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A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR 6 I’m going to try to leave out my personal life ranting in this editor’s note in favor of what we’ve got cooking inside this issue that’s in your hands right now. Plus, I’m in a rush. Depending on which dualsided cover you picked up of this new issue of Demencha, we’ve got cover stories on both Gear and Scribe (two of KC’s OG graffiti pioneers) and on Murderbot (a DJ/producer who‘s doing big things since relocating from KC to Chicago). This issue marks the first time that we’ve done a cover story on anyone who doesn’t do music (save Jeremy McConnell), but as you’ll read in the Gear and Scribe piece that Phil Torpey did, graffiti has a lot of parallels with music culture and specifically hip hop. I’ve told myself, and others in the past, that I don’t want Demencha to look like a “graffiti magazine.” However, we’ve made an exception for the feature on these two. Don’t sleep on the Murderbot story either. In this one, he goes in on what the Midwest really is from a viewpoint you won’t get from anyone else. Whew! Did we really go an entire issue without anyone bringing up the name Tech N9ne? Almost. Almost… In looking forward to the next issue, the winter/spring 2010 issue, we will have a very special guest writing a cover story on why the greatest era for music is happening right now. So be on the lookout for that.


Knowledge Jewels

from Professor Nightlife Jones

10 Bonny Tronix

Miles Bonny dishes about his recent trip to Europe and hanging out with Diplo in Sweden.

16 Murderbot

Murderbot Knows What the Midwest Is.

20 Dating Tips For the 21st Century Why Social Networking isn’t really working at all.

24 Gear & Scribe

Cans City’s Foremost Ambassadors

30 Top Tracks of 2009

With DJ Shad & Brent Tactic CONTACT:

Chris Mills

Demencha Magazine Editor-in-Chief




Knowledge Jewels 6




Whether it’s hip hop, house, drum & bass or dubstep, there are 3 basic elements to dance floor culture. The first element is the DJ who can play anything from 45’s to a laptop. Second is the music, the common ground that connects us all. Third, the people, without which there wouldn’t be a culture. Venues, sound systems and crews come and go along with the faces that frequent the scene. But those three elements never change regardless of the genre of music played. The dynamics of dance floor culture have change little since ancient times. It might seem like there have been huge advancements (in some ways true), however those three basic elements have endured for the most part unchanged until the 1970’s. The birth of disco and hip hop changed the dynamics by incorporating the turntable as the music source thus replacing live bands (there are still exceptions). The birth of this music also gave way to the dancing styles that followed. While this new subculture started in urban settings, it has transformed into a global culture. Disco evolved into house and other variations while hip hop morphed into the hip hop of today as well as spawning jungle, drum & bass, etc. The distinct difference between these new styles of music are as varied as the styles worn by its followers. Where electronic dance music conceived the rave culture, a specific style of dress accompanied it. I remember in the 90’s the only way to recognize a raver in the “real world” was by

phat pants, visors and other tell tale traits. This became as easily recognizable as the “hip hop style.” Once founded, these styles became less about musical subculture and more about following what’s cool. The homogenization of subculture style isn’t anything new. Look at greasers/rockabilly, hippies, punkrockers, ravers and hip hoppers. Hell, even the pirates’ style has endured the test of time. All these styles are clearly recognizable and categorize you into your genre of choice. One observation is that once the style laws are set, people express themselves within the parameters as defined. A reoccurring pattern that emerges is that in order to identify with a group, personal identity is often cast aside for group identity even to the point of large scale social branding. You can go into almost any city and if you’re dressed accordingly, can blend into any subculture you desire. While most people only see the differences of the music genres and view the subcultures as separate entities, I focus on the similarities and acknowledge them into one common culture which I’ll call dance floor culture. The only difference between a hip hopper and a raver is the music coming out of the speakers. We both save our best moves for the best breaks. Vibe is an individual decision. Two common bonds shared within our culture are expression and competition. This culture revolves around the music and we are a part of that music through


personal expression either by production or consumption. You’re either producing or playing the music, dancing, or listening and supporting the music. The competitive nature of our culture evolved out of the disco dance competitions combined with the four elements of hip hop. Each art form contains competitive aspects at its core, used socially to motivate self-expression. MCs, DJs B-Boys & graff writers all battle, be it territorial, for bragging rights or for the respect of the exchange of expression. As younger generations replace the ones who retire from the scene, it’s interesting to see which aspects of our lifestyle carry on. For example, when old school breakers dance alongside B-Boys from the “You Got Served” generation, we can see two completely different styles that still maintain common parallels. Without proper role models to guide the next generation, we might wake up to find our scene with a completely different set of value systems than when we started. Imagine a scene where everyone fronts and hates on each other and no one dances. Sound like KC? Not if I have anything to say about it! That’s why it’s important that our role models be positive. If your expression has gained you attention and thrust you into the spotlight, chances are you are already a


