Published Jun 22, 2020Indie darling Phoebe Bridgers may have gained a whole new swath of followers in the days following the release of her acclaimed sophomore record, Punisher — but none of them can come close to the stan status of one particularly enthusiastic Men's Health Magazine staffer.
Appearing in multiple Bridgers-run livestreams over the course of the coronavirus lockdown, an anonymous social media rep at Men's Health spent the better part of April chiming in on the comments section of her online performances, offering quips about her deep cuts and sending encouraging messages on a number of occasions.
This activity continued through to a number of different artists' streams, with the social media rep at one point even diving into a John Mayer live performance to ask him what his favourite Bridgers tune was.
my favorite part of phoebe bridgers' insta concert for pitchfork was that men's health magazine randomly showed up and was hyping her up???? pic.twitter.com/R8Q0ZK36V0— andrea? (@wonderhalI) April 10, 2020
The anonymous staffer popped up several times during the peak period of quarantine-streams before Bridgers's label, Dead Oceans, took notice. The label ran with the gag, which had since gone viral on Twitter.
"Okay Men's Health Mag, I keep running into you in chats this week. You doing alright over there?" a Dead Oceans representative asked in a tweet.
To which the magazine's Twitter account responded: "Emotional health is so important. Thanks for giving people an outlet to express themselves and really feel something."
Unravelling the mystery of it all, the anonymous staffer spoke with BuzzFeed's Delia Cai for today's edition of her newsletter, Deez Links, in which they spoke at length about the hilarious contrast between their indie-stan status and a career working socials for Men's Health.
Read an excerpt from their chat below, where the staffer also revealed their love for Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy and Kevin Drew:
The beginning of quarantine was an extremely isolating, overwhelming period and I found a lot of solace in these intimate livestream performances. The commenting component of those streams can turn off certain people, but I found that there was this tremendous solidarity and positive energy of people shouting out their favorite songs, sending hearts, etc. Logging into those performances as @menshealthmag was definitely a way to entertain myself.
There were definitely people in those initial shows that were skeptical of my presence, and I didn't want to distract from the performance by being goofy or silly. But I think once I was able to prove that it was coming from a sincere place — I'm legitimately a fan of the artists whose shows I was watching — people started to actually request that @menshealthmag attend shows or tweet that they were concerned when I didn't pop up in the comments. What started as an inside joke for myself evolved into a coping mechanism for the perpetual dread and confusion I was feeling — and I imagine a lot of other people were feeling, too — in those early weeks of quarantine.
The fandom has always come from a sincere and honest place. There was no "strategy" or "objective" other than I wanted to watch these artists play music, and why not watch on @menshealthmag rather than my personal?
That being said, I'm intimately aware of the tropes associated with a brand like Men's Health. So it was fun to play with those perceptions. Wait, @menshealthmag's favorite Waxahatchee record is Ivy Tripp? @menshealthmag rides for Kevin Drew? "Scorpio Rising" is @menshealthmag's favorite Soccer Mommy song?
All the artists involved in this are progressive, they challenge gender norms, they challenge patriarchy, they challenge heternormativity, they're antiracist, they have welcoming communities for their fans. They're also mostly vulnerable and in-tune with the importance of mental health. Men desperately need outlets to express themselves, to get more in touch with their feelings, and music is such a powerful vehicle for that component of emotional health.