Behind the Lens: Interview with Digital Media Artist Glassface

By - Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Music videos have been capturing our attention for decades and the artistry behind them has evolved in ways that solidifies their importance culturally, their vital role in the entertainment industry and their endless possibilities for visual self-expression. A music video is simply one interpretation of sound captured, picked out of an infinite pool of ideas. In many ways, it is as close as a listener will get to seeing through a musician’s eyes and into their mind, as influenced by their music and preserved in time.

Digital media artist Josh Goldenberg, also known as Glassface, is committed to this art form with such passion, in a way that the music industry needs to be thankful for. The creation and promotion of music is a team effort, and artists are finding themselves lucky to work with someone with Glassface’s vision and more importantly, his ability to execute that vision. Attention to detail, risk-taking, creativity, hard work and multifaceted talent are all features that help make up Glassface’s charm as a director and artist.

Working with a wide range of clients, Glassface has built a CV of work created with like-minded innovators, and this has helped strengthen the product. When an artist is able to collaborate well with another artist of a different medium and get excited about similar ideas, the outcome is truly special.

In his latest work, with Tunji Ige, as premiered via Complex, the audience escapes into a world that is believable and detached from reality at the same time. Through gorgeous country landscapes and urban abandonment, the video presents a variety of curious conflicts between Tunji Ige and another character, Tunji Ige and himself and Tunji Ige and modern circumstance. Toss in text messages and app alerts dismissed by a surreal hand across the screen and there is a lot to take in and digest. Find yourself getting lost in these stunning and intricate images, flawlessly tied together and strengthen by Tunji’s track, “Ball Is Life,” and you’ll realize five minutes goes by quickly.

Check out our Q+A below to learn more about Glassface’s world and the dynamism behind his art. 

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1. Introduce yourself – your name, where you’re from & what you do.

I’m Josh Goldenberg, I’m from Upstate New York, most active in NYC and on the Internet. I also go by Glassface and I’m 1/2 of director duo Goldrush. I am a digital media artist – I direct and edit music videos, design album artwork, produce music and run art direction for artists.

2. How did you get started both individually and as a team? When did you decide to create a collective? What made you want to work under a moniker?

I always made digital art, whether it was 2D, video or music. I grew up around jazz, my dad is a jazz guitarist and a math professor. My mom is a speech therapist and I think the combo drew me toward hip hop. I started taking graphic design and video editing seriously in high school and ended up going to school for electronic media, arts & communication, which exposed me to a lot of experimental art and pretty much covered everything I wanted to do professionally. 

After I graduated, I worked for a couple ad agencies, got to work on some major corporate projects, but I realized I hated having a 9-5 and working for someone else. It gave me security but it didn’t make me happy. I moved to NYC shortly after and started a passion project – Brain Bandits – as a collective and platform to make music-related art with my friends. The idea behind the collective was to give up and coming artists a legitimate looking platform on which to release their music. The first couple years of BB were me running around NYC shooting show recaps, music videos and mini-docs on artists, while Chad (co-founder) sought out and incubated new talent.

The name “Glassface” came about in high school, I would make beats and random visual projects and I just started using that name for everything. I was always an MF (Metalface) Doom fan. I found that the anonymity of working under a nickname gave me more creative freedom.

3. How do your collaborations/partnerships work? Does one person handle one task, or is everything really hands on?

It depends on the collaboration. When I co-direct, it’s really hands-on on set. With Goldrush, we both come up with treatment ideas, co-direct and then I handle 100% of the post-production and fx. I get the most out of projects where it’s just myself and the artist collaborating. I think the less people involved, the more pure the art ends up being.

4. Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative processes. When do you feel most inspired? What does a normal workday look like for you?

My creative processes vary depending on the medium, I almost never start designing, shooting or editing without a spark or an idea of what I want to do.

In general, when I’m given creative freedom and the more an artist or client trusts my vision, the more inspired I am and the more fun I have with it. Each day varies a lot, sometimes I’m on the road shooting, sometimes I’m at my studio at home working. A studio day involves smaller visual projects early, and then focusing my evenings on the bigger long-term (usually video editing) projects. I work all night pretty often. I’m jumping around between graphic design, to single artwork for artists, to video editing. The funner days are the ones where I actually get to shoot or make music.

5. When does a new video or project feel finished to you?

Some projects never feel finished – I have a lot of videos out that I feel like I could’ve kept working on indefinitely. I can be a perfectionist, but I also like having a raw element to my work, and incorporating artifacts of the creative process into the work. 

Without something human about an artwork, the viewer can really feel the screen in between them and the work. My goal is to immerse the viewer into any type of visual. It’s always a matter of balance. For the most part, every project has a timeline and a release schedule, so that usually dictates when I need to call it finished.

6. Wearing so many different hats, how do you organize your time? What element of what you do in a given day do you identify with the most?

I think creatively, everything comes in waves. Sometimes I’m really inspired to only work on visuals, sometimes only on music, and sometimes I have to take a day off to be effective. I also don’t say yes to every project that comes my way. I think for any type of artist it’s important to maintain balance, if you’re crazy stressed all the time or overworked, you’re not going to make your best art. A dry erase board helps too.

7. Do you still work for any creative agencies or are you strictly a self-employed free agent?

I do still work very low key for a couple creative agencies, but as a free agent. I basically have a number of preferred clients who bring work to me, and I’ve been working with some of the same brands for several years.

8. What advice has really stuck with you and what was the source?

You’ll spend your whole life trying to balance three things – how you view yourself, how others view you, and how you really are. Focus on the last one and you’ll be happy. Something along those lines. I heard that from a guest lecturer when I was in school, and it stuck with me. If the artist is balanced, the art will be too.

I think the Internet has empowered me to really utilize that advice while doing what I want to do – I’m able to work on a global stage and still live in Upstate New York in a town that I like – I’m not chasing a look or anyone’s approval, I’m not killing myself to pay NYC rent, I’m just trying to live comfortably, be happy and continually create better art.

9. What are some things you’ve worked on that you are really proud of?

I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of projects I’m proud of. 

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I’m pretty proud of what Tunji Ige and I have been able to do – seeing him go from a 16 year old kid making music in his house, to playing shows in Europe, premiering songs and videos on Pitchfork and Noisey has been really exciting. His music leads, but I think we are making some really interesting visual works that are really subversive and uncommon in mainstream hip-hop / music in general.

Some of the videos I’ve cut for Rome Fortune are the closest expression of how my mind works visually – they’re like self-aware mixed media mash-ups that are extremely meta and experimental. Really proud of what OG Maco and the “U Guessed It” video have done – that was such a quick video – we shot it on a Saturday night, I edited it by Tuesday, released on Thursday, and Maco was signed on Friday. ASAAD‘s “Leatherface” is still like the manifesto for what I set out to do early on as a visual artist – I wanted to shake things up and essentially assault the viewer with that video.

10. Fill us in about your latest project.

I’ve got a few things in the works. About to start on some videos from Tunji’s next EP. I’m also working on some music with Tobi Lou (aka Wonda) and a music project of my own that should be interesting. With Goldrush, we’ve got a video coming out with Rome Fortune & Fool’s Gold.

11. What are you listening to right now?

Hall & Oates is always in rotation, Future, Tunji, Eyedress.

12. If you can pick any artist or photographer to collaborate with next, who would it be?

I want to shoot a Future video because none of his videos are as good as his music. Also Gaspar Noé.

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