Throughout its four year existence, Vine kickstarted the careers of many comedians and artists like Victor Pope Jr., Jus Reign, and Jay Versace. But it was much harder to find an account that did a lot of things, really well: Irham curated clips from other sources, and made his own edits with a unique style and wry sense of humor that pushed against traditional notions of internet comedy as loud and hyperactive.
Since creating his account in 2013, Irham amassed over 217,000 followers and 583 million loops on 173 posts — a view-to-Vine ratio that’s even more impressive when you consider how rarely he posted or revined content (in 2016, Irham posted a mere 10 videos). But he’s responsible for some of Vine’s greatest hits: the “yeet” vine, “the Adderol and Diesel jeans” guy, the luckiest kickflip in the world, robot walks in snow to “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1,” and many more. You couldn’t find what Irham did anywhere else on Vine.
Irham also remained anonymous on a platform that rewarded transparency. When news of Vine’s closure broke, I'd wondered what would happen to one of my favorite Viners (he shared his reaction to the news in the form of Lil B’s “I Love You,” posted in full). We made contact and — after confirming his identity through a video message — he was eager to talk about his work, while still requesting anonymity: Irham claimed that “complete fucking weirdos,” ostensibly fans, were trying to find him so he wasn’t eager to provide them with any more clues. "I tried not to be too social on the app because I felt that Vine should’ve never gone in the social media direction," Irham told me. What he did share: he currently lives in Ohio, and recently completed a degree in civil engineering. “I had no real previous experience with video editing and art before I started with Vine,” he wrote over email, in addition to revealing his curation strategy, love of Lil B, and why he’ll miss the video-looping platform once it goes.
Why did you want to remain anonymous?
In the beginning, people started following my account for the content I posted and that’s when I decided to make it about the content. I never planned on making it about me. I never switched up. I did it for the culture.
How did you find so many great clips to revine into your feed?
It was like the art of crate digging to me. I would find a gem every now and then, but had to really sift through a lot of terrible Vines. It’s hard to explain but the gist of it was looking at an account with an interesting Vine or two and branching out to their likes and the accounts they follow — [it] took a bit of knowledge, patience, and practice. I found the best ones to be from accounts with little followings and/or have been relatively inactive since Vine’s first two years. Normally I would un-revine things after a day or two to prevent my feed from clogging up, so most of those greats Vines are sadly buried in my likes.
Did you make the "yeet" vine yourself, or did you excerpt the clip from another video?
I did not make the yeet vine myself. The clip was taken from a YouTube video titled ‘THE RANT. #1’ by Stephen Ndama, so shouts out to him for one of the most memorable dunk cams. The sound clip of the guy saying “yeet” was taken from a Vine from a guy who went by the name David Banna. I mixed the two together because the word was on a rise at the time. So if we’re getting into the etymology of the word, I believe David Banna popularized using it in a throwing object sense rather than the conventional dancing sense. I am not a Vine historian, so I could be slightly wrong.
“I wanted to change the landscape of the app and I think I accomplished that. I also became known as a tastemaker via my revines and posts.”
What's the story behind the Vine of the Diesel jeans guy? Were you surprised it blew up?
So the guy who originally posted that [used] the pseudonym ‘James.’ I found the Vine one day and revined it, causing it to gain a few thousand likes. His account disappeared the next day either due to him deleting it because of all the attention, or because Vine banned him for having a bunch of NSFW (gay porn) revined on his page. I found the it cached on my phone and uploaded it to my page to preserve one of my favorite Vines at the time. I think I was more surprised by the hundreds of people remaking the Vine than the Vine itself blowing up. It always had potential, it just wasn’t initially given enough time to spread and resonate. I later found out that the guy’s real name was Shannon and he was surprised that the stupid little Vine blew up.
Lil B features in quite a few of your Vines. How does he inspire you?
Talking about how Lil B inspires me is both an easy and hard question to answer. Lil B’s music really resonated with me as it was the ultimate confidence booster in 2010-11. I definitely feel like he made it cool to be on the internet super heavy and I’ve always been about that life. It’s hard to put into words, but his influence runs through all of pop culture, especially my Vine account. I owe my Vine account to the BasedGod. My first and last posts have to do with him. It’s very poetic.
You were never super prolific. Did you take each Vine you posted seriously, or was it not that big a deal for you?
Vine was never that big of a deal for me although there were a few months when I took each video I posted more seriously. I mainly used it to experiment with different subjects to see what worked and what didn’t. It started out as just me posting clips from random videos in order to share with friends without having to link to a full video. It evolved into making crude edits while learning the basics of video and audio editing. Eventually I found my little shtick and it turned out to be mix of the two. I wanted to change the landscape of the app and I think I accomplished that. I also became known as a tastemaker via my revines and posts. I think what stunted the growth of my account was how infrequently I posted and how esoteric [the content] could be at times. I might be the first person ever to use a Young Thug song with a Werner Herzog movie clip.
I actually believe that most of my loops have come from people sharing my Vines on other platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I posted content for general internet usage, so I’m glad my audience wasn’t mainly on Vine. Let’s be real, most of the people who used Vine were teenagers. Posting Vines laden with relatable captions and uninspired references can certainly resonate with that demographic and increase your numbers on the app, but that wasn’t what I was about. I did away with captioning my posts when I decided to leave my Vines up for more viewer interpretation. That was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made as it provided me with pleasure of reading numerous interesting takes.
How do you feel about the news that Vine is shutting down?
It’s heartbreaking. The past year I haven’t been that active with posting on my account, but I still enjoyed opening the app and looking for gems. I knew Vine was dying but didn’t expect it to be discontinued this soon. My hope is that they keep their planned archive comprehensive. So much art would be lost if they decide to cut corners with that and delete stuff they didn’t deem worthy of being archived. The NBA viewing experience without Vine is going to be so weird. I don’t think I’m mentally ready for that.
Can you elaborate a bit more on that?
Whenever something noteworthy happened in a game, chances are someone had [a Vine] whether from a phone recording of a TV, or clipped directly from a source. Eventually it got to a point where people were so efficient that it was normal to see things on Vine within minutes of it happening. It wasn’t necessarily exclusive to the NBA, but I felt like the NBA had the most fire and frequent Vine moments compared to all the other sports. Basketball twitter was undefeated in having every NBA moment on Vine almost instantly. The six-second looping format works so well on Twitter too. It also wasn’t just about the highlights; Vine made capturing the little oddities of a game more worthwhile. I’ve done it a few times with some success. Those moments would normally go under-appreciated or unnoticed and Vine was the perfect platform to make them more accessible and possibly go viral. No one would know the word ‘iridocyclitis’ if it weren’t for the sporting event oddity-sharing subculture of Vine. A spelling bee isn’t really a sporting event, but to be fair it was on ESPN. Fun fact: I was one who found that iridocyclitis Vine and made it blow up.
Who were some of your favorite Viners, and why? Favorite Vines?
Soulja Boy for Vining the most Soulja Boy-esque things; Matt Sukkar for documenting some real ass shit and being a cool dude; Cedrick66 for having a futuristic, progressive sense of humor with some advanced level irony; Jaylen, my overall favorite Viner, for being an often misunderstood, artistic genius.