So far in 2019, Lil Nas X has shattered the record for #1 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, The BoyBoy West Coast has been signed to a major label, and Chris Brown has shouted out @young_bm55 on his Instagram. It’s been said that memes are now inseparable from music in the modern age, and 17-year-old high school student Brandon E. Gleneicki is a testament to that.
If you don’t recognize his full name, you might recognize him by his Instagram handle, @beglivesforthebeats, a popular music-themed meme account that has garnered over 22k followers who love a good laugh as much as they do a good tune, however esoteric and bizarre.
People like Brandon are at the forefront of a new music scene in the digital age, where fans of all different genres, eras and styles of music are joined together by finding humor in inexplicably hilarious memes.
I sat down to ask Brandon about music, memes and the way they relate to his life.
“It wasn’t a meme page at first, it was just a personal page that I just shitposted on a ton,” says Brandon. “It was a natural progression, although there have been a couple moments where I’ve gained a ton of followers off of one post. I remember at the very end of freshman year, so, June 2017, I posted this meme that my friend made, and I got, like, 25,000 likes off of it. I was like, ‘What the fuck, goddamn.’”
Brandon reveals that the trials of running a meme page is similar to the stories we hear of other famous creatives; it’s a life that involves plenty of balance, focus, and most importantly, staying humble.
“I’ve put four years into [the page], it’s my baby,” said Brandon. “People used to give me shit for it, and now people are like, ‘Oh my God, this is such a cool thing, Brandon!’ … I kind of hate telling people that I meet about it. It’s nice, being well-known on the Internet, but in the real world, it’s not how I want to present myself.”
However, Brandon’s page doesn’t thrive off of the memes alone – it’s his loveable persona that carries the page as well.
“In May 2018 I posted a glow-up picture, and that’s what kind of cemented me as an e-boy,” said Brandon. “I started getting a lot of e-girl followers, and that was how I met my ex.”
Brandon’s female following is notable, and has reaped mixed results for Brandon. “Relationship-wise, [the page] has kinda helped me meet e-girls, which is kind of epic, but also kind of bad.” Brandon laughed at the affair. “It’s stupid to call my page a place to meet girls, but whatever. That’s just how it happens.”
Though the page has led Brandon to meet new people with platonic interests as well.
“I’ve made a ton of new friends from my account. One of my best friends, she knew about me from my account, because she saw some of my posts in her explore, and she was like, ‘Yo, this dude goes to my school! I recognize him!’” Brandon’s humility is especially on display in moments like those. “We had a few classes together this year, and she was like, ‘Hey, I didn’t want to tell you, but I knew about your meme page [before we met]’ and I was like ‘Oh fuck, oh God!’’ Brandon let out another laugh.
Brandon’s family has had mixed reactions to the page as well.
“My parents don’t really give a shit now, but they used to comment on my posts like, ‘What the fuck Brandon?’” he laughs. “My little brother has liked some of my posts before, too. And I got my little brother into Bladee through [the page], which is kind of cool and completely unexpected.”
It was only a matter of time before Brandon got to Bladee, an obscure Swedish SoundCloud artist who has become an integral part of his account. Part of the appeal of Brandon’s page is that it isn’t, like many music meme pages, a rehash of tired jokes about musicians we’ve heard time and time again. (You’d be hard pressed to find any Smash Mouth jokes, which is certainly a breath of fresh air.)
“I don’t really like the music community, because an album comes out, like, say, [Car Seat Headrest’s] Twin Fantasy, and people just circlejerk it,” he says. “Like, on RateYourMusic, the new Weyes Blood is number one of the year, and, I get why people like it, but it’s not that good. It’s, like, a six and a half [out of 10].”
Brandon’s unique passion for music has been more of a driving factor in the management of his page than promoting whatever will get the most likes, which is an honorable angle for a meme page to take, especially in the era of content theft, cross-promotions and general spam.
