Foreword Are we reaching a singularity in social consciousness? Or are we just being swept away on the ebb and flow of boom and bust where dissatisfaction and public anger will melt away into the next upward economic spike? Is the current crisis and the social unrest that it’s fomenting truly going to lead to a re-evaluation of social dynamics and silent injustice? Is it just too flagrant to ignore this time? We all know what we think about the grotesque ‘realities on the ground’ where the only people not suffering from the lucre driven collapse of the global economy are the people who triggered it. The bonus culture, the extraordinary arrogance of bespoke suited gamblers, the ludicrous abstraction of value and goods into a mathematical mirage where money divorced reality long ago but apparently only when the market is bullish. Money by malleable numbers seemingly still has the power to crush the innocent on the downward spiral while leaving them cold on the up. But if Goldman Sachs and their ilk really do rule the world, how secure is their empire and how much further can the vagaries of unrestrained capitalism truly be sustained on any level. How far can a macro economic model that defines itself through perpetual growth be pushed before the cards come crashing down. In a world where an 8 billion dollar profit is grounds for restless shareholders (fund managers masquerading as small investors) to sack the CEO because he couldn’t top the previous year’s 8.5 billion, is enough ever enough, and if it isn’t – when will the law of gravity finally force instituional change? We are seeing the Occupy movements sweep across the temples of market capitalism as people finally look up from their all too comfortable realities and breach the barricades of economic injustice. In London, the summer riots added the final footnote to the triumph of consumerist monoculture – where the apparently apolitical trashing of trainer shops across the capital was royally tutted by old school activists and left wing commentators as being a betrayal of mass protest’s integrity. ‘Where’s their cause’ was the cry. ‘This lot are just bloody thugs‘ was the received wisdom. The deeply unfunny joke of course was that the venal ramraiding of shop fronts and the idea that people’s time during the temporary breakdown of law and order was best spent acquiring something with a label on it was pure politics. That’s where a culture of competition, relentless advertising, self actualisation through branding and the consumerist dream have led us. No matter what the origins of the riots – yet more police injustice – as momentum formed, they descended into renegade capitalism’s mirror on the wall. Got my trainers – I’m the fairest of them all. No agenda for change – no demands – just consumerism through the front window rather than the back door. An intensely political incarnation of our social realities. The Occupy movements and spontaneously formed organisations of public protest are of course very different. Knowing full well the risks of gifting a corrupt media a front page story of frustration fuelled rioting or downright loony rhetoric where the middle classes retreat a little further behind their suspicions instead of recognsing their own sense of solidarity, they are organised, targeted, peaceful and made up of every social stripe. Evictions here and clearances there - but the open source nature of the movement remains it’s ulitimate power. Battles are fought in the media in today’s world, and
peaceful, persistent protest is the only way to triumph against all the odds stacked against a nascent movement that threatens the fabric of the closed corporate world. Problem is that the very instututions they are are fighting to reform and the medium itself know that all too well. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter? Well apparently one man’s freedom seeking Egyptian who ingenieously utilises the powers of social media is another man’s subversive thug who nefariously untilises social media to promote mass destruction. The self righteous Western outrage at the behaviour of ‘dictatorial regimes’ who beat protestors during mass arrests and closed down communications becomes almost hillariously hyporcritical when JP Morgan Chase make a huge donation to the NYPD and 2 days later 700 protestors are arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, and while youtube videos (yep – bloody Google again) of mass peaceful protest and police brutality mysteriously disappear. Over and above the unspoken blackout, governments call for the shutdown of Twitter – and the most revealing photos on Facebook have to be smuggled on under fake names. But those disgraceful Middle Eastern despots……. Except the Saudis of course. And their client state Bahrain which imprisons doctors and nurses for healing the wrong wounds. All of which begs the question – Are human beings intrinsically good or is it just ourselves who are ‘good’ and for the most part everyone else is a rapacious, profiteering, souless bastard. You’d have to be one hell of an optimist to see any good in the corporate giants and proudly immoral traders and raiders who hold the world economy to ransom. And that’s not even to touch warmongering, genocidal maniacs, whatever the colour of their skin or the shade of their religion. Is it the ease of denying your own humanity through subsuming yourself in the mechanics of a wider organisation or the all too human facility of compartmentalising away the effect of your actions on faceless ‘others’. Struggle does need to demonise it’s foe to galvanise it’s self belief – and rarely has a war been won through measured empathy. But while stepping up to the barriers and damn well staying there for as long as it takes, to genuinely inch towards a new social paradigm, we need to channel some degree of love alongside our sense of injustice – to hold out the hope that people may not be evil, but ignorant, selfish and imprisoned by their own greed. That may sound a tad too hippy for many tastes, but fighting to establish new, equal and life affirming dynamics on a fractured, bitter world will require understanding and boundless positivity in just the same measure as anger and the determination to seek justice. A justice that’s no longer blind but profoundly insightful. We are in a critical phase of our own histories – both as the individuals we are always being prompted to be and as the wider social force that imposed individualism seeks to negate – let’s just do our slaying of darker forces with the redemptive light of unity and genuinely establish a new playing field rather than just moving the goalposts. And it actually looks like that may just be what’s happening...........
Wayne Anthony (Class of 88) + Sirius 23
Contents Don’t forget that if you are reading this online to go full screen and if you are reading on a pdf to press the automatically sized double page view - it’s in the view menu
Goin - Aerosol Anarchy 9 Generation Buy- RSH - The Gilded Cage 29 Rack n Ruin- Bassline Badman 38 World’s Largest Blank Canvas - Jonny Kennaugh - Dub-Hi 50 Soulflux - Synthesising Science and Spirituality 61 70 ECB - Fractured Mermories of Monochrome It is what it is - 69db - Is it? 86 91 Reality as Subversion - Douglas Rushkoff - Real Eyez 99 Aquasky - Raising the Devil Ask Auntie - Agon Eyez 115 Dorli Rainey - Prem Nick - Civil Plights 122 125 Smug One- Spellbinding Rays of spray 145 Global Enduro - Karmic Adventures Tik Tok - Dirk Robertson- Clean the Block (eh?) 154 Xenz- Hanging Gardens of Imagination 161 175 Words and Thought - Mace Moulton Spiegel - +)*^#$@| Garfield Hackett - London’s Pleasure Gardens 182 Page 51 - Si ronic 200 Blame - Ian Mine - We blame Ian 208 Mike Hulme - freestyle Frequencies 213 The Age of Empathy - Jeremy Rifkin - Steppin up 228 Goldie - Alchemikal Kaos 237 Apex One - Superburnin 260 The First Loan - 69db - Lend us an Apple 281 Matt Black - Ninja Runes 286 On Shamanism - Claus von Bohlen - To see or Not To See 310 Lonac - Zappin Zagreb 324 Warrior One - Urban Sonic Assault 338
JPS - Stencil Menacin 348 Tales from the Soundlabz - Trix5ta9 - Modulated Musings 362 Hudson Zuma - Rovin Reportage 369 380 Eat More Cake - Groovalicious Sir Child - Surreal Nature 391 Push Pony - Flogging a Clothes Horse 401 409 Melany Page - Naked Truth 418 2 Square - Artistic Gypsies THANKS TO TEAM LSD Shrinechick / Busk / Andy Cam / Gay Lawlor / Elate / Ix Indamix Old Dear / Dominic Spreadlove / Simon Carter /Coco Edwards/ Cain H Dhyani / BB / Tyree Cooper / Madeline Williams / 69BD / Shawn Peacock / Debbie Griffith / Stray Wayward Front Cover / lsd ads : Coco Edwards - www.cocoedwards.com And Thanks to our Photographers 4foot2 - www.flickr.com/photos/61698472@N06/ Walls of Milano - www.flickr.com/photos/wallsofmilano/ Liborius - www.flickr.com/photos/30214240@N02/ Left Coast Letters - www.flickr.com/photos/gabemeier S. Vegas - www.flickr.com/photos/aaronrts Nine-O - www.flickr.com/photos/paulo2070 Mr Klevra - www.flickr.com/photos/klevra/ Ezra - www.ezraone.ch Elate - www.jonhammer.com Inspire One - www.flickr.com/photos/26036845@N00 Matt Fox Tucker - www.buenosairesstreetart.com/ Miss Kaliansky Ronan Hickey And Big Love to anyone whose shots we hijacked - let us know and weâ€™ll make it up to you
Dripping with the original spirit of punk and a relentless flood of socially, politically and consciously engaged ideas, French artist Goin is priming the charges and leaving creativity’s spark to light the fuse of a new humanist activism. Emancipation, liberation, rebellion and the punishing vagaries of power’s endless cycles of corruption run deep into his work as powerful aesthetics take shape under the conceptual hammer. Laced with a superbly black sense of humour and a forcefulness - a viceral energy that bursts off his pieces Goin’s work wreaks chaos onto order and snatches moments of lucid disorder out of the volatile forge of history’s spiral.
