It was many moons ago, that I, 11 year old Eddy in Mario pajamas, watched Nick News With Linda Ellerbee. On this fateful day, a character by the name of Forrestfire101 explained his creative process for making stop motion videos. It was at that moment I thought, “Wow, I too could be an auteur of brick films!”. So for a time, when I still had a laptop, I fucked around with Bafran and Windows Movie Maker, until my directorial spree came to a screeching halt. Around 2 years ago, I got a decent computer and the bread to cop the Adobe Suite (on a student discount mind you, I don’t flex like that). I digress – we’re dealing with a different artistic scene here. The moral of my initial tangent is that while rap has and always will be a passion of mine, none of my current work would have ever come to fruition without film and visual arts. I hold UVC in high esteem for allowing me to not only write about what I love, but to do so in a way that I can explore avenues of visual arts AND rap simultaneously. With this said,people with a rich knowledge of cinema or adoration for iconic film industry sparsely ever come up. While I consider myself to be both a film buff and a rap nerd, there are always more well-versed individuals with much more experience. Today, I present to you a person that merges these two worlds seamlessly – Youtuber and film video essayist Breadsword. Breadsword has been on my timeline for some time now, and by sheer coincidence (and Twitter’s dry snitching) I’ve come to see Breadsword not only as the thoughtful artist he is, but also as a fan of various creatives and collectives that we see making great moves in the underground. I asked Breadsword various questions about who is, what he’s interested in, and what keeps him going as a creative. What followed were shockingly verbose, sobering responses that I was simply dumbfounded by.  He is neither a rapper, producer, nor designer, yet Breadsword imparted such strong and inspiring words that anyone can find solace and motivation in, whether you’re an arthouse Gaspar Noe fan or a Thraxxhouse fan. Read on to discover what he had to say.

To start off, tell us who you are, how old you are, where you’re from, and what it is you do.

My name is Jace, but most people know me as BREADSWORD. I’m 23, I’m from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, and I produce visual essays about film.

Why “Breadsword”?

My neighbor couldn’t remember my name when I moved back to the valley when I was 15, and I was this socially maladjusted geeky kid so after she went through Jazz, Chase, and some other names I was like, “You can just call me Broadsword. It sounds better anyways”. Super corny joke for sure but me and my friends at the time thought it was funny enough to keep as a running joke for a little bit. Half a year later when I went to make a YouTube, it occurred to me how stupidly common that word was, so I was like, “Okay. Breadsword then. That’s me.”. In retrospect I probably could’ve picked, like, Cowboy Reebok or something fresh like that. I’m happy with it though.

I would like to get the “low hanging fruit” out of the way first. I initially brought up picking your brain about underground rap and fashion. I have to ask, who are some of your favorite artists and designers that exist in the underground space?

Straight to the point! I love it. As far as rap goes, I got a few obvious picks like Lean, Lil Ugly Mane, Tracy, Supa Bwe, and JPEGMAFIA. Just super consistent artists in terms of quality but never staying in one bag for too long. Like, I was recommended Peggy maybe a week before VETERAN dropped, but I didn’t get around to listening to him until the night that project was out. After listening to almost nothing but that for a couple weeks, I was like “Cool. Time to see what this back-catalogue is like.” expecting more of that. The first track that played was this joint he did with Freaky from a couple years ago called “Rinky 2K” and it totally fucked me up. It’s like this granular, broken accordian on top of a brass section beat with these asynchronous, auto-tuned harmonies in the background and I couldn’t put it down. I love having my expectations denied. It excites me so much to feel stupid. Hearing Supa Bwe yelling on I hate being alive and then rapping over chirping birds with Chance on the next track is so powerful. That’s all I want from an artist. Make me feel stupid for not seeing the scope of your ability.  My other favorites are the dudes in Divine Council, all the guys in Midnight Society, EARTHGANG, Ethereal, FULMETALPARKA$, Saba, Meltycannon, .223Jerm, astroblk!, jxmvvis, Eugene Cam, Dutchman, 1KCaim, and CRIMEWAVE. Caim, Jam, and CRIME are the homies and I’ve known astro for years too though so grain of salt I guess. They stars though for sure.

