Jun 14, 2018
Welcome to Sesh Cast, a cannabis podcast for cannabis sessions. Today we talk with Tweedledoob! This is the first interview to air on Sesh Cast and with firsts comes some unforeseen issues. This time it's some low quality audio. Because of that, I'm putting a full transcript of the interview in the notes here! Without further ado: here's the thing!
GLDLX: Alright guys so welcome back to Sesh Cast. My name is GLDLX and today I am sitting down with someone you may just know from Instagram, you may just know from the cannabis related internet, Tweedledoob how are you?
Tweedledoob: I'm awesome thanks for having me on.
G: Yeah of course thanks for taking some time to sit down with me I really appreciate it!
T: Yeah no problem.
G: So for anyone who may not have heard of you before or may not really know who you are, can you give me a brief run down on what you're about and how you gained traction in the cannabis community?
T: For sure. So mostly I do cannabis photography and social media promotion kind of stuff. I've had my Instagram going for just over three years now; I started it while I was working at a cannabis lounge during university. So in Toronto there are these amazing places you can go, you just bring your own weed, pay five bucks and just hang out basically. So I kind of like supervised stoners for like four and a half years and that kind of really got me in to the industry. [I made] a lot of connections and kind of figured out that I don't know exactly what I want to do, but the cannabis space is definitely the place for me. So it kind of gave me some direction and then my Instagram I just kind of started for fun. I never expected that it would turn in to my full time gig but yeah I mean pretty crazy.
G: So you said a couple words that, I'm based out of America and I think a lot of people also based out of America may have no earthly idea what you just said. So a cannabis lounge! That's something cool that we definitely don't have a lot of here. Can you explain a little bit more about what it was like to babysit stoners for four years?
T: For sure it was amazing. It's a really fascinating place I think people have this idea of who stoners are but when you open up a space like that you see that it really, it's really hard to define. So like everyone from 18 to 80, if you don't have a place to consume cannabis at home, or people don't know that you consume cannabis or whatever the case may be, it's kind of just a safe space where you can go and use your cannabis. So in Toronto here currently its actually not fully legal or regulated but there have been lounges in the city for about 20 years now. So it's when you walk in they all kind of have their own vibe but its essentially like a cafe or a bar type of feeling, but there's no alcohol, no tobacco just cannabis.
G: Man that's super cool. So how many of these would you say there are in Toronto like how popular is that?
T: Right now I think there are five in the city. There have been other ones over the years that have kind of come and gone, but there's, yeah I think there's five right now.
G: Cool very cool. It looks like you've got a joint rolled up. I have one too so I'm going to take a second to spark up so yeah we'll put it on pause for a second cheers! So you were smoking on something I'd never heard of, what was that?
T: It's called honey rock. I've never heard of it either to be honest, this is my first puff we're just testing it out. What are you smoking?
G: I have I think the very end of my gdp. I just picked up yesterday and I got gorilla glue #4 and jack herer so this is the end of my very last buy from almost a month ago when I stalked up for 420. So the other thing that you said that I think is very foreign to anybody here in America is just the use of the word university. So for anybody who doesn't know that's going to college because that's not a phrase that we use here in a America, but one thing that I think is really interesting is that in your Instagram bio you have your majors from your college experience which means it must've been somewhat important to you and is still somewhat important to you. So can you talk to me a little about that?
T: For sure interesting question, so yeah it is kind of an easy way to just tell a little bit about myself in the bio. I feel like people coming to your page don't really, we make judgments so quickly, right, on Instagram it's like you go to someone's new page five seconds later you're like 'nope not for me' right, so I thought kind of putting that in my bio kind of tells a little bit more about me than my first few pictures or whatever you might see and if people are interested in philosophy or Buddhist philosophy they might take another second to stick around. I also think it's something that's kind of different. There's really not that many people studying philosophy or Buddhist philosophy these days so yeah just a point of differentiation I guess.
G: Yeah and I think philosophy is really interesting because the more that you end up as a stoner the more in to open thought and philosophizing you become. So how has your interest in philosophy and specifically Buddhist philosophy carried over into your experiences in the cannabis community or how has your cannabis experience meshed with the way you've studied or experienced philosophy or Buddhist philosophy?
T: So to the first part of that question, while I was going to university I was spending a lot of time studying in vapor lounges and places where people just naturally end up having philosophical conversations. Even though they may not have the formal academic language to talk about it I think these things, people get high and think about big ideas very often so I think just spending time in those places around people who are open to having interesting conversations or talking about things they don't understand really helped me develop my thought process and the ability to take an academic idea and be able to talk about it with people who don't have that same kind of formal education. Not to say that they don't have valid opinions or ideas it's just, yeah, philosophy and Buddhist philosophy, these ideas aren't things that we really talk about all the time in our daily lives but I think some people are quite interested in it so it's an interesting cross over I think.
