With videos titled "icarly asmr" and "revisiting flash games (n failing)," YouTuber and Instagram personality Damaris Guzman (who goes by Damaris Tries on YouTube) is bringing back late-noughties cool.
Her Instagram (@moldygrill) boasts a plethora of strangely hilarious photos, videos, and other digital ephemera that seem both nostalgic and futuristic. Her throwback graphics lend themselves to a sort of half-ironic, half-geniune, campy humor. It's reminiscent of the early days of the internet, when YouTube was ruled by Liam Kyle Sullivan and everyone was still playing Barbie Baby Krissy. But, with 00s trends making a comeback, there's something distinctly now about her lip syncing "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" in front of an ever-changing green screen landscape that features clips of flip phones and the Phineas and Ferb title sequence. Her posts aren't just for laughs; they're also cultural criticism, highlighting both the differences that have taken place in pop culture in the span of just a few years and how quickly we have allowed 00s iconography to earn "vintage" cache.
As she is an expert in the art of confusion, in many ways, her body of work feels like a joke I'm not quite in on, and that's what I love about it. It's just absurdist enough to make you question what it is you're supposed to laughing at, and this fabulously awkward reaction is what really makes her art notable. In terms of style/appearance, Damaris herself is not beyond the scope of early 2000s Disney stars, and consequently her work feels a bit like a lost relic; though really more of an invented history, because of the aforementioned, vague modernity it possesses. A bundle of contradictory ideas are somehow seamlessly communicated through her work, similar to the scads of backgrounds her green screen serves as a catalyst for.
Who are your inspirations?
I don't have many particular individuals that inspire me. Sonic is definitely one. I try to be fast in most things I do. Additionally, Caitlyn Rae is a Youtuber I watch, and her life reminds me to do what I want and live how I like. Roy Purdy inspires me in that sense too because he's so confident and carefree.
Do you plan to make more YouTube videos in the future?
Yes!! When my videos are too large to be posted on Instagram, I upload them onto Youtube. However, I’m trying to make longer, regular videos for Youtube soon because it’s fun to express myself verbally as a person. I’ve been making some lately but I haven’t posted them because I don’t like them : )
How would you describe your visual sensibilities?
I don’t really know. Bright colors and cursed images. I like making new environments digitally. When I use 2D images to achieve it, it looks pretty odd but I like it. I’m trying to use 3D animation instead because it looks clean and more conventional. Also! I like to incorporate elements from the mid 2000s. 2008-2012 is my favorite ~era~. I’ve referenced it in past videos and photo edits before.
If you were to create a 3 song playlist to your life, what songs would you pick and why?
"Walk You" by Miles Heizer is my favorite song of all time. It’s super fun and silly! It makes me so happy :D
There was this one song that Otto B posted, but it’s deleted. I have it downloaded as “the song” but basically the first minute is complete distortion. Then, the music begins happily. It’s very cheerful and calm until the second minute. The music slowly starts to become more chaotic and eventually its pure chaos until there’s a scream. Then, the music is so sad and defeated, but starts to pick up the pace and become optimistic again. Eventually it slows down with a high bass and fades away. I really appreciate this song because I feel it describes how I function everyday. I highly encourage you to give his music a try. He’s on soundcloud :]
"Feel So Close" by Calvin Harris is a classic. Human connection is so important. Go outside and talk to someone. Be a person and interact with people around you. Plus, the song has the perfect balance of happiness and sadness.
What's your favorite episode of iCarly?
I like the episode where they host a web show
What do you hope to communicate with your work?
When people watch my videos, I want them feel: confused, overwhelmed, or visually captured. Lately, I’ve been into creating wholesome media as well. With that, I want viewers to smile and feel connected :]
Do you think your work will change in the future?
Yes it will change. Everything’s constantly changing. I’m currently trying to learn more special effects using After Effects and that will alter my videos dramatically. I want to develop more as an editor because I’m trying to earn money this way. Please hire me.
What's a risk you're glad you took?
Here’s the thing: I don’t have the results from this risk yet. I had the grades to go straight to a 4 year university, but I decided not to go because I was scared of the amount of debt I’d have to go through along with the fact that I feel I'm stunted in terms of being a person and experiencing life. I could have gone and majored in business or something but instead, I’m attending a community college and maybe I’ll transfer to a state university (since it’s cheaper than a UC). I’m pursuing digital media and video production, specifically editing, as my career. I kind of hate saying it, because people who aren’t into it are so discouraging. My goal in life is to be happy. I’ve spent my whole life doing things other people wanted me to do, and it’s finally my time to be me and do what I want to do in order to make myself feel good. I’m certain I can achieve my goals and be able to afford living as a content creator. Life is going well so far. Regardless of what may transpire, everything always works out in the end.
Images used in collage via @moldygrill