If you read Mixmag or follow Humans Of The Sesh then chances are you’re partial to a good ol’ party.
Was I right? Knew it. And although I’m not a mathematician I can logically assume you’ve revelled in the hedonistic highs and unspeakable lows of the afterparty phenomenon more than you’d care to admit. Because by default, whether you’re a passive patron or a rampant raver you’ve probably been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Then proceeded to wear said T-shirt while chatting about socialism at 8am in a dog’s bed on a cold kitchen floor as you fumble through the dwindling remnants of a tobacco pouch.
This afterparty utopia/dystopia that mystically occurs after a night you definitely promised yourself was “not going to be a heavy one” has been propelled to the forefront of our feeds by the lads behind Humans Of The Sesh. Not to be confused with the heart-warming, affirmation-filled tales of human resilience shared by the likes of Humans Of New York, Humans Of The Sesh is the parody account sharing stories of booze and benders, gurns and gak, and more gurns, a bit more gak and just a smidgen of Amber Leaf for good measure.
The page was started back in August 2015 in Ireland by two friends who, for the sake of this article, go by Grand Feen and Brown Sauce. Over the past two years, their page has grown to dizzying new heights, with over 500,000 likes on Facebook alone. They started Sesh FM, a weekly mix podcast over on Soundcloud a while back, and have since gone on to play out at festivals and club nights thanks to the roaring success of The Sesh. That's as well as growing their presence on Twitter and Instagram alike with their uncomfortably relatable crop of meme-lead, drug-fuelled, and at times culturally critical content.
I talked to the pair about politics, the beauty of satire, and just how Humans Of The Sesh has become a leading social commentary for a whole new generation – cans at the ready.
Can you explain a little bit about who you guys are? How the page started?
Grand Feen: We’re two lads from Cork who go by the pseudonyms Grand Feen and Brown Sauce. We run a huge social media page, and we’ve been friends since we were about 15 – we’re 22/23 now – so our humour would be pretty similar. It started one night a couple of years ago, drinking cans and smoking hash in one of the lads' disgusting summer houses – think a crack house but replace crack with craic. One of the lads started reading out Humans Of Amsterdam posts and we jokingly said “What about Humans Of The Sesh? That’d be so funny” so we made it then but didn’t post anything for a couple of months mainly because we forgot about it. We then started posting a couple of stupid pisstake stories of Humans Of New York post using photos of our friends and they’re still on there, sorry lads. Then eventually we started to grow. We just kept going at it because I liked seeing the numbers go up, 100 likes, 500 likes etc. it was hilarious to think that so many people were reading our absolute shite talk.
Brown Sauce: The sesh came before all of this though. A lot of people probably don’t know we’re Irish, and that the sesh has been a thing here for a while. Like, my father went on the sesh, his father probably went on the sesh. So as far as I know, that’s been a new thing in England, it’s kind of come round since we started getting some traction, and our name going. But the page just happened to grow exponentially and I’m completely unqualified to do any of this, I’m so dyslexic, I don’t know the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’. I was kicked out of every single English class I’ve ever been in. So, I’m so unqualified to do this, but we just do it for the craic.
Did you expect it to grow as big as it did?
Grand Feen: Not at all. It was always just something that we did for a laugh, we never really thought that anyone outside of our friend group or maybe even the place we’re from would like it or see it. I saw an old post recently where we were celebrating 500 likes, it’s funny looking back now with half a million. A lot of the growth was very sudden due to our viral posts; I remember jumping from 1k to 5k in a day, then another post pushing us from 5k to 20k in a day. I thought having that many people liking our content was crazy. I still think it’s crazy to this day. When we had 20k fans Brown Sauce would send me photos of 20k capacity football stadiums saying: “You could fill this with everyone who likes our page”. Now we have almost double the population of Iceland.
I think the point where I fully realized how big it had become was in February when we did a lecture thing in the university in our city. We basically had a PowerPoint presentation, talked an almighty amount of shite on stage and drank cans in the same spot many PHD-holding lecturers spoke on a daily basis. The mad part was how many people came, the 300 person lecture hall was packed with people sitting on the ground. Walking into that room to cheers with a can in my hand and a balaclava on my face was fuckin’ mad. Noam Chomsky had given a lecture in the same place a few months earlier and had drawn less of a crowd than us. My biggest boast will always be that we’re 'bigger than Noam Chomsky'. Obviously joking but it’s still funny.
In terms of the page’s humour, would you say it’s more your own senses of humour, or has it come as part of this new, weird “meme culture” phenomenon?
Grand Feen: That’s a tough one actually. It’s obviously influenced by the change in memes but it’s definitely our own humour.
Would you class it as Irish humour?
Grand Feen: It’s just very dry humour. It’s satire.