G: Yeah did you ever meet anybody in a lounge that really hit you in a way that you'd never thought about something or sort of turned something around on you that made you think you were possibly sitting down with another modern day stoned philosopher ?
T: You know the first thing that came to mind, the first person that popped in to my head, I had a few people come in when I was working at the lounge who had been having conversations, philosophical type conversations with friends and were kind of at a lost point and didn't know like you can really think yourself in to a corner sometimes in philosophy which is why I think people tend to avoid it or avoid big ideas that they don't understand. If there's no clear answer sometimes its better just not to think about it right? So I've gotten in to some very interesting discussions where people are coming at from a very personal way and are just trying to work through like [other] concepts and its definitely changed my perspective on some things where you can have kind of what, you know, what you read in a book, but when somebody challenges you with their own ideas you have to really be able to like work through a concept and not just go by what the book says. I don't know if that makes sense.
G: Yeah that makes total sense
T: Personal philosophical conversations with people at lounges, which I think is like one of my favorite things.
G: That's awesome. Is that something that still happens now even though you don't work at a lounge?
T: Maybe not so much, but I get some interesting dms I'll tell you.
T: I mean of all sorts. Not to many philosophical conversations, not regularly, but people definitely, I don't know what it is but people message me about their personal problems or their big questions they have in their lives that they're feeling lost or whatever. I don't know what it is, but I guess people feel like they can relate to me or that I may have some kind of, some kind of perspective on whatever issue they're having. So I do get in to intense conversations with strangers in my dms now.
G: Interesting that's super cool and I think that that kind of bleeds back into the way you have become a cannabis influencer on Instagram. Actually I was reading your blog a little bit earlier, if anyone is interested in following up a little bit more with Tweedledoob you can find a lot more stuff at Tweedledoob.com off Instagram, and I was reading your blog a little bit earlier and one of the things I saw that you talked about was going from just being in the cannabis space and being a cannabis photographer, to actually starting your Instagram to actually putting yourself on your Instagram as a person as opposed to just your photography and your content from the cannabis space. So how has the transition been, for anyone who is listening who is interested in being a digital influencer of some sort or wants to know a little bit more about what it's like to be a digital influencer or a digital content creator. How have you sort of swung your life and what sort of changes have you come in to and experiences have you come into by becoming a digital influencer with a face and a persona online as opposed to just a handle and some photos?
T: Yeah great question. It's been about two years since I started putting more of myself online and it was a big deal kind of for me. For the first year I had Instagram I felt super weird about it. I felt like I'm not Tweedledoob, like Tweedledoob is like my Instagram account and just my photos and I was really hesitant to put more of myself out there for a variety of reasons. And really the content creation and like influencer thing didn't really come until I was starting to put myself out there more and I think part of the reason why is because like even just kind of straight up looking as peoples accounts as accounts you don't think of them as real people a lot of the time. If you don't know what [someone looks like]you have a certain appreciation for it but you think of it like an account right? But that's like somebody that just like wakes up and eats and sleeps and does [everyday] things right? So I think my kind of traction started to come when I started to put my, let my life on there. And so part of that was because I was working at the lounge at the time so I had an [interesting new] day to day experience even though it was my kind of like 9-5. I was just like going to work and smoking weed and I think that kind of fascinated a certain group of people, but I think what the main thing that's kind of given me the most amount of traction and it came from putting more of myself out there is the connections with other people other people in the cannabis space other photographers you know you can learn more skills you can really connect with people human to human when you're actually putting yourself in the line, putting more of your personality. And I think a huge part of that was video as well. Videos I think really changed the way you can interact with other people online yeah I don't know let me think about that.
G: Yeah I think that's really interesting. You become in such an interesting situation when you start to put yourself on line as opposed to just your content to a point where you become your own content and I think that once you hit that point of becoming your own content it's a really interesting ship to navigate, or excuse me a really interesting sea to navigate. Of how much of myself do I put online, what sort of online persona do I have, who have I become to people that they want me to keep up with?
T: That part I'm not so in to. That for me, the stuff that I put out I have to feel totally comfortable putting video out or putting content out that I know this wide variety of people will see like all of my family and my boyfriend's family will see it including like grandparents right all the way down to like friends and strangers and like fifty percent of my audience is outside of north America like people that don't even speak the same language as me. So I think if I tried to cater [to] these certain groups I think it would get really confusing and overwhelming and so I have to just like be myself enough and feel comfortable and confident to just like a hundred percent be me to all these groups of people. I'm ok with them seeing it because it's me it's not like I'm trying to be this one thing for somebody or trying to like get likes from this one certain group. I just kind of have to be me and that's the only way I can be comfortable doing videos or putting myself out there.
