scientist when it comes to gender but not when it's 85 degrees in the middle of October 🤔🤔🤔— oogie boogie (@Ianakane) October 7, 2017
FAVE VLOGGER: TRISHA PAYTAS
Shamir: I’m sorry – I get so emotional when I think about Trisha because like... (pauses) I don’t even know. I just love her. I want to be her best friend. I just see so much of myself in Trisha. She’s definitely like, problematic at times, but she’s definitely a problematic fave. I think that it’s kind of a character that she plays up, but (at the same time) definitely think it’s an extension of her. I just think that she lives in her own little world and it’s refreshing to see.
I don’t know if anyone can really describe – like, anyone who loves her – can really describe why they do. I just think it’s like, she kind of seems like someone that we all know who’s kind of problematic, but not intentionally. The 7-Eleven one is so good, with her pink trunk. I would literally watch her have a mukbang, eat a bunch of shit, for literally an hour. It feels like you’re having dinner with her. I don’t watch other mukbangs except for hers.
FAVE INSTAGRAM: LALASIZAHANDS89
Shamir: She’s just funny as fuck. She’s like, ratchet funny. She’s just great. Her voice is funny, the way she talks is funny – how she just will just openly pull off her wig in the middle of a conversation. Her voiceovers are funny. She’s just fucking funny. Generally I’m good at explaining (things), but when it comes to like Trisha and probably (Lala), that’s a little hard. Trisha, definitely, I just can’t explain – like I just love her – Lala is slightly different because I think that her sense of humor is just so tailor-made to me, the ratchetness of it. It’s kind of just black humor.
One specific post I can think of for LalaSizahands is the one where she’s so hungry and she sings this song behind a, like, New Edition instrumental, which is so specifically black – but it’s just humor that I normally really couldn’t send to my white friends ‘cause they’re like, ‘Who’s New Edition?’ You know, most white kids my age don’t know New Edition. Most black kids do because their parents listened to them – they’re like One Direction before One Direction, but black. I definitely send my LalaSizahands videos to my black friends and we laugh about it.
I think that’s why Lala specifically hits home for me. It’s definitely black humor. I think Miles (Jai)’s humor is a little more universal (than Lala’s) and definitely a little more queer and gay-based.
FAVE WEBSERIES: EIGHTY-SIXED
Shamir: So Eighty-Sixed is a show I found through my friend Owen (Thiele), who plays Owen in the show. And I just saw it on his Instagram and I’m always down to watch a good webseries. That’s how I found Isa Rae (with Awkward Black Girl). It’s so great to see her grow, and I definitely see the same potential with this show… Eighty-Sixed is really funny – I see a lot of myself and my friends with them, like how they communicate.
The birthday episode is the best one, where she goes live and says her name and then goes off live (when Remi’s ex joins) and she’s like, ‘Did you really just say (my) name right now and then go off live?’ We all have friends that are ridiculous like that. That one specifically kind of reminds me of my best friend – we’ve been best friends since eighth grade.
Father/Daughter Records release Shamir’s Revelations on November 3. Lead photo by Jason McDonald.