“Like, 95 percent of my posts are what I think is funny,” said Brandon. “I’ll post things in a certain order to hopefully maximize the amount of likes I get, because I’m an attention whore, but usually I just post what I think is funny.”
Going against the grain is admirable, especially when your page is as potentially lucrative as Brandon’s.
“People message me, asking, ‘Hey, do you want to work on something together?’ I guess I could make money off of it, but I don’t want to be a sellout.” Brandon isn’t a fan of sponsored posts, either. “I could never do that, I could never cave into that. As much as I want more money.”
One of the memes Brandon helped to blow up is American Football “Never Meant,” a midwest emo classic that has found new life as a fitting background song for literally any video in existence (you can see the band comment on the phenomenon here).
“I remember some of my followers telling me, “grandmas.buttwhole posted a Never Meant meme!’ A bunch of people were like, ‘Oh, @beglivesforthebeats created that [meme],’ and I was like, ‘Woah, okay, no I didn’t, it was around before I was there,’’ said Brandon. “As I’ve posted it more, people have definitely tied it to my page. It’s kind of become tethered to who I am on Instagram. Never Meant and Bladee are kind of like, not cash cows, but something equivalent to that.”
Brandon’s fame has shaped his connections to friends, family and significant others, but of course we can’t forget about the one-off interactions with his fans and haters.
“I’ve been recognized, like, three or four times,” said Brandon. “Like, one of my followers works at the Urban Outfitters in Irvine.”
His online interactions tend to be stranger. “I’ve had so many weird encounters where people just send me the buffcorrell Never Meant cover. I’ve had that happen so many times, I don’t even care. Like, why are you sending me this? I know this exists. I’ve known it exists. For forever.”
Though some interactions are more negative. “Some dude literally harassed me for liking Bladee, and I was like ‘What are you gaining from this?’ and he was like ‘I’m lonely and depressed.’”
And of course, the music meme community’s resident e-boy has has interactions of the more PG-13 kind as well. “The first time I ever got nudes was through a weird encounter. This girl just sent me her tits and I was like, ‘I didn’t ask for these, nor did I want them, but okay, cool, I guess.’”
Ever true to his DIY style, Brandon took the time to promote some of his favorite musicians.
“I guess, right now [my favorite musicians are] Bladee, James Ferraro, Black Kray, Reptilian Club Boys. Gorillaz has always been there. Of Montreal. Arca. BROCKHAMPTON has always kind of been there too since I found out about them. More recently, BMB Deathrow, that kind scene, SpaceGhostPurrp’s scene, that’s kind of been my tastes of recent. Sufjan [Stevens] has always kind of played a role in my tastes too.”
A varied crop of favorites. But what about his favorite meme pages?
And, of course, what are Brandon’s favorite memes of all time?
“Bone hurting juice. I love that shit so much. I miss it so much. The X memes from the beginning of the year, the ¿Quieres? memes,” says Brandon, exploding into laughter. “I love @mindofjson4 so much. Obviously, Never Meant and Bladee memes. Ironic shit that isn’t supposed to be funny but is, like YouTube atheists or whatever. “Big Iron” by Marty Robbins, but it’s ‘Gonna Cry? Gonna Piss Your Pants Maybe?’ Genius lyric edits, those are some of my favorites. Impact text memes but modernized are pretty fucking great, not gonna lie.”
Finally, Brandon alludes to his aspirations beyond running a successful meme page.
“There will be music coming out,” he shares. “I’ve always wanted to make music, but not to the point where I’m satisfied with it. But one day it’ll be there.”
Merch is also on the table. “There’s going to be shirts eventually coming, I’m just a lazy fuck, but when I get fabric pens and shit, it’s gonna be over for the game. I’mma kill these motherfuckers,” he jokes, laughing once more.
At age 17, Brandon Gleneicki is already an Internet star. Who’s to say what he’ll grow into next? You can be the first to know by following his meme page, @beglivesforthebeats, and his personal page, @drainandgloss on Instagram.