Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re e a super-fan of some sort. As of course, ‘everyone is a fan of something.’
Let us introduce you to Liv & Elham and their creation First in Line, which is described as your all-access pass to fan culture. We caught up with the pair to find out more on the podcast and discuss how important it is to be a fan in this day and age.
How did you first meet?
Elham: We started following each other on Twitter in 2014 due to liking the same bands such as One Direction and The Vamps. We didn’t start talking until The World Cup because we both liked the German National Team, and we’d both tweet about it at the same time. We became close over that and Germany winning, and just started talking about more things outside of that. We’ve been friends for six years and have only hung out in person three times.
Liv: We met in New York City. We went to L.A together. We had a joint birthday party in Philadelphia, where I went to school. We went to L.A together and the last time we saw each other was last year in England. We have met about six times. Since 2014, I think it is safe to say we have texted pretty much all day, every day. There’s not another human being I communicate with more than Elham, and I think that is why the podcast sounds so easy, as it’s like taking our phone calls and verbalizing them to each other.
Only fans can understand the bond you have made right?
Elham:Essentially we run a business. We run podcasts together, and Olivia has her own publication, which I have worked with her on for a few years. People that are in fandoms can relate to this type of friendship and starting a podcast with your friend. We don’t live in the same state, but we still did it and figured it out. We trust each other and know that since we talk all the time and have lots in common, the podcasts we are creating will be on topics that we both enjoy.
Liv: I think that it has surprised me as just because you are good friends with someone, it doesn’t mean you would be good business partners or good working together. I don’t think we could have imagined how much on the same wavelength we are, which just reiterates how compatible we are to do something like this. Every single decision, we have been on the same page. We have never been like, “Oh, let’s not do it this week.” We really make sure we are consistent. We record together, I edit the podcast, write all the descriptions, etc., and Elham does all the social components of it. We really try to split the responsibilities, so neither of us are carrying more weight. I think that is a huge thing, and we have heard how friendships can fall apart through going into business, so from the beginning, we tried to be very clear about our responsibilities and what we want to come from it. We ask the listeners, “what is your opinion on this topic?” and I think that has really driven a lot of topics we discuss and what we actually say on the podcast.
What is your favourite memory you’ve shared?
Elham: I think when we went to L.A that was a fun trip because that was the first time we were going to share a week together.
Liv: That was the most extended time we’ve spent together!
Elham: Yeah! I’ve been to L.A a few times and it was Olivia’s first trip. It was just super fun and we spent a week there in the summer. I went to a Harry Styles concert and Liv didn’t but she was there for it. There was a lot of things that happened this trip, we saw and met Shawn Mendes.
Liv: I think what made that trip so special is we just planned to go on a trip together. Some of our other friends came, some of Elham’s family came, we were really just traveling and exploring together. She went to a Harry Styles concert, but it wasn’t like “Oh we need to go to this event.” We were connecting on one of the shared interests we have – being tourists, and going to this place, going to that place, we went to a museum together. I think just being able to be real-life friends was really special.
Elham: We were with other friends and it just felt like normal I think. Not like any other of the other times we have hung out didn’t feel normal!
Liv: It’s crazy because I slept in a bed for 5 days with someone I had never met before that trip and shared an Air B&B with Elham and her family who I’d met maybe twice. It’s not necessarily normal for people but for us, it was completely normal. This was in 2018 and by that point, we had known each other for 4 years. It’s just a normal trip you would have with your friends and that’s something we don’t get to appreciate in our friendship so it was fun to do something normal.
What was the inspiration behind the podcast?
Liv: Just to give you a bit of background, our first podcast that we started is called Can We Be Real With You. I had done a podcast before that with another one of my friends I met on the internet but we had stopped doing that. Over quarantine I really missed podcasting and obviously, it was easy for me to think of Elham to join me. I feel like we had been coming up with ideas over the last few years to do some sort of creative thing together.
Can We Be Real With You is just any topic we want we discuss in depth, and we have always asked the listeners for their opinions. I think that has really driven a lot of topics that we discuss and what we actually say on the podcast. We decided to do a particular episode on fan culture and we ended up doing 2 episodes as we had such as response. We had 50 people fill out a google form, most of who I had never heard of so it wasn’t just our friends filling it out.
