Welcome to Balfua's fantastical Sayssiworld.
As part of the Gooniverse lore, a three-digital rendition multiverse, which is an embodiment of floating continents called Scapes, Sayssiworld is Sam Balfus’ aka Balfua own digital viscera which preserves its unique velocity. In this lit-up nature-rich setting you’ll meet Slollas, abstract forms of emotions with their own language, inhabiting the Gooniverse’s fantastical worlds.
With his band Znzn Kanshan, that also comprises the creators of the Gooniverse, Sam and his colleagues are interpreting each Scape’s characteristics into specific genres, that makes their music very colorful.
Learn more about Sam’s creative journey, his technical approach in the 3D space, and inspirations behind Sayssiworld and his band in the following interview.
STK: How did you get into 3D in the first place?
Sam: When I started I was mostly doing graffiti. I had some great teachers at art school like Jessica Westbrook, Alfredo Salazar-Caro and Chris Collins, who turned me onto 3D softwares and really weird shit that people were making in the digital space. This way I was introduced to amazing artists like Brenna Murphy, Vince Mckelvie, Kim Laughton, Sam Rolfes, etc. I started requesting all of them on facebook, and realized that there was this very tight community of online niche net-artists, which I’ve been involved in since. Now it’s migrated to instagram.
STK: In your opinion, what’s the most interesting feature in 3D that makes you keep doing it?
Sam: I’m really lazy, and the fact that I don’t have to be super talented at painting to render the lighting on all the forms etc. is so great. I’m always amazed at what the software can do.
STK What programs are you using in your usual technical process?
Sam: Modeling in VR using Oculus Medium, rendering in blender, AI with NVIDIA gaugan, music and sound with organic instruments and in ableton and GarageBand, digital fabrication techniques like 3D printing, and traditional ones like drawing, graffiti and sculpting.
STK I see that lighting plays a big role in the environments you create? How many lights do you averagely use in your 3D viewport?
Sam: Hahaha, too many. I mostly use different colored floating point lights in blender.
STK: is there any specific texture or shader you use over and over again in your works that make them remarkable? What do you think makes it unique?
All the time, I have a few go-to textures that I put on slollas: crocodile skin, spongy asphalt (like that rubber particle stuff on playgrounds), and a lush grass texture.
STK Also I see a lot of nature? Are you a nature kid? How does it exactly inspire you?
Sam: Definitely a nature kid. I grew up in LA so I was next to beach and mountains I guess, but I was really inspired by rainforests and lush gardens. Especially as a kid; when I was like 7 I would print out google images of lagoons and waterfalls in color and my parents would get mad cuz I was using too much ink lol
STK What's the idea behind Sayssiworld? Can you please introduce it to us briefly.
Sam: In a nutshell, every 3D object I make is a “slolla” that lives in a digital spirit world, the Sayssiworld. Slollas are creatures who are their own language, so each one embodies a unique expression or aura. Communication among them is a naturally fluid process.
STK: How do you come up with the names of the creatures you create?
Sam: I love slang and languages in general, and I have a lot of fun making up words. I’ve been working on a couple different made-up languages. Def inspired by my dad, who is a fiction writer and poet. He has a lot of ideas about about which made up names are good and which ones are dumb. Definitely inspired by Tolkien and other fantastical linguists.
STK: Are they friendly creatures? It looks like they are pretty formless/confused!
Sam: Yes, some are friendly :) Slollas can take any form: some are anthropomorphized and have faces or hands, and some are more abstract; taking the shape of plants, birds or clouds.You can think about each slolla as a fluid gesture like a tag, each with its own personality. In the sayssiworld, these personalities exist together in an ecosystem. There are parts of the sayssiworld that are dark and violent, and parts that are gentle and quiet.
STK Introduce your band znzn kanshan to us? What's the genre (I can't pin it down) and what's your role?
Sam: It’s a very fun project, and we get to do a lot of different genres. Our shtick is that we all live in The Gooniverse. This is a universe made up of floating scapes, and each has a different genre. Kind of like slollas. We get to play as bands from all of the different scapes, so we we make a lot of different kinds of music. But we’re definitely influenced by art rock, punk, math, modern post-rap and electronic music. We love artists like Dirty Projectors, Horse Lords, Media Jeweler, DoMi and JD Beck, Thundercat, Body Meat, etc
STK Is there a connection between the band and Sayssiworld?
Sam Since the beginning of high school, my band and I have been making up stories and characters that we associate with the music. There’s a whole bunch of lore at this point, and the Sayssiworld is a part of the larger universe I have with my band, known as the Gooniverse. Sometimes we make music videos or other types of content that are imbued with the lore.
STK What's next on your creative journey?
Sam Znzn is working on an album right now, and we’ve been wanting to start the ‘saga’, an epic adventure story that takes place in the gooniverse. Theoretically I would animate it episodically. Also want to make some big 3D printed sculptures!