Word Of Mouth, LA: DJ, Designer and Artist Gianni Lee Shares His Latest Music, Art and Anime Loves
Word of Mouth is a series where we get you guys onto cool things, via cool people. We’re talking to our favorite creatives, artists, and athletes about their favorite stuff in their lives right now—cool apps they’re addicted to, new albums they can’t stop bumping, new health regimens… anything goes. Prepare to be put on.
Many people may know Gianni Lee for co-founding Philly clothing brand Babylon Cartel (which is also featured in our streetwear directory, The Green List: 100 Underground Brands in America), but he’s also made a name for himself as a music producer, artist, and all-around creative now based out of Los Angeles. Since winning a DJ competition for VFILES that put him on the map two years ago, Lee has been exploring his artistry through painting and delving deeper into the underground music scene, releasing remixes and an EP along the way.
Providing the dance vibes on the 1s and 2s last Friday for our Fairfax Block Party, Lee put us on to his latest finds in art and music. Listen up.
Dragon Ball Z Super
To commemorate their anniversary, Dragon Ball Z started producing a television series, and it’s called Dragon Ball Z Super. There’s a lot of Dragon Ball Z fans out there. I’m really into Dragon Ball Z and animation of all sorts, especially Japanese anime. They drop a new episode every Saturday on Fuji TV, which is in Japan, so every Saturday, I’ll just stream an episode. It’s a very dope series. Just like anything else, they’re fighting, they’re powering up and all of that, but it’s drawn very well; the story is good. I get a lot of inspiration from it, people don’t even know—the way they use color; the way they animate; the design of the clothing. People should check that out.
I was listening to Hiatus Kaiyote so much, and I got so obsessed with them that I looked on their likes on SoundCloud to see what they were into, what they like. I was looking through their likes, and I saw a band named Jaala. They’re my favorite band in the world right now. I listen to them all the time. They’re fire. Come to find out, they’re from Australia just like Hiatus Kaiyote is, and they sound a little bit similar, but they’re more indie rock while Hiatus is more soulful, but they still have the soulful vibe to them. It’s a female lead singer—her videos are weird and crazy, like out of this world.
Visual artists Kara Walker and Benji Nate
I’m into two visual artists. The first one, she’s more well known and established. Her name is Kara Walker. She’s just fire; her whole mindset is crazy. She does a good job of being a black artist without coming across like new conventional black artists. Since we’re black, people expect black people to be one way; we’re not always just that one way. People get it messed up and think you’re not a black artist unless your art is showing a dude with a beard holding the world. Every black artist isn’t like that. Even with my artwork—my artwork is zany. Kara Walker totally redefines what it means to be a black artist, and not only a black artist, but a female artist. She goes to the issues of race without being the corny, rudimentary black artist. It’s stuff we know and we feel about being black but we don’t talk about; she’s showing it, but she’s showing it in silhouettes.
Then the other one is this artist on Instagram that I follow. The name is benjinate, and it’s just anime-inspired sketches. I was on Instagram, and I think somebody mentioned her, and then I followed her. It reminds me of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; it’s anime, but it’s more cartoon-y anime. It’s her own style. Nobody draws like her.