Based at the radically creative, open air temple of mutation, the Demeure de Chaos or Abode of Chaos near Lyon, Goin spins concept, critique and cognition into an ever fluctuating flurry of media, subverting mass media through innovative media as stencils, paints and sculptures whistle through the eye of vandal kits, blood filled spray cans and molotov cocktails. Urgent, militant, uncompromising and anarchic - in every sense of the word from the tearing down of authority to the ultimately idealist vision of redemption through self actualised awareness where expression pierces smokescreen and art rides conscience into an elusive dawn. We spoke....
What did punk mean to you First and foremost, punk for me represents freedom and subversion. It’s the crow that flies free through the air above all the socalled do-gooders who wish it dead. It’s the rat that we can’t wait to exterminate but that we forget we created. Born out of disorder as a response to the chaos of the 20th century, it’s a rebellion against all illegitimate authority, and could be seen as the Dada of music. The straw that broke the camel’s back, the spark that makes everything explode in your face when all you want is the security of sleeping quietly. The “No Future” of the punk era is now!
How much did the sense that ‘anyone can do it’ that was at the core of punk democratize art in all its forms That’s definitely what I had in mind when I started to paint. And if I can do it, then everyone can do it! Imagine an exhibition where everyone could exhibit, with neither preconception nor moral and aesthetic limitation – well, such a place does exist and it’s the street. Punk, hip hop and graffiti are cultures that are built out of the idea that ‘anyone can do it’. They’re open, alive, free and expressive forms where everyone has a place and can bring their touch, their style, and their individuality to make a difference... Everyone is unique and so everyone can do it! Is rebellion an end in itself or just a starting point? Rebellion should never be an end in itself. We do not rebel for the sake of rebellion, we rebel to reach a specific goal.
The spirit of rebellion is an innate human instinct to fight against injustice and that which we disagree with and it marks both disobedience and a new dawn. Rebellion is driven by outrage and I invite everyone to find their own cause, their own source of justified fury - there are so many these days! Art is a rebellion, rebellion is an art.
What drew you to pop art Punk and skating culture. It all began in 1994 - at the time I was playing guitar in a punk rock band. Fabien, the bassist drew our album covers, so I was naturally attracted to the visual elements as he put targeted, personal spins on popular icons used by the
mainstream media who ‘manipulate the masses’ I started creating skateboards, tshirts and stickers for my own skate line, ‘Everyday’ that I had set up with my brother Nicolas. This ‘anti-design’ movement attracted me more and more as I tried to find a way of getting away from the classic ‘marketing’ techniques driving music groups and existing skate brands, and it was basically that step that led me to cutting my first stencil and headingout to paint it ’free’ in the street. I don’t do pop art, but even so, there’s no doubt that street art is heavily infused with it. Street art is the bastard child of pop art beholden to neither religion nor law – ‘sans foi ni loi‘ – lawless and infinitely freer and more open than any existing art form. Is art now speaking through the language of advertising Pop art has already posed the question of where the line is even as it crossed that line. It is intent, function and context that distinguishes art from advertising, so at core, they do share the same language – a strange twist being that in art, it’s as if we’re selling advertising itself. But there’s the rub – advertising is always selling something – it all comes down to that one purpose whereas art stands on its own merits – its own identity as it transmits a message for free without artificial boundaries rather than just for the money. Advertising is art in the service of capitalism.
A great œuvre tells a great story - it has the power to change spirits and minds. However, as soon as you start to write ‘Never work’ or ‘No Future’ on a wall, you are entering the arena of recognition, public identification and the ‘hallmark’ of discourse - and the brand we arrive at is a logo. To be using such tools within a public forum is to already be playing the marketing game - but for what cause…. that is the difference.
Is it a duty to interact with cities The street is one of the best ways to disseminate ideas and paintings to thousands of people. So yes, it is a duty, even if you sometimes do most of the work in the studio to inject time and detail into a piece, we have to contunually kick ourselves in the arse to get out and communicate with the world... And then there’s the adrenaline rush of illegality which swallows you into its infernal spiral and leaves an eternal longing to feel it again. On a tactical level, social fabric is woven very
tight in urban environments, so the image travels faster and deeper through hearts and minds. People never perceive a message the same way as in the street, where the surprise and the inherent unexpectedness gives an immeasurable dimension to the work. Tell us about the Abode of Chaos The Abode of Chaos – La Demeure du Chaos is a monumental work of art located in France near Lyon in a small bourgeois village where you see nothing but calm, luxury and pleasure. Since 1999 and especially the 11/09/2001, the owner Thierry Ehrmann began to transform his 12000m2 property into a work of art ‘in situ’. Fragments of meteorites, helicopters struck the ground, charred skeletons of cars, graffiti painted on the giant walls, floors and roofs, paintings of current affairs, portraits of personalities, menacing sculptures of rusty metal, the embers of fires, beams and concrete bunker... It’s a sort of Mad Max version of Warhol’s Factory with a healthy dose of The Matrix thrown in.
At the Abode, we carve and paint today’s world as it is and that’s what bothers the petty bourgeois guardians of ‘upstanding’ morals. It is humanist to its foundations and we fight in the name of freedom of speech and free expression. When one is dealing with ‘intellectual terrorism’ by the French courts we smile sweetly and write truth all over the walls the following day ... The enemies of freedom are our best agents! But above all, the Abode is a place to live where resident artists share, reflect, play, debate, create and love! What is the essence of sculpture for you In speaking of sculpture I identify closest with Marcel Duchamp and his ‘ready made’ concept where the idea takes precedence over the aesthetic. A 10 Euro bust at the flea market heavily customized back in the studio is perfect for my purposes of getting an idea across. . I do not sculpt myself but I spin sculptures, I work them, I assemble, I mold, I paint ... The day may come when I have a go at ‘real’ sculpture but for now I’m just happy playing with my ‘Almost ready made’ ... Tell us about painting in your own blood – why – what was it saying, and how did it feel I felt like a prehistoric man of modern times who was resurrecting ancestral practices where both the stencil and the blood were the primal elements of creation . At core - the blood - the fluid of life, the one material par excellence whether born of love and hate. And then the stencil – the story of light and shadow. What better artistic medium way to cry disgust at this fucked up world? Something powerful, but done with respect And then there’s the can - spray paint, the almost religious symbol of graffiti and street art! Using a can was absolutely primordially fundamental to me and filling it with my blood was like a tribute to the street.
How was the reaction Two or three people fainted during the performance and one lunatic told me that she hoped I’d die of cancer for what I’d done, but in general – it was pretty positive. Whether people like or disliked it is for them and it’ s their right to take it however they felt it – the important factor for me was that they understood the message I wanted to get across. How much is religious imagery still a part of our cultural dialogue Religious imagery is firmly anchored and deeply rooted in the collective unconscious. It’s like McDonald’s existed for 2,000 years, and people were having Ronald appear to them, seeing hallucinatory visions of a Big Mac or claiming the stigmata in ketchup in truth – McDonald’s are not far off and they’ve only been at it for 60 years or so. So imagine the power of these ancient religious
symbols after thousands of years filtering through our consciousness! That’s why I inject fresh meaning into their weapons of mass propaganda in my paintings –it’s a good way to get deep and powerful messages quickly understood by all while also awakening a sense of timeless, primal, cyclical ideas. What is anarchy Over and above the absence of single authority, anarchy is more a philosophical concept that a political system for me ... I agree with Hakim Bey in his essay on the TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) when he said that true anarchy can only exist in space and never in time. Otherwise it will eventually organize and the original ideas will dissolve, be prostituted and eventually end up as the same system we fought against. Anarchy is a dream, and like any dream if you believe hard enough, it can become reality, but that reality is so often very different from what one had imagined ... Anarchy is dead, long live anarchy!