G: And that's such a cool way to look at things and I think almost an old school way of being a content creator. I know that were of the age where the birth of YouTube is something I remember very well I don't know how interested in YouTube or anything you are. But I remember when YouTube went from just a place that there were videos on the internet to something you could make as a career
G: and back at the very beginning it seemed like people were just putting things out that they wanted to put out. And today it seems so analytically based and so fit in to the algorithm and that's true with Instagram as well. Like how can I do everything I can to make sure the most people see what I want [them to] see and it almost warps your content in to something you don't really want to create. So I think it's really interesting and super commendable to hear someone say 'I want to put out stuff that I'm super comfortable with and something that isn't catered to get clicks from a certain group of people' so that's really cool and I really appreciate that!
T: Thanks man yeah same. Great question too it really got me thinking too. It's taken a lot to come to that really, like I wouldn't have been able to give you that answer a year ago. Or it's, this whole thing is just so quickly evolving. Even just Instagram, like the algorithm change earlier this year has totally changed the way that I'm using Instagram and the features and how I'm using them it's just this constantly evolving thing. So yeah it kind of makes it interesting or sort of challenging to navigate but yeah that said I think in one way I almost have to go back on something I said, I was thinking while you were talking, I can't say that I a hundred percent don't think of what people want to see or don't think of. I do have this like, there's kind of a separation between the things that I post about my life and about myself and like I am still creating content for myself and for other people and in creating content it like, you're right, do you know Gary Vee?
G: The name is very familiar, but could you tell me who it is?
T: Yeah he's kind of hard to describe. He's like a business mogul. Like he's kind of like really gotten popular in the last three years through his social media stuff and he's really, he gives a lot of business advice. He's kind of like motivational speakerish, he's got a podcast, he's kind of everywhere right now. But one of the things he was talking about over the last year kind of social media wise is the difference between creating and documenting. So a lot of people are like just on the content creation side of things and it's like you can have a very curated account and its very like almost clinical like for a business or whatever. Like you see some people like that too where they only have like super ultra posed photos of themselves and you don't really know who that person is ya know? It's just this image they've kind of created of themselves and the other side of that what Gary Vee has talked a lot about and sort of the upside of doing this is just straight documenting. Like people do want to see kind of behind the scenes and get to know who you really are I don't know why really but humans, we're so fascinated with each other and other peoples stories and that's almost the easier content to create, just like documenting your life. But like I'm trying to kind of have a balance between the two. I don't want to exclusively do one or the other so in content creation I kind of do, this is why I started talking about this, I kind of do try to cater to like what the stoners like or like what's the popular thing and what's the aesthetic that might get more traction. So in that kind of sense I am, like I do think more about that. But then on the documenting side I try to be like as authentic as possible and not really thinking about what people want to see if that makes sense?
G: Yeah absolutely and that's again really interesting I think because it's almost the difference between putting out super curated, curated might be the wrong word, but super targeted and insincere content, versus putting out quality, yes this is targeted to what will perform well but I'm not putting it out there because it is what will perform well, I'm putting it out because it's the best performing version of what I want to post if I'm understanding you correctly.
T: Yes that's exactly it
G: So how much, I guess for people who aren't familiar with you and your career and your photography, how much of your full time career or part time career exists on Instagram and digitally?
T: A very large part of it and increasingly so. I stopped working at vape on the lake last July, at the vapor lounge, the cannabis lounge. So it's been almost a year since I've been doing full time free lance. At the beginning of that it was, I was doing a lot more photography than the social media stuff. So I do photography for some of the local cannabis brands, so I do product photography and also event photography, and over the last year I've really kind of shifted towards documenting and doing more Instagram and I started my website and my retail stuff. I [have] kind of been focusing on building out a brand and not just being focused on being photographer. It's an important skill and it's a part of what I do and I think it always will be, but like I kind of realized there's like more, I think there's more of an opportunity for me to do more than market myself as just a photographer. But it's my full time it's my life.
G: Yeah absolutely. Let's talk then a little bit about the photography side. Because I see cannabis photography on the internet and that's about the extent that I know of it is like 'wow that's weed and that weed looks super pretty.' So tell me a little bit about what that space is like and how it is being a cannabis photographer in a world that is very quickly turning its eyes more and more on to cannabis?
