Thursday, July 18, 2013

Orbillenium Interview

All Artwork And Videos belong to Dwayne "Cheeks" Gissendanner

Dwayne “Cheeks” Gissendanner (a.k.a. 80s90sicon, Orbillenium, Orbcreation) is an artist who loves old-school stuff, namely cartoons, TV shows and music from the 80s and 90s. Over on Youtube, he became known for creating a really well-edited video series called “Y2K After Effects”, where he points out where things went wrong after the turn of the millennium, in terms of the entertainment industry, fanbases, humanity, and other things. He has currently shifted his focus from making these videos to working on his artwork and making plans to create cartoons. As a fan of this video series, as well as a fan of his incredibly awesome artwork, with its eccentric coloring, stylistic drawing, and that retro atmosphere, I see a lot of potential for the guy and I felt like getting to know him a little more and letting people know a little bit about him as well. So later on last year, I had the good fortune to be able to interview him through DA notes and learn some more about his creativity and insight.

LK: Your hobbies seem to consist of drawing, skating, video editing and old school stuff, from what I know of. Do you have any other hobbies or interests that I didn’t mention?
DG: Actually you pretty much got them all. There are times when I do Bboy but not much.

LK: What convinced you that the entertainment industry was going down the tubes?
DG: The day I turned on the TV and realized that I hated every channel I turned to. There was nothing of my interest I wanted to see and nothing to my liking on the radio. When I saw what kind of cartoons they were producing nowadays, I started looking up old school Nickelodeon videos and realized that entertainment was so much better back then. This was when I first discovered YouTube back in ‘06. I then started to watch videos of people ranting about today's entertainment. So I figured I could take a stab at making rant videos of my own. That was the start of the Y2K series.

LK: You sure Nostalgia Filter has nothing to do with this, that entertainment really was better back then in comparison to now?
DG: This is my first time hearing about this Nostalgia Filter. Most of my findings in terms of the way things were then and now were based on what I liked to watch and listen to, watching tons of Youtube videos, reading the comments on the videos and watching many rants on why other people thought that the past was better. Everyone has their own reasons for why they believe the past is better, some of them being the same as others. For me, it was all about the atmosphere. It's not just about TV shows and music, but the atmosphere that encompasses TV shows and music. The way people dressed, the kind of shows they watched and the Saturday morning experience of being able to wake up early to your favorite bowl of cereal and cartoons after having been enslaved through five days of school knowing that after that last Friday school bell, Saturday was a day that you earned and you treated it like it was your day to be a kid with no limits and full fledged childhood freedom. The way everybody connected with one another, the type of clothes they wore, the trends, and the people that would be looked at as heroes and idols, motivators that would help inspire their future (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Hulk Hogan, etc.)

LK: Is there anything about today’s world that you do like?
DG: The only thing that interests me about today's society is technology. To me, it soared high while humanity failed, for it’s what we do on computers and phones now, and all the technical devices we have at our disposal that has made life better and easier.

LK: So the increased technology interests you the most about today. Is there nothing in the modern entertainment industry that you like or that interests you in the slightest?
DG: Not really. There may be some rare moments when something might catch my eye, but it doesn't happen often.

LK: Who or what would you consider influences for your artwork?
DG: Most of my influence comes from 80s and 90s videos whether it be promos, commercials or TV shows. Some of it comes from Saturday morning cartoon memories and videos. During the 80s and 90s, there were a lot of bright colors and random craziness in the promos and commercials, etc. Videos like this, for example: CBS Saturday Morning Promo 1989 (Author's Note: Sorry if I couldn't display the actual video in the blog, but it wouldn't bring it up in the "Search Youtube" section like I wanted. Anyways, here it is, for your viewing pleasure.) And as you can see, my artwork harvests a lot of bright colors as well. As far as whom, most of it comes from people who can draw better than me. It helps me focus on drawing better and making my work look just as good, if not better.

LK: So basically, 80s and 90s cartoons, promos, commercials, TV shows, and other stuff from your childhood, right? And do you consider people that can draw better than you to be some of the animators and cartoonists that created some of those shows you grew up on?
DG: Yes, and yes. Animators, comic book artists, Youtube artists and people on deviantART contribute to my inspirations.

LK: I’ve heard you talk some about cartoons and TV shows, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard your thoughts on movies. What would you consider to be some of your favorite movies?
DG: Well, I'm not much of a movie person, but I do have some favorites, like House Party, the Back to the Future trilogy, Friday, Space Jam, A Goofy Movie, and The Lion King, just to name a few.

LK: What about favorite TV shows, cartoons and/or anime, if any of the latter?
DG: Favorite cartoons are Ren and Stimpy, (the very show that got me into drawing,) Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Doug, Rocko's Modern Life, Pepper Ann, Garfield, What-a-Cartoon Show, Dragonball Z, and there are many others I can't name. As far as shows go, pretty much 90% of anything Nickelodeon had on in the early to mid 90s and most of everything that came on Cartoon Network.