Are we approaching a critical phase in redefining the social contract or will protest be forgotten when the economic crisis ends The crisis is not just economic, it runs far deeper…. it is a crisis of conscience. The endless cycle of revolution gliding anew through people’s minds. Yes, the social contract will certainly be redefined revolution, reaction, betrayal, the state stands stronger and even more repressive - the wheel turns, the story unfolds again and again. State after state, each ‘paradise’ is administered by yet another angel from hell. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change but until power ‘disappears’ our will to power must be its disappearance.
Where is the line between psychosis and sanity It’s a fine line, and when we reach it, we are called ‘Borderline’. Psychosis and your sanity are demons and angels, your dreams and your realities. Everyone is more or less borderline, and I’m happy to state my wish to be openly borderline. Crossing that line is intensely positive within art - this madness of the artistic act, the force majeure of creative mania has allowed man to build and create extraordinary and wonderful things for thousands of years. How much of an influence has Banksy been on you I discovered Banksy while sourcing a photograph of rat on the internet for one of my first stencils I entitled “Ratnarchy.” I would have probably done more rat stencils if I hadn’t seen that he had ‘d already caned the concept and it was only later when I heard that Blek le Rat had also done it 20 years before Banksy that I felt I could go out and paint more.. Who says a small Chinese guy never made a rat stencil without the influence of Banksy or Blek le Rat!
But cutting through all the gossip, Banksy certainly has been a major influence on me and I recognize myself in his in your face finesse and leftfield humour. Are there any particular stencil cutting techniques that you use that really put your spin on the image The stencil technique is so simple that I cannot possibly claim to have one special to me. Apart from the choice of cardboard, rhodoïd and the cutting tool, the technique is universal and ancient. That said, it is true that style comes in the cutting and the curve ... It depends on the stencil, sometimes I prefer an angular, jerky cut while in other contexts, I cut in a very fluid and flexible manner. But the most important part for me is the visual concept, and when all’s said and done, I won’t stress to reach a level of technique worthy of a goldsmith or a savant. If the meaning is there, the technique is just a tool to support it. And never forget that technique does not equate to complexity.
How much does art reflect reality and how much does it help to build a new one Not many artists reflect reality in their art, something that can be well understood when you see the abysmal reality of the world today. I have nothing against those who paint pretty landscapes or monochrome but it’s not my thing, that’s all. I think addressing reality is a must for any contemporary artist so the media can’t systematically outbalance truth. Only art and love can change society.
Is chaos a beautiful thing As Thierry Erhmann puts it, ‘Chaos comes before all principles of order and entropy, it is neither good nor evil, because the world is not binary, man is the uncertainty of power. It is neither a beginning nor an end. It’s a black hole, a quantum vacuum which we are the virtual particles of primal matter, the field of all possibility. Chaos arises in the cracks of a controlled world a world. It’s the order that we fight that creates chaos. “ Are your pieces all idea based or is anything ever aesthetic for its own sake
Almost all my pieces are idea based. Apart from a few paintings like the brain, the skulls, the heart – subjects that speak for themselves. As an amateur at plays on words, ideas always come before technique, and technique must always serve the idea rather than the other way around.
Tell us about the spirit of militancy in your work I am the opposite of a narrowly committed artist, I am totally open. I’ll never fight for any political party or any camp except that of humanity itself.For me, there is no becoming anything other, no revolution, no struggle, no guided way, I’m already the king of my own skin - my freedom inviolable and needing nothing but the love of other independent monarchs. A political dream, pressing as the blue sky and the madness of our century. The only political consciousness I have is to keep not having one - not out of cowardice – but because I never accepted that left was better than right or red was better than black.
Where is the line between addressing current events and painting something timeless I try to walk that line with great care. Making a painting current and timeless at the same time is a way of pushing the debate within a piece and making it genuinely relevant. By mixing elements of past and present can we not see the future? The reality is that time passes but the questions remain the same ... How would you describe your values Non-violence, respect, perseverance, creativity, knowledge, critical thinking, detachment from material posessions, freedom, love, humor, sincerity, tolerance, humility ... All these are among the standards of conduct that I try, not always successfully, to apply in my life. Our values should determine every decision we make.
considerations. Working with honest, friendly and nice people is my priority ... Naturally working ‘in situ’ in such an extraordinary place as the Abode of Chaos is great as a street artist because my stencils How does so sedate a city as Geneva respond make sense there in the same manner as in the street. to street art Some street artists reject exhibitions in It is true that Geneva is a fairly sleepy city galleries, and see it as the death of the from a street art perspective. But there is movement. But I also reject the ‘traditionalists a little scene, if mostly graffiti based. Living of graffiti that want to hand down lessons as across the border in France, I do sometimes often their arguments don’t go very far ... paint in the street in Geneva, and the draw is Selling art doesn’t mean selling our souls. The its key role in global governance which makes important things remain the same, with it a strategic place to fight against the enemies personal beliefs able to evolve, without of freedom and democracy. So while the heeding to stupid old dogmas that we scene may be pretty quiet in Geneva, a little erect like walls between ourselves and our stencil in front of the UN, WHO and the WTO emancipation show them that we are not fooled and we are watching them too! What does the future hold for you. With a creative life spent at the Abode of Chaos – how do you find the experience of other galleries I have no problem with exhibiting in ‘traditional’ galleries as the human relationship remains above any other
Love, paint & resist !
Generation Buy How Capitalism Capitalism is is a a Golden Golden Cage Cage How
Raymond Salvatore Harmon
On the night of August 6th a series of events would unfold that would plunge London into 4 successive nights of rioting and looting. Regardless of the causes, the underlying issues and the people who partook of the burning and looting acted under a common social forum. Together as the â€˜anonymousâ€™ mob they smashed and looted shops, burned cars and caused possibly hundreds of millions in damage. Blame 'big society', blame 'immigrants', blame the 'welfare state', blame rap music, blame whatever thing it is you already don't like. The left blame the conservatives and the right blame the liberals. Too much, not enough. None of that really matters anyway. In the wake of these events politicians point the finger at whatever their parties favorite whipping posts are as proof of their own already set in stone opinions about 'reality'. But the reality is that the world has no real political systems: Communism, democracy, socialism, all play the same game - Capitalism.
They all get pushed and shoved by banks and corporations, they all do the bidding of their lobbyists, not their constituents. Politicians are vampires that take from the people they supposedly serve and feed the process of making the rich richer via the corporations they own and run.
Society has taught young people today to glorify ownership of goods. They see status in their social circles based on the brand of phone, sneaker and the size of the TV they own. They quantify success based on the ownership of fashionable electronics and clothes. Brand loyalty has replaced gang associations, subculture identity centers on the type of phone chat/messaging system you use. We have, as a culture, created an entire generation whose thought systems are to consume; to buy, to use, to own and to discard.
In a society where consumerism is the new religion the logical "revolution" is the destruction of the ownership paradigm.
The only form of attack against the capitalist infrastructure is one in which financial damage occurs. By striking at the economic stability rioters are destabilizing the capitalist government, even if they were just out for a new TV. It doesn’t matter whether the looters had a revolutionary cause behind them, it doesn’t matter if their actions were simply motivated by greed. They were doing what has come logically to them based on the society we have provided for them to live in. We have made the world in the image of "getting what you can" and they are just doing what comes naturally in their world; in our world. But we have to consider how we got to this place, how do we live in a world where ownership has become the new spirituality, where smartphones, new sneakers, and maybe a flat screen TV are there for the taking, if only you smash the window and grab it? When did we give birth to this culture of greed, this generation of consumers?
In the post war era, from the late 1940s up until the early Sixties a new generation, much larger in population than any generation before it, came into the world. These baby boomers were the hippies of the 60's in their teens, the stoned antiwar college kids of the 70s and the corporate execs of the 80s. This generation was fed on the technologies that had bloomed with the wartime of the early 20th century. A generation of prosperity that spoke with a voice, that ‘challenged the establishment’, and yet in the end would eventually become that same establishment which it struggled so long against. In 1960 the American president Dwight Eisenhower gave a famous farewell speech in which he warned about the coming threat of the growing "military industrial complex" that would use the premise of war in order to generate an incredible amount of money (paid for by taxes), a portion of which it would use to control governments via lobbying.