role model. Remember, right now is some younger persons future good ole days. We are in the Show Me State and there is something to be said for the show me state mentality creating highly productive individuals. Honestly, beefs are always going to exist. If all we show the next generation is beef and don’t focus on the positive forms of expression, the rate of positive expression will decrease, leaving us with more followers than leaders. Increasing consumption over production can be dangerous for the longevity of our lifestyle. Everyone will end up looking and acting the same. What fun is that? Once a scene becomes mainstream, by definition it can no longer be a subculture. Look what happened to the rave scene. The media hijacked our culture for their TV commercials & mass produced phat pants and Ecko hoodies to the point where everyone looked the same. In order to stand out we started fitting in. I tried explaining it by ripping candy off the candy ravers only to end up looking like a crazy asshole. If the shelltoe fits…well, the scene almost died. Now we are the role models showing the nuschool how it’s done. I recognize the same pattern emerging out the dubstep/hip hop hipster crowd. I remember hearing the hip hop haters talking mad shit on the younger

kids who wore skin tight jeans, Kanye glasses without prescriptions and Muslim scarves. At first I welcomed the new change figuring hip hop’s dogmatic perception could use a facelift. Sick of over baggy pants and 3XL white tees, I enjoy when people express themselves differently. When I saw this style explode, I remembered the term “instaraver” (just add phat pants, Ecko hoodie, binky and poof you’re a raver) and made it seem like insta-hipster was well on its way to becoming the new thing to be. If every one is wearing the same thing how different can it really be? The mixing of everything together to create a style for people who have no style appeals to me. I dig the art student feel of the look. When I see the cliche jocks going into American Apparel and walking out insta-hipsters, I cringe on what is yet to come. When the hipsters play hip hop, will we be calling it “hipster-hop“? Sorry kids, 80’s synth and mash-ups on an iPod shuffle doesn’t make you a DJ! Or does it? Are the lines between consumption and production so blurred by technology that anyone with a computer can make an album and get it out to the world with out ever leaving home? Coming from the mixtape generation, I’m proud of the progression but hope the vinyl lifestyle isn’t a dying art form. If anyone can do this, where are we going to find the true individuals out of the army of clay robots molded and programmed by sub-cultural social conformity?

The mark of a true individual is someone who remains themselves regardless of a new fashion trend. When does a style become a uniform? Are you wearing one? Am I? If you like wearing skintight jeans, go for it! If you want to look like a certain crowd, do it! Don’t be surprised when the leaders won’t follow. It takes courage to not follow the crowd and do your own thing, but the respect you gain is far greater than if you obeyed current trend as your personal identity. I would imagine the first hipster got a lot of shit for being an individual. I would also imagine that person being somewhat resentful for having their style bitten and spitten’ globally. Regardless of what you look like, we are all the same culture, regardless of the music being pushed out of the speakers. The dance floor binds us. We are a global nation defined by beat not border. No matter what city you’re in, the dance floor is where we meet. Once we see how we are connected, our differences will melt away. This is no longer something we “do” but a lifestyle we live. That’s the difference between industry and family. The ones who utilize our culture as a tool without giving back become victims of their own ambition and end up losing the street-cred they worked for. Family, on the other hand, knows no other way to live and it shows. Family plays for family. Our family is a global tribe. One tribe, One vibe.


One of our favorite local hip hop producers and jazz aficionados, Miles Bonny, recently took a trip overseas to Europe with the intention of linking up with some folks at his label home, Melting Pot Music, in Germany. As it turns out, he got some unexpected e-mails while there and ended up kicking it in Stockholm with one of our generation‘s greatest club music producers. Read how Miles’ jaunt across the pond helped shape his ever-evolving taste in music. Demencha: Did you go to Europe with some kind of purpose or was it more of a casual trip? Miles Bonny: The reason for Germany was because I work with a label in Germany who releases my stuff on vinyl and digital and things that are different than what INnatesounds releases. It’s Melting Pot Music. They have a bunch of artists that I like that I wanted to connect with. Being a producer, I appreciate good beats. So when I started to do vocals, the idea of being able to utilize other people’s good beats and make a song out of them was just unbelievable. It’s like going from making candy to just being able to eat it. I finished a project with this guy who lives in Vienna and I wanted to go back there and shoot pictures and do video with the guy for the album, even though it’s not completely done yet. But then what happened was, while I was on tour, I was informed while I was

in Berlin that Murderbot here (in the States) was contacted by Diplo and they were talking and Diplo wanted to get in contact with me, apparently. I haven’t really talked to Murderbot about it a lot lately since. So I was like, “Oh boy.” I e-mailed them back and I told him that I was in Germany and that I could maybe meet up with him back in the States. He (Diplo) asked me if I could meet him in Sweden. I was like, “…sounds like fun!” So I thought that sounded like a good idea. We figured that out and I had to fly to Sweden. I arrived and gave him a call and he gave me his information and I went to his hotel and basically stayed there for three days. He was busy most of the time recording for an artist out there. We got into some good conversation and hung out occasionally and I got a place to stay for free in the middle of Stockholm. It was pretty awesome. I’m the type of person who, I just do things and see what happens. He asked me if I wanted to come out there and “mess with beats.” And to a lot of people that meant that we were going to make a mega hit and take over the world potentially, and that if that didn’t happen, all was a failure. What mattered to a lot of other people was whether or not we recorded any music. And what mattered to me was to just see what happened. This is a guy who’s music I like and he’s interested in what I do so I’ll go and meet him and tell him what I do and see if


