A Day with Marshmallow Tartz: The Directors that visualized Rich Chigga to Stardom

Everybody was surprised when Rich Chigga aka Brian Imanuel became a viral sensation overnight when he dropped his first music video Dat $tick. Soon after, fans and musicians in the industry are also asking for more.He then followed it with the released of Dat $tick remix music video featuring heavy hitters in the rap music genre such as the legendary Wu-tang’s member Ghostface Killah along with Florida’s upcoming underground rapper Pouya. Just as the original, it caught the attention of many, with its catchy lyrics and out of this world visuals that included tricked out Japanese trucks that are brimming with neon lights, scantily beautiful women dancing and twerking, zany 3d animations, and of course lastly, it wouldn’t emanate the same original vibe if it wasn’t for the signature fanny pack and preppy pink polo swag of Rich Chigga.

I interviewed Georgie Ichikawa and Michael Laburt of Marshmallow Tartz via Skype, the directors of the Dat $tick Remix music video, and talked about how the project organically came, working with 88Rising, and future projects in works.

Marshmallow Tartz

Those trucks in the music videos Dat $tick Remix are fascinating, What do you call those?
George:  Yeah, they’re pretty cool! They are called Dekotora, it is short in Japanese for decoration trucks.

Can you legally drive those trucks around the streets of Japan?
George:  They actually drive around towns. They’re actually very proud of their artwork, they actually kind of, you know in their own rights artist. Some of them, they make themselves. They take it to these truck shops and they actually spend a lot of time kinda developing those lights and the decorations are beautiful when you look really close.

Are you guys part of the 88Rising production team?
Mike:  We work with them. We kinda do a bunch of, we do some of their productions over here when they need something, you know when they wanna do something in Japan especially you know. 88 is 88, we do work with them and pretty much develop a good relationship with them. They are pretty cool and relaxed.

How did you guys get started?
George: We basically started with photographer Christina Paik. I and Mike have been actually good friends for quite a long time, and we hang out a lot in Tokyo, every time I come back to the city. Mike has always been into filmmaking, and he would produce amazing stuff all the time. Every time he works on new film projects, I’ll be looking at how he works and I always learn something from it. I, on the other hand, was a fashion designer at that time so in turn, we were kinda always trying to find a way to be able to start working together, working together, but with different professions at that time of our life and everything in between, it took a long time before Marshmallow Tartz started happening. So I guess, we know each other for like 5 or 6 years now mike?
Mike:  I think so, yeah man, 6 or 7 years, awhile.
George:  and then basically there is one point in both of our lives that we kinda happened like this, “let’s just fucking do a project together.” So we did a project together. Together we led it and we managed to do something, and we’re both like “Ok, you know let’s do this. We’ve been talking about this.” So It kinda started that way, we just wanted to make something that stands for ourselves in a way like don’t try to get caught up in what’s actually happening but do what we could do, and then just basically, you know we’re lucky enough, we had good opportunities and things coming our way so we’re kinda trying to give our best, and try to put our twist on things.
Mike:  Yeah

First off, what’s that mixologist video all about? It’s Charming yet it’s also Creepy.
George:  Oh the mixologist video (laughs!) Kayama-san was amazing wasn’t he Mike?
Mike: Yeah, he’s hilarious. You can’t get any more serious, the dude was awesome. It’s all about that slow-mo the face, the close up, the smile (Laughs). It’s borderline creepy. Before we were doing a lot of Jentai Japanese pop music video and Korean stuff, so we have travel a lot to Korea and around Asia like Singapore or Taiwan, more than anywhere else, it’s mostly Asia so far.

Working with Christina Paik
Mike: We’ve done a bunch of stuff with Christina Paik at this point, you know. She’s a cool girl, she’s chill. I like what she’s doing, she’s cool. We recently did a video with her, along with Adidas.
Georgie: That was fun, it was really a nice project. It was so organic how it kinda grew out because obviously we started to have a relationship with Christina, then you know I also like the elements of Christina’s work that’s kind of popular which is street snaps and also her creative work, you know her inspirational pictures or photos are beautiful. Really, really nice and it’s really powerful so we’re just blessed having the chance. So we wanted to convey and merge her aesthetics, that one that is not so street focused idea and what we do as well when we’re working everything else and what could be the kind of format, so we hope to continue that creative work with her, she’s great to work with and her energy is amazing. It was really a nice experience.
Mike: Yeah, we worked with her with The Y3 and Adidas social media.
Georgie: Yeah, we shot everything here in Tokyo.

