A conversation with Benn Gabriner, the animator of the official video of Asta Hiroki’s ‘Slumber (feat. Dontmesswithjuan)’ video. We talk about all things animation, mirrors, insider trading, and chocolate hummus…
What’s your name/alias?
Benn Gabriner // mirrormang
How did your alias come about?
My instagram started by only taking photos in mirrors. And Mirrorman was already taken…
How long have you been animating?
About 1 year now
As well as animating you are a musician too, do you have a favourite creative medium?
Not really, I just like making all kinds of art. Probably would help if I narrowed it down a little though.
Who or what do you count as your main influences when creating?
I find Paul Dano very inspiring.
How did you go about coming up with the imagery for Asta Hiroki’s track ‘Slumber’?
I’ve always liked slice of life kinda stuff. I guess a lot of the imagery is just observational things of life and walking around
What is your favourite thing from the video?
I love praying mantis’ so I really like that shot. I find them very beautiful but I’ve always been kinda afraid to touch them because of their pincers so I wanted to draw one in my hand.
Are there any secret weapons or techniques you use that help define your style?
Find influences that you like and then completely disregard them when your actually making your art.
What’s coming up next for you creatively, any projects on the horizon?
I’m currently learning 3D modeling so hopefully some more music videos in 3D.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world alive or dead who would it be and on what project?
I would like to show Mozart Hyperpop beats and then film his reaction on a super 8 camera. Maybe show that at a few film festivals.
Sweet or Savoury?
There’s this chocolate hummus at Trader Joe’s I’ve always been curious to try but can’t bring myself to buy it. If anyone see’s this and you’ve had it can you please let me know what it tastes like?
What tools do you regularly use in your work e.g. which software, specific techniques of animation?
I switch between traditional hand drawn animation and photoshop. I also like to mess around with making animation and then filming it back on my 1980’s VHS cameras to degrade the quality.
Did you study or are you self taught?
Self taught, but I would encourage anyone interested to try formal training. If you want to get into animation and be successful go to Calarts or somewhere with a big community you can make connections with.
How often do you draw?
Depends, sometimes a lot, recently not so much just focusing on CG and music
What’s the longest period of artistic block you’ve had?
Idk there’s always something tumblin around in there. Maybe a month.
How did you get past it?
Take a trip somewhere and do something new. Even if it’s just the beach or something. Talk to random people. Go to the beach and talk to a stranger and you’ll get rid of your writer’s block.
How would you describe your own work to someone?
I wouldn’t, when people ask me what I do I say I sell insurance so I don’t have to explain what kinda art I make.
Can you share what you would consider a career highlight?
I miss my job writing for SNL until I got fired for reasons I won’t and legally cannot get into. I also got away with a fair bit of insider trading which was really exhilarating and I never got caught for…
Where are you based?
Los Angeles, I moved here a couple of years ago, it’s always sunny and warm, can’t complain.
How can people find you (any relevant social links)?
@mirrormang on instagram
– Any final thoughts, advice, or words of wisdom you want to share?
Please don’t take advice from artists, If the apocalypse ever happens and we have to rebuild society I will be totally useless without computers and photoshop.
Electronic producer and visual artist Asta Hiroki has steadily built a name for himself in recent times via a clutch of high-quality singles, remixes and an EP. After an extended period spent hibernating in the studio while the world as we know it changed significantly, electronic he emerges in 2021 with his eagerly anticipated debut album ‘Entropy’.
Spanning leftfield electronica, downtempo, contemporary jazz, and hip hop, and recorded across studios in UK, Colombia, USA, and Cyprus, it’s a glorious collection that sees the producer teaming up with some sizeable talents.
Across ten tracks he combines with a truly wonderful cast that features: Lalin (The Seshen, Tru Thoughts), Muhsinah (Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus, Common) Dontmesswithjuan, Tristan de Liège (Loci Records, Future Archive) and more.
This expansive record is beautifully arranged, with a fine balance between live strings and drums, muscular bass sounds, colourful Fender Rhodes chords, delicate organic textures and intricate sound design. There are knowing nods throughout to the LA beat scene, the Bristol sound, and London’s nu jazz upstarts, yet it maintains it’s own unique style and aesthetic away from them.
