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Interview: Yiwei Meng

Tanner Le MoineCameron PagettWillow Sando-McCall

You step out of the car. You’re in the middle of the Warehouse District. Though each building is virtually indistinct from the other, you look left to right and wave your friends in one direction. They follow you, pacing quickly towards a metal-plated industrial elevator. You push the button for “4,” and a little ring of light surrounds the number. The slow, metal moan of the cords indicate your arrival, and the muffled sound of a far off crowd welcomes you.

Your destination is The Factory, or one of the many other rooms in the warehouse that have been transformed into venue space in the past year. Warehouse ownership and warrants are ever-changing, so maneuvering the tagged halls of the building can seem labyrinthine at times, but wholly worth the impending night.

One you arrive, a crumpled up five dollar bill is exchanged for an iridescent wristband with “Minty Boi Presents” printed on the side. Music booms. People crush beer cans and each other. Cigarettes are exchanged for words of kindness. A community forms, and Minty Boi sits at the center.

From Beijing, China to La Cañada Flintridge, California, Yiwei Meng has spent the past year making a name for himself in the Los Angeles DIY scene.

Since his first show in April 2016, the well-loved music collective known as Minty Boi has gathered a dedicated following of Los Angeles youths.

The collective, named after a love of menthol and Camel Crush cigarettes, never had the intention of throwing more than one show.

“I thought it was a one-time thing. Everyone thought it was a one time thing,” Meng explains.

After his initial turn out, Meng continued his booking spree.

“We didn’t actually start blooming, starting to get the name out, until I consistently had house shows,” Meng says. “I had hundreds and hundreds of people coming to my house. We had warehouse shows in the summer. That shit was when we first started blowing up.”

At his summer warehouse residency, Meng continued to pull notable crowds. The owner of the warehouse was just as new to the DIY scene as Meng was, which meant that shows were completely devoid of any rules or regulation.

“We both didn’t know,” Meng says. “Kids would bring alcohol, tag the walls. They’d be like, ‘This is punk. This is edgy.’”

With his growing reputation for warehouse shows, Meng began to branch out. He threw party bus shows, the most memorable of which was “Minty Boi and Best Friends.”

The show, which took place under a since demolished bridge, featured twenty-two bands and was a quintessential DIY festival.

Though Meng has continued to book warehouse shows, he’s graduated into throwing shows at reputable venues like The Smell and The Airliner.Despite his rise in booking success, Meng’s message has remained the same.

“A Minty Boi show is not a show, it’s a party,” Meng says.

Emma DiMaggio | Fun Nihilist

To guarantee that each show meets this goal, Meng goes above and beyond, booking six to eight bands a night, rather than the traditional three to four bands that is typical of DIY shows.

Meng wasn’t always the up-and-coming booker he is today. His journey into the Los Angeles music scene started on Tumblr in his early high school years.

“Before I came to America I listened to stuff like Katy Perry, a little bit of Eminem, that kind of stuff. Rap music, hip hop music,” Meng says. “I wouldn’t understand what they said, but I’d fuck with it.”

After discovering Mac DeMarco on Tumblr, he began his journey into Los Angeles shoegaze essentials.

The first real concert he ever went to was Mac DeMarco, but a show at The Smell was his first real exposure to the DIY scene.

“Sean Nicholas Savage has a show at The Smell. I went there super early, an hour early, just to chill out,” Meng says. “I met him. Took a picture with him. I still have that picture on my phone.”

Meng went on his first date at The Smell, and had his first ever makeout sesh. (Ooh, risque.) He’s continued to look back on that night at The Smell fondly, and has been overjoyed to continue his involvement at The Smell.

“I love The Smell. Everything is so regulated and Jim is just a great person,” Meng says.

The Smell was a pivotal landmark in Meng’s youth, especially when he first moved to the United States and struggled with learning English.

“I was bullied in school because I was Chinese and didn’t speak English. I was weird. I was looking really feminine. I was just not looking basic, and that was my problem,” Meng states. “I had a problem and I went to The Smell and no one gives a fuck if you speak this language or not, they’ll fuck with you.”

Emma DiMaggio | Fun Nihilist

Under this premise, Meng has made a family of the LA music scene.

When asked who has supported Minty Boi, Meng has a long list. He shouts out Penniback, KXLU, Dirty Laundry, Celebrity Crush, Jim, owner of The Smell, Pauline, the owner of Pehrspace, Mike from Pehrspace, Nina and Max from Basic Flowers. Zyren and Garrett, his brothers in arms. Spencer, and the rest of the homies who have been beside him since day one. He touchingly, and sincerely, describes them as his family.

However, Meng doesn’t forget his fans, “Nevermind. Forget that. Everyone. Shout out to every motherfucker who came to my shows. You’re supportive as fuck. Thank you everyone.” With the intention of providing for his fans, he has made sure that his shows remain a safe space for anyone and everyone.

In reference to his shows being safe spaces, he has one thing to say; “It’s really simple. Don’t do something stupid. Don’t do something wrong.”

Meng has big plans for the future of Minty Boi, but he’s starting small.

He recently organized an East Coast tour, and has high hopes for its success.

“We’re going to do shows because we love music. See some bands we want to see and play with them. That’s honestly it. Make it really  simple,” Meng says. “I just want to test it out, see if I’m capable of doing this, of booking a tour.”

Meng already has his sights set on post-tour goals.

“The current goal right now is either Hi-Hat or Echoplex or Teragram. Three goals. Or Zebulon Cafe, that’s four,” Meng says. He thinks landing a show at a well-known venue will take Minty Boi to the next level.

Beyond that, Meng strives to solidify the Minty Boi name on a larger scale.

“Be at FYF. I don’t want to sound too ambitious, but that’s it,” Meng says. “Be a bigger thing.”

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