We live in this future he anticipated, although the corporations who control the government are no longer just those that make weapons, but those that have the funds to contribute to the lobbying of politicians at all levels of government. This is not just happening in America, it happens in all countries on earth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWiIYW_fBfY >>> link to Eisenhower full speech.
The generation that has brought this prediction to fruit is the same that protested the Vietnam War; the same 'counter culture' that took acid at Woodstock are running today's banks and corporations. These baby boomers have steered us on a dark path that leads to hooded teens smashing in windows, to violence out of frustration at the limits imposed upon their lives, economic limits that cripple their chances of advancement; of real education; of hope. The path that led from 1945 to now, from economies being something that was secondary to human action to economies controlling human action is complex to say the least. Yet put simply
it is the path of the few, taking from the
many, and making the many pay the few for that privilege of having their economic value, their wealth, taken from them. A kind of class warfare, predicated by corporate interests, has created an entire generation of youth who see ownership as the only sign of success. The goal is not education, not better quality of life, but things, disposable objects that act as fetishes for their temporary worship. By creating this â€˜underclassâ€™ of economically downtrodden consumerists corporate controlled governments have left these youths no other obvious choice in their eyes than to steal in order to 'advance' in society. These young people don't even realize that they are attacking this consumerist culture, they have no knowledge of the form of insurgency their greed takes, they are simply the unwitting victims of the society that created them. They feel empowered by taking, looting and burning. In a world were there are no true freedoms, where capitalism is the only government, revolution is replaced by theft and vandalism, by economic damage inflicted on the environment that these people have come to feel is a cage around them.
Riot photos courtesy Mario Dos Santos
By the second day of rioting the London police were scanning social networks, lurking 4chan, and tapping into supposedly secure private messaging networks on mobile phone systems. Around noon on Friday afternoon local beat cops went into shops along Mare St in Hackney and let store owners know that there was going to be a riot at 5pm that evening and that they should remove extreme valuables and close up shop early that day. This was just a door-to-door courtesy call from the Met, knowing it was going to happen, yet doing nothing to prevent it. At 5 PM it started, as if on cue. Curiously the police only directly protected the dense centers of shopping districts. Protecting the main clusters of shops instead of local housing and other areas where homeowners sat and wondered what was happening through the night. And while looters smashed windows and burned cars the police just stood and watched and did nothing. Insurance would handle the small stuff, and if property owners didn’t have insurance then they were breaking the law.
After more police came and more shops were smashed it quieted down on the 4th day, spreading briefly to other towns in the north and west before fluttering out, the youthful rage expended, the economic damage done. All told the cost of damage to property, the legal costs of arresting, detaining, convicting and imprisoning the looters, the insurance payouts and random civil suits will cost the UK more than all the combined cuts to youth programs, to social benefits, education and housing. Any money saved by scrapping those programs was wiped away in four nights of angst brought on directly by the cuts to programs in the first place. Funny the Tories just got back in power and after decades of nothing we have an abrupt return to historic precedent. Every time they come to power people eventually take to the streets. There were riots in 1918, in 32, 58, 74, 81, and not again until 2011. I wonder if this is the “Big Society” that the conservatives were looking for? Now that
Cameron has an Emin and an Eine he is ‘one of the people’, right?
The deification of ownership is an ouroboros eating itself. Consumer society is a smoke and mirrors illusion through which corporations distract and repress the people. Capitalism is like an artificial intelligence that is controlling the evolution of humankind. The omnipotent reach of the global economic model affects every person on earth. Money, an abstraction we created in order to exchange the consensual reality known as ‘value’ with each other, has come to control the very way in which we live, breed and die. The romantic anarchist would have you destroy this model. Would attempt to strike at the base, smashing and grabbing, destroying by taking. While this outlet of rage is a valid expression of the repressed, it doesn’t change a thing.
In order for real change to occur we must once again seize control of the flow of the economy. We must first control our own economic choices, pooling our individual economic flow-through in order to affect change with our own economic value. Voting literally with our dollars, euros and pounds in order to support the kinds of changes we want to see in the world. Once we have changed the flow of the economy in favor of power that gives a voice to the public, and not to corporations, we can affect the rebuilding of the economic system itself. But until we can control the golden cage of capitalism, until we wield the key to the cage in which we live, we will never be able to truly be free. -RSH, September 2011 http://raymondharmon.com/BOMB.html
photos courtesy Mario Dos Santos
Rack n Ruin
Badman Rack n Ruin is pure dancefloor gold. Ruffing up global sub bins with a flood of bass fuelled anthems, he’s been through more styles than a Shoreditch fashion victim, slammed em through some raw inspiration and distilled them into his own unique, rampaging sound. Whipping together a searing old skool junglist flavour with grooves from every corner of the spectrum, his spectacular evolution into the thinking man’s rudeboy has been a breathless ride to follow. Well ahead of the curve on the 140 sound that’s kicking off hard, his out and out raggamuffin dancefloor destroyerrs float seamlessly into dubsteppin darkness and on into silky, uplifting vocal bliss - bliss with some seriously subversive menace always in full effect on the bass end.
Ripping out epic remixes thick n fast for artists as diverse as Nas and Damien Marley and I Blame Coco - he is rapidly becoming a go to man for underground credibilty, and his orginal tunes are always beautifully poised on the edges of urban mayhem and the subtly unexpected - where melody meets the out and out banging and they settle in to make love not war. Diving in and out of rolling dancehall rudeness and the lingeringly soulful, he has battered the barriers and smashed his way into a rush of tunes fatter than a really fat bloke who’s locked himself in the pie warehouse, smoked a massive bag of weed and really let himself go. We had a word.
How cyclical do you feel music is – you look at certain elements of what you do and one one level it’s pure old school while having this totally fresh edge and sounding completely current. Are we now no longer working with elements but feeding hybrids back into each other Well music absolutely does move in cycles and I think we’ve seen that across pretty much every style – especially dance music, and as people are constantly hunting some new sound, some new vibe, that sometimes means having to go back to the old to create something new. Diving back into the archives – into aspects of musical history to feel out new influences which you then use fresh ideas, cutting edge technology and new production techniques to give them them that modern twist but with all the realness, integrity and history that were so rich in the old school sounds. The sounds, the rhythms and the way tunes were actually structured – the use of vocals – the way they were chopped up – the whole spectrum. Using old school garage edits in new music is something else that’s popping off at the moment with people like Addison Groove and all those guys mixing it up with that deep electro sound. And it’s never about reproduction – it’s all about evolution so apart from bringing new techniques to the table – you’re also laying in totally different elements and influences that were never part of the
original sound to create new offshoots and styles. Does it piss you off being constantly asked to ‘define your sound’ It doesn’t piss me off, but it’s kind of all there in the music and I’m not sure there’s any point in trying to call it anything other than ‘Bass music’. At the end of the day, my sound is so varied and in my eyes, it’s just an amalgamation of loads of different things rather than rigidly sticking to one genre, so trying to define it – even if there was a point – is pretty much impossible. I guess I just call it UK Bass music. I recently did a tour of Australia and loads of people out there would be coming up to me going ‘what do you call your sound’ at which point I basically just put the word UK in front of Bass and that was it. And it is very UK – very London. How much do international audiences really get it
I think they genuinely do connect with it. London is one of the main creative hubs when it comes to dance music. Obviously other countries play a massive part across the board, but if you look at say dubstep or jungle – they were predominantly London sounds. Naturally other people have taken them up and put their own stamp on things, but the London sound has always had immense global reach and global influence within dance music. . And don’t forget – with the internet, people from the other side of the world are so in tune with what’s going on that when I go abroad, they sometimes know more about what’s going on – even sometimes about my own tunes than I do! When did the house vibes start to filter in? Looking at tracks like Midnight Loving with Jessie Ware as opposed to say, Soundclash – there’s a definite housey spirit running through it and it’s woven into a lot of your other stuff Well I’ve always loved everything. I suppose
when I was much younger I would DJ pure drum n bass, but I always liked listening to garage – though to be honest I preferred my broken beats to anything that was blatantly housey. I slowly got into it through mates and as I got a bit older I started enjoying house music more. I wanted to make that Midnight Loving record a bit more uplifting and stress the soulful female vocals that much more, but once I’d written that beat, we sat down together in the studio, she wrote the vocals on the spot and it organically came together. I was putting tracks out long before I started doing Rack n Ruin – did my first drum n bass releases when I was 18, but when I embarked on this project – it was all very experimental from the start. The first Rack n Ruin tracks that I did like Skitzo VIP were on a much more electro tip and very different to what I’m putting out now, but the idea was always to have that freedom – that experimentation within the music and just keep tearing up styles and influences. I’d literally sit down and think – right let’s take this sound or this tempo, have a go and we what unfolds and all these quick fire ideas just flooded in from
nowhere. It all happened within the space of a year I guess – not really sure what happened but I seemed to just hit a good vibe and next thing I knew I was churning out loads of tunes. How confident were you that what you were hearing on your monitors would translate perfectly to the big rigs and packed dancefloors. Whenever you’re making a banger, you’re always trying to imagine it in a club and come at it from the perspective of keeping people raving. I’m constantly thinking about how a crowd will react to the different aspects of a track whether that be the intro, the switch ups into different vibes or of course the drops. Luckily I do get to play out a lot and have been since my house party days with a load of mates when we were younger and then little club nights and bars in London so there’s always been a chance to hear them loud. And if it wasn’t me playing, I’d give my newest tracks to a friend for him to drop and take a good look at how it played out on the floor, so I’ve always kept that connection between studio and club. It’s all part and parcel of production – you spend all week making the music and then head out at the weekend to play it. It’s funny you say that – because going back
10 years when there was a living to be made out of production alone, a lot of producers would never play out. Do you find mixing stuff up – dropping another beat onto one of your tunes or laying 2 tracks together in the mix keeps bringing new ideas and feeds back into what you then do the next week in the studio. It definitely does, although in many ways – it’s not so much playing out yourself as listening to other people and how they mix sounds together. Watching a DJ mix 2 tunes together can give you an idea for a new track – and that happens to me all the time, so when I’m playing out, I’ll make sure that I stay for at least a couple of the other sets so I can see what people are doing and keep myself on my toes. But Djing now is an integral part of production in a way that it maybe wasn’t a few years back when producers could just sit in the studio all week and never play out. These days, unless you’re someone who writes film scores or does adverts, playing out is nearly as big a part of a producer’s life as actually making the tunes, and it certainly does have a major influence on me.
What’s your style like playing out – loads of exclusives back to back – heavily mixed up – loads of looping and editing - what? I play all kinds of different tempos, so it’s all pretty mixed up. I use Serato with those dicer controllers to trigger samples and loops over the top of the mix, but generally I play in the same way as I would on vinyl. I wire Serato through CDJ’s these days as they’re more solid – but you still have that hands on feel of a deck as opposed to say the on screen mixing of something like Traktor. Nothing’s pre beatmatched or autosynched, but I do a fair bit of looping and live edits and bootlegs of tracks by say laying an acapella of one of my tunes over somebody else’s – just always keeping it interesting and keeping it moving. How much of a turning point was it to start using authorised acapellas and real vocalists as opposed to straight up sampling That was when production got even more interesting and a load more fun – when it became about writing songs as well as
dancefloor bangers. The tracks I did with Jessie Ware, Janai and Navigator was when things really started to hot up and I love working with vocals. It’s a lot more satisfying getting the finished product after all the takes and after having mixed them down properly and put some tweaked processing on them – it’s just so much more rewarding. How important is lyrical content to you against pure flow and the musical element of a vocal Someone like Navigator is an amazing lyricist and vocalist – and I think with the more conscious vibe that he represents – the more reggae dancehall tradition, that the lyrics are important. But then with a female vocal – when something’s more euphoric, uplifting and fun, I think the actual lyrics take a back seat to the melody. And in dance music generally, lyrics tend to be that much simpler anyway , so melody does take priority, but like I said – it depends on the MC and the nature of the tune – there’s certain vibes that really need a depth to what’s actually being said.
It’s interesting that you mention melody – obviously there’s not that much flying about in bass music – do you find using a vocal as melodics hits that spot – gives it that quality, while say writing melody into a synth would sound a bit naff. Maybe. You’ve just got to be careful and be very restrained and limited in what you do – because it is very easy to end up well overboard. If something is too musical in a club – almost invariably people don’t react too well to it. It’s weird – when I first started making drum n bass with my mate who was super musical, we used to cram loads and loads of ‘music’ into our tracks and it just didn’t work as well on the dancefloor as a massive bassline. It’s something you adapt to over the years – you learn how to walk that line and hold back on the notes and while keeping it musical – make sure it’s fun and easy for people out there raving to it. And that’s what you’re there to do at the end of the day – make people dance. Tell us a little about your connection with ATG We go back a long way – we were always
mates – and when they started out, they were a graff crew, but they then started to get into music. While we all knocked about together, obviously not all of us were out there tagging up the train tracks every night – we’d meet up at parties and hang out down the pub, but as they got deeper into music, it got to the point where so many of us were DJ’s that the natural next step was to put on a rave. We could all play and do it under the banner of an ATG party – made total sense. And it just spawned from there, so next thing you
know everyone’s wearing t-shirts and we’re doing party after party – and one of the real strengths of it was how different everyone in the crew was. We were all playing individual, varied styles and the connection was the friendship, the crew and the project rather than some stylistic fit so it had a real energy to it as the music kept switching up. Moxie would be up there doing her deeper sounds, then Klose One would steam in with his big mixing it was a real creative hub and hopefully we’re be doing loads more parties together in the future. It’s great to just throw a massive party with all your mates with a dancefloor rammed with people – wicked buzz.
How critical is festival culture to the wider health of the scene – taking it out of the basement and out into the – er…rain and playing in the whirl of an ongoing party rather than a nicely scheduled set on a Saturday night you’re rested and ready for It’s a massive part of my life, and certainly nowadays, an integral part of every DJ’s life. The amount of festivals going off every summer, especially in the UK is just crazy and this year I was doing a festival pretty much every other weekend, and it’s basically panned out into clubs all winter and festivals
all summer. Obviously when it gets seriously muddy it’s a bit of a mission, but there’s something magical about being in that constant state of euphoria – everything’s so much fun, everyone’s so happy and right in the midst of all this madness you suddenly remember ‘shit – I’ve got to go and play’. You make your way to the stage and bang you’re on – no loitering at the bar waiting and I think almost more than anywhere, in those situations you’re working purely off the vibe of the moment. It’s always a wicked gig.
Obviously you’re getting quite big these days, but how much does it mean to say release on Island and do the Nas and Damien Marley remix Those kind of things change the game. They give you such a rush of energy, motivation and inspiration to work harder and make that next release, that next remix, that next vocalist link up that much better. The Nas and Damien Marley thing was massive for me, the guys at Island were really cool and then I did the I Blame Coco remix which ended up going on their album. That period was the beginning of that level of remix work for me and I can’t thank them enough for bringing me in and exposing me to that world, those contacts and the platform of major labels. How targeted is your studio time and how much room is there for jamming Roughly 80% of my time, I’m on a mission and the other 20% is freer for jamming. I’m trying to write this album that amalgamates all the different strands of what I’ve been doing while writing a load of new stuff and put it into one body of work. And that has really given me the chance to put some time aside to get ideas down and jam on some original stuff while thinking about new vocalists I want to work with. But at the same time there’s remixes
waiting in the inbox and when you gig a lot it’s hard to find time to make tunes because you’re so knackered and things like the tour of Australia I did recently do mess up your schedule a bit, but you’ve just got to deal with it. How collaborative is the vocal stuff – how much of it is a live and direct session I do really like jamming with them on the spot, and a lot of the vocalists working in the scene are very talented and they do just come round, I play them the beat for the first time and they write it then and there. And it’s done and down to me for processing and mixing unless we need another verse in which case they’ll just drop by for an hour or 2 the following week. All the vocalists I’ve worked with have been intensely professional and can just click into the groove instantly and know exactly how the vocal should fit. I’ve been really lucky I guess, but I’m always up for
Well the Signal and P Money track just came out on Black Butter and Darkness with Lady Chan is coming out any day now on a label Now you may not have thought about called Recreational Riot which is run by Marco this before – but amazingly all your 140 del Horno, and then after that I’ve got loads stuff works really well at 127 – even with of remixes coming out including one for these vocals that usually sound rubbish when new guys called Dusky with is coming out they’re pitched down that far. Is that pure on a housey progressive label called Anjuna coincidence or is there some dark art in play Deep – but they’ll be a few popping up at It’s accidental, but that’s great to hear because the end of the year. I’ve been working with I do play from about 128 up to 150 in my sets a wicked new female called Iman who does more poppy stuff – but well - and that project unless I’m finishing up with a bit of drum n will be hitting soon and there’ll probably be bass, and I do like to switch up the tempos of another single before the album’s ready – my own tunes a lot – I’ll pull them down to 128 and mix in a house track or vice versa and which fingers crossed should be in the next it does seem to work – doesn’t sound too bad few weeks. ;-). trying out people who are just coming up and maybe haven’t done that much before.