Highlights include the lumbering-yet-nuanced Flying Lotus-esque opener ‘Dahlias’, the dynamic and virtuousic live drum playing of percussionist Robbie Hookins on contemporary jazztronica cut ‘Cherry Blossom’, Dontmesswithjuan’s dreamy, drifting vocals on ‘Slumber’, and Lalin’s heart wrenching, shivers-up-the-spine vocal performance on ‘Left Behind’.
Crafted as a highly conceptual project – many tracks incorporate the albums theme in the music literally, illustrated by real humanistic playing and improvisation being preferred over quantised, or copy and pasted audio clips that give a ‘perfect’ performance.
In the artist’s own words:
“This album was made over a period of years where this ‘entropy’ theme became more prominent for me. Looking at the world and seeing climate crisis, the rise of fake news, the dominance of social media, a spread of populism politics, increases in wealth and quality of life disparity, a pandemic, etc, etc. It seemed to be visible everywhere and inescapable.
It’s easy to think the world presented to you is in a certain order as you grow up, but the entropy of the universe is always increasing, naturally slipping towards the unknown, and trying to stop it is pointless. I think there is sometimes beauty to be found in this shift – an unexpected element that brings joy.
These compositions were created with that in mind, and are bound together by the common theme, intending to occupy the both the side of the order that we are comfortable with as well as traveling to the spaces beyond those boundaries.”
Programming, Piano, Synths, Guitars, Bass, Drum Machines: Asta Hiroki Drums and Percussion on ‘Cherry Blossom’, ‘Entropy’, ‘These Hands (pt.2)’: Robbie Hookins Cello on ‘Apparition’ and ‘Left Behind’ – Bela Emerson Vocals on ‘Left Behind’: Lalin St. Juste Vocals on ‘Between Love and Happiness’: Muhsinah Vocals on ‘Slumber’: Dontmesswithjuan Harp on ‘Entropy’: Alexandra King Saxophone on ‘These Hands (pt.2)’: Tristan de Liege
Electronic producer and visual artist Asta Hiroki unites with the extraordinarily talented vocalist and lyricist- Lalin St. Juste (aka the voice and bandleader of the Bay Area electronic seven-piece The Seshen) in the second single taken from his debut album, the sublime track ‘Left Behind’.
Having created a sparse arrangement with a theme of loss that was an intriguing downtempo fusion of piano ballad, IDM, sound design, and live orchestral string elements, there was only one person he wanted to collaborate with to help the track reach its full potential.
Counting himself a fan of The Seshen’s explorations into Electronica, Pop, and Dance since their first album ‘Flames and Figures’ (Tru Thoughts), he reached out across international waters to Lalin who immediately got on board with the sonic vision and laid her intimate and achingly beautiful vocal arrangements down.
Drawing from her current personal experiences along the same theme, the resulting piece became a beautifully cathartic and naturally emotive process to create the moving composition, which ultimately laid the foundation for further work between them…
Between them these two artists have gained a huge range of support the last few years including the likes of Lauren Laverne, Tom Ravenscroft, Don Letts, Huey Morgan (BBC 6Music), KCRW, Radio X, Jazz FM, Bandcamp, The Arts Desk, Dummy Mag, EARMILK to mention a few.
And with them producing a must-listen track like this one it’s very hard to imagine that list won’t grow even further still.
Vocals: Lalin St. Juste Piano, Synths, Drum Machine: Asta Hiroki Cello: Bela Emerson
After an extended period spent hibernating in the studio while the world as we know it changed significantly, electronic producer and visual artist Asta Hiroki emerges in 2021 with the first single to be taken from his eagerly anticipated forthcoming debut album. And it’s a typically luscious track of downtempo nourishment that goes by the name of ‘Slumber’.
Lo-fi aesthetics combine with leftfield electronica are laid down to form a beautiful bedrock, as the Colombia-based, Montreal-native producer and vocalist: Dontmesswithjuan contributes to an appropriately dreamy vocal performance for this sleepy title. She further enhances her already growing reputation on a track that captures the mind with it’s soulful, heavy-eyed hypnotism.
Her vivid lyricism mixes the everyday and the surreal with overarching themes of stopping and stepping back for reflection, looking to find joy and beauty in simple moments, and not just sleepwalking through modern life scenarios and situations.
Asta Hiroki contributes the lead track and has mastered other tracks on Tristan de Liege’s new release ‘Usawa Remixes pt. 1″ alongside Koresma, Tristan de Liege, and Salvatore Cordova. Check it out on Bandcamp here: