As BOCC, her collaboration with Conor Oberst, heads on tour, the songwriter tells us about her browsing habits
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.
Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst took the indie rock world by surprise last month when, without prior warning, they appeared on-stage together on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing under the name Better Oblivion Community Center. If this wasn’t enough, the very next day, Bridgers and Oberst dropped a full BOCC album into the world. The collaboration was, to a certain segment of alternative rock fans, a very big deal indeed. Oberst is a cult singer-songwriter icon thanks primarily for his work with Bright Eyes, whose long discography has provided many lyrics for teenagers to turn into their first tattoos. Bridgers, meanwhile, is one of this generation’s brightest new songwriters, building up a fiercely dedicated following in a few short years, both as a solo artist, and as one-third of the group boygenius alongside Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
Given the generational divide between the band’s two members (Oberst is 39, Bridgers 24), I was keen to speak to BOCC for Dazed’s Faves series, where artists give us an insight into their browsing habits on the worldwide web, to see where their approaches to the internet differed. In the end, though, only Bridgers participated in the interview – it turns out that the Instagram and Twitter era of the internet is not one that Oberst is a particularly big fan of. “He hates it, has hated it forever,” Bridgers laughs over the phone.
Still, the more we talk, the more I learn that Oberst is not totally averse to social media. He apparently has a private account that’s just photos of his dog, for one, and he’s also been using Twitter recently. “When we were doing the secret release stuff, he actually started tweeting from our account, which is insane,” Bridgers says. “He’s obsessed with the word ‘peng’, so his first ever tweet – on the record – was ‘no peng no gain’. He talked about it for two days after. He makes fun of me about my use of the internet, but straight up, he tweeted one thing and talked about it every single day.”
Following the vinyl release of Better Oblivion Community Centre’s debut album, and ahead of their debut tour, here’s Bridgers’ guide to online.
FAVE MEME ACCOUNT: @INZANE_JOHNNY
Phoebe Bridgers: This account (run by John Olson of noise band Wolf Eyes) is like, niche music tips. If you were to look at every single one of the memes that he posts – and he posts, like, a hundred a day – you’d probably understand this account more, but at least 80 per cent of the time I look at it, I have no fucking clue what it means. But the other times, I’ll be scrolling down and it hits you right in the fucking gut. I actually just sent one of these to Conor, where it’s Ralph Wiggum sitting on a park bench looking down at his foot, and it says ‘Bright Eyes’. It’s absurdist, niche shit.
I feel like it’s rounded out my view of that band (Wolf Eyes). That’s one of the reasons I love the internet. We all know bands who post only ads or ticket alerts, then there’s the medium tier of a little bit of personal life, and then there’s people whose internet (presence) is greater than the sum of its parts. I feel like it’s made me like Wolf Eyes more.
FAVE INSTAGRAMS: @AIDENARATA @SCARIEST_BUG_EVER
Phoebe Bridgers: Someone started sending me Aiden’s stuff, like, a year ago, and every single one is funny. Her and Scariest Bug is like, meme mental health humour. A lot of it is really, really long, and really, really specific. Scariest Bug had a good one, like “Sorry I just saw this even though my phone makes a noise and I sleep with it in my actual hand.” It’s so good. It’s popularising self-care – and not self-care as in ‘putting on a face mask’, but self-care as in ‘I had a really shitty day and this is the way that I help myself’, or ‘Isn’t it funny that I was looking at my phone for four hours? Maybe we all shouldn’t do that.’ It’s very humanising.
I am actually self-conscious (about my own Instagram). I kind of hate self-congratulatory posts. It’s hard not to do that with music, because you’re supposed to post a lot. I just try to find ways to make shit that I have to do more fun or absurd. Twitter is an extension of every dumb thought I have, firing it off – Instagram is a little more methodical.
Do I have a finsta? Yes. All my friends have a fucking absurd finsta. Mine’s kind of similar. It’s like, nudes that are kind of gross, like I tried on a really, really tight pair of pants in these really unflattering photos. Or, like, I post really bad fan art, or people hashtag a million things and spell my name wrong, or really gross, absurd YouTube comments. This is dark, but I don’t talk to my dad, and I get texts from him like, “Saw you on TV, wish you didn’t hate me!” I post those, and it’s sort of funny, but I also get emotional support from my friends every time I put one up. You don’t have to send it to a specific friend and be like, “Deal with me, I’m in a fragile place.” Other than that though, it’s just funny shit and unflattering photos.
FAVE TWITTER: @LIAMGALLAGHER
FUCK OASIS— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) May 24, 2016
Phoebe Bridgers: My favourite Liam Gallagher tweet of all time is “FUCK OASIS”. Also, he’s really good when he talks about Ed Sheeran, like, “God, he’s so fucking nice, but wow that music is horrible.” He’s like ‘LG x...’ on every single tweet – that’s fucking awesome. It’s like when Ariana Grande talks about herself in third person. I love King Princess’s internet presence too. People like it when people stick to their guns on their posting style.
I’m not really (an Oasis fan), it hasn’t really clicked for me. But it clicks for a lot of people who I really respect, so I feel like, who cares if I like Oasis?
FAVE VLOGGER: JOSHUA KIRKE
Phoebe Bridgers: Joshua Kirk, the YouTube kid with the glasses who looks directly into the camera – I really love his album reviews. He’s been doing it for years. He really cares so much every time, it doesn’t really seem like it’s a chore for him to care that much about every album. I’m just waiting for the day that he reviews something I’ve done. I should put him in my press emails.
I found him either through Conor, or someone else whose album he reviewed, and then I watched like a million of them at once. I like his one with the guacamole recipe, where he's just talking about how to make guacamole in the middle of all these albums reviews.
He’s not afraid to say shit. I feel like Pitchfork has a style, and you always know what they’re gonna say and what they’re gonna pick apart. It seems like Joshua, because he’s so politically removed, might be the only unbiased reviewer out there.
I think he’s a great host, I’m wrapped up in it the whole time. He makes you care. He gives you a debrief on all the session musicians, and what they’ve done before. He makes you understand why he thinks (the way he thinks about an album). And it’s just for him, I don’t think a tonne of his videos are even monetised.
Better Oblivion Community Center’s North American and European tour begins at The Rialto, Tucson on March 8