Designers/labels wise I resonate a lot with darker, more aggressive imagery. MISBHV made one of my favorite outerwear pieces of all time and it’s one of the only things I’m in love with in my closet right now. Super fresh Polish brand. I love a lot of the stuff coming out of LA. I think I own like 5 pieces from PLEASURES. Midnight Studios, Hidden Characters, Sixcell, Half Evil, Misguided, Braindead, and Siberia Hills are all crazy too. There has never been a time in my life where I’ve been so surrounded by people creating things I wanted since I was young but didn’t have the visual language to articulate myself. The Four Elements of Hip Hop coalesce so well in fashion. It’s visceral. It’s taking established systems and the works within them and re-tooling them for a new world. Rico rapping over “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” is the same energy as Absent dropping a full-print American Psycho shirt. It’s inherently antagonistic. The only takeaway you can have to that or adamaneven cutting up and re-constructing these crazy 1 of 1 YEEZY pieces is “That’s bold as hell. I respect it.”.

Following that, you have a series of videos called “3 Minute Love Letters” for various films. Are there any full length tapes or albums that you love that evoke that same level of theatrics as the films you enjoy?

“The Glory feels exactly like the climax of a Disney renaissance film.”

Absolutely. Kanye‘s Graduation is like A Goofy Movie to me. The day my father passed away, Christmas Eve of 2017, we were leaving the hospital and my ears were ringing crazy loud. Everything felt numb. I’ve never felt anger like that. Driving back from Santa Monica and coming into this valley he spent basically his whole life in, all I could think of was this VHS of A Goofy Movie that my parents got my sister and I when we were little. I must have watched it like…at least 600 times. Almost every night until probably 7th grade. I’ve always struggled sleeping and something about those bright, glistening tones made me feel safe. I’d fall asleep after the last song that Goofy and Max perform with this fake pop artist based on Bobby Brown called Powerline. So I hit play, and that chopped and pitched up Elton John sample replaced the ringing in my ears, and by the time I got to Wayne’s verse on Barry Bonds I started to feel my jaw loosening up. The Glory feels exactly like the climax of a Disney renaissance film. Conversely, Kamiyada+‘s DEATHTRAP+++ feels like the film Tangerine. It throws you straight into these super saturated Reds, Oranges, Yellows, and Blacks – and our introduction to its protagonist is in the midst of them realizing they were betrayed right after getting out of jail. The entire film is one elongated revenge fantasy and its ending only leaves them more neurotic and paranoid than they were to begin with. Similarly, the vision Kami and Dutchman paint with the first track of the album, “White Lies+++”, is a barely controlled chaos. It begins as sort of a lull, like the opening shot of Tangerine being a table-top in a doughnut shop with a bullet hole in it with those sweeping orchestral music, but it quickly erupts into full-fuck-you-anger and flies out of the room (literally, in Tangerine’s case) with it. By the time we reach the last, titular track of the album, Kami’s descended into an almost psychotic rampage. His friend wants to help him escape the potential danger he’s in but all he wants is satisfaction for his blood-lust. Also comparable in this light to Kikuchiyo’s character arc in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

For you personally, what is it about rap that draws you in? Would you consider it one of your favorite genres or just one you casually indulge in?

Rap, Jazz, and Soul comprise most of my listening time in a given week – and they are what informs my tastes outside of music”

The first 2 CDs I ever owned were NSYNC‘s No Strings Attached and 50 Cent‘s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. I remember being in first or second grade, in this van my dad rented when he was visiting, the least possible context you could have for what 50 discusses in the album, but when the intro ended and “What Up Gangsta” came on I felt it. He just had this energy. Hip hop transcends the necessity for a proper frame of reference. I think it’s weird if it doesn’t draw you in on some level. Rap’s easily my favorite genre. Rap, Jazz, and Soul comprise most of my listening time in a given week – and they are what informs my tastes outside of music.

Whether someone’s an aspiring Youtuber, a designer, or a rapper/producer, there is a process of finding the spark that pushes the art forward. How did you get into writing and recording essays and how long have you been at it for?