LK: What about the other 10% with Nickelodeon? Care to tell me that?
DG: The other 10% would be Hey Dude, Space Cases, Welcome Freshman and Aaahh! Real Monsters. Although Welcome Freshman and Hey Dude had damn good intro music, I found myself turning the channel after the intro was over. There was just something about the shows that I just couldn't connect with and the same goes for Aaahh! Real Monsters. Given how much I loved cartoons then, I just couldn't get into that show. Space Cases, I didn't like at all. I didn't like the intro or anything about the show. I think the only reason I thought that show might grab my attention was because it had the Black Power Ranger as one of the casting members.

LK: From what I gathered from your Y2K After Effects videos, you seem to like rock and hip-hop from the 80s and 90s when it comes to music. What do you consider your favorite bands/artists? Are there any other music genres that you like?
DG: I did have a lot of favorite rock bands like Metallica, Static-X and Slipknot, and I have a passion for "old school" hip-hop. These days, I pay no attention to what's on the radio and I can't remember the last time I saw a full-length music video on TV, let alone watched much TV. These days you can tell when people just don't care to put any effort in music, especially when the music videos are full of materialistic stuff and no real music. Nowadays, I listen to underground hip-hop, unknown artists and music on Youtube. As far as a favorite genre of music goes, I always had a thing for Smooth Jazz and I have recently got into Lounge music. Keeps me calm, and I enjoy being relaxed.

LK: Ok, so basically that would represent most of your opinion in regards to music. Any other bands/artists that you would consider favorites?
DG: Paul Hardcastle (Smooth Jazz), Damu Fudgemunk (Youtube Hip-Hop artist), and Ethereal Universe (Youtube artist)

(Like what you've heard so far? Check out some more here: Orbillennium Music Playlist)

LK: I’ve heard some of the music you’ve created. Pretty cool stuff. May I ask what inspired you to try your hand at creating music?
DG: I'm no musician, but I just got tired of hearing what everyone's definition of music was these days. So I took a stab at making my own music. I knew what type of sounds I wanted to hear, so I would attempt making my own music tracks.

LK: Do you have any original characters or concepts that you’ve come up with for shows and that kinda thing?
DG: Well for the most part, I haven't come up with any concepts for TV and stuff like that. I don't have any intention to put my characters on TV and what not. My goal is to build my Orbillennium name as a way to host quality art (my cartoon characters) and quality videos, like the stuff on my Youtube and deviantART accounts.

LK: I was going to ask you about your goals and that kinda thing, but that's a fairly decent answer as to your intentions. Do you have any other goals or other specific ones in mind? Also, about the name "Orbillennium", where did you come up with that?
DG: Well, my other goals would be to make comic books and/or online comics, videos and animations with my characters. The name Orbillennium came from me being tired of how this millennium has been in terms of humanity and entertainment. I thought it would be kinda cool to create my own millennium rather than just some company. The "Orb" name comes from an idea I had for a comic book company name that I came up with in high school called Orb Comics. But as time when on and things got more crappy in society, the “Orb” name soon branched into its own millennium.

LK: So I take it you’ve been trying to come up with some ways to combat these “Y2K After Effects”. How are you going on that?
DG: Well so far, not very good, given all the financial woes I’ve had and not having much motivation or free time to draw, with work and personal stuff and whatnot. I'm sure that sooner or later, things will start to go good for me and I can rise to the occasion of dealing with these Y2K After Effects.

LK: Oh geez, I'm sorry to hear that. Well, I hope for the best, since I see a lot of potential in you as an artist. I'd ask about what you do for work and all that, but that's most likely another question for another time. Anyways, next question: what do you use to create your artwork?
DG: I usually use HB pencils, Faber Castell drawing pens, and depending on the mood I'm in, I will either color it by hand with Prismacolor pencils or markers on Bristol board paper or I'll scan it in my computer and color it in Photoshop.

LK: How about your videos and music? How do you make those?
DG: Depending on what type of video it is will determine how I will approach it. For example, those Y2K videos I did. Everything starts with inspiration and motivation. I would watch several videos whether it was based on nostalgia or rant videos. In my head I begin to create a story of what I want it to look like. So with careful planning and editing, I try to bring out the scare factor of why things are the way they are in entertainment today. With the music I make it's no different. The only difference being that it's from a musical perspective. I am no musician, so I create by ear. I know what kind of vibe I'm looking for and what sounds I want to hear so I just start trying out different things until I come across something that compliments what I'm looking for. I don't have any high tech equipment or anything like that. All I have is a Midi keyboard and music software and so far, that is all I've really needed.

LK: Ok, but what software do you use to make your videos?
DG: I use Vegas Movie Studio 10 to edit videos, and I use FL Studio to make my music.