there’s any way that we can connect. I met some cool people. In the end for me it’s about getting to know people who also make music that I enjoy. He and I got along fine. I have some brief video of it that I’m going to put up soon. After our kind of climactic discussion the night that I left. Demencha: What was that about? Miles Bonny: It was more so that he was so busy. I was like, man, I’m leaving soon, let’s talk. None of this was very well planned out. I was telling him what I was thinking and we had our good conversation and talked about…I mean it was like three in the morning. I told him where I’m at and where I’m coming from and he told me where he’s at and ideas he has for the future. We talked about our families and talked about people we have both worked with. He told me stories about positive and frustrating situations with larger artists. I’m not really going to talk about that though, because it’s not as though it was a public interview at the time. Given the fact that obviously Diplo is way more known than I am, it’s just interesting to be around those people or environments that you speculate about. That you might think “Oh, I wonder what that’s like.” And it’s like a testing ground. It’s like you’re a rapper and you go to meet Dr. Dre, you’re there with Dr. Dre. That’s an opportunity that’s different than sitting at home wondering how you’re


going to get Dr. Dre a demo or something. Diplo has a manager, but I wasn’t sitting there with his manager. I was sitting there with him and I was like okay, cool, let’s see what happens, right? Towards the end of the conversation he said he thought that it sounded like I was going to explode. And it wasn’t for anger, it was because I was just passionately expressing to him my purpose in life and how that might relate to music and what we do and stuff. Demencha: What did you say to him? Miles Bonny: I think my thing was, because he knew me from the song with Murderbot (“Thighs”), he doesn’t know anything about the fact that I DJ or make beats. I mean this is the thing that Kansas City, if they care, needs to realize. Obviously, I’m a dabbler. I mean, I dabble in a lot of things. The aftermath of that is if people like me for certain dabblings they’re not the same dabblings that the majority of Kansas City knows me for. So in Kansas City I’m known as a producer and DJ, but you have to realize, I wasn’t really a DJ three years ago. They still don’t view me to be a singer the way that people in Europe do because I don’t really do that here. But it’s all reality, just a matter of perception. So Diplo wanted to get in touch with me because of what I did for Murderbot, which is basically high-pitched rapping and playing trumpet, if he even knew that I played trumpet…over a really

fast beat. So I was basically trying to fill him in on what I do. I told him about Soundsgood and the hip hop thing, I do jazz, etc. But I like the energy of humanity. I love the energy of life. So the energy of fast music is basically tapping into an increased heart rate, essentially. This isn’t how I think about it but this is how it’s coming out now. So we talked about stuff. I didn’t really go there with some kind of big question. Like I said, it was more so just to see what would happen. He was talking about writing good songs and how hard that may be for people. It’s kind of hard to summarize, we talked about everything. We talked about music, we talked about life. And I tried to educate him on what I do, since I was already fairly aware of what he does. Demencha: How did your trip to Europe influence what you’re playing at your DJ gigs now? I’ve never known you to play all this different Chicago dance music stuff before you got back from Europe. Miles Bonny: The genres that I think I know the most about are the things that people think I know the most about. I

know a decent amount of soul now. I know a decent amount of jazz and a lot about hip hop. But yea, I don’t know a whole lot about club music culture. And that really wasn’t about as much as Diplo as it was being in the clubs that were hip hop crowds but were mixed with sounds that weren’t common in America, nationally. Hip hop and Hotwings was cool…but it was too 80’s. It was generic songs that hip hop guys might claim to have remembered or something. There’s nowhere to relax and there’s also really nowhere to dance…so I did Feel Sexy. This was pre-Serato. A lot of people weren’t playing the best of the 90’s hip hop. Then that era came out and it was like everyone’s playing Pharcyde songs. I’ve had enough of the Pharcyde, Tribe, Wu-Tang moments, okay? As someone who cares about experiencing new things. It’s like okay, that’s been done. It’s not that exciting for anyone anymore. Originally when I started making beats I had an electronic keyboard. I was making all types of stuff. Then when I met a couple of MCs including Joe Good, did I kind of focus on making hip hop beats. I guess I’m just more


interested in having fun than I am in being bored. Armand Van Helden produced a song by Dizzy Rascal called “Bonkers,” I think. It’s not released here yet, but I play it all the time now. To me it was just full of so much energy. I love Armand Van Helden’s production. But it’s just so dope, and that’s how I want my parties to feel. That is definitely something that I want to get closer to. Aside from whatever generic stereotypes people believe to exist in Europe, it’s just like here. Because of the history of the countries, there’s a greater perspective on life and in my mind, what life should be like from day to day. I think America is pretty directionless. They’re very much like, spur of the moment. Think about what was going on in this country a hundred years ago. That was before the Great Depression and that seems like a long time ago. While we’re aimless and still kind of trying to figure out how to run a country that isn’t just constantly changing, and kind of trying to put out fires externally and internally, it’s very scattered over here. What’s the heart of the country? That can’t even be agreed upon. Because we don’t really have a history. Most of our history is filled with turmoil and randomness. So it’s hard to have a vision. Over (in Europe), not to say they have a vision, but there’s a pace to life, indicative of cumulative paces existing over a greater amount of time. They have had many more days to live in that city, called that name, where that corner existed.