T: Yeah for sure it's definitely a really interesting time and even the fact that a cannabis photographer is like a thing is really cool. For myself, I've really just been getting more serious about photography for about three years, so there's a lot of people in the industry who have a long standing career in photography and are just getting in to cannabis now, where as I feel like I still have a lot to learn photography wise but I have the cannabis thing down. I mean Instagram and social media are such a [huge open space] and so in one way you don't really have to be a professional photographer or professional cannabis photographer to get your cannabis photography online. If you have weed and have a camera you can kind of just get out there. So it's kind of an equal playing field in one sense where it's pretty open but it's really interesting because the internet is, there's people from everywhere consuming my content but the rules are different everywhere so what is legal for me not be legal for other people. Yeah I think that there's still a lot of [changes] to be had for the cannabis industry. Right now Canada is coming in to a legal recreational market across the country [relatively soon] so there will be some like, ya know, really official, legal, on-the-book cannabis photography for the first time like ever which is pretty cool.
G: Yeah so I think its super interesting to hear you bring up the 'what might be legal for you might not be legal for everyone or somewhere else.' Something that we've talked about a lot on this podcast and that's really influenced not only me and my experience as a content creator, but for a lot of my friends and my followers as well, is the way that YouTube has removed a lot of cannabis related accounts in the last couple months. I don't know how much of that you're aware of?
T: Yeah I mean almost every day on Instagram for a while I was seeing people saying like huge accounts are getting taken down. Like Coral Reefer she's been on YouTube for like nine years and all of her content just got taken down. It's pretty crazy.
G: So what is it like working under that stress of 'what I'm doing is completely legal but somewhere else it might not be legal' and what has it been like working not only under that stress and that restraint, but seeing some of this other cannabis content face those repercussions and be removed. How has that experience been particularly for you?
T: I guess this has to be prefaced with like, that I am a legal patient and it kind of gives me the confidence to just kind of do my own thing. So personally I don't feel like, I don't have that fear, the legitimate real life fear that a lot of people have as far as like posting content or whatever, whether its legal or illegal. But I mean yeah I think as far as we've come we have a long way to go right? I feel like federal changes in the US might be the one thing which actually makes YouTube or Instagram really; but I think YouTube has just recently come out and said that they're not, sorry it was Instagram, Instagram's community guidelines used to say that the promotion and sales of drugs were like, that was just something you couldn't do, but now apparently its more just to do with sales, the direct promotions of sales, but just like promotion of cannabis apparently they're not going to be like, if you're a medical patient just doing your thing and you're not actually promoting drug sales you couldn't lose your, [they won't] delete your account. I don't know why YouTube, I'm curious to know what YouTube's thing is, to see why they're just starting to [be] so hard on all of these cannabis accounts. Even like legal accounts that are just like educational got taken down. I think we just have more fighting to do right? Like cannabis is becoming more mainstream and there are so many changes happening all the time that it kind of feels like we're making progress but I don't think for lots of [folks] from the other side, when there's other people who are like[staunchly] against it, those people are going to have something to say and try to like make sure potheads don't take over. There are people who have vested interest in not having cannabis be legal and we still have some fighting to do for sure.
G: Yeah that's really interesting and also super good to hear, that there's still a real confidence in being able to promote what is legal where you are, because I think one of the biggest things that the cannabis industry as a whole, and not even just the industry but people who smoke regularly need as a whole, are people to advocate for the normalcy of cannabis. And for people to really put out and prove that there's nothing about smoking weed that makes you lazy or a distress to society or anything like that. There are careers, there's an industry, there are functioning people and very motivated and driven people in the community, and without the confidence to post content that you've created that you feel good about and that is legal, without that confidence it's a real detriment to I think the community. So that's really positive and uplifting to hear as well.
T: There are so many driven and motivated and very productive members of society that support cannabis to varying degrees, so I think over the next five years or so like that kind of image of cannabis user is going to become more prevalent. Because there are still so many people with an old school mentality that aren't really willing to see or change their perspectives, but it's happening. In Canada we're definitely seeing it with legalization coming this year. There's stories about cannabis in the news like on the main news channels, literally almost every day so it's coming. It's coming.
G: To sort of wrap here, if people are interested in finding you, or learning more about you, or following more of your content and your life, where are the best places for them to go to find you?
T: My main thing is for sure Instagram, you can find me @Tweedledoob. I also have a website tweedledoob.com. So I have like, I'll go to an event and take hundreds of pictures and then I might post one or two on Instagram, so I felt like I needed a place to post more of my photos. I have a bunch of albums on my website of different events and different places I've been, and I've also got my shop so, I don't know if you've seen my jolly joint image it's like a happy little joint. Have you seen that?
G: Yeah, its great I love it!
T: Yeah I've got all the merch on there and I'm going to be adding a bunch of new things in my shop really soon which I'm really excited about. Some stuff, some new art that's not Tweedledoob branded but my friend Champ Stiles is going to be making some cool, like he's a wood burner and he like does wood carving and wood burning things, so I'm going to have some weedy stuff of his on my site soon. And yeah I would say those are, through my website you can also email me Tweedledoob@gmail.com but there is a form on my site if anybody wants to reach out I'm always happy to chat.