I’ve been really doing it for 3 years now. My passion has always been to tell stories. I’ve been fixated on being the one who’s “performing” in any room I’m in since I could walk. I think too much, so I talk too much – but I was always confident that I could channel that into something cohesive and convincing if I were given the proper medium. So I came up with my name, made my channel, and registered a twitter for it in 2012 – and then I spent the next 4 1/2 years sitting on it because I was too scared to try. Anxiety and self doubt kind of suppressed that spark waaaaaay way way deep down into me as I grew and for years I had just resigned it to being one of those intangible ambitions. In the midst of me simping for way too long after a break up, the homie showed me Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal – and something in my brain just clicked back into gear. I wanted to tell everybody about how good it was, and why, but the language wasn’t there. I loved that I felt so stupid. It felt like my dad showing me Indiana Jones for the first time again. So I was like, “Yo, could you show me more?” and he was like, “Bet. Have you ever heard of Akira Kurosawa?”. From there I just sunk my teeth into it. Scorsese, Ozu, Coppola, Resnais, I was trying to absorb as much as I could. I dropped my first video a month later in the summer of 2016; a retrospective on Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. It did like 110 views and I was the most proud of myself I’d ever been. The rest is history.

What inspires you to pursue spreading your critical and analytical thoughts with an audience?

Man I just really love talking about cool shit. That’s always how I describe my content – like I’m just trying to put you on or shine a more positive light on something. I love the energy you can feel coming off of someone when they’re telling you about a thing they’re passionate about. It’s like a small star is in front of you and you’re just chilling in its radiance for a minute. I just want to put more of that energy out into the world.

What is your process for creating your videos?

Whenever I have an idea, even just a sentence or like an inkling of a thesis, I write it down in this Evernote doc I keep with all of my video concepts in it. When I’m starting a new project, I dig through those ideas and see what clicks. Sometimes it’s something I wrote down last year. After I have a general direction for where I’m going next, I write it out on a whiteboard with a working title and then find a copy of whatever it is I’m trying to cover. My first watch through it is always me trying my hardest not too think of it as work; to experience it naturally and to see where things hit me emotionally. On subsequent watches I’m taking notes, pausing, rewinding, etc. etc. From there I create a document for the script, see if my notes and my feelings line up with the thesis I’d originally jotted down and adjust the thesis if it didn’t, pin down what will probably be the final title for the video, and then I create a skeleton for the script. It’s sort of like an album track list for a video – I got the idea from a book I read about this film editor named Walter Murch. More like a road map than a storyboard. Anyways, then it’s on to digging for music, making a thumbnail while I listen to the music, then spending a week or two collecting and reading all the research material, and then I’m good to write down the first words of the actual script. After that I proof-read a couple times, edit down the script, record the voice-over which can take like 3-3 1/2 hours for a 50 minute video, then I cut, assemble, and mix it which is usually a full day of work itself, and then the rest is me sitting in Premiere assembling everything based on the vague schematics I made for myself and what match-cut looks hard with which musical cue. Then I do proof watches, re-record lines if necessary, export and proof watch it again, and then I upload it unlisted on YouTube to see if they’ll block or demonetize it before I can give my Patrons an early copy of it.

When did you start noticing your content gain some traction?

I made this video about Treasure Planet – which is definitely what most people know me for – and I remember having to re-cut it like…something like 9 times trying to avoid YouTube blocking it for copyright. Didn’t work though. The homie and I were about to just put it out on Vimeo so it could at least be seen, but to be real with you I was too broke to afford the buy-in for it. I was like, “Bro I KNOW this could do 5 – even 7k views after a few months. I need this to build my channel.” Eventually, like the second or third render that I submitted a counter-claim for actually got cleared, and I think I published it that night without even caring about peak engagement hours or anything. I tagged everybody I knew. In the first 24 hours of it dropping, it got more views than anything I’d ever done before it. Everybody I knew signal boosted it. I was posting it on sub-reddits and then dm’ing the posts to people so they could up-vote them just to give it more momentum. Pretty positive that’s a ToS breach, though, so my bad on that one Reddit. Anyways, I woke up a few days after it was out and it was almost at 20k. The end of that week it was about to hit 100k. A month later it was at 1 million. My video before that pushed me to 110 subscribers and this one pushed me to 100,000. I took the first bag I ever got from YouTube and put it straight into an editing rig and monitors. That’s the first time I felt traction in life period.