When we talk about the history of our country here, you basically go back to the Industrial Revolution and automobiles and maybe slavery. Then you go to the taking over of the land by indigenous people. And that’s it. And everyone else came from somewhere else. It’s not just about musical genre, it’s about the way in which people perceive culture. It’s easier to get locked in a box over here. Demencha: Tell us about how the collaboration came along with Murderbot, the song “Thighs“? Miles Bonny: I’m hoping to gain a lot of knowledge from him. We’ve known each other for a long time because we were in Lawrence together. (We both worked at) KJHK. He had a show and I had a show. I liked his show and I checked out his show’s website, which was rare. I watched him DJ a couple times, and I think both he and I are really open-minded. I recorded to (one of the songs that he sent me), and he did minor editing. It worked out. Given that there’s not a huge circuit for mature, 20-something, soul, lounge stuff in Kansas City, or around the world really, it’s fun to have faster songs. I like slow stuff and faster stuff. But for the record, I have played “Percolator” before I went to Europe. Feel Sexy had some booty sessions.

A breakdancer catches his breath at a Lost Wax show at The Crosstown Station, KCMO.


by Chris Mills


Many in the American heartland, people in places such as Kansas City for instance, have had an inferiority complex when it comes to everything from nightlife to business chances. And let’s face it. The Midwest is not the most glamorous region of the U.S. to live. While most of us in KC are still daydreaming of cooling out on a beach somewhere, touring Times Square or burning out to Atlanta in search of a recording contract, Chris Shively aka producer/DJ wonder, Murderbot, bolted up to Chicago without a hitch about two years ago. Since then, both of his record labels, Dead Homies and Sleazetone, his ruthless work ethic and the wild club music he produces and plays out have become much more visible in the worldwide club music community. As a DJ, Murderbot was always highly-respected by those who knew him in Kansas City whether or not they were open about it. On one of Murderbot’s last nights in Kansas City, he had a kind of goingaway party at the Record Bar in Westport. But the turnout for that event was less than lukewarm. In Chris, we’re talking about a guy who could be gracing magazine covers much bigger than ours in a matter of a couple years. It was only after his move to the Windy City did many of us realize that he probably

was one of the best to ever do it around here. “There’s always people who like you and people who don’t,” he begins. “People who book you and people who don’t…there were certain promoters who I felt like didn’t really know what was up. But the community, and most of the promoters were always super supportive. I love the parties there and I still have a lot of good friends. I never felt like Kansas City screwed me or anything.” After moving to Chicago, his cutthroat, rapid-fire mixing style and bold, in-your-face track selection earned him opening spot gigs in front of both dubstep icon, Skream, and Chicago’s own original ghetto king of the dance floor, DJ Slugo (who is also a former Demencha cover guy) among other events that he DJ’s at. His newest self-titled album, Chrissy Murderbot, which saw release in September, is a merciless foray of dance music freeform featuring rangy tempo tendencies, first-class drum programming and perfect vocals from all of those featured on the project (MC Zulu, Miles Bonny, Hawatha Hurd, The Basix and Scream Club). These 12 tracks take a very broad, sweeping take on current trends in dance music, and leave the out-of-control electrohouse garbage stick to the trendier music


blogs in favor of grimier, more earthy sounds. Most of this record, nor hardly any of his previous production, could be described as “infectious,” or “easy on the ears.” Also in September, he contributed an exclusive DJ mix to the Mad Decent blog, all while holding down his own blog,, wherein he’s posting a new mix once a week for a full year. His move to Chicago has surely provoked stark changes in his music tastes, and therefore his production, as opposed to his time spent in Kansas City where he was focusing mostly on ragga-jungle. Now, everything from juke to dubstep are fair game. After flying all over the country and to Europe (he lived in Amsterdam for two years) over the course of his music career, it may come as a shock that Murderbot does not subscribe to the myth that the American heartland is the laughing stock of the greater club music scene. “I think people get it here more than in other places,” he said about Midwesterners from his pad in Lincoln Park, Chicago in early November. “It’s just native to them. Because house and techno are originally Midwestern, it grows out of this region and it makes sense to people in this region in a way that it doesn’t in mainland Europe or the rest of the world. Someone from Germany is always going to be looking at this culture as a foreigner, no matter how knowledgeable they are about it or how into it they get. They’re


not going to be from the place where it came from. It’s the same way as liking hip hop and being American, versus liking hip hop and being from Austria, or something. It intuitively makes more sense to someone who’s from the same place as the people who are making the music. The music originated in the Midwest and so much development has come in England on top of it. I just feel that the people in those areas (the Midwest and England) just kind of get it more organically and genuinely than people in the rest of the world. Which isn’t to say that people in the rest of the world aren’t into it, or can’t understand it, or aren’t fun to play for. It’s just a different feeling.” Say what, now? Doesn’t this fly in the face of the notion that the U.S. coasts are “where it’s at” (for lack of a better phrase)? “Yea, the coasts are wack, man,” he continues. “There’s business opportunities out there, definitely. It’s easier to make it big out there, but they don’t get it. They don’t get it in the same way that Midwesterners do. All my experiences playing in New York have always just felt like…people aren’t as willing to go out on a limb as people in the Midwest. They aren’t always as willing to party hard or get into things that are outside their comfort zone. People are pickier. And a lot of it is just that they don’t come from that same house music background. You can’t talk about “The Percolator” with someone from New York because they’re not going to know what it is.

