For Daniel, Jordy and Lorin Askill the question “Live to work, or work to live” is irrelevant. Although the Aussie brothers form a creative triumvirate to be reckoned with, they’re careful not to let ambition obstruct their vision of a harmonious life. We caught up with Daniel, Grammy winning director of Sia’s music videos, and Jordan, a designer currently showing his jewelry at Moma, at their upstate home base to chat about the flow of nature, importance of swimming pools, and of course, Australia.
Their brother Lorin, who’s directed music videos for Chet Faker didn’t make it, but we’ll catch up with him soon. Whatever the Askill parents put in the water, it worked.
So the three of you lead lives dedicated to creativity. Did you grow up in an artistic house as kids?
There was always a piano in the house. My dad’s a percussionist and our mum worked for a composer. So there was always a lot of music in the home, John Cage and Xenakis and Steve Reich and people like that. Always a lot of jazz.
I remember us always making films. My mum was going to art school and early one morning we drove past a bus stop, and my mum said ‘never get a job where you have to stand and wait for a bus in the morning.’
Does that music from your childhood still influence you?
We do end up listening to jazz up here, Brazilian jazz or Bosanova kind of stuff. Coming up here is about chilling out and getting into a slower kind of rhythm. Unless there’s a party…
Do you play any music yourselves?
I think it’s such a nice thing to have an instrument in the house. Sometimes Lorin comes up and we have a little jam. I never play anything specific it’s always just some kind of meandering thing on a little chord progression.
How does your creative process work, does it follow a similar pattern?
In general with filmmaking it always starts as a kind of abstraction that slowly forms itself into something more solid, bit by bit. I think David Lynch describes it the best: there’s all these ideas floating around in an underground stream and you just have to be still long enough, be open to them coming. Then, hopefully, they start manifesting and bubbling up and revealing themselves.
What is your creative dynamic like when you’re working with Sia?
It’s kind of developed very organically over the years. We chat over the phone and have a bit of back and forth and then she’ll send me some notes and I’ll eventually write something into a treatment based on our conversations. Something kind of clicks.
What would you say your main influences are?
Minimalism has always been an influence. I really like the simplicity of it; nothing out of place but at the same time not too precious, and a connection to nature.
What is your relationship like, as brothers. Is it collaborative or competitive?
I guess for other people it kind of seems unusual, but my brothers have always been my best friends and collaborators. We always talk to each other about what we’re working on, and often work on stuff together. I don’t feel there’s ever really been any competition, it’s always been a very healthy, supporting, collaborative kind of creative relationship.
It’s amazing. Just the other day I was working on something I wasn’t familiar with and Lorin helped me on it then Daniel helped me the next day.
How do you juggle work with your personal life?
I think in our different ways we’re both probably quite quietly driven to make work that people want to see. But at the same time, what’s really important is to be connected to nature and live in a way that’s sustainable. That’s a difficult balance particularly somewhere like New York that’s so about ego and driving forward and achievement and everyone is so involved in themselves and getting ahead. It’s like…OK, I want to achieve good things and make good work, but there’s a balance. There’s more to life than that.
For us, there’s a strong sense of always being aware of what’s actually important and being happy. Being able to appreciate the nice things in life.
We want to be connected to nature and live in a way that’s sustainable. If you find that balance it all feeds together. Your work is better and your life is better.
Does this house feel like home?
It’s funny the first thing I think of when you say home is probably still Australia. In a way this house was inspired by that particular feeling of home, this house reminds me in a lot of ways of different places I lived in Australia, strangely enough.