www.myspace.com/racknruinmusic So finishing up – what’s on the agenda for the next few months
The Worlds Largest Blank Canvas Dubai has itself quite a reputation. It is a rockstar amongst cities - probably more like the guy from Nickleback than like Mick Jagger, but still a rockstar. Quite well known for low-key projects such as building a group of islands in the shape of the world and constructing the world’s tallest building, Dubai likes to show itself off. In amongst all the hype and noise of Dubai some things do still manage to fly along under the radar though, and the graffiti/street art scene is one such example. The graffiti/street art scene in Dubai isn’t exactly popping. There are more empty walls here than you can shake a spray can at, it’s just not the kind of place where you want to be caught shaking a spray can near a wall. Street Artist Brad Downey was recently in town exhibiting his work, and names Dubai as ‘the least graffitied city I have ever been in.’ And it’s true that a casual stroll around the SimCity-esq streets leaves everything to the imagination if graffiti is your dream. Finding pieces of work requires extreme luck or knowledge of exactly where to look, and due to the nature of the game works don’t often stay around long enough to be enjoyed by anyone but the artist. The times are changing though and as the urban landscape of Dubai grows so does the graffiti/ street art scene. From secret spots to galleries, to the odd renegade piece, to commissioned works and showcases, the graffiti/street art scene is on the move and it won’t stay hidden for much longer.
such as the Black Eyed Peas ‘The Time’ remix, lies Dubai’s only legal graffiti spot. The mostly unused car park, built on sand and shadows, is surrounded by a well-covered plywood fence that has come to represent nearly the entire Dubai graffiti and street art scene outside of galleries. It’s not an overly spectacular setting, considering Dubai is the city of the spectacular, but the work on this wall of fame is legit and helps compensate for the nearly complete lack of graffiti anywhere else in the city.
In the shadow of an overly lit Ferris wheel and SYA and Steffi Bow, two of Dubai’s most prolific a fun park that blasts musical abominations artists, are eyeing up a fresh piece of white wall.
The British expatriates have recently formed a nice little artistic partnership with SYA’s graff writing skills and Bows street art talents combining in a Captain Planet of bombing kinda way. Their joint pieces already cover quite a few prominent spots on the wall and tonight they are breaking in a new section of wall and a new batch of cans. The 72 MTN spray cans have just arrived in Dubai after a 21-day overland journey from Lebanon, a trip that cost a small fortune and shows SYA and Bow’s dedication to the dark art of graff. It also highlights the lengths you have to go too to get your hands on good paint. ‘The stuff you buy here is just spray with coloured water, it’s f**king useless,’ says SYA, whose other paint importing story involves flying into the country with 32 spray cans in his suitcase. Unfortunately Lebanon is the closest place SYA and Bow have found to buy decent paint. Apparently even neighboring Saudi Arabia has a better choice of cans, it’s just not the kind of place you can pop over to for a shop. The issue of getting hold of good paint has plagued graffiti and street artists ever since the first pioneers hit town, which wasn’t actually that long ago. Remembering that Dubai only
has 40ish years of history as a legitimate city and only about 10 – 15 years where it has been building towards it’s current state, the history of graff in the city is equally short. That graff history is also unique in that it is entirely written by the hands and cans of expats, the foreigners who might call Dubai home but aren’t in any way classed as locals. The gap between the expats and the actual locals is a rather large one and it is only in the last few
years that the local Emirati population has actually been engaged by graffiti and street art. So as the spray cans are imported so too are the artists and the graffiti culture, positioning the whole wonderful mess as a fresh idea in a foreign land.
exclusively around following the rules, with gallery work, commissioned pieces and government sanctioned events being the accepted ways to get work into the public arena.
Artists and collectives such as Atom, Inkie, The interesting struggle with Dubai is that Futura, CAN2, Albus Cavus, Klark Kent, Smash, the short history of an art form born out of and the MTN Writer team have all graced the not following the rules has revolved almost shores and walls of Dubai, but it has all been with permission, and usually to aid in the promotion of another event or product (think Red Bull). With the recent popularity of graffiti and street art, the line between the street and the gallery has become particularly thin. Not because there was such a movement from the local street scene that it infiltrated the galleries, but more so that graffiti and street art is selling big, and Dubai loves it some money. What could have once been tagged on the outside of a wall is now hanging on the inside, usually with quite a sizeable price tag attached. With such a small street scene in Dubai you are far more likely to see examples of graffiti or street art inside a gallery than out on the actual street, and for Brad Downey that spells death.
‘A scene cannot come from the galleries, it has to come from the young people. You can’t develop a scene coming from an institution. Once it’s institutionalized it’s dead,’ he says. Ouch.
time. In such a new and clean city vandalism is taken seriously. For those over 18 a conviction can lead to jail time of anywhere from one to three years, and fines of 10,000 Dirhams (about 1,700 pounds) are also included. And those are the punishments if they decide to keep you in So a big question mark hangs over the actual the country. Expats, who make up the majority street side of movement that, in it’s purest form, belongs on the street. For all the work done here by permission, where is all the work done without permission? Where are all the graffiti ninjas tagging buildings in the wee small hours? And where do you find the work of street artists sabotaging the endless advertising billboards littering the city? Unfortunately hearing of someone tagging on the street in Dubai is about as common as a rainy day, and there are only four of those on average a year. The odd scrawl can be found on neighborhood walls, but they are literally odd scrawls and are often only seen by neighbours and people who took a wrong turn. To put it simply, Dubai is not the kind of place where you rock the boat, and no matter how hardcore an artist you are, this is not a city where you want to test the law, or the police. There are some rather large grey areas surrounding what they can and can’t get away with, and people entering those grey areas never have a good
of those involved in the scene, can simply be to tag and people wont bat an eyelid, you can kicked out of the United Arab Emirates, if the stick a sticker up, you can stencil or wheatauthorities so feel inclined. paste. Here, no you can’t. You could get away with small stuff, but that’s it.’ One recent story involving the law saw an artist pulled in by the police, questioned for a Brad Downey was of a similar opinion when day over a piece he didn’t do, and then made asked about hitting the streets of Dubai, and to sign a document saying he would never reasoned that it wasn’t worth losing a hand for, practice graffiti again. The worst part is that the which he only said half jokingly. piece in question was a horrible pink scribble that represents everything ugly about graffiti. For all the work that doesn’t happen illegally, there is at least a solid stream of work happening For SYA and Bow playing with the law is not legally and in the face of the local population, worth the trouble. While both admit they are who have the biggest say over it’s future. past the age of sneaking around dark streets and running from the police, they don’t even Dubai-based artists like Steffi Bow, SYA, Nasa, want to attempt anything that gets them on Fres, Aybe and OFW are leading the charge and driving forward a scene that’s developing with the wrong side of the law here. each rattle of a can. Some have had their work SYA, who has his mark up in a few British cities, displayed inside galleries and on commissioned including London, and is well versed in the art walls, some are driven by their outdoor of being sneaky, is straight up and down when activities, and all are making the city that little explaining the illegal scene here. bit more colourful. Whether it is Steffi Bow’s cheeky phrases stenciled onto rubbish, Nasa’s ‘In London you can roam around with a marker pop-art images appearing ever so briefly on pen in your pocket and tag whatever you want
downtown walls, or SYA’s bomb’s appearing anywhere people will have them, they are keeping the roots of the scene firmly on the street.