It’s just that whole difference in background and culture and everything leads to them not getting it in the same way as a Midwesterner or British person would, generally. But I don’t want to make some crazy generalizations.” Here’s where he really takes us to church. “There’s this whole kind of Pentecostal, Christian culture in the Midwest. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that most of the people instrumental in the founding of house music come from a church background. And likewise, all these other musicians whether it’s anyone from Elvis to Al Green to R. Kelly, all come from these church backgrounds, and fairly conservative, restrictive church backgrounds. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. And there’s this whole culture, especially in early house music, where all the songs were all kind of about breaking out. A lot of them are very spiritual and very gospel-influenced. And at the same time, a lot of these guys were gay and were feeling significant tension between that lifestyle and what they were hearing from their church leaders. Or just wanting to stay up and party all night and feel that tension and people telling them that they’re making the

devil’s music and stuff like that. So there’s this kind of redefining of that faith and that religiosity into a kind of house music template that I think is very typical of the Midwest, where especially in the 90’s, you had this idea of people who would think about raves almost as a religious experience. And I think that connection really begins with disco and house music. These people were really trying to preserve some sort of the spirituality or religion that they grew up with, despite the kind of cognitive dissonance of the lifestyle they were living and how that compared with what kind of messages were being put on them from church leaders and what kind of value judgments were being applied to them by the leadership of these churches that they came from originally.” So the Midwest really does have something to stand up for, apparently. Hallelujah! But in all seriousness, Chris’ honesty goes to show that there is culture in every seeping gap of society. Even if it’s right under our noses.


20 “The Third Date Curse” Podcast on iTunes Now

number instead of finding me on Facebook and adding me as a friend. The mystery of finding out someone’s favorite movie or book is readily available. Their friend’s opinions of them and embarrassing photos are only a click away. What do you even bother talking about at this point? I long for the booty calls that were actually a phone call and not a text message. I know it seems like a matter of convenience, but when we have every possible thing readily available at our fingertips, we should use old-school tactics for dating. Thanks to the internet, I have met a whole host of losers that apparently subscribe to the belief that you should always have sex on the first date. Not to mention, there are guys who are more concerned with their twitter feed, Myspace bulletins, and Facebook status updates than they are with you. You shouldn’t be waking up to a guy glued to your computer chair refreshing twitter every 5 seconds. If anything, a morning with company over should involve sex, spooning, and some form of breakfast in no particular order. I dated a guy that I met via the interwebs and found him to be more of a drag in person than he seemed like on the in the 1900’s was immensely easier for internet. Also, I spent countless evenings out ladies. First off, you had to be courted. You with him and his phone. If you have such couldn’t even ask men out. You depended an incessant need to be on your phone at all on cues of where you dropped your glove or times, you should not be allowed to fuck handkerchief to let a potential suitor know anyone. Seriously. Ladies and gentlemen, you were interested. It’s really hard to date step up your dating game. How about y’all these days. I long for the days in which I just pretend the internet doesn’t exist for could have somebody ask me for my phone five motherfucking minutes and talk to one



another? One of the best conversations I ever had about photography occurred at Record Bar while playing trivia. This dude and I wouldn’t have ever started talking about one of our shared passions via the internet. I have found that getting over any sort of shyness issues you may have now, make it much easier to converse with people you are interested in.


you are seeing the most.

6. Protect your PC from viruses…

always use protection. Nothing is too sacred.

7. If you are going to use internet dating services, please have good and current photos of yourself. Make your friends take your profile pics, anything to make yourself marketable.

1. If you meet someone new, ask 8. If pursuing someone for just for their phone number.

sex, use their voicemail. A little dirty talk never killed anyone, or 2. Have the decency to put your the mood for that matter. phone away. It shows you care. Unless you’re a doctor or HOVA, 9. Practice good hygiene. Brush you are not that important. your teeth, powder your genitals, treat every date like the first, I’m 3. If you spot a guy or girl while just sayin.’ out, go talk to them. Don’t be shy. 10. If you meet some girl/guy 4. When meeting somebody you on the internet, ask every single met online, tell 3 people where you person you know if they know of are going, then you have 3 people them. Chances are, your friends to check up on you. opinions can save you from eight weeks of bullshit. 5. Be careful what you put on the internet when you are dating, i.e. Dating problems or questions? no twitpics of you making out with Contact Erica at another girl/guy other than the one 22

A woman holds a door open in front of a cafe on 31st and Campbell. Thirty-first street is a strange place in my neighborhood. On one side of Gillham is Martini Corner and some shops, on the other side there are hobos, empty buildings and just general disrepair of the city. Still, it’s my hood and I love it.



