“Hello and welcome to ASMR Crafting with Sayuri and Gabby La La,” whisper mustache clad dynamic duo Sayuri Kimbell and Gabby La La at the beginning of their video “Candy Friendship Sandwich.” Currently projected on the big screen, they make a rainbow, buttery and super sweet candy sandwich. The two film a candid and hilarious tutorial after gathering all the necessary sandwich ingredients — Skittles, chocolate syrup, croissants, sprinkles.
The film is laced with psychedelic pop art and dead serious attitude, a seriousness that survives only until the second they share a bite of the sandwich subsequently bursting into laughter. The laughter an indication of how that sandwich must have been beyond sweet!
They produce videos in the fringe YouTube genre ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and has become an internet phenomenon. Persons who experience ASMR can experience sensations like cerebral tingling in response to gentle stimulus like whispering — these sensations can be sensual and pleasant, and those with ASMR have turned to YouTube to supply them. “People used to have to ask for that intimacy and now you can YouTube it,” shares La La.
Natural born artists, Kimbell and La La won funniest video at the first SPLIFF Film Festival with short “Candy Friendship Sandwich.” I attended the Victoria Theater San Francisco showing with them in early May as we giggled and passed around candy.
“One person commented on our Instagram, ‘This video made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants!’ Every time someone watches our video and pees a little maybe an angel gets their wings!” La La jokes.
La La is a musician, fashion designer and video artist from Petaluma residing in Oakland. Kimbell’s artistry in multimedia drives her passion to create book art, prints, ceramics and videos. Kimbell lives in Portland and hails from Los Angeles. Both have led artisanal lives since childhood. “The art we make is how we sustain ourselves as creative individuals,” says La La. “Just like we need water, food and air. If you’re a creative person you need to feed your creative spirit.”
“The art we make is how we sustain ourselves as creative individuals,” says La La. “Just like we need water, food and air. If you’re a creative person you need to feed your creative spirit.”
Kimbell learned about SPLIFF Film Festival through the local alt weekly, the Portland Mercury. The progress they made since participating makes them feel super legit, as La La resonates “inspired, valued and visible.” The film showed in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.
What is to come of the festival prize money? “I’m going to bring my share to the bank, turn it into ones and take a money bath,” says Kimbell. “We ended up splitting our prize money. I’m going to use my share for applying to more film festivals. I want to use some of the money to do a spa day with Gabby!”
So it’s settled. Creative budget, couples massage and…
“Let’s go out for pho too!” exclaims a thrilled La La. She will put her share into making her new album “Black Rainbow,” applying the money toward supporting artists who help create the visuals for the album’s release.
La La and Kimbell met at an art event called “Super Chillness Activity Zone” at Oakland’s Naming Gallery. La La played Sitar and Kimbell was making custom patches for gallery attendees. They couldn’t ignore their twin qualities and had to collaborate.
They decided to make unscripted short videos that insert positivity and good old-fashioned weirdness onto the web. They integrate their personality through Kimbell’s visual artistry, audio from La La’s song collection and collaborative twinning fashion. Friendship is their most valued priority.
“We couldn’t have gotten this far if we weren’t friends. It’s a lot of give and take running ideas by the other person. We make sure the other is comfortable. We do a great job being honest,” says Kimbell. “I think content about friendship is important especially portraying friendships between two women of color. I never grew up seeing two friends who looked like me. I’m putting out what I want to see more [of].”
They were introduced to ASMR through filmmaker and producer Siciliana Trevino two years ago. Ever since,they’ve been curating and producing ASMR Crafting videos as a means to strengthen their friendship through art. “We are both manic people who don’t know how to just hang out. We have to do a project to hang out,” says Kimbell.
ASMR’s whispering element calms people down and can balance energy. It brings everyone onto a level playing field and draws attention inward. It feels like being let in on something private, or secretive.
The internet was a vessel for ASMR, though Kimbell sees it as a tool that fills a void that the internet creates. Technology can take away and give back to us. “ASMR speaks to a larger discussion of digital technology as something that depletes, yet nourishes our souls,” notes Kimbell. “It’s a crazy tool we have, for example, if you’re lonely and eating by yourself you can turn on a video of someone eating so you don’t feel alone.”
La La adds, “Hey Sayuri, I was just wondering if you could come over and run your fingers through my hair while I fall asleep. You would do that for me if the wi-fi went out right? You know who your real friends are when the wi-fi goes out.”