Keeping her pieces simple is a direct reflection of her view of the graffiti and street art scene in Dubai. ‘There are so many people here from all around the world that a good piece needs to be something that everyone can understand.’ She ‘I love being outdoors, I run all the time and says. ‘If you can get everyone laughing, that’s I’m always looking at things, always thinking the trick.’ about them,’ says Bow, who could be a poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder. For her, Like Steffi Bow, street artist Nasa just wants to the creative and sneaky nature of street art is sow a bit of laughter, making it clear that he an exciting and addictive rush, one that sees doesn’t have any particularly grand message her constantly drawing inspiration from the he is trying to spread, and that his work is city. When that inspiration turns into an idea definitely not political. While he has only been and that idea finds a location, she becomes an active a few months his work has received quite artist possessed and you can guarantee that a bit of attention, mainly due to its size and come morning, something in Dubai will have location. If there is one conviction that drives one extra coat of paint. Totally self taught, Nasa though, it is his belief that art should be it only recently occurred to Bow that she for free. He doesn’t want anyone to ever pay could actually be a street artist, and her car is for his work, which is probably the most out of proof that she has gone all in. Holding a fine place conviction you could have in Dubai, but assortment of spray cans, tape, and stencils it it does make the free gallery of the street the could be the 6th Thunderbird, if they needed a perfect canvas. vehicle dedicated to graffiti. The common theme running through the As far as motivation to put up work goes, Bow artists motivation to take their work public in puts it all down to her cheekiness. ‘I love being Dubai seems to be less about big statements cheeky, I can’t help it’, she says, putting heavy or mischief and more about offering the public messages aside in favour of winning giggles. something to look at besides advertising - a
peep outside of their normal pattern. ‘I want to break that boring routine people have in this city. Going from home to work, work to home, whatever it is they do,’ says Nasa. ‘If you put up a piece of art that has a funny message to it, they might see it and start to notice more of what is happening around them.’ SYA is also pretty understated about his role in the scene but calling him a graffiti ambassador isn’t too far from the truth. ‘I moved to Dubai for work about 5 years ago and wasn’t sure whether I could paint here or not. I had seen work up from other artists and actually stumbled across the legal wall by complete accident,’ he says. Coming up through the graffiti scenes in London, Slough, Reading and Devon, SYA honed his skills on walls and the odd train when he was younger, and has never lost his passion for the art. The legal wall has become his home away from home in Dubai, and with the paint supply sorted the only thing that can stop him now is the weather. Dodging the rain and cold in England has been replaced with hiding from the heat in Dubai, with temperatures sitting around 50 degrees Celsius in the summer time. That’s the kind of heat in which Bear Grylss would not hesitate to drink his own urine and a graffiti artist, or anyone who has a choice, would not dare venture outside. The paint might dry faster in 50 degree heat but the cans probably also explode, meaning that summertime is indoor time and outdoor work is a madmans game. SYA has participated in his fair share of sanctioned graffing events in Dubai and relishes the chance to put his work in front of people who wouldn’t normally have any interaction with urban art. Part of his promotion of the local scene also involves his blog at www. dubai-graffiti.blogspot.com, which documents his constant flow of work. SYA is always keen to promote graffiti as an art form to the majority of locals who have either had no contact with the work or have been lead to believe that pure evil is sprayed from the nozzle of a can. The location of the legal wall, where most of
his work resides isn’t exactly central, and so his blog spreads the love beyond the wall. He can’t recall any negative comments from locals who have come into contact with his work and is always pushing the scene through his blog. Another website highlighting the local scene, and the Middle East graffiti scene in general, is www.camelbombing.com. There is a constant flow of new work from Dubai and other Middle East locations being posted and despite the issue of visitors initially thinking the site has something to do with killing camels, it is a solid resource for those interested in the scene. The site is proof that the graffiti scene is as solid in the Middle East as it is in any other location, and the skills of the writers are as good here as writers in any other corner of the world. ‘The page has interest from all over the world and everyone is keen to see what the writers in the Middle East have to offer’, says its author, who chooses to remain anonymous. Like most of the others linked with the scene in Dubai he is pretty positive about the way forward, adding that the city currently has the most active writers it has ever had.
street art and graffiti in Dubai a revolution, especially considering the scale of some of the other revolutions going on nearby, but there is definitely a move happening. Without the urban history of street art capitals such as New York or London, and with a completely different culture supporting it, the growth of the Dubai graffiti and street art scene is hard to map out. There haven’t yet been any local Emirati’s involved with the street scene, but predictions are that once the first local picks up a can and goes from spectator to participant things could really take off. Regardless of how long it takes for the locals to embrace or get involved, both Steffi Bow and SYA agree that growth will come, and in five to ten years’ art on the canvas of the Dubai streets won’t be that unusual. It probably won’t ever be something that everyone is on board with, and it won’t ever be something the authorities appreciate, but that’s no different to any other city blessed with some licks of sneaky paint. Maybe as well as talk of manmade islands and architectural phenomenon’s the future will also hold talk of ground-breaking graffiti and street art milestones. One spray at a time.
It’s probably not that appropriate to get carried away and call the increasing popularity of
“What we are looking for, is what is looking” St Francis of Assisi. Looking back, I can see now that every major decision I’ve made in life has been fundamentally motivated by a desire to find my true self - whether I was aware of it or not. As a teenager, I threw myself head first into the world of quantum physics, seeking to understand the finer detail of the universe, faithful that once I jumped through all the academic hoops and absorbed the most complicated scientific concepts, I would arrive at a place of crystal clarity, where I would finally discover what it is that I am. Eight years of head-scratching and hair-pulling went by
and I found myself in a place of even greater confusion than I had ever imagined possible. Not that I didn’t understand the physics (or have lots of fun), I just couldn’t quite see how it all related to me. You see the thing with quantum physics is, as long as you view it solely as a tool for making expensive toys, it shouldn’t trouble you. Many physicists view it this way, and they sleep fine at night, however I saw it as something mystical and profound; a window into the fabric of reality which could potentially relate the physical world to my own consciousness, and in doing so, give me a sense of place and purpose in this crazy universe. A question that kept burning in my mind was: how could a
living breathing thinking conscious being (i.e. me) emerge out of the “random” interaction of tiny vibrating slivers of energy? You may get the vague impression, particularly from mainstream pop-science, that on the whole they have pretty much figured this out. Often they cite things such as Jon Conway’s “Game of Life” in which on-screen pixels (called cellular automata) following simple binary rules are able to evolve into wonderfully complex and apparently autonomous forms. But while it is certainly true that complexity can and does evolve out of simplicity, nobody has shown how conscious awareness emerges from complexity, or indeed why it should. For reasons I have discussed in my previous columns, I am now of the belief that consciousness is not something which evolved OUT OF the human brain, but something which evolved INTO the human brain, and into every other form in the universe. It is the non-material non-local potential which manifests as the localised material universe
we witness around us. Each new creation gives consciousness a unique perspective on itself and a unique ability to express and interact with itself. As humans we have inherited the universe’s ability to create new forms and experiences, and in the same way, gain new perspectives. We also have self-awareness; something that the universe must also have, given that we are part of it. Our self-awareness is a localised form of the universe’s self-awareness, that is there is only one ‘self’, but with many different awarenesses. Throughout our lives we attempt to define the self by relating it to experiences and ideas. We say “I am ...” and we hear “You are ...”, and whatever words follow tend to stick, forming part of an imaginary linguistic construct we call the self-image, or ego. When the definitions in our self-image are reinforced we begin to accept them as truth until eventually they become beliefs. However, just as the map is not the territory, so the image is not the self.