 

Initial production of the music video?
Mike: 88Rising came to us, a lot of the stuff that we had done in the past was really kinda just a little abstract and graphically-animated type, so I guess they thought that it would work for Rich Chigga because of the nature of the video. The nature of like, we had Ghostface and at that point Pouya wasn’t on that track yet so we didn’t know who the feature was gonna be, the one other feature. But we knew that we might be doing it remotely where we’re gonna be doing face-swapping. It was gonna be a video that involves effects when we went post-production sort of stuff. There was a treatment process, the early on treatment process and from there once everything got approved. Sean from 88rising is a really cool dude. He gets an idea and he just does it you know. Like straight up before, “Alright we’re doing this, so that’s that.” So that’s how he kinda approached, we did it and we went into the treatment process and then boom, next thing you know Brian, the Chig himself, was over here and we’re all shooting a video.

So everybody had to fly to Japan for the filming?
Mike: We’re based in Tokyo. We move around a bit, but we’re definitely here, a lot! At least half the time.
George: Mike’s more from the New York side, and I’m kinda from more in the European side so (laughs).
Mike: Yeah, George is like London and Tokyo, and I’m New York and Tokyo. We cover all the continents, we cover our grounds (laughs). As much as possible, I guess it depends. We get stuck a lot like for example, for the next three months we’re all locked down with production so we can’t leave if we wanted to, you know.

Have you ever came across a problem during a production when you’re out of your respected location to film?
George: I never miss a flight, I don’t.
Mike: (Laughs) No but when I was 18, I didn’t get my visa to go to India without my visa which was the stupidest shit ever. So they actually sent me back to New York, that was probably the worst airport story.

Who led the creative process of the music video?
Mike: I and Georgie both called the shot
George: Yeah we both kinda have our own part, you go ahead Mike…
Mike: From the pre-production on, we decided we definitely wanted something to do with Dekotora trucks, and it seems like Brian coming over here was perfect opportunity to do something with those Dekotora trucks. And just getting those Dekotora trucks is actually a fucking nightmare man. So Georgie went on a crazy reconnaissance mission to get them. My Japanese isn’t as nearly as good as his, so he gets down deep looking for a connection in the underground scene. To my surprise, he found the people that had them and they were willing to get involved with the project. We got really excited, and from there on it was just kinda like let’s just get some cool people to get behind Brian. The hoverboards thing was just kinda like, it seemed funny, it seemed like a nice little touch of millennial trend. We didn’t know Brian that well so we were like, “Alright. Fanny pack. Hoverboard. Marriage. Done.” The hoverboard, there was this company that was really willing to just sponsor the thing, and give us those babies for free so…
Georgie: Yeah, D Boards.
Mike: Yeah, so they were there and we were like alright let’s just throw these babies in there, and it kinda went on like that man. I mean those Dekotora trucks kinda speak for themselves so there was nothing to fix there.
Georgie: It was amazing feeling until I get to the car part, and there’s like 10 Dekotora trucks lined up and I was like, “Holy shit!” (Laughs).
Mike: It was like we’re going to war. There were more than we expected.
Georgie: Mad Max shit.

How was the experience working Rich Chigga?
Mike: He’s great, man! He’s really great. When he first came over, when we first meet him, he was a little bit more quiet and reserve.  But as more time we spent with him, he loosens up and we have gotten to know him very well. We did a second video with him for that Who Dat beat track, that’s the thing where he was blinking, it’s kinda like animated cover. So we’re dropping a music video for Who Dat probably pretty soon. Dat Stick, the post production was a long time man, it took awhile because we were waiting for the second feature person, who ended up being Pouya. So we kinda like, went into an edit phase and process it a couple times, and then we just waiting for the feature track to be done, Pouya’s part basically. Basically Pouya coming in do his verse and once that happen it all worked out like shooting Pouya and then you know turning him into a robot, all that kind of jam you know and that was it man. From there is was golden.


Did Ghostface reach out to Rich Chigga, because he said he wanted to collaborate with him after seeing the original video?
Georgie- That’s right.
Mike – That’s right, that’s right. That’s a good question actually, I mean I know that the phase with Ghostface is like, “Yo, I want on the track” and then Sean, Brain’s manager and kinda like the main dude in 88Rising just made it happen. He just made sure to keep that alive, and yeah they got Ghostface recorded.
Georgie – They did the recording and that was that.

The name Marshmallow Tartz is making me crave sweet tarts right, the Tartz sold it.
Mike: Laughs, you’re funny! Georgie, how did we ended us Marshmallow Tartz?Georgie: Well you know, when you’re working with someone and stuff like that, we were just kinda like let’s try to make our communications the same as much as possible when we wanted to come up with the name. I mean, we’re serious, we work hard at what we do but we always like to have fun as much as possible you know, and we wanted to come up with something that kind of give us the “Why…what?” impression but it speaks for you and that fell on, but we were having a chat about it over the phone and Mike just went “Marshmallow Tartz.” I’m like, “You know what, that’s it, let’s do it with a zed (letter z) Bang! And after that, I made the logo, and it started going Pinky and Pinka and I’m like oh ok, cool…it’s just pink marshmallows.
Mike: That’s right, basically I was just joking and Georgie decided to take it seriously and that was that.

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