LK: Also, when I asked about your videos, you mentioned trying to "bring out the scare factor of why things are the way they are in entertainment today." So was it your intention to "scare people straight" with these videos? The Teeny Bopper Bacteria one in particular I felt was pretty terrifying.
DG: My intention wasn't to scare people senseless, but to give somewhat of a scare as to where entertainment is nowadays and where it's headed. And yeah, the teeny bopper bacteria video was illustrating the fail of the human race and who today's lack of entertainment is catering to. But the way I put it together, it looked like a virus that was spreading and infecting everyone that actually appreciates quality entertainment.

LK: I was talking to a friend about the bumpers, promos, and commercials on Nickelodeon back in the 80s and 90s, and how there was something in the classic Nickelodeon that the modern Nick sadly lacks that I couldn't quite put my finger on. He suggested that it was probably the surrealism and over-exaggeration in the look of the channel and that nowadays, the bumpers and commercials want to be as plain and generic as possible. Would you say that's part of the reason, aside from the lack of quality programming and the teeny bopper targeting, why most of these networks have fallen from grace?
DG: Well, that is true. There is also the overprotective parents who worry about everything being right these days and because there are a lot of rules out there nowadays in reference to what they can show on TV. And then there are the networks that are too afraid to take risk with some of the content that they showcase on TV, and are in constant fear of lawsuits and other overprotective parents complaining about kids’ entertainment.

LK: Ok, I've asked about some of the aspects of entertainment like cartoons, TV shows, movies, music and that kinda thing, but do you have any opinions about video games or are you not too familiar with gaming to have anything to say about them?
DG: Well I haven't put much in what's going on in the video game world other than the constant complaining and nagging about the graphics being what makes the game instead of the gameplay itself and what not so I can't say much about the gaming industry in general.

LK: I see. I take it you're not into video games all that much, then.
DG: Well, I'm not much of a gamer. I'm trying to get back into it but it's a slow process.

LK: Lately, I've been checking out old 80s and 90s commercials, and I noticed how they actually tend to be more genuinely entertaining than most of today's commercials. Do you think there's a reason for that as well? 
DG: If you look at some of the old commercials while there is an emphasis to promote and/or sell something, it doesn't feel like it was forced on the consumer. It feels more like it was done for least that's how I see it. It's almost as if commercials were made to entertain rather than sell something. And with less strict rules during that time and less influence from soccer moms and other overprotective parties on what type of content can be put on TV, it seems like people had more freedom and more fun to make commercials the way they did back then.

LK: Looking back at your response to my question of what convinced you that the entertainment industry was going down the tubes, you mentioned that you felt entertainment was much better back then. In what ways would you say they were better than today's entertainment?
DG: There was a better sense of creativity and fun. It felt like people weren't trying to impress corporations or parents. It felt like they were trying to impress themselves, which is why the entertainment had more quality.

LK: One would figure that, going by your other Y2K videos, you were just an overly nostalgic adult, but your “Childhood Innocence” Y2K After Effects Video seems to show that, as well as the state of entertainment, you feel concern for modern youth as well. I bet you consider childhood a very important time in someone’s life. Care to explain why you feel that?
DG: Everything that happens during your childhood years creates what will become of you in your teen and adult years. There’s always the old saying that everything begins at home. When you hear of kids who are disruptive and somewhat of a menace to society, it usually occurs from how they were raised as a child. Not everything is based on childhood, but a good majority of what happens in your childhood shapes you into what you will become later on in your life.

Entertainment kept a lot of us out of trouble and kept us all in a fun atmosphere making us want to do fun stuff, go out doors, etc. Some of that entertainment also taught morals and lessons in life. But when that 's taken away, you're left with menacing kids that cause trouble and are sucked in by peer pressure.  A good example of this is in the "Childhood Innocence" video. Near the end of the video there is a segment that discusses the peer pressures of what kids wear and how they act around others because of infatuations with certain celebrities and the fact that everyone thinks more about relationships and sex at a ridiculously young age than they do about where they will be in life.

LK: You certainly seem passionate about this, I can tell. Is it a fear of yours that children would grow up too fast?
DG: Well, I think that it’s already happened, but I do feel that it could get much worse.

LK: Oh dear. Like how so? Do you have any way you plan to prevent that and the other “growing up too fast” issues through your work?
DG: There isn't really much that can be done. Like the times change, people change as well. The only real way that things can get better is if they start learning to live better than they are now which will also take the help of parents who can raise them right and as far as entertainment is concerned, doing things independently like what I'm doing now may very well be the only way because trying to rely on corporations (as you can see by the way television entertainment is) isn't gonna do much good.

To end things on a positive note, he has just recently started a new website for the Orbillenium name, which can be found here: Orbillennium

Definitely check it out when you can. And to Dwayne, thank you for agreeing to do this interview and I hope you will be able to one day let your creativity shine for all to see.

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