It’s a new year — a time to reevaluate priorities and resolve to be a better, more interesting person. But since resolutions don’t always work and we’re usually the same people two weeks after making them (only slightly more defeated), let’s go straight to being more interesting. My loose objective for 2013: Release the outspoken, over-the-top, badass bitch inside and occasionally let her vent on the very public microblogging site Twitter (sorry, mom). Obnoxious, maybe; foolish, probably — blame the idea on Oakland’s own tweeting-rapping-hypegirl Chippy Nonstop (née Chhavi Nanda) and punk-rock dominatrix Hether Fortune (of local outfits Wax Idols and Blasted Canyons), who make it look so damn fun.
Though they both claim it happened by accident, Nanda (@chippy_nonstop) and Fortune (@HETHERFORTUNE) have built their brands in 140 characters or less. Few, if any, topics are off-limits for these two, and their feeds read like hipster flash fiction transcribed via text message: drinking, drugs, sex, emotional breakdowns, artistic struggles, and, buried in there, careful doses of hype. Ultimately, Twitter helps these young women maintain control over their careers, such as when, last month, Nanda went against her publicist and tweeted the video for “Money Dance” before it was set to premiere on Vice.com.
Fortune said her Twitter addiction began when she was “bored as hell” on a 2009 tour as the then-drummer for the now-defunct garage outfit Bare Wires. “At first I started telling jokes on tour, random shit I wanted to remember and whatever popped into my mind,” Fortune recalled. “I didn’t think about who would see it.”
Nanda started similarly, at first tweeting to promote her blog, but quickly moving on to “tweeting when drunk.” That’s when her following started growing. (Today, she has nearly 10,000 followers.)
“People thought it was funny,” Nanda said. “When I do it, I’m literally like ‘This is my life.’ It’s not a career thing, though it’s become a part of it. I’ll tweet whatever comes to my head.”
Both agreed that overthinking slows down the stream of consciousness necessary to keep the tweets flowing. At the time of writing this article, Fortune had sent out nearly 15,000 tweets, and Nanda a staggering 80,000.
“Before I got kind of busy, I would literally sit and tweet all day,” Nanda said, noting that while sitting in class at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, she often updated so frequently, the site would temporarily freeze her account. (Users who tweet more than 100 times per hour or 1,000 times per day are sent to “Twitter Jail.”)
Besides being prolific, Fortune said the best tweets are funny, brutally honest, or completely random — and ideally a combination of all three.
“A lot of my feed is humor, bold statements, and nihilistic one-liners,” Fortune said. “Say whatever you think nobody wants to know or whenever you think of something that makes you laugh out loud — that’s Twitter gold.”
Her longest fifteen minutes of Twitter fame happened when she chimed in during an argument between Atlanta rockers Black Lips and the garage-punk outfit Hunx and His Punx, which Fortune used to play in. The fight erupted over racist and homophobic tweets by Black Lips, to which Fortune tweeted: “the black lips are the mel gibson of the ‘garage’ ‘rock’ ‘scene.'”
Sometimes the shit-talking backfires. Fortune tweeted that bands like Best Coast and La Sera have no business covering Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana, a comment that stirred the pot in indie-rock circles — the same ones she’s part of, along with those outfits. Fortune said she’s tried to rein in her rapid-fire self-expression, but censoring herself goes against what attracted her to Twitter in the first place.
“It seemed like a chance, as a woman, to say everything I wasn’t supposed to say, and not kiss ass or play nice,” Fortune said. “In indie [rock], the less you say the more people like you. [On Twitter], it’s me, the drag queens, and the rappers.” As for whether it has hurt or helped her career, Fortune admitted she doesn’t know: “If Twitter doesn’t do shit for me, I don’t care.”
Nanda’s Twitter personality opened doors for her in the hip-hop world, and continues to help her keep them open. A writer and blogger, she said she hadn’t considered rapping until Stunnaman of The Pack direct-messaged her on Twitter asking if she wanted to team up on a song, which would become “Yous A Chote.” When the track was released and Nanda started getting props, Stunnaman tweeted that Nanda didn’t write any of it. She defended herself via Twitter, explaining she had written her part in the studio, and said she later called Stunnaman, asking him to “chill out.” When Nanda recently discovered she’d been removed from the credits and track listing of the forthcoming Major Lazer album, only to hear her vocals on a leaked track being played in a New York City nightclub, she “got really drunk and complained to Twitter.” She said her lawyer is now resolving the issue.
Some Twitter wars start without incident or warning, like when Nanda unknowingly offended a member of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob. The back-and-forth tweets between her and the group’s fans ended with her being called a “dickrider” — slang for someone who kisses ass or is concerned with being trendy.
“That shit just happens on the Internet,” Nanda said. “It gets blown way out of proportion.” Her voice turned uncharacteristically girlish as she continued: “I turn everything into a joke if it gets too intense.”
During this fall’s national Group Hug Tour with Kreayshawn, Rye Rye, and Honey Cocaine, Nanda said her fans — who are mostly between the ages of fourteen and nineteen — would run up to her, telling her their handle, and talking to her about her life as if they knew her. They also brought food from McDonald’s to the venue when she tweeted requests for it. “I credit any popularity I have to Twitter,” Nanda added. The tour increased her Twitter following from 6,000 to 10,000, but Nanda said that as her career grows, she’ll be pressured to tone down the over-sharing instincts that helped her gain a fanbase in the first place.
Her tour mate Kreayshawn pretty much stopped tweeting personal stuff, according to Nanda, because of “all the drama it caused.” Nanda already has a separate and secret “trolling account” to tweet whatever she wants, but she wants to keep it real in her primary account.
“I like A$AP Rocky, but I think he’s very similar to how he was when ‘Peso’ came out,” Nanda said. “That’s the downfall. Someone can be popping one day, but you’re over them three days later.”
Now there’s a better New Year’s goal: Get Chippy Nonstop interested in my Twitter feed for more than three days.