Chances are that if you live in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, you have a car. We’re an auto city thanks to suburban sprawl, a generous sprinkling of green space prohibiting clusters of overdevelopment, and domestic once-kings GM and Ford’s plants in Fairfax and Claycomo, respectively. Whether you brave traffic yourself, catch the bus or even opt for the ol’ bipeds though, your neck has certainly snapped and whipped around to catch unimaginably bright landscapes where rhinos armed with plungers, killer bees, and mischievous bunnies cavort amongst letterforms cryptic yet pleasing, deep enough to approach 4-D. This is the handiwork, calling card and life pursuit of Abstracting The Typography’s own GEAR and SCRIBE. Demencha Magazine recently sat down with the prolific pair to discuss the history of ATT and Kansas City’s acceptance of graffiti, amongst other things. Without further ado, KC’s Kings of Krylon speak.

trip to Chicago. He put me, Anti, and Sea in the crew originally. Then it was Krie and Scribe. Eventually, Anti and Sea left, dropped, or retired the crew and it was just us four (East, Gear, Krie, and Scribe) that really started to push ATT. D: What was the importance of EAST moving to KC from Chicago as far as ATT is concerned and as far as the graffiti scene in KC to this day is concerned?

S: Gear, correct me if I am wrong, but the scene was started before he got here. Gear and Krie were the originals putting it down on cave walls! (laughs). Seriously, I think when East moved here it filled in the gaps of questions people here had that were here doing it since they were guessing based off photos and maybe videos. East was someone who knew more of the ins and outs (of graffiti) and also had tremendous style. That encouraged people to work harder and learn new tools. For me, it was seeing his work in person that just made me want Demencha: First off, state your names, the crews to work harder at my craft even though we did that you are affiliated with and how long you’ve very different things. been painting. G: Krie and I were doing it early on. I started in GEAR: Gear ATT, TAC, TPA, KMS. I’ve been 1982 and I think Krie came on in ‘83 or ‘84. Like painting for 27 years. Scribe said, when East got here in 1989 he filled in a lot of the blanks we weren’t getting out of the only SCRIBE: Scribe – ATT, DF, PFOM. two books that existed on the subject of graffiti, Subway Art and Spraycan Art. What’s really cool D: Give us a brief history of ATT - its members, is that Krie and I started before you could get those how it was started, et cetera. books here. I think the most important thing that East did by moving here was to start the scene and S: ATT is Chicago-based, but in my opinion teach us how to be writers. (formed as) what you know today through Kansas City. The crew has spread out to other states and D: How did your involvement with graffiti start? now Switzerland. Why were you attracted to it in the first place? What’s G: East started the crew after he returned from a the first time you can remember seeing graffiti?


G: I was a b-boy before I became a writer. I tried to get my hands on any video that had b-boys in it, and usually that was MTV videos with just split seconds of b-boys. Then it happened that PBS did a documentary on the Rock Steady Crew. They were on a rooftop in New York and in the background were these bright, colorful names painted everywhere. I already loved drawing and painting, so I was instantly hooked because I knew that somehow it had to do with hiphop. S: I lived in different parts of the world and had seen it, but it wasn’t until I started taking the subway to high school in Boston that I got sucked into it. D: How did your respective upbringings contribute to you getting involved with graffiti, if at all? G: It wasn’t so much my upbringing that got me involved, more my love of hip-hop and its culture. There was a lot of racism back then. If you were white you never would go to an all-black club. When hip-hop came around it changed all of that. I remember walking into the first club like that. My friends from the neighborhood convinced me it would be cool. The tensions were high when I first walked in and I never heard so many bad names for being white. My crew hit the dance floor and ripped it up, and suddenly all the tension was gone and I was accepted into my own private club.

(as a kid). Growing up in those environments was a part of it. During the next stage of my life when I came to KC to go to college just put all of the pieces together. Gear and I met up though a mutual student at KCAI and even though he didn’t know me, we were off and painting. 1993 and 1994 were good years for me as far as making new friends. D: What are your feelings about the graffiti scene in KC at this moment, encompassing both legal and illegal work? Who, in your opinion, is doing it big in KC right now? S: I don’t think too much about it anymore. I just can’t help it with (raising a) family and stuff going on. It is pretty much like every other scene with serious talent to kids just getting started and a bunch of different perspectives on what to do and how to do it. I am proud that a lot of people have helped make KC more known in the world. As far as who is doing it in KC, past interviews have taught me to stay away from that question when it comes to giving names. I know there are people that wouldn’t think I might be into their stuff but I am. There is some good talent here.

G: I love everything that’s happening. I remember when East, Krie, and myself had to write several different names just to make it look like a scene. People eventually caught on and now we have a thriving scene. I think one of the best things about S: I lived in London, San Francisco and Boston our scene is the respect level amongst writers,


there’s really not a lot of beef here. The cool thing is most writers here just want to paint and eventually you cross paths and rock something dope together. As far as legal or illegal, it doesn’t matter to me. I paid my dues before most of these new writers were born; so if they want to call me a legal eagle, cool by me. Just a little advice to writers calling people legal eagles, though. One day either you give up because graffiti is no longer what you’re about, or you get arrested one too many times, or maybe you go to legal walls because you’re older, the fines are harder, the consequences a little more dire, and maybe you have a family. (I have) one question to ask anyone who separates legal from illegal or hates on galleries: Isn’t it all getting up, which is the whole purpose of graffiti? I live by the rule “by any means necessary.” On the last question, I agree with Scribe. The minute you forget to mention someone’s name they think you hate them. I respect every writer doing his or her thing and being a cool head, and when I meet them I will give them props if so deserved or I’ll paint with them because they’re good. D: How does KC rate as far as its acceptance of graffiti and of art in general? S: When Gear and I started the first big public piece with cans on Big Dudes Music, people would drive by and yell at us and flip us off. There was even someone that threw food at us and we also had the police called on us several times. That was years ago, and I think Kansas City has changed a lot and grown to have a better understanding of both illegal and legal stuff. G: It was rough in the beginning. Like Scribe said, when we first started to do legal work people were