Other than what I assume to be Youtube’s knack for demonetization, can you talk about any big hurdles you’ve been proud to overcome in the process of making your videos?

“Sometimes you need to train in the mountains before the tournament arc”

For sure. Demonetization is definitely a huge one – but I think my biggest hurdle was either in July of last year or this past March. My sister and I inherited the house we lived in with our dad, but a lot was wrong with it and death costs a lot. The money we’d managed to save from his shop disappeared quicker than we had anticipated and we couldn’t afford to replace the A/C. Last year was one of the worst heat waves Southern California ever had. Like…Multiple records broken across the region type shit. At the same time the heatwave hit, I got laid off from my day job for a month and a half – and when I came back, they cut my hours and stripped the vacation time I had accrued for the past year. I was in the red at the end of every month. My girl just moved out from Florida and I was trying to balance feeding two people, handling bills, coming home from a 110 degrees screen-printing warehouse to a 100 degree house, and working my other, still-full-time job, YouTube. The last video I had done, which I thought would perform well, ended up flopping – so I dug through my ideas and chose the one that sounded like the most money. It was about how that Pixar movie A Bug’s Life is pretty much just Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. I poured my heart into it and worked for almost a month straight to get it out before the end of June. I recorded the script with no fans on and by the end of the session I was standing in a super deep pool of sweat. I kept this huge Dickie’s Barbecue cup full of ice water on my desk while I was working, and barely half way through the video it spilled all over my equipment. My audio interface and my power supply broke. When I finally put the video out, I was so relieved. I was like, “They not even READY for this one!”, completely unaware that it was actually kind of trash. The first half hour after it was out, my entire notification feed was just negative comments. I wrote, recorded, edited, proof watched, and published a project that ended up flowing terribly with a bunch of weird pauses throughout it without me even realizing it because I was in this hot ass house just burning myself out. I came home and my girl was like “Hey, I love you, but this wasn’t your best.” and I just cried. This last video I dropped in May took like 4 months and some change, and the whole time until it was out I was going insane. My mom had two brain surgeries for multiple aneurysms at the end of last year that could’ve killed her, and flying her out afterwards took most of the money we had left, and then my sister’s car got hit in traffic so we couldn’t afford the house payment that December. The debt just kept stacking up because we couldn’t catch up after that and it got to a point where I was working this day job that I hated and then coming home and working on this video knowing 100% that it’s not going to do big numbers due to the film’s obscurity while we got an eviction notice just chilling on the cabinet in our living room. I was so burnt out that all I could do some nights was write 100 words, delete 300, and then just stare. I was like, “I’m doing 80 hour weeks for what? Is this shit really worth it?”. Every night I went to sleep bitter. It felt like I was watching my dreams die in slow motion. My brothers in Nightly, the collective I’m a part of, spotted me for grocery and bill money a couple times. But nobody let me quit. I got up out of that job I hated and got hired into an office gig that I don’t mind. I finished the bulk of the actual writing and editing of this video working more hours than I had in the past 10 months, getting used to a different work schedule, and barely making the bills, and it’s the best shit I’ve ever dropped. It didn’t do huge numbers, but some of the biggest dudes in my lane followed me because of it. I got my pockets straight and this next check brings us current on everything. I had to take a couple steps back to move forward. Sometimes you need to train in the mountains before the tournament arc.

Above all, why choose film to be the medium you explore?

It’s where I escape to. I can’t help but love it – and I can’t help but want to understand what makes me love. Music, video games, paintings, photography, everything is so dope to me – but film just enchants me in a way nothing else ever has or will. Once a security blanket, always a security blanket, I guess.

