Decadent Cosmos is very excited to introduce Gabriel (he/him). Gabriel is a musician and filmmaker with a multitude of interests and inspiring attitude toward creativity. Enjoy!
DECADENT: So let's begin with your mediums: film and music. Can you talk about how those relate to one another as well as how they differ for you as a creator? And what's the spark that gets you going?
GABRIEL: My mediums are film and music. My work is definitely visual, especially on the film front. But even how I write: I think I have a visual sense and I'm very descriptive.
But the spark, it all comes from the feeling that I want to push forward. Because I feel like it's all about mood.
At the end of it, when people see or read anything that I produce, it's all about a feeling, I want them to know that we can all be on the same energy and I hope we connect on the energy that I put out. That's the spark.
DECADENT: Do you feel like there's a difference between the way you're able to convey a feeling in film versus conveying a feeling in music?
GABRIEL: Well, in music, I like to think that it's vibrations, it's waves. So you pick up on the energy, I think, more instantly. You can tell almost immediately if you're into a song, right? However, when it comes to film I think I have more freedom because it's so visual. As a writer, when I translate that to film I don't have to focus so heavily on dialogue to push my narrative. And that's what I really appreciate about film.
DECADENT: So let's talk about film, what you've done so far and what you plan to accomplish going forward.
GABRIEL: Right before the pandemic, I was getting ready to create my first film, I had the budget, I had the people together. But being as small as I am, once everything shut down, this got shut down too. But it has started back up. I'm revising the script. I'm going to submit for a couple of grants.
Hopefully by summer, I can have the film complete. Next year, I want to actually submit it to some festivals.
DECADENT: Can we get a sneak peek of what it might be about?
GABRIEL: Right when I got into college, "adulting" was tough. It was tough as hell. Not saying that I was parented a lot, because I wasn't right. But in the sense of doing everything on my own. It felt like I was in a forest, a very dense forest and I didn't know which way to go. So I was like, "Let me create this coming of age film about this young man trying to navigate this forest."
And that is the film. He comes across demons...you know, everything that I've really been facing for the last seven, eight years. I don't want to give the ending away, but you get the idea.
DECADENT: So that sounds very personal and autobiographical.
GABRIEL: When I told my mom that I wanted to be a writer, she told me, "You can only write what you know."
That being said, while this piece is very personal, I'm telling it in a way that isn't so personal. You're not seeing a film with Gabe in it portraying Gabe's life. It's going to be more avant garde...it's gonna be wild.
DECADENT: Clearly your own experiences are an important source of inspiration for you. You have also told me that the people you see around you play a role in inspiring your work. Are you familiar with the term "sonder"? Basically the idea that everyone you see around you has their own life, their own story. Do all these other unknown stories play into your work?
GABRIEL: That's why I moved to this city. People are everything in my work. Art is so important because it allows one to express oneself without being so blunt about it.
If I'm sad, how do I say that to a bunch of strangers? We were talking about energies or frequencies, right? There are frequencies within everything.
You see a painting, that's going to make you feel some type of way. That energy, that frequency is transferring itself from that picture to the viewer.
But to go back to people-watching, right? Yeah, I love thinking about where they're from. How did they get here?
DECADENT: I'm not a filmmaker, but it seems to me that because of all the people that go into the production of a film, community might play a role in your art-making. Does that sound right to you?
GABRIEL: It does take a village to create a film, to bring it to market or to publish it. But within the creative process, depending on what you're creating, it is very personal. It's just you and a sheet of paper, initially.
DECADENT: How about music? Where is its place in your creative process?
GABRIEL: One of my favorite genres of music is jazz. I studied music theory for a while. Music theory is essentially math. When you break [music] down, it's so structured. Jazz goes against the grain of what music is supposed to be. When film directors go against the grain of Hollywood, that's good.
DECADENT: I love that comparison between jazz and film. Okay, walk me through your creative process. What's going through your head? Where do you start? Where do you go?
GABRIEL: I think a lot of my stuff comes through moments, conversations, encounters that I have with other people.
Just keep your eyes open. I wasn't big into history as a kid. But last week, I was doing some writing and some research on Machiavelli. The Prince is interesting because there is success in that mindset but it is very evil.
DECADENT: Can I ask why you were doing research on Machiavelli in particular?
GABRIEL: Well, you know how every other week we do the "Midnight Society" thing and this past week's theme was "effort" and I was thinking, "What can I talk about?" And so I thought, "What if it's this old warlord...Alexander the Great or maybe Odysseus." Basically a conqueror at the end of his days on his deathbed not the battlefield. What is he going to say to his son?
What if this old conqueror gives his son the Machiavelli talk: "You need to be ruthless, we live in a cruel world, you're going to have to be the cruelest of them all". That was that and I acted it out and everything.
Before that I had never looked at history as drama, but it's so dramatic. There are stories in there.
So, when walking past people wondering what their story is, you have to realize that history is a part of these people's stories.
DECADENT: You told me previously that what you've learned through your life experiences has allowed your creativity to grow and change. Do you have an example of something specific that has shaped your creative process or something more general that has given rise to it?
GABRIEL: If I was going to describe something that has shaped me as a creator, it would really just be my upbringing. I'm getting real with you now. So my mom went to prison and my grandma had to take care of me and there was a point where granny couldn't take care of me so I got sent off to an aunt. I don't know if I was just terrible but that aunt didn't want to take care of me anymore so I got sent over to another aunt
Also, the one girl I think I really, truly fell in love with was a white girl and I grew up in a Southern town where we couldn't truly be lovers.
That's all to say there has always been this sense of want that I have always felt I was lacking.
I still think that people want who I am, that I am valued in my circles, but when it comes to things like film and writing, where I can come to people with my words - I know that is my calling, that is where I am wanted.
DECADENT: That is a beautiful way of putting that. I am also under the impression that people who are especially attracted to film as a creative medium are very in touch with their memories of their relationships, whether familial or romantic, and those memories shape their work. Does that resonate with you at all?
GABRIEL: "You can only write what you know."
I sold cars in Knoxville while I was doing my internship there and I realized that if I did want to be successful in the film world, I'd have to find a way to make the stories I want to tell intriguing. Once I know how I want people to feel, I need to figure out how to get people interested. I think the disadvantage that we as creators now have to face is people's attention spans.
DECADENT: Yeah, the attention economy is tough to navigate.
GABRIEL: Besides music maybe, you have so little time to grab people's attention with your work. With my film, the first scene is going to be fucking wild. I want people to stick around to see what happens next.
DECADENT: That's how you have to draw them in and then you can blow their minds with whatever you do next.
Okay, so what is your dream project? Or just a future project that you're very excited about?
GABRIEL: Oh, that one's easy, a TV show called Animal Language. I find that being straight-up is the best form of communication. For example, if I've offended you, it's your job to tell me that. If I make that mistake again, it's my fault.
With Animal Language, I want to explore language as something that you can be straight-up with.
My pièce de résistance however, is going to be religious, in the sense that it will suggest that that is how we should live with each other.
It will be about this underground society that comes up out of the dust, and they'll just go around murdering people...I still need to do some work on this one and I won't be making it until I'm 55, 60. But the sense of it is that we all come from different things, we all have our own agendas. Now, there are some evil people, and I don't believe that there is any perfect Utopia, but what I want to show throughout this entire trilogy (it's going to be a trilogy) is that there is no "good guy".
As the audience you will want to pick a side but there will be no sides.
DECADENT: Wow, that sounds super cool. Well, forty years from now when you finish this project, I'll be there!
Thanks so much, Gabe!
You can read a short story by Gabriel below