throwing food at us, yelling at us. Kansas City has come a long way from then. Now in general people enjoy graffiti. This is one of the few cities that didn’t try to shut down graffiti completely. D: When you made the transition from doing mostly illegal work to doing more commissioned murals and legal art, was it difficult or easy for you? G: The transition was necessary and easy. I had been arrested one too many times and was getting too old for the cops to just brush it off like I was an angry teen. The fines got steeper and I just couldn’t afford to keep getting arrested. I love legal walls now, because I really get to focus and do something dope. It’s hard to do that when you’re always being chased or worrying about being busted. S: It wasn’t something I set out to do. After being arrested a couple of times, my life took some serious turns. A couple of times I had no real place to live and remember sleeping on the couch in Collective Funk on Main Street for a while. The transition wasn’t that hard because I just wanted to paint, but life in general after my arrests made a lot of things hard. D: What are some common themes or images that run through your work? What is the background on said images and themes? S: Gear and I are into very different stuff now. One of my main themes has always been to keep it light and make people laugh about the fact that it is OK to admit we are all idiots on parade.


G: I think the only common theme for me and work with several different artists. It taught would be my name. Backgrounds, colors, and me to humble myself. characters change constantly depending on who you’re painting with. D: You two had a falling out some years back but are cool once again. Care to comment on D: How has graffiti changed your lives, both as why that all happened or what the root of it was? artists who do gallery work, murals & children’s books and as humans who are struggling to deal S: In an earlier question I talked about how hard with everyday life? life in general got after I was arrested. Gear and I have been through a tremendous amount of stuff S: Graffiti has given me an education and outlook together, from taking new steps into growing up on artwork that I didn’t expect to come to me more, helping create a scene that has taken on a over time. It has given me some very passionate life of its own now, and dealing with media that friends that love what they do and continued to screw us over for their encourage me even when they don’t stories and left us to deal with the fallout know it, without getting a paycheck and people in this subculture. We were for it. I admire that. It helped me to like brothers, and brothers fight. We take responsibility for the choices had a lot of good things happen to us I’ve made, where before I used to along the way but the trade out was blame others. Graffiti has also altered stress. Much like a music group going my life in negative ways too. Public to the next level, we just had a lot of perception has made things take new stress to deal with. I think we longer in my life, and choices I made made the right choice to venture out on the subculture’s behalf at the time into things more individual, but my the course of my life and made some mistake was letting my anger keep me dreams take longer. But the creative from continuing the friendship. We influences helped mold a style some both made good use of our time apart people see as Scribe or D. Ross. There and have grown in different ways. We isn’t much out there that doesn’t have sat down a while ago and talked and good and bad points - religion as a realized our career goals were very structure (not to be confused with different but having a good time and faith), politics, the work place, and just painting a wall for us, not the so on all have both sides of the coin. I public or the scene, was when we were guess it just depends on if your dreams at our best. That is where we are trying and faith are bigger than the battle. to pick up. G: It’s taking me places I never thought I would G: Brothers will be brothers, ‘nuff said! go. It has also given me the opportunity to meet


D: Do you keep in touch regularly with ATT will always work in? members? What are they up to? S: The challenge, more than anything, is finding G: Yes. Some more than others, but I know the time. I’m not sure about putting down the what’s happening through the grapevine or can… I’ve never really thought about it. checking up on 12 Oz Prophet. We really don’t need that much contact. We have our reunions G: Trying to make the public understand that it is and we catch up on peoples’ lives then. a legitimate form of art. Trying to sell lettering as S: Not as much as we should, but we have all an art form. The only way I will ever put down been trying to get together once a year. We all the can is I can no longer do it physically. have a lot going on and some of us are closer than others. That’s just how it goes. I miss some D: What does the future hold for you, both as an of the members. artist and as a person? D: What is the strangest place graffiti has taken G: I will just keep on keeping on. you to? What is one of the most memorable experiences of your art career? S: Just more of the same and trying to be a good husband and father to my kids. G: I went to several small towns in Mexico and painted murals in the middle of nowhere. I also D: Any final shouts or words for the masses? did a group show in the Canary Islands. My most memorable experience is when I first knew I had S: Shouts to Gear, East, Krie, Rapes, Aero, Dase, invented my own style. The people that say that Last, Dalek, Emit, Sub, Fem9, Audio 57, Dani all style has been done? That’s just a cop-out for Girl, Joc Max and the FlavorPak Crew. Rest in “I’m going to bite you because I don’t want to peace MD. I’m sorry if I left anyone out. I started work that hard.” this interview at 4:30 in the morning! S: Most recently someone flew me to Hawaii to paint. That was fun, but my upcoming trip to Croatia to paint will be intense to say the least. The most memorable moment in my art career was when a bunch of boxes of my children’s books showed up at my house. I’ll never forget it.

