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THE AV INTERVIEW: Sebastian Jones & Ramez Silyan (Everybody’s Everything)


AndersonVision. What is it like to make a documentary about someone who so vividly detailed their life on social media?

Both: This was one of our biggest challenges – Peep was so engaged and active with his fans on social media that we had to do a lot of digging to track down these live stories. We had an army of people helping us with that, but it’s also important to note that Gus existed 18 years prior to expressing himself on social media as Peep. So while there’s this roughly 3 year span of material we had to track down from social media, there was a lot that existed outside of it that we believed was crucial to sort of pulling back the curtain on Peep the persona, and revealing Gus the person.

Lil Peep Everything's Everything
AV. One thing I noticed about watching Peep’s life in the documentary is that there’s no transition period. He’s a kid named Gustav and then he’s King of Soundcloud. Why is that?

Sebastian: It seems strange but it’s literally because, by all accounts, it did happen that quickly. Gus was casually making music for a brief period in late 2014 when he lived in Pasadena. But he moved back home on January 30th, 2015 and started rapidly making music in his bedroom during odd hours of the night. He was very insistent on recording after his friends had left, so no one was around when he initially started dropping music on soundcloud, save for Liza, who could hear him singing through the walls. When he was confident enough to start dropping music on soundcloud, he did so in a way that it didn’t feel like an exaggeration to portray his rise from Gustav to king of soundcloud as something that happened overnight.

Mezzy: The reality is that he had been privately sharpening his craft and creating music that he was too shy to share, but once he gained that confidence and his song “starshopping” took off, he quickly broke through. I don’t think it’s possible to listen to that song and not recognize the ability he had to affect through song.

Everybody's Everything 1 Lil Peep

AV. Malick produced the documentary and it’s hard not to miss where his style influenced some of the choices. Do you think that influence helped define the film? Meaning it’s not common to hear carefully selected narration placed against Mumblecore rap.

Sebastian: I wouldn’t categorize Peep’s music as mumblecore rap, but yes it certainly is an unusual choice to meld the world of the letters with the world of his music. Having worked with Terry for a number of years before “Everybody’s Everything,” there will always be parts of his work that influence me but the choice to use the letters was dictated by a desire to show how these two worlds connect and to also to create a sense of intimacy in the picture.

AV. I appreciate the subjective nature of the documentary, but it makes me question something. Were you trying to target fans or those like me who might not have known about Lil Peep?

Sebastian: We didn’t approach making this film with any sort of agenda, other than to speak to those that knew Gus, before and after his fame as Lil Peep, and capture his life and the impact he made, best as we could. We hope that fans will recognize their hero and learn some new things about him through watching the film, and also hope that it will make anyone unfamiliar with Peep feel like they know who this person was, and what was lost.

Mezzy: It definitely cuts both ways. The intent wasn’t to target, but present a narrative that could not only connect with fans,  but introduce Gus to people who did not get the chance to know him or wrote him off when they did.

AV. Were you purposefully trying to slam the Cult of the Clout Chaser or as it’s crudely known the Star F**kers?

Sebastian: We weren’t trying to slam anyone or assign blame when making this film – that said, the idea of the clout chaser was something that came up time and time again over the course of our interview process. It became something that was impossible to ignore, which is why we touch on it in several areas. Unfortunately it’s also not something that’s necessarily new when it comes to a rising star in any industry, but particularly music. It just happened so fast in Peep’s case that his friends and acquaintances were dealing with his rise in real time and everyone handled it differently.

Lil Peep and grandfather everybody's everything
AV. Was a lot of material cut from the documentary? I ask because based on Peep’s grandfather’s background…there seems to be a strong academic leaning that weaves in and out of the narrative. I have a colleague who called it almost Anti-Capitalist at points, but any hint of that seemed to fade away the further the film went along.

Sebastian:  Given the nature of documentaries, there’s always going to be a lot of material that ends up on the cutting floor – we had hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage to pool from, but had a thesis in mind, that Gus was “Everybody’s Everything” and did our best to make sure that any material that remained served the thesis. Jack (Gus’s grandpa) undeniably had a profound impact on Gus’s belief system, so we kept that in there. The point was to capture Gus’s humanity and belief system, which was certainly challenged by the “materialism of the entertainment industry”, as his mother says in the film. 

AV. What are you working on next?
Sebastian: I’m currently writing a few projects and hoping to return to development on a narrative feature about two cousins coming of age in South Florida. I had originally planned to make that film before this documentary came together.

Mezzy: I’ve been working on a feature film titled GOLDEN YEARS about my fathers journey moving from Syria to Los Angeles in the 70s for the past couple of years. I’d really love to see that come to fruition.

Thanks to Sebastian Jones and Mezzy Silyan for sitting down with AV!

Official Selection: 2019 SXSW Film Festival
Fan Screenings Nationwide on November 12th – 14th
In Select Theaters on November 15th

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