Why choose videos as the means to explore it? There’s something so transformative about the way a truly great critic writes about art. Whether someone wants to admit it or not, criticism and analysis is an art-form unto itself. It’s like rap. Ebert doesn’t feel like Kael doesn’t feel like Crist doesn’t feel like Bazin doesn’t feel like Shalit. I knew I couldn’t express why a certain moment or motif took my breath away as eloquently as Truffaut, but I could extend that transformative property into an entire experience. I wanted my exploration and exaltation of films to feel, themselves, like films. So I made them films.

Is there anything you can tell us about what it’s like to thrive in a community that is the video essayists of Youtube?

It’s super interesting. Everyone I’ve met is mad supportive and everyone has a very specific, unique voice. Some of us are doing predominantly on-camera work like Lindsay Ellis, NakeyJakey, or the homie NitroRad, and others like me, Channel Criswell, or my dude Sideways never show up in our own projects. Some are uber serious, some are comedy focused, and some are floating around the middle. We all care though. Beyond getting to know the likes and dislikes of your peers, you get to know their various cadences and how much focus they’re liable to give a specific aspect of a film. However, the return on effort given is a lot harsher than many of the other in-vogue genres of YouTube as a platform, and it forces a lot of people to duck out in their first year. No shade to my commentary channels or makeup gurus though. Get your life ladies.

Do you feel there is overlap between a niche circle such as that and the niche community that is the underground rap scene?

Absolutely. I think the same quality that drives people to watch Olivier Assayas’ Irma Vep or Abel Gance’s La Roue drives them listen to Lil Ugly Mane’s Uneven Compromise or Black Fortune‘s “Hurricane Katrina freestyle”. Not saying literally everyone I know in the space is talking about Slug Christ on the TL, because they unfortunately aren’t, but they do posses that same drive to explore the subculture of an artistic medium or genre that’ll never leave them totally satisfied. A person either truly cares or they don’t. You know?

What goes on in the daily life of Breadsword when not creating?

Honestly lately I’ve just been playing Breath of the Wild and eating sushi. Trying to decompress and clear this garage out to film in before I start my next project.

What do you have planned for the future? Do you see yourself growing Breadsword to its max potential or are there other avenues as a writer you’d like to explore?

I have so much ambition and my feet are barely planted again. I feel so inspired by everyone around me. I’m copping new and better equipment, trying to go full time with the YouTube thing, dropping a podcast, going to start streaming, building a site and dropping a small collection under Nightly that’s actually something people would want to cop as a piece instead of just some YouTuber merch. The most imperative change I’m trying to manifest is diversifying my form. I’m putting together a set soon and what comes from it will either flop or be the next level for me. Maybe both. Once I’ve learned more about film on a technical level, I want to write a short film. I’ve had one in my head for years about this person who literally runs from their problems. Like, puts on track and field gear within seconds and physically sprints away from confrontation and you’re just following them through a day and the following morning as the problems become impossible for them to escape. Kind of a self-critical comedy piece. Anybody would tell you the last thing you should do when writing is create a self-insert, though. Either way nobody bite that please.

What advice, in your experience, would you impart to both your audience and UVC’s audience about writing, creating, and following your passion to build something fruitful?

You’ll never know yourself if you don’t know your worth. The hardest you will ever trip is when you’re underselling yourself. Don’t let anybody exploit you for exposure and don’t do anything expecting money unless you love it without it. Support your homies and listen to them if they’re telling you in earnest that you aren’t being true to yourself with your work. Everybody is kind of a weird biter out of the gate. It’s normal, and they mean well by telling you. Speaking of that; I know it feels like it right now, but you do not want the first year or two of whatever you’re producing to be what pops off for you. Trust the process. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.

Do you have any shout outs?

Shout outs to all my Patrons and all my kin in Nightly. ZavFourside on Twitch, jamvvis, Lighto, and 1KCaim on SoundCloud, my dude Wyatt wherever you are, the homies Michael, King, Anthony, Tony, Lando, Drew, Jeremy, Tyler, and everyone else who’s pushed me forward and held me up.

What is the best place for people to keep up with you and your work?

My twitter @BREADSWORD and patreon.com/BREADSWORD are the two best places to keep up with me and support what I’m doing.

Make sure to keep up with Breadsword with the links above, and by subscribing to his Youtube Channel.