The name we are given at birth is probably the first thing we equate with the self, it is constantly reinforced by other people, and becomes like the receptacle for all subsequent self-definition. When we are young, our selfimage is fluid and adaptable, reflecting the nature of the cosmic self within, however as we grow we can become attached to the image, we reiterate our self-beliefs in the stories we tell, then act in ways which perpetuate them in order to gain acceptance within our social groups. Often the people in our lives try to reinforce definitions by repeatedly bringing up past experiences, so they can feel like they know us. Society tries to funnel us into well defined roles and accept the labels and stereotypes that go along with them. Once a source of infinite potential, the self can become trapped; imprisoned in a matrix of definitions and limiting beliefs which
restrict it’s growth and expansion into the physical world. Many people reach a time, usually around their 30s, where they begin to question whether the self-image they have acquired accurately reflects their true self. This path to self-realization is inevitably a spiritual one since we very quickly realise that the self is not, and cannot be a physical “thing”. It doesn’t have a location in space or time, it doesn’t have a shape, a velocity, a temperature or a mass. We may think of it as being somehow inside our brain or heart, but if you have ever had an out-of-body experience you may have realised that its not exactly in the body, but rather shares a space with it ... most of the time. It feels like it’s in the brain or heart since this is where there is the greatest density of form (in-form-ation) in the body, and thus the greatest concentration of consciousness. To become aware of the true self is not without it’s challenges however, as the ego doesn’t move aside easily. Being as it is, made of thoughts, the ego can defend itself by
projecting fearful and judgemental thought patterns which cry for our attention, isolating us from others and creating resistance toward growth. The ego may also be knotted up with conflicting beliefs which we inherited from our parents, teachers and peers. For example, we may believe that “in order to be successful I must earn lots of money”, but also “money is the root of all evil” and “I am not evil”. Therefore the path to success becomes a struggle, as the ego fills our mind with conflicting thoughts and doubts in all matters relating to money.
Of course, similar conflicts exist for relationships, health, self-worth, intelligence, creativity etc. An effective way to free ourselves from the twisted shackles of the ego is through regular meditation. By learning to detach from thought, we begin to recognise that we are not the source of thought. Only when we intentionally use our intellect/ imagination are we actively “thinking”, the rest of the time we are just listening to the echoes of past experience. In that relaxed state of thoughtless awareness, we begin to experience the true cosmic self. It is formless, scaleless, stillness - all-knowing and all-loving. Over time we can heighten our awareness of it by achieving deeper states of contentment and bliss until eventually the subject-object duality dissolves and we realize that “It” is “I”. This is the mechanics of awakening. I believe this is what Bruce Lee was referring to when he famously said “Don’t think! Feeeeel. It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory”. The moon here is symbolic of the self; the infinite heavenly glory shining within each and every
one of us. The finger represents the ego; the words and thoughts to which we so often give our attention, but which can only point toward the profound mystery of our existence. Because words and labels are used as a means of differentiation, they create the illusion that the universe itself is made of separate differentiated processes. We think of gravity as creating the stars, and quantum physics as creating the atoms. We think of geology creating the planets, and chemistry/biology creating life. But we have forgotten that these are just areas of inquiry - departments in universities, each with their own experts and their own set of words and definitions. The universe doesn’t have different departments for different points in its growth, it is one continuous ongoing process from the big bang right through to you reading these words. The process that makes atoms is the same process that makes galaxies is the same process that makes you love someone. It’s all one. You ARE the universe, in its latest fractal iteration, encoded within you is every physical law and every lesson that has been learned in its entire history.
The feelings we call love, passion and excitement are representative of what in physics is known as the path of least resistance - the path that water takes down a mountain, or that an asteroid takes through a gravitational field. Our feelings provide the guidance for us to align our individuated self with this path, which we may call the “will of the universe”. We use our imagination to access the source and create visions which symbolise our desired goals, and when we receive a vision that makes us feel excited, passionate and motivated, we can trust that we will be supported in our effort to manifest it. Evidence of support comes in the form of progress and synchronicity; bizarre coincidences which seem to point toward a certain course of action. Maintaining a state of highest excitement on a day to day basis can be challenging as we often get swept up by news and circumstances which irritate our ego, but regular use of meditation and imagination can keep us tapped in.
Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge” because he understood that imagination is our conduit to the “mind of God”. His theory of relativity started with him imagining what it must be like to ride a light beam, something which may seem like fanciful speculation to the rational mind, but a vision which gave birth to one of the most powerful ideas in human history.
Steve Young DJ / Producer - Hedflux hedflux.com
Probing the memories of silent time so serpentine and careworn focus dripping wisps of the sublime, German artist ECB has truly taken monumental portraiture to the next level. Painting abstract stories of earthy reality into the creases and peeling back shrouded identity from the furrowed brows, his faces have become deeply iconic as vast bastions of complex humanity burning strands of individuation into the cold concrete. Broken faces of a fractured hue of monochrome peer beyond the facades as rigid typography contrasts image against word, mathematics against intuition, sky against earth as his superb technique and depth of feeling whisper lost fragments
of fleeting wholes into the seemingly anonymous cityscape and the vortices of urban lonliness Every face tells a thousand tales and hints at a thousand more as the sepia spectrum of nurtured, almost scupltural nuance floats ever further into the hallows of the mind. Protrusions and bulging extrusions warp through the curved lenses of perception and breathe a shadowy contrast into the barren winter of stripped back symphonics. Pain and pathos wash up against the weight of quiet dignity and trickle through the weathered stoicism of a face - a soul exposed. We caught up with Hendrik to look a little further..
graffiti belongs and others where it is How did you first begin painting and when did your mind’s eye and your technique begin misplaced. to synchronize? In my opinion it kind of takes care of all the forgotten, unnoticed and run down places of a I started in 1989 with classical graffiti, but city. within a short while changed to more of a unique approach.
Back then my concepts where more focused on graphical shapes whereas nowadays the ideas of my work have more of a fine art approach focusing on textures, showing expression within my portraits through a more painterly means rather than just using spray.
Why does the topography and landscape of graffiti have such resonance for you?
How much did civilian service affect your trajectory?
How does the art of open spaces translate to a gallery?
Back then everybody had to do it, so it didn’t really have a big effect from a personal standpoint.
That is the main difference. While working in open and public space the work always interacts with both the space and the public. With a mutual affection this is the major advantage I see in working outdoors. Working in a sheltered space like a museum or gallery needs a different visual language, a different approach to capture the energies and essence of the street.
Where is the line between creation and destruction in graffiti? I do think there are certain places where
From day one I was looking for something and I found it in graffiti. Ever since then it has never changed.
Many of your pieces include words as well as image – how do you see the relationship between the two? I use the lyrical parts of my paintings to open up additional worlds, to specify and add meaning. Also typography catches the attention - it serves as an entrance for the viewer. What power does the abstraction of the letter form have? To me the greater importance is not within letters but of abstract motives; landscapes, portraits… The past abstract letter works of mine were more of an interesting concept for then whereas today the expression of a face captures my complete artistic output. What does the sky mean to you? Are shapes purely the building blocks to a greater whole or do they have an intrinsic level of meaning?
Endless skies and instant travel.
All of realism is built upon abstract shapes.
Do pieces that capture a moment in time change meaning over time? Life is filled with constant change, but for me the photos of them still serve as a tangible memory. Is the human face infinite? It is. Endless possibilities. Please tell us about the broken faces and what they represent. It is an attempt to break down faces to the different parts by still keeping a certain expression. Kind of trying to look whats inside, underneath the surface of a face. Something you would normally see in a persons eyes.
Do older faces have a greater scope for painting, emotion and memory into them? Definitely. I think digital media has changed the way we see beauty anyway.Â Most faces we see printed in public like on billboards or ads appear unnatural. With my
outdoor portraits I want to take life back to the streets. Real expressions, faces with stories to tell... How do you paint secrets? Secrets within art can not exist for the purpose of art.
Where does painting meet photography and where do the 2 stand alone? With work outdoors painting is bounded to photography. It is kind of hard to capture a wall the right way. Not only with your eyes but with space that a photograph can not achieve. In terms of painting I do not think that the spray can is the right tool to paint (hyper) realistic images in comparison to e.g. oils. How did going back into education affect your perceptions of art as a wider concept and your own relationship with it? Even though I went to university for art Education I never worked in this field. Did you always have creative freedom over your commissions or was that something you had to fight for? With Commissions of the past I had less artistic freedom.
But this was a different time, nowadays the work is within my artistic perception.
How much of a preconceived idea do you have for each piece and how much is defined by the context of time and place? Working outdoors I always try to incorporate the specifics of public space into my paintings. I mostly start with a rough pencil sketch on paper and then take it from there onto the wall. Doing a first outline for the contour and defining the face by using light and shadow. How careful are you to paint different perspectives into your murals so they look different from different angles? To be honest this is something I do not pay that much attention to