We realized we could develop a podcast completely on fan culture because there is so much to discuss, like different fandoms, celebrity experiences, how to start a Twitter account. There are so many things we can touch, and we really felt after that episode there was an interest in it. We also connected to some other people that work in the industry and are actual fans, so we developed this idea, and it’s been in the works for two months now. It’s really cool to finally put it out there!
How have you found working together?
Liv: I think that it has surprised me as just because you are good friends with someone, it doesn’t mean you would be good business partners or good working together. I don’t think we could have imagined how much on the same wavelength we are, which just reiterates how compatible we are to do something like this. Every single decision we have been on the same page, we have never been like “Oh, let’s not do it this week.” We really make sure we are consistent. We record together, I edit the podcast, write all the descriptions, etc. and Elham does all the social components of it. We really try to split the responsibilities so neither of us are carrying more weight. I think that is a huge thing and we have heard how friendships can fall apart through going into business, so from the beginning, we tried to be very clear about our responsibilities and what we want to come from it. We ask the listeners “what is your opinion on this topic?” and I think that has really driven a lot of topics we discuss and what we actually say on the podcast.
What is involved in the making of the podcast?
Elham: We basically come up with different topics for each week. First In Line is about fandom and how everyone is a fan of something, so generalizing what fandom means to us individually and to other people. With music/movies/TV shows coming out, we try to plan accordingly to what each week is going to look like. We just use our network and want to interview people who are professionals in the industry who we know from fandom. I became friends with this girl because we both liked One Direction, and now she’s in the music industry, and I think for our listeners, these are things they want to know. Inspiring stories like that and how they can turn their passion into a job they love. We also research into different fandoms that we might not necessarily be a part of and try and listen to New Music Fridays.
Liv: We really are trying to stay invested in pop culture, and all that is happening. On top of using our network, we come up with a group of 4/5 leading topics we want to discuss on the podcast. We want to talk about celebrity experiences and broad topics of being a fan, such as concert etiquette or do’s and dont’s when meeting a celebrity. We want to interview people in the industry, whether that be someone like a Digital Marketing Coordinator, fans that work in the industry, an artist, a musician, an actor. We want to do watch parties and track by tracks based on what is relevant at the time.
We try to get the episodes done by Wednesdays so we can produce all the social media that’s needed, so there is a timeline to get it up every week as it’s a tight period of recording, editing, and uploading. We spend the back half of the week from Wednesday to Friday thinking of what we are going to do on social media. We are now trying to incorporate something we hadn’t on Can We Be Real With You, which is TikTok. We are trying to come up with content we can engage people differently on. We want you to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, so we don’t want to be posting the same thing on all these platforms. It’s not going to do well on all those platforms if it’s the same, so we spend time trying to think, “Oh, what is a funny tweet here we can use off of this?”
Elham selects Boyfriend Of The Week on Can We Be Real With You, so we do Barricade or Bust, which is our version of that for pop culture. We try and give people time from Monday to Wednesday to listen to the podcast, and it’s a whole mystery of who is going to be Barricade Or Bust. On Wednesdays, when people have already had time to listen, we post who we have chosen, and it’s like doing a weekly check-up with everyone, so you feel engaged on social media. Something we are trying to incorporate is asking people, “Who is your barricade or bust?” Something that has helped us build a community on Can We Be Real With You is asking listeners, “What is your opinion?“ and “What do you want to say on this topic?” People enjoy the connection, and you want to feel involved, but it’s hard to do that on a podcast where it’s very clearly Elham and I just talking to each other. If we can engage with you on social media and then bring that into the conversation, that is super important to us too. There is a bunch of different components, obviously editing, producing that goes into it, and we are also trying to engage with other fan publications, fans in general, and we’re going to be doing a lot of outreach because it’s a community we are all a part of. Let’s talk to each other.
Elham: We know what our friends what to see but engaging in fandom as a whole and expanding, is what we are trying to focus on in the beginning. We want to talk about things we love but we also want to bring people on to talk about things they love, which we may not necessarily know about. We want the community to be a platform for people to come and speak.
Liv: I feel like this podcast might also help us realise that we are the same. Like we can connect over the same passion, the same energy, and our love for something so we want everyone who is a fan to connect with it.
What has been your best and worst experiences as fans?
Liv: I won free tickets to The Vamps show and someone tweeted me that they were going to come and shoot me. I have pictures of myself online, they knew I was going to be there, if someone wanted to do that they probably could. I think that is very scary and I had not instigated anything, it’s just the fact I had won the contest. You think of artists facing people saying that every day and it gets to the point where “When do I start believing this could actually happen to me?” That is definitely the worst I have.
