It's becoming hard to ignore PizzaSlime. Chances are you've seen the LA-based company's in-your-face designs being sported by superstar DJs and Hollywood A-listers alike, including Diplo, Flosstradamus, Skrillex, and Ryan Gosling. Perhaps you're already one of the 102,000 people who follows their Instagram for a steady stream of pop culture-skewering memes (one recent post mashes up scenes from DJ Khaled's Snapchat with The Lion King).
Maybe you've bought a "DRAKE TEARS" coffee mug or a all-over printed shirt of Rick Ross' bare chest (made specifically for children, or, as their website puts it, "for toddlers, not thots") from their online store. There's also a blog, PizzaSlimeIRL, where they share candid photos of friends and celebrities wearing their clothing—a quick scroll through recent pictures includes images of rapper iLoveMakonnen, WeDidIt producer RL Grime, and plenty of girls.
They've found a massive fanbase for their tongue-in-cheek humour and fresh designs, and branched out to other creative projects, including collaborations with Dillon Francis, Mad Decent, Major Lazer, and Paramount Studios (see: the music video for N.E.R.D.'s "Squeeze Me" from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). Yet despite their prolific output, there's not too much info out there about the creators themselves—until now. While they declined to reveal their true identities—preferring to give the nicknames Stoveman and Hobin—they gave THUMP a peek behind the Slime curtain and discussed the group's formation, their love of Drake, and how they leveraged social media into a successful business.
with a link to the music video
THUMP: Let's start at the beginning—where did the idea for PizzaSlime come from?
Stoveman: PizzaSlime kind of started as a music blog, Tumblr thing. Like a really interesting place to find music that you wouldn't typically find on fucking Pitchfork or something. And the name was actually pretty random. I used to get really, really drunk, blacked out and buy URLs on GoDaddy. One morning I woke up with PizzaSlime on my account. I was just like, "Whoa that sounds really dope."
Hobin: That desire to showcase cool stuff soon morphed into other things, like creating original art on Photoshop. We kind of suck at Photoshop, but we're good enough to convey an idea that we think is funny or cool. Plus, we enjoy the process and reactions and now we're gravitating towards using Instagram as more of a platform to show other things we think are rad. That's kind of the whole ethos of PizzaSlime.
So how'd you transform from this social media presence into a legit brand?
Hobin: That was something we never really intended. We were just making things that we thought were awesome. One day we we're like, "Hey let's make a t-shirt." We would wear these shirts around LA and our friends started asking for a couple. At first we were kind of like, "Nobody's cool enough to wear our stuff." But eventually we gave in, and people started wearing them. Some of these guys could be musicians and artists and as they wore it their fans started to notice and it kind of grew from there.
Stoveman: Yeah, PizzaSlime has always been a creative outlet to express ourselves and expose people to cool shit. At the time, we were working at a management company, so we were around a lot of different artists that we worked with. We never thought it'd become some kind of brand like it is today. We're still just having fun with it, and I think that's why people connect with what we do.
I get that. You're sort of this public-facing brand and simultaneously these faceless creative directors, which is kind of interesting because usually it's one or the other on social media. You connect with your audience but they have no idea who you really are. Has this always been your intention for PizzaSlime?
Hobin: I think we have kept ourselves anonymous on purpose up to this point and we're still discussing whether or not we'll keep doing that. I always felt like it was more effective to be a little bit faceless. I might be wrong but I feel like when you're able to see who the person is you kind of make a quick judgement whether or not you want to. And we would rather just let our content and our ideas speak for themselves without having some sort of framework of judgement.
Stoveman: To me that's what's most important. A lot of people think we're Dillon Francis because we're so closely tied with him. It's funny to see kids think that we're some weird thing that Dillon Francis made up.
Not going to lie, I thought that at first.
Stoveman: Which is like, pretty funny for us. We're super, super close with Dillon, we do all his creative direction. We've been working with him for several years now. So it's natural that kids would kind of think that because we do a lot of art and shit with him.
You guys have teamed up with Mad Decent several times. How'd that partnership begin?
Hobin: Right. Well, we've worked in the music industry for the past, I would say, six to seven years. We've been lucky enough to work with some awesome people, including Mad Decent, including Diplo, and all those great artists. So, it's just kind of been a part of our past. It took a while to get there, but we've been working with those guys for the past two to three years, and we still continue to work with them. They're all very close with us. They're family.
A lot of the pictures on your site are of celebrities which feel kind of intimate in a way most of us aren't used to seeing famous people. Do you think about that when you take these photos?
Stoveman: It just feels like we're taking pictures of our friends. We really just capture what we think and see visually as dope and we're fortunate enough to have these friends. For us it's fun and I also like just taking pictures of like, a plant.
Hobin: I think one thing that also helps is that we shoot everything on film instead of a point and shoot camera. It's a little bit less menacing than a heavy duty DSLR, which sounds and looks super serious, whereas what we have kind of looks like a toy to be honest.
Stoveman: That's a really good point. Yeah, our cameras are really non-threatening and you know that natural film feel really gives it a quality that's different than these photographers that just take photos of these artists with digital cameras.
So I'm calling from Toronto, which means I have to ask about Drake. You do a lot of Drake-related memes and merch. Are you making fun of him, or is this how you guys show your love?
Stoveman: We love Drake.
Hobin: People think that we're ironically liking Drake—there's no irony involved.
Stoveman: A long time ago, when we first started out, and "Started From The Bottom" had come out, we Photoshopped a Taco Bell hot sauce pack that said, "Started from the bottom now we here." Somehow Drake got it and posted it. And this was early—like, our Instagram probably didn't even have 10,000 followers at that point.
Drake's pretty active on Instagram.
Stoveman: But what was really funny was not long after that he was on the cover of Billboard [in 2013], and the article started talking about the hot sauce packet.
Stoveman: About how him being on a Taco Bell packet shows he's at a certain point in his career —but, like, the magazine didn't know it wasn't real. So we, like, indirectly trolled Billboard. And then our "DRAKE TEARS" cup is one of our bestsellers; people love that.
Have you guys met him?
Hobin: I met Drake once. I rolled up to some Grammy afterparty with Diplo and RiFF RaFF. It was a Cash Money party. As soon as we walk in, Drake sees RiFF RaFF, locks eyes with him, smiles, and is like, "Yo!" and calls him over to his table. We walk over there, and since I came with him I was able to say "What's up?" to him. And you know… I kind of stood in the corner.
Stoveman: I've met him like two or three times just casually. Never really had a chance to sit down and have a conversation with him, but he's always been a really awesome dude and he's fuckin' killin' it.
Last, but not least, name somebody you'd love to see in a PizzaSlime tee.
Stoveman: See like, I'd love to see like Jeff Koons in PizzaSlime. That would be so tight to me.
Hobin: Hmm… Mark Zuckerberg. Or North West.
Stoveman: That would be super tight.
Adelaide is on Twitter.