Brown Sauce: If we’re ever influenced by something, it’s kind of just when something is circulating, it’s us translating it into how we would say it ourselves or between the lads.
What do you think of the generalization of the term “sesh” in internet and wider culture? By that I mean, perhaps people coining the term to refer to parties or nights that you may not consider to be a sesh.
Brown Sauce: I think the thing is, we’re kind of like South Park, or any satire in a sense. I listened to this thing recently, I suppose the English would know more about it but it’s called ‘Loadsamoney’, and he was kind of a satirical thing from the Thatcher era. But the reason he was popular – the same as Stephen Colbert – was that he was said to be a left-wing or right-wing thing. But the thing is the left-wing almost saw it as, “Haha, this is so subversive, this is characterizing this really negative thing in our culture”, and the right-wing would see it as the exact opposite of that, but they would all get enjoyment out of it. For us it’s like, when we’re writing a post or a story about someone getting really fucked up, we’re really aware that only some people will be able to read into the lower levels, like the sub-text and the weird shit, and then the rest will just be like, “James man, tag so-and-so in this about last weekend".
That’s an interesting reference actually. And as you mentioned left-wing and right-wing stances, would you guys say you are more political now compared to when you started?
Brown Sauce: No, we were probably more political when we started. And that doesn’t mean we’ve become less political, but we’ll say something if we feel shit needs to be said. Or if something is genuinely on our minds we’ll say it. We did a post the other day that was kind of political and just got loads of people like, “The page used to be so much better, it used to be like this” but honestly, we’ve always been like that.
You guys did seem to grow a lot during the election campaigns both here and in the US.
Grand Feen: It’s easy to make memes when there is that much content flying around. Like Corbyn at Glastonbury with the “big bags of cans” flag in the crowd. We did joke that his representatives might have told him, “You have to see this, people are talking about you”. We never set out to be political though that’s the thing, we just wanted to talk about things we actually care about and want to talk about. It doesn’t have to be political but sometimes it just is.
Brown Sauce: We’re one rare place where we can break the echo chamber. I get loads of certain types of news on my feeds and my page because I like certain types of news. Much like at a sesh when you just bump into some fiend and you start talking about communism for four hours. I kind of like to think we have that approach where we’re here, we’re talking about it, and it’s opening an avenue for discussion.
We kind of realized that we are in this position where people will be a bit shocked when they read something that we write because they haven’t been taking in their news from the papers and stuff. They’ve just gone on to see some people on the sesh and have come across something really political. We’re never looking to change anyone’s mind, it’s more so just to open up the possibility or the dialogue that might take place.
So do you guys make a conscious effort to be “woke” to your audience or is it a natural reaction to what’s happening in current affairs?
Grand Feen: I would never make like a conscious effort to be ‘woke’. I think it’s just being nice and respectful people. Like if I write a post about how being trans is fine or something along those lines it’s not me trying to put myself out there as this amazing socially conscious person – it’s just us sort of being sound. There’s a bit of a responsibility on us because of the size of the page.
Brown Sauce: I think we definitely have at least the smallest bit of influence over some people’s way of thinking. So if people are paying attention to us and listening to what we’re talking about I want it to be a good message. Be it about respecting trans people, being safe with drug use or picking up your cans after you’ve drank them in a field. It would be incredibly easy for us to just post ‘LAD BANTER’ type content, talking shit about women, being disrespectful to people, seventeen crying laughing emoji’s at the end of every sentence. You know the type of content I’m talking about.
Do you think it’s important for your fans, or just club-goers, nightlife patrons, in general to be politically and socially active?
Grand Feen: I don’t think it’s really important for them to be active, like you know talking about it all the time and that, but it’s definitely important to have an awareness about what’s going on in the world. People should know the struggles other people in the world or their surrounding areas are going through. The worst thing is people who are wilfully ignorant. They just don’t want to hear about what’s going on around them and are happy to stay in their bubble. No one is asking you to change the world, but at least know what’s going on.
People have always been going out and doing all of these crazy things, but why do you think the page has resonated so much with the younger generations? It’s almost like you guys built a community.
Brown Sauce: A lot could be said for that. Thinking about it like that, it’s almost like asking “When did rave culture become sesh culture?”. People are always going to socialise, people are always going to party, it’s escapism isn’t it. It’s really more of a question of when does the sesh grow and get too big for its boots. When people get sick of the terminology or the next generation below us come up and start taking it from us and calling it stupid or whatever. We won’t have any control over that, but as far as it goes now, it’s just about us having a fucking craic and that is what 'The Sesh' is all about.
Humans of The Sesh are bringing the party to London on September 8, find out more details here.
Jasmine Kent-Smith is Mixmag's Digital Intern. Follow her on Twitter