JORDAN LUYAMBA PROFILE
From an outside perspective Jordan Luyamba, or Jó as his friends affectionately call him, appears uncompromising regarding the details that bring his vision to life. Trends specific to the current snapshot of today’s society don’t artistically arouse Jó; he already has a hand crafted mural, viewable only to his third eye, that paints the picture of the story he wants to encapsulate to the masses.
Why would someone who holds a unique perspective of their world compromise and conform to a watered-down ethos that fails to capture the essence of their reality?
In his heart, Jó knows that the people don’t deserve a diluted version of his artistry. It would be a disservice to the same people who have inspired his artistic touch and those before them. Instead, the people deserve a 100% concentrated account of the truth.
And when it comes to artistry, Jó personifies himself via various aliases. Whether it be 13thluck, Tío Jo, or simply Jó, these nicknames serve as a portal to deliver an aesthetic to his audience without being perceived as too serious.
Being too serious is a trait often avoided by those who are in touch with the humanistic nature of professionalism. Jó is often found cracking jokes and volleying quick-witted banter in the midst of a business-focused gathering. It’s never a problem, because that’s his charm. He knows how to manipulate a room filled with tension and transform it into a room of relaxed individuals focused on the same goal. Early on in my relationship with him, Jó showed that he had all the makings of a creative aimed at being his own boss.
A major medium for Jó’s expression is the video and image sharing platform, Instagram. It’s there where he can be found curating vibe packages, or Instagram stories filled with various photos embarking its viewer on a journey to a non-specific era. Jó contends “If anything, above all else, [my Instagram profile] is a reflection of me. It can be filled with family, destinations, things that I like; anything.” Quite a rarity in the midst of the social media era – Jó doesn’t concern himself with cementing a certain look.
In the many times I would randomly stumble upon Jó in town, he definitely fit the mold of a boss. His bright smile and warm greeting always followed our introduction. Draped in gold jewelry, sunglasses, and a hand-held vintage camera in his grasp, I knew it was only a matter of time before he had a platform of his own.
Jó has spent the last year diligently working on a platform titled, Gatling Studios, which is a production company/digital marketing agency geared towards providing affordable, high-quality videography, photography, and web design for small businesses. He’s built Gatling Studios from the ground up alongside aid from his two business partners, Preston Derrick and Walied Faisel.
“We didn’t have set prices at the time, we just tried to help as much as possible, so we would create a nice website for a business at whatever price they could afford.”Jordan Luyamba
However, Gatling Studios didn’t begin as a production company. Upon it’s creation, Jó focused his aim at serving the small business owners in his local community. Working as a tandem, Preston and Jó began to march the streets of Portland on a daily basis. Preston handled the web design portion of the company and Jó took care of the videography and photography. They solicited food carts and local businesses in the attempt to exchange business cards or fliers whenever they had the opportunity.
“We didn’t have set prices at the time,” Jó recalls, “we just tried to help as much as possible, so we would create a nice website for a business at whatever price they could afford.” As their pursuit continued, the two began to foster relationships with local business owners, and Gatling Studios starting gaining clients.
A trajectory shift occurred when Jó received word that Nigerian singer, songwriter and producer Izzy-BM was searching for a company that could put together a concept as well as visuals for a video accompanying his song “Bad Bad” featuring Portland artist Swegò. Walied, who by then had joined the core members of Gatling Studios, was responsible for linking Jó with Izzy-BM.
The completion of the “Bad Bad” music video served as a turning point for the Gatling boys. “That’s when we really got sidetracked,” Jó explains, “we got so busy with my part of the company (visuals/production) that we weren’t really doing web design at that point. It just kind of became an additional service that we offered.” It was then that Jó, Preston, and Walied switched their sole focus to the production and creative side of the company.
However, prior to hearing word of the “Bad Bad” music video opportunity, Jó had made his presence felt on another video set. Mal London, a Seattle music artist and close friend of Jó, released a six-track EP titled, [Cancel] in 2018. Jó quickly expressed to Mal that a music video needed to be made for one of the songs on the project. After the two exchanged ideas over a glass of wine one night, the framework had been put in place to shoot a video for the fifth-track on the EP, “Wayvmode.”