Elham: I’m a fan of a lot of artists but I don’t let being a fan dictate my life and my opinions on them. I am still very critical of my favourite artists because I feel like that a good way to have boundaries is to critique that person.
Liv: And to know they are not that perfect!
Elham: I think that those moments are annoying when you have people in your mentions attacking you as you have an opinion that isn’t the norm. I feel like that stuff can get overwhelming and draining because it’s not like I’m going out of my way to be a bad person. I’m not being mean, I am literally giving out my opinions in an objective way.
The best moment as a fan for me was definitely when I went to Harry Styles for Fine Line One Night Only. It was my last show before this pandemic and was on his album release day in December. It was so much fun, I was with all my friends, I love Harry and I had a good ass outfit on. It was just so much fun to be with my friends during the release of the album and it’s never been like that for me for his other albums as there has been no show to go to. To be there with him performing all these, essentially for the first time was like “Omg I am so amazed by you!” I loved being with my friends having fun, just dancing, and pretending I have no issues with my life ever. It was so good!
Liv: Mine is really hard as I like a lot more smaller artists than Elham and have met a lot of them. I would say anytime I have specially met an artist, but I would say the ones I have engaged with the most are The Vamps. At their concert in 2015, I introduced myself to the lead singer Brad during a Q&A with the audience, there were 100 people and I said my name and asked him a question. He recognised me from Twitter and went “Oh you’re that Liv?”
The M&G was after and I went up to him and hugged him and he said “I see you on Twitter all the time, you’re hilarious!” It was insane to me at the time that this person I have been tweeting for 3 years knows who I am and is thanking me for being a fan. From then I have had a lot more experiences with them but it all comes from that moment. After that he knew my name and my face and would be like “Hi Liv!” so I could pinpoint that moment specifically as never feeling so engaged as a fan.
How have your friends and fellow fans responded to this podcast?
Liv: Someone said this week that an episode was really heartwarming which is an interesting response, and not necessarily the exact word I was expecting. Something you can highlight about fan culture is that people feel very connected with a fan, and hearing people talk specifically about what it is like to be a fan and good and bad times brings comfort to people. We have seen people being excited that there is a space for fandom and a place where people in the fandom are speaking out about it rather than those outside voices.
Elham: Shelby who currently works at Epic Records was saying it’s really nice to hear that people anticipate the Instagram stories of when an artist is announcing an album, or just those interactive beginning parts of an album release. We emphasised that in our first episode of how we like the anticipation of a fan and getting the tidbits of information before that whole album comes out. Even in fan communities if you don’t live somewhere or have other friends who are fans just like you, you feel like that you’re a weird person for having this online community you go to and update every day and catch up with these people you don’t know necessarily on a one to one face to face basis but you know them online. I have had a few people say that they really appreciate listening to the podcast because it shows them that fandom is nothing to be ashamed of. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that you are a professional in any capacity, whether it is in the music industry or another field, and also being a fan and fanning out after hours and going online and tweeting or posting.
Liv: A lot of people are scared of feeling like they can’t get into the industry because of being a fan. I think a lot of people feel held back because of their fan status. People can be like us and make their own spaces in the industry as professionals but still be fans. I think that it relates to people who want to work in the industry but are like “How can I do that and still be a fan?” That’s something that you don’t have to give up to be successful.
What do you think of the saying -‘never meet your idols?’
Liv: I don’t necessarily think you shouldn’t’ meet your idols, if that’s something you feel that is going to give you more connection to them go for it. I think it’s also making a decision on what you want that to look that. Do you want it to be a 20 second M&G that you’ve paid $500 for, do you want to wait outside their hotel and risk them not being happy that you’re there? I think that depending on the fandom that you’re in, you kind of know “Is this person going to stop for me? Is this person going to be happy to see me here? How does this person interact in paid meet and greets? I think that if you do your research before meeting them, then you can still feel that same love for them afterwards.
