Interview with Benn Gabriner – animator of ‘Slumber’ video

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.

Official Video for Asta Hiroki – ‘Slumber (feat. Dontmesswithjuan)

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. 

One of Benn’s musical/visual projects: Astral Bird – K2000

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.