We sat down with the emo rapper to talk about Salad Fingers, vegetable Twitter and Runescape
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.
Lil Peep is divisive. He knows this better than anyone, and not long after we start speaking, he asks how my friends feel about him. When I reassure him that they’re fans, he says, “it’s either love or hate with me. People really can hate me.” And how could he not be divisive? The 20-year-old got very famous very quickly from rapping emotional lyrics over the top of beats and samples from 00s emo songs. His songs deal with drug use, anxiety, suicide, and girls. Even if you don’t get that far, his look is pretty controversial; he’s covered head-to-toe in tattoos, including “DADDY” across his chest and an anarchy symbol on his cheek. His hair, which has been pink in the recent past, is now shaved and bleached blonde. His clothes are bright and occasionally hideous. And he is being touted as the face of emo revival. All of these things serve to make Lil Peep absolutely repellent to anyone over the age of 20 – unless, like me, they are the exact kind of person who would have had Lil Peep set as their profile song if he weren’t a child in 2007.
Recently, Lil Peep dropped the first half of his album Come Over When You’re Sober on Spotify for free “for the culture”. Gone are the samples, but it is regardless very much 00s emo reimagined for 2017 – and it works. It works so well that Peep not only has legions of fans and detractors, but imitators. Since he got popular, there are hundreds of up-and-coming SoundCloud artists with dyed hair, tattoos, and a penchant for xanax. He is very aware of that. “There’s a lot of people who are trying to do what I’m doing,” he says, “but they don’t want to stay up to date. They’re sneaky.” That sincerity and self-awareness is pretty key to Peep’s success. He’s not embarrassed about any aspect of who he is; he cites Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte as influences, and says proudly that on the new album, “a lot of the stuff is emo”. He’s aware of the hate he gets for not being “proper emo”, but says that the genre needs to evolve: “We can’t keep hearing those same chords over and over again.” He isn’t ashamed that his fanbase is so young, either; when I mention that I felt old at his show in April, he says that it’s the 16-year-olds who are responsible for his shows selling out, and that he’s just “stoked to see how much people really care about this shit.”
No matter how up in arms middle-aged purists get about Lil Peep, he is undeniably at the forefront of emo in 2017. And it’s all thanks to two of the most powerful forces on earth: the internet, and teen girls. As part of collective GothBoiClique, Peep released music via SoundCloud and YouTube and soon found himself a massive following, racking up millions of plays. His social media accounts, like his music, are visceral and honest; his sell is that he is relatable and fucked up and anxious and really, really loves drugs. His fans adore him precisely because of who he is online. He might be inspired by 00s emo, but his online-first presence means he’s also very firmly a product of today. It makes perfect sense that Lil Peep is the way he is – emo came into its own at the same time as the internet, and they informed one another. Emo couldn’t have happened the way that it did without Myspace and forums and YouTube. I sat with Lil Peep and got him to show me his favourite things on the internet; many of which are from the 2000s, a time he calls “the best years”. The years when “random” was still an acceptable thing to say, when eBaum's World was king, when being online was still exciting, when YouTube was less refined and marketable. When the internet was a fucking mess, and it was a lot of fun to dig through.
“There was one meme video they did of Nicki Minaj recently and she was like, saying some shit and talking shit and whipped her hair back and walked away and they just did so much to the video it was insane. They had her spinning all over the world, she was a tornado fucking up shit, I don’t know. Oh my gosh. The amount of effort people put into that shit. They do it in minutes. They do it to me in minutes. They do it to other people in seconds. It’s insane, they’re on top of it.
Sometimes I’ll make a meme just for my friends, not for the internet, and when I do it comes literally right when I see the picture, you know? So now I’m really thinking like, how can I make some memes? But it just kind of comes right away so that’s why they do it so fast, right? You see it and you know.
My favourite meme – actually my friend in GBC made it, his name is Cold Hart. He made this meme, it got a lot of retweets, like 50,000 or some crazy shit like that. It’s like, ‘when you’re taking too long in the bathroom and she starts knocking’ or something and he’s just techdecking in the sink. I thought that was hilarious. It was funny when it blew up like every other meme.”
“Something people wouldn’t expect me to do is I play this computer game called Runescape. I’ve played Runescape since forever. Since I was like, six. It is still one of my favourite games ever. Even though it’s gotten progressively a lot worse, just like everything else has over time, right? I mean videogame-wise. Certain stuff used to be really hard to get and really rare or whatever and they just made a ton of everything so all the value of everything decreased. Now it’s like way easier to get way further quicker. Normally it took you like a year or at least a few months to be really good and now you can do it in a week. I like RPGs. Runescape you could do the same thing as Club Penguin except you could kill dragons and stuff like that. I’ve made real money off Runescape, too. It’s crazy. People will really buy a fake hat that doesn’t exist in real life.
The first time I got on Runescape in like, a few years, was like probably a year ago now. It’s just because I was on a bunch of ketamine and I was like, ‘okay, what should I do right now?’ And I was like, ‘I remember that game Runescape. That’s probably going to be weird. Everything is going to be weird as shit. Let’s do it’. So yeah. Runescape on ketamine. It was harder. Ketamine will make everything more difficult in life besides doing nothing at all.”
Slap My Big Vegetable Ass— Veggietales Facts (@Veggiefact) January 4, 2016
“It’s called like Veggie Tale facts or vegetable facts or like fun veggie facts. Look up Veggie Facts on Twitter. Veggie tales facts. This one. The first one. ‘Slap my big vegetable ass’. This shit just makes me fucking crack up. ‘Who stole my fucking hands?’ ‘Oh god it’s growing inside of me!’ I think whoever runs this is a genius. This is my favourite parody Twitter right here. By far. It’s perfect. ‘I pee in the sink!’ It actually makes me laugh. I’m not forcing it.
‘As I lay here dying!’ ‘Siri it burns when I pee’ holy fuck. I like slap my big vegetable ass. That’s the best. When me and my friends found that we were laughing for an hour. Sometimes you get like, we call it slap happy in the States. Do you have that? When you’re with your friend and you can’t stop laughing at everything. Someone walks in and you’re already laughing, you know what I mean? At them. That’s slap happy!”
FAVE CAT VIDEO
“How about the weird shit that everybody else watches on the internet? Cat videos and shit. I could watch cats doing dumb shit all day. There’s this one video from the early 2000s called just Funny Cats. It’s on YouTube. I’ve been watching that video for like, years, and I don’t know why. I have it all memorised. When you were in high school and you were bored and had access to a computer and you just wanted to watch some cats do stupid shit, that’s what I used to do. Let’s find that video.
There’s a lot of cat videos. Cats are just hilarious. That’s it! That’s it! Oh my god. 57 million views. Ten years ago. This is the one, I’ve seen this a thousand times. He comes out of the couch, look. What’s that? It’s a cat. He’s doing that. I don’t know what the fuck he’s doing. This one’s scared of the water. Oh my god. This dude climbs in the plants. Boink! Yeah. Yep. Ouchy ow ow ow. I know all this shit. Shwoop! Why have I seen this so many times? I didn’t know it had been this many times. I’ve seen it all like a thousand times. This is the original cat video.
People always say that like, you’re a dog person or a cat person. I just love animals. I’m not a dog person or a cat person.”
“What about those cartoons? Salad Fingers? I could watch those for like a really, really long time. I could watch it forever. I was really young when they came out, in the 2000s. It’s crazy to me how those were the best years. It feels like we’re still in it.
My favourite Salad Fingers is the one where – this is so weird – well, he loves spoons, right? He loves his rusty spoons. There’s one where he starts rubbing some shit against his nipple to make the milk come out. He’s like, ‘rubbin that against me nipple make the milks drop out’. I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, but yeah, I watched that a lot of times. I have no idea why.
The dude who illustrates it just worked on a music video for Flying Lotus, that was really cool. I really liked that video.”
SHOES AND MUFFINS
“Do you know the dude who did the Shoes video and the Muffins? Shoes and Muffins, those are classics. Those are the best. So he’d pull up like a muffin and it’d have glass in there or something like that. ‘Glass muffin!’ yeah. It was so ahead of its time.”