‘How to Make Friends on Instagram’ with Ali Koehler from Upset
Brodie and Ali get together on IM to talks boys and bands.
I'd probably have five friends, max, if it weren't for the Internet. Considering how easy it is to curate your actual (probably terrible) personality into something likeable and appealing using social media, it's pretty effortless to create an online version of yourself that people are going to like. Something I've been doing since I first learned that typing “(R)” would create a rainbow emoji in MSN Messenger in my early teens.
As I've got older and become more of an okay human, that vaguely likeable online version of myself has become indistinguishable from actual me, and I've amassed a collection of proper buddies with whom my first interactions were over a computer screen.
Ali Koehler is one of those pals. As the former drummer for Vivian Girls and Best Coast, Ali was always someone I saw/fawned over from my spot in the audience when her bands toured Australia, until recently when I managed to appear on her radar with the aid of a few sassy tweets and dumb Instagram comments. She's returning to the country in June with her new band Upset, a pop-punk trio comprised of Ali, Patty Schemel (Hole) and Jen Price (La Sera) during which time we're gonna take our friendship from URL to IRL.
While she was at home in LA we jumped on IM to talk about meeting friends, boyfriends and band mates online and being a fan.
Noisey: I'm obsessed with talking about people's internet friends because I pretty much spent the ages of 13-18 on MySpace. My first flight was to visit my MySpace BFF.
Alexandria Koehler: Dude I can't believe your parents let you go fly and meet a MySpace BFF! I actually met my boyfriend via MySpace. I had this thing called spyspace that told you who was looking at your profile and he had looked at mine a few times and it turned out we had a lot of mutual friends so I messaged him something dumb like, "Hey we should be friends." And now we've been together for 6 years.
What kind of LJ communities were you into?
Oh man, I liked to seek validation in those awful communities that vote you in or out based on whether or not they thought you were pretty. I can't remember the names but I remember getting a weird thrill out of being judged.
I had a friend who did that! I'd go to her house on weekends and we'd just sit on the computer and see if people thought she was hot. It felt very fulfilling at the time.
I was LiveJournal friends with that girl Jac Vanek and now she's like a popular clothing designer. Bethany from Best Coast was livejournal friends with Cassie [Ramone, from Vivian Girls]. That's how they knew each other. LiveJournal was life.
Did you and Patty meet online too?
We did! I realized she followed me on twitter so I DM’ed her and said something like, "Hey! Let's be friends and lemme babysit for you." We exchanged numbers and that's that! I like to just ask people to be my friend, apparently. I approach friendship the way I approach dating: being totally honest. Just being like, "Hey, I like you, you seem cool, let's be friends." If they don't answer then fuck it, and if they do then I have a new friend. Lena Dunham and I became Internet friends via Twitter too. We still haven't met in person, but I email her music I think she'll like and text her funny stories I think she'd appreciate. I did the same thing with Aidy Bryant recently too. I just wanna be friends with all the cool ladies.
I love that! Lena follows me on Instagram and every time she likes one of my photos I feel so excited and nervous. That is such good advice for life in general: be nice and don't be weird and friendship will happen.
Life's too short. We have all this rad technology and we should use it! Why shouldn't I ask Aidy Bryant to be my friend? Fuck it. If she's cool she'll be like “yay friends” and if she's lame she won't answer. It's very easy to weed out duds.
People can sense a disingenuous person a mile away whether they're ~celebs~ or not. I remember fanning out so hard when I saw you liked a piece I wrote and I was like, “NOW'S MY CHANCE TO MAKE HER MY FRIEND!” I'd seen you play with Best Coast a few years ago and thought we should be mates because we had the same ASOS Curve dress.
And that's why the Internet rules, because you find friends all over the world! Now we'll get to hang out and have fun in Australia! Dude ASOS Curve unites girls in a real way. Someone recently saw us in Dallas and was like, "I have that skirt from ASOS Curve." It was just a generic black velvet skirt.
Do I remember correctly that you were a monologist at Asssscat once?
Yes. It was a dream come true. And terrifying.
What did you talk about?
I talked a lot about my friend Bruce. Once I pitched a Wii remote into his brand new flat screen TV and I talked about that and this insane voicemail he left me that I put on YouTube. If you look for “Ali it's Bruce” you'll find it. I love UCB. I started going in college. I’d take the train into NYC, get drunk on the train and go to UCB.
Cool! Something I wanted to talk to you about is that thing where you know stuff about someone's life from the Internet and then you bring it up IRL. I hate when people act like you're weird for seeing something THEY posted and talking to them about it when you see them.
Haha yeah that doesn't make sense. But sometimes I do pretend I don't know something I totally know so I don't seem weird. Even though I've never thought someone was weird for knowing something.
I once made a mix CD for this guy I had a crush on, and it had all these songs by bands I'd seen that he liked on Facebook.
But we'd never spoken about music and he hadn't even accepted my friend request. It was like a lowlight for me, crush-wise and life-wise.
Haha I love that.
Do you have other Internet pals in Australia that you're gonna hang out with when you're here or am I special?
Hmm, not that I can think of. There are people I know from touring there, but no new Internet friends except you. You know that band Love of Diagrams?
They toured with Allison Wolfe's band Partyline back in like 2005 and they played a basement show in New Brunswick and Katy from Vivian Girls and I opened for them with our old band. Then Vivian girls played Australia and they opened for us and we were like, "Hey we were in that band that played with you in New Jersey," and it was a really cool moment.
Go make friends with Ali and Upset as Noisey presents their tour with White Lung in June
June 5 in Sydney at the Factory Theatre
June 6 in Brisbane at the Alhambra Lounge
June 7 in Melbourne at the Tote
June 9 in Melbourne at Howler
June 11 in Christchurch at Churchills
June 12 in Wellington at Bodega
June 13 in Auckland at Kings Arms Tavern