Elham: I think just not building up things in your head is a huge thing. I want to meet anyone I am a fan of ever but I am not going to build scenarios in my head. I just think being older now, you are essentially approaching a stranger and you know who they are but they don’t know who you are unless you are paying for a meet and greet essentially. If you’re out just meeting someone at a restaurant, at a coffee shop, out literally walking down the street I know who you are and you have no idea who I am so you could react in any way. If I build things up in my head then that is not just reality. Sometimes some people are busy, sometimes people are not in the mood and sometimes all you are going to get is a selfie and they are going to walk away. Realising if you do things very out of line like standing outside people’s hotels, follow people’s cars and all that weird behavior you are probably not going to get the meet and greet you dreamed of in your head. If fate works its way out and you happen to meet these people, it might be a pleasant experience.
I feel like there is a period where the whole focus is getting a picture. If the opportunity is there to get a picture, yes, but I think going up to an essential stranger like “Hey can I get a picture with you?” without being like “Hi, I’m Elham, I know who you are, I’m a fan.” You need to introduce yourself.
Liv: I’ve had conversations with artists that I’ve met and been talking to them and they go “Would you like a picture?” I feel like that’s a much happier and nicer scenario than going up to someone and shoving your phone in their face because I feel like you can actually talk to them about something. I am sure you can even prepare something to say to them, even telling them you are such a big fan can make all the difference.
Do you agree that social media can be both a help and a hindrance in the world of fan culture?
Liv: I agree!
Elham: You can learn so much on social media and find so many new things, but you can also find communities and accounts that want to hate on everything and be negative. Without social media, fandoms would be totally different, especially in the last 10 years. All the artists that are huge now have benefitted from social media and have their massive fanbases because of it. Fans have been doing stuff like this for a while- like people have been following tours, going to M&G’s, CD signings for decades, and now you can just communicate with artists in a nanosecond by sending one tweet and it will go to their mentions – it’s just different. I do think I see social media way more of a positive than negative because I curate my space and who I follow, based on people I know are not there to be miserable.
Liv: I think we both have that outlook because we’ve had mostly positive experiences on social media. Social media is so important and it especially shows that now as we can’t have real-life engagement with our idols across the entertainment industry and sports. Social media is super important because it’s virtually the only way we can connect with anything related to fan culture. It’s a good thing we have already established ourselves on there but there’s always going to be areas of social media that are dedicating to hating anything and everything and you just have to combat that. I think that’s why we want to make First In Line a positive and happy space.
What podcasts do you enjoy listening to?
Elham: I really enjoy listening to Popcast which is the NY Times podcast hosted by music critic Jon Caramanica.
Liv:! I listen to a few but mostly to understand what other people listen to. I listen to a couple of popular podcasts, not that I can pinpoint any of them right now. I wanted to decide for myself and find my own podcast voice which I think I have done effectively over the last few years since I first started. I’m much more of a reader I’m so not really someone who can just turn on a podcast. I obviously listen to mine because I edit them! We did one podcast where the audio was messed up and I literally heard that episode ten times over and over again for an hour straight. I think people would find that interesting that I don’t really listen to podcasts. We produce 2 a week so I really wouldn’t have the time to right now. If we’re not recording, we’re not talking about recording, and if we are not doing that then I am editing.
What are both of your personal goals?
Liv: For me I would like a full-time job. Elham and I would obviously love to podcast full-time but we are making any money doing that. Right now, podcasting is just a hobby for us. I’m really looking to get a full-time job, I just graduated from university in May, obviously in the middle of a pandemic which isn’t great. I am just hoping to get a job doing what I want to do, I really want to work in Project Management and continue podcasting on the side as it’s something I really enjoy doing. Looking at podcasting specifically just sort of building a really strong community of fans and building a safe space for people online.
Elham: On the podcasting front, definitely the same as Liv. We would love to have this be our full-time jobs but for right now but for right now it’s just a passionate project and we are really passionate about it. Personally, I would also like a full-time job and I want to be not necessarily in music, but the entertainment industry as a whole – be it music, movies, whatever. I just love entertainment, pop culture, and that kind of stuff. Just a job that I’m going to enjoy having is what I am looking for and just working hard on the podcast and all that other stuff we have going on to turn a passion project into a career.
Liv: We’d love it to be a real business!
You’ve read all that there is about the podcast and all that is left is to listen! You can get involved and share your experiences by visiting the Stan Hotline. The ladies are also organising a pop culture trivia night to be held on Zoom. If that sounds like your thing then you can sign up here!
Who are you a fan of? Will be you tuning in to First In Line? Let us know in the comments below or via Twitter @TheHoneyPOP!
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