If there’s a person who defines LA, it’s probably Gab3. Originally moving back to the city of his birth after building his name in Ohio as a musician supporting names like Big Sean, after landing in LA Gab3 decided to fill the gap he saw in the local music scene by plugging it with music videos he made using old VHS cameras. He did this circa 2012 as part of the now-defunct creative duo UZi, setting up in the city with nothing more than $10 in his pocket.
Today, however, the guy is at the top of his game, finishing music vids and projects with the likes of Drake and 21 Savage with that lo-fi, home-movie VHS look that's instantly become a trademark of his work.
So as part of our experimental film project, City Charged, produced in collaboration with Nike and the creative team behind the new LunarCharge, we asked the guy to shoot a video for us to gain a glimpse of his life in LA. In his own unique style, he captures the energy of the sun-kissed City of Angels, but counterposes the fast and dynamic lifestyle of its citizens and his own career with the calmer spots of the city.
But this is not why Gab3 defines the lifestyle of LA, however fast or slow, energetic or sun-kissed and lazy. Gab3’s weirdly dreamy aesthetic, laced with heavy doses of nostalgia, only half explains why he’s gotten to the point he has.
Despite his impressive body of work for music artists (since "being discovered" by Kreayshawn in 2013, he’s shot for her, Kid Cudi, A$AP Ferg, Ke$ha and more), Gab3 is also building a growing reputation among fashion labels and brands, including Alexander Wang and Matthew Williams.
However, the guy is (and was first and foremost) a musician himself. In his recent lo-fi trap track, "Know Me", and its accompanying music vid, he’s spotted wearing leopard print pants, sporting Paradis3, as well as being escorted through the streets of Tokyo with local party kids – all looking pretty despondent and a little disappointed at the whole thing. But this is all part of the charm and the mystery.
It seems with Gab3, his videos' content is tinged with the same despondent irony as the lyrics in his music: both use the tropes and stereotypes of the scene – cars, money, girls, an almost neurotic sense of self compared to everyone else – to reach back and put irony and humor back into streetwear and music. It also holds a mirror up to the easy objects of hype culture and the world of Hollywood and LA, a world he managed to break with only $10 to his name. When you can reach the top, nothing is that special, and yet everything is: because that's life and that's the city, however fast or slow you journey through them.
Here’s what he said when the camera wasn't rolling...
How has LA treated you?
It's the best city in the world. I love how chill it is and how easy it is to create in a city like this. I been all over the world and there's no place quite like it. It's never good to stay in the same place for too long though.
How would you describe the energy of LA?
LA has a very laid-back energy. All I do is make music and shop on Yahoo Japan. I feel like people don't really do much. It's a very private town, everyone kind of just does freelance work and keeps to themselves at their house. I rarely go to party but I do like to go to shows though.
How did the creative idea of Gab3 come about and where’s it going?
Gab3 is getting bigger everyday. I just started having fun and will continue to do so. I just directed the Drake video which was so awesome, and I have brand new music coming out. I think it's the best stuff I've ever made. I'm so excited.
Why does that VHS-look look better?
There is just something about it that feels nostalgic. Film is always more colorful than digital right? I just like using old formats to capture new visions. I think it's a subtle, weird thing that throws people off. I'm gonna be using VHS forever but I love shooting on movie cameras and stuff just as much. I think it's so cool shooting pop stars on VHS.
What did you make of the sneaker?
It's versatile and is very comfortable. I loved wearing it with my Tech suit. I really think people are into shoes that feel good to wear. In terms of functionality, it's one of the coolest shoes I've worn in a while.
Music or fashion videos and projects? Is there a difference?
No, it all comes naturally. I got to do something with Alexander Wang last month and that was so cool. There's something special about high fashion. I love being around the models, and the runway, and that whole mindset. Even though I'm kind of a grungy, underground kid I think our style blends in really nice with high fashion. I hope to do more next year.
Out of all the big names you’ve worked with, who informed you the most?
Part four of five of our experimental City Charged series follows soon. In the meantime, check out the project's films in Paris and London or cop the sneaker that pushed Gab3 through the day, Nike’s new LunarCharge, at Nike.com.