G: Shouts to East, (if it wasn’t for you brother, I wouldn’t have gotten this far), Scribe, Krie, Aero, Emit, Kuaze, Rapes, Fem9, Audio57, all my crews (ATT,TAC,TPA,KMS). To the pioneers of Kansas City hip-hop: Joc Max, Dani Girl, Jeremy and Flavor Pak, Tech 9, Icy Roc, Dreds, Master Locks, Phantom Poppers, Imperial Preps, and last but not least, my 17 D: What challenges does your art continue to pound cat Milo. produce for you? Would you ever put down the spray cans for good or is it a medium that you


THE TOP TRAC this winter. 8. Luey V f/ Shorty the Prince & Laudie Do Ya Own Dance - This is a hbanger from STL. I saw the response when I was in STL and immediately added the record. 9. Damm D - Luv Me - This is another Texas heater. The crowd goes nuts when this dropped at the right time.


10. KD - Jockin My Dip - Full Effect Entertainment from KC is coming with a heater that is starting to buzz in the clubs right now.

1. Big Tuck F/Murphy Lee - Not a Stain On Me (Remix) - This was a huge record during this year. Big Tuck is a Texas Icon and when Murphy Lee hopped on it, it made it a club classic. 2. Big Hud - What’s Wrong Wit Dem - This record is a personal favorite and it talks about all thh B.S. trends that are going on right now. 3. Trey Song f/ Legion the Legend - Keys Kansas City’s own Legion and Trey linked up to create a smooth track for the ladies.


4. Nesto - Can u Tic - Another hit from Kansas City. Nesto came with a ladies anthem with this track. 5. Jae Casino & Yung Flash - Dat Thang This one is an unreleased club banger.

1. Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo (Hotflush) All I can really say about this cut is that it’s perfection. Call it dubstep, 2-step, or whatever you want. Best track of 2009 by a landslide.

6. Murphy Lee f/ Day 26 - Mad at Me - The best thing for Murphy Lee was getting released from the label. This track is one of the many heaters coming up on his new release in December. 7. Cash - Walk Wit a Dip - This is a club banger and it’s about to make noise on a major level



2. La Roux – In For The Kill (Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Mix) (Polydor) Taking a new Brit star with electro pop tendencies and making a moody dubstep anthem is the recipe here. Skream took a fairly straightforward and boring song and made it probably the single most played tune in my sets (regardless of genre) for the whole year.

CKS OF 2009 3. Major Lazer ft. Vybz Kartel & Afrojack – Pon De Floor (Downtown) & Diplo & Laidback Luke – Hey (Dim Mak) Diplo continues his world wide assault with the help of some super talented friends. Raved out craziness with big drums never fails when done this well.

4. Kid Sister – Right Hand Hi (Kingdom Remix) (Fool’s Gold) & L-Vis 1990 – Run (Dress 2 Sweat) So there’s the burgeoning genre called UK funky. I honestly feel like it’s the dark side of broken beat brought back that was sadly ignored earlier this decade. Either way, Kingdom and L-Vis 1990 are two of the brightest stars. Heady rhythms here with bass and synth programming that’ll light up a willing dancefloor. 5. Metronomy – Radio Ladio (Radioclit Swedish Remix) (Because Music) Nothing Swedish really about this remix I don’t think, but no matter. Different take on the UK funky that I mentioned above. This is more focus on the Afro Beat influenced rhythms with a huge synth line and tribal vocal samples that makes this tune really really special.

on Tape. Runs this tune through the ringer with psychedelic dancehall vibes with HUGE drums that just build and build as it goes along. Such a fan of this kid’s work.

8. DJ Class – I’m The Ish (Unruly) & Chelley – Took The Night (FUMG/Ultra Records) These tracks go together in the sense that they both started as underground records with the aspirations of blowing up. “I’m The Ish” is arguably the biggest bmore club song of all time now with folks like Kanye & Lil Jon jumping on remixes. Great to see such a Bmore legend have a record take off like this. “Took The Night” to me is proof that DJs can still break records. This shit was begging to blow up and I really feel DJs pushed it over the top. I played both of these tunes so much in so many different rooms. I love it when records can grab all types of crowds.

9. White Girl Lust – Back & Forth (Solid Bump)This might be the most exciting inclusion for me on this list because these two dudes are homies and I’ve had the chance to really watch their progression over the past few years. This track is just bananas. Driving house banger with a grinding bassline that just 6. Holy Ghost – I Will Come Back (Green rips open a dancefloor. Label Sound) So many good tracks coming out of the disco/classic house vibe these days 10. Renaissance Man – Spraycan (Dubsided) it’s silly. These guys are the head of the class Something is in the water in Finland and other in my opinion. Vocal driven house tune with parts of Scandinavia. Some of the best house an amazing bassline that ties it all together. music in the whole world is trickling out from This would be my soundtrack walking the these parts. This is probably the biggest track from this scene in ’09. Big room business here streets on a Friday night in NYC. with what sounds like a flipped airhorn sample 7. Lemonade – Sunchips (Ghosts on Tape that carries the whole track. Massive tune that Remix) (Sunday Best) Quirky dance rock/ I’ve had the pleasure of playing out a ton. indie band gets the remix BIZNESS from glitch-hop/digi dancehall mastermind Ghosts



Demencha Magazine Vol. 2 + Issue 6 (Gear & Scribe Cover) Fall/Winter 2009