“One thing I learned about Jordan was how passionate he was for the project and his craft,” Mal reflects back on the video shoot, “he’s extremely self aware of who he is, which is very helpful on a set because he’s not trying to do everything himself.” Mal had given Jó the role of helping them acquire locations, casting staff and extras, and finding the creative direction of the video.
“One of [Jordan’s] true gifts is connecting to people” Mal says, “I appreciate that a lot because it took a lot of pressure off me so I could just focus on the performance element of the video.” Jó and Mal worked hand-in-hand with Kcoyi, who directed and edited “Wayvmode,” to create a video that represented a stepping-stone for all three individuals. The video shoot was a testament to Jó’s creative prowess early on. “With that being one of his first film projects he worked on, he made sure to have people he trusted to fulfill the style of the video. He’s aware of his strengths and weaknesses, so he brings people in to help where he knows somebody else could thrive,” Mal remembers.
The evolution of Gatling Studios has been a home-grown affair. Rather than outsourcing “experts” to provide the foundation of the company, Jó opted to work hand-in-hand with his business partners in learning the game from scratch. He made it a point to exude his pride when referring to the electricity felt by his business partners in this endeavor. “Preston didn’t know anything about cameras, videos, or production [at that time]. But we were on set one day and I saw that he felt the same electricity [that I once did]. He had fallen in love with it too. Same thing for Walied, who was mostly a strategist and a numbers guy. He fell in love with the process.”
Though they continued to build Gatling Studios even further, Jó insists that they were a trio of “newbies” to the game at that point. “We were just learning, teaching ourselves new concepts, and buying super dope camera gear…that’s when we really started marketing ourselves as a production company.”
But none of this would be possible without the support of his friends. Jó often talks about the importance of a support system. “A lot of our friends and people around us gave us opportunities. That’s the best part about where Gatling Studios has gone now, our friends are the closest people that just want to support. They’re the one’s who really got us on our feet.”
In my experience, Jó has been a curator of vibes and a sensei of sorts, who teaches you how to enjoy yourself and uplift those around you whether it’s in a creative or professional sense.
The visual upstart resides in the city of roses; a land of booze, craft-beer, and clouds of cigarette smoke.
But, luckily for Portland, Jó has the juice that will quench their thirst – the organic, fully concentrated, undiluted juice.
Over the last year Jó has spent a copious amount of time fine-tuning his brand. From establishing himself as a young upstart in Portland to co-founding Gatling Studios, a team of self-proclaimed visual aficionatos, there must have been little time for self-reflection.
After days of pondering what insight Jó may have regarding his recent ventures, I reached out to him and arranged an interview for this column.
Here’s what he had to say about his three most memorable projects behind the camera (in no particular order):
WAYVMODE – MAL LONDON
JÓ: “Wayvmode was my favorite song on Mal’s project [Cancel]. I had Mal over at the crib and I was like ‘you gotta do a video for Wayvmode, you gotta do a video for this.’ So I came up with a concept real quick, on the fly. I was sitting with Mal over a glass of wine discussing potential ideas and he said, ‘You know what, that’s a great idea. Let’s do it.’ We called Kcoyi – the director of Wayvmode – and told him he’d just have to show up and shoot the video. We were able to shoot part one of the video in one weekend and the second part about two weeks after that. My main part in the video was to convince Mal to do it in the first place, find the locations, and help cast alongside Mal.”
BAD BAD – IZZY-BM (FEAT. SWEGÒ)
JÓ: “That video was actually very interesting because I had brought in these two college kids, Justin Desaki and Dylan Blane from the Portland State media department. We had three different cameras for the Bad Bad shoot and everything went by smooth and fast. But what I loved about that video was the energy on set. It was stressful, but fun. We just executed, that’s it.”
UNTITLED PARIS PROJECT
JÓ: “This was a short piece that I wrote in Paris. It’s not out yet, but I hope that sometime in early May it will be. The [message] I wanted to share through the film was a woman daring to dream. Dare to be free. Dare to be herself, above all else. That’s the message we were able to portray in the film.”
Thanks for reading. If you’re looking for content to pass the time at home, tune into the Portland Free Thinkers Club Podcast on YouTube.
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