Since December of 2015, the account – which now boasts 1.3 million followers across various social platforms – has been a font of memes for and about the kind of people who think nothing of staying up for 36 hours, sunglasses firmly on as they rub the last granule of gak into their gums at 2PM on a Sunday afternoon.
All that considered, it might be tempting to think of the team behind the account as mere kitchen sesh gremlins (at best) or enablers of harmful drug use (at worst), but 31-year-old founder Joey Tadiar and business partner James Morsh, 27, now preside over a multi-faceted business, including a social media agency with clients like Sony, Universal and Elrow, plus merchandise, an online shop and an upcoming app.
They also happen to have some unique frontline insights into drug-taking trends, so I spoke to the pair on Zoom about memes, harm reduction and that timeless query: what are the ingredients for the perfect afters?
VICE: Ketflix and Pills is global. Which country most loves the sesh, in your opinion?
Joey: Scotland is the messiest country. Or Australia.
James: But Australia has no drugs.
Joey: Australia is about getting really fucked on alcohol then sniffing a moth, or something. It’s like Dirty Sanchez. The UK has the underground parties down, the commercial parties down. Good quality stuff is here and the language is ours. The UK is the staple of the sesh: they do it proper.
How do you think sesh culture has changed in your five years of operating?
Joey: I think drugs are becoming less taboo. They’ve decriminalised [drug possession] in Oregon now, and conversations around it are going on everywhere. I think that negative character portrait – painted by the war on drugs and the anti-drugs campaign run by the UK and US – is breaking.
Do you remember your first Ketflix & Pills post?
Joey: It was when that “15 minutes into Netflix and Chill and he gives you the look” meme was around. I was in the Alps at a festival, and we’d stayed in our chalet the whole time. My friend was mashed on the couch and turned to me, jaw hanging off. I looked at him and thought: ‘15 minutes into ketflix and pills and he gives you the look.’ It was one of those moments. I set up a Facebook page and posted a meme of Pablo Escobar. The next morning it had 10,000 likes.
You had some bumps in the road after that didn’t you?
Joey: Our original Instagram got hacked in 2018, with 550,000 followers – the hackers started posting personal details on there, my mum’s address, porn. It got deleted and we had to quickly grow a new account. Fortunately we filed a hack report and the original one was reinstated, so we then had both! But then our 895,000-follower Instagram and our Facebook account got permanently disabled in December, 2018.
It’s a long story. Basically, we were the victims of targeted attacks by some trolls who exploited an Instagram bug that existed then.
How did that affect your living?
It was my living! We were earning between £25,000 and £30,000 a month. For the next six months we had zero. With Instagram, you can be balling one minute and nothing the next. It’s what influenced us to create Kapsule, our new app. We’ll migrate our Instagram and Facebook followers to our own platform, giving us the freedom to give our followers all the comedy and music content in one place.
James: We’re not just a sesh page anymore. We really want to focus on the community - getting people together, good music, safe sesh.
Ketflix & Pills must have opened up doors to some interesting parties?
Joey: It’s opened up a mad portfolio of partying in crazy locations. The best must be a 72-hour stint at my boy Wan’s place In Phuket, called Baba Beach Club. We’d party for a solid 24 hours, eat a smoothie bowl, freshen up and get straight back to it, no sleep, a full DJ set up, Funktion-One sound system. It’s very easy to get lost in the sauce and genuinely party for days on end, with no concept of time other than sunset and sunrise.
How do you balance being a business with a partying lifestyle?
Joey: People think I’m going be this mad raver, but I’m actually quite straight edge when I go out. But I’ve been in boardrooms with Sony and Universal. Labels, festivals, nightclubs and events all advertise with us. When you’re in the music industry, you can’t go out being wrecked like a rockstar all the time.
You’ve said you want to promote safe sesh, but aren’t you encouraging harmful drug use?
James: Some people might think it’s bravado, but really it’s the opposite. We also now have a CSR [corporate social responsibility] policy, where we’re committed to providing harm reduction information in partnership with Pill Report [James’ drugs safety account]. Pill Report will now also be carrying out regular surveys and research through Ketflix and Pills.
Joey: The reality is that people do take drugs. You will only get our jokes if you’ve already been around drugs or raving, and I don’t think our memes actually encourage it. I think we can be the guys that can help offer good advice – like go small, know your limits, be with safe people and hydrate. I’d love to do a YouTube channel on safer drug use, and within Kapsule there’ll be forums, collaborations with Pill Report. If we can get the right people – experts – involved, I’d be ramping up that content.
How do people react to harm reduction posts on Ketflix and Pills?
Joey: We’ve started doing Instagram polls and quizzes around the sesh and drug education. They’ve been our most successful Stories, with over 250,000 views.
James: 60,000 people reacted to our post about MDMA and cocaine putting strain on your heart. That’s a lot of people educated.
The most recent Global Drug Survey found that stimulant use went down over COVID. What did you think about that?
Joey: We’d question that. Maybe pills and MDMA. But coke – I don’t really get that.
Studies have suggested that Gen Z is drinking less. Are you seeing this within the Ketflix and Pills community?
James: Drinking is finished!
Joey: My friends and I aren’t really drinkers. We’ll have a couple, but that’s it. I think it [drugs] is cheaper when you’re sensible. You don’t wake up with a hangover. The quality, if you know what you’re doing, is better.
You have your ears to the ground in the underground rave scene. Is much happening at the moment?
James: No – there’s less now there are £10,000 fines [for organisers]. And I think people are more COVID-aware now. A lot of the professionals [promoters] in London won’t do them now that COVID is non-stop.
Joey: And it’s winter – you’re not going to walk through marshland to get to a sketchy boat in Enfield. And canals have become hot [with police]: they are definitely patrolled more.
There’s been a lot of talk about the pandemic changing the rave scene for the better. What do you think?
Joey: We did a poll asking whether people want to go back to normal raving or stay underground, and found that 2020 has definitely changed it – the boot parties, forest parties, warehouse raves. People have a better time for a lot cheaper.
James: We also did one asking people if they would take the vaccine if it meant you could go raving again. We had 24,000 responses, and 83 percent said yes. I wonder whether we’ll get a new breed of anti-establishment raves with that 17 percent that said no.
With your access to the scene, are there not loads of dealers prowling your page and offering drugs?
James: People get instantly blocked for anything like that.
Joey: We get DMs asking for stuff, like, “Is anyone knocking about with some decent K in Prague?” We just ignore them all. That’s not my direction in life.
In your opinion, what are the ingredients for the perfect afters?
Joey: You need a good gaff close to the rave – I don’t want to be pranging out in an Uber for an hour after. I can’t handle six different people arguing over which Soundcloud mix to play, so you want a DJ and a good sound system. And strictly no randoms! The afters is a safe place for close mates. A random guy from the smoking area may seem cool at first, but wait until 9AM and he’s talking about procreation and his political beliefs while asking for bumps and cigarettes.
And when do you need to call it and get an Uber?
Joey: You need to call it a night when the vibe takes its first dip. Usually when all the drink, drugs and balloons have gone it’s a good time to start calling Ubers. There’s nothing worse than being sat up during sunrise - scrounging the ashtrays for fag butts, picking up empty beer cans or licking random powders off the coffee table. Get home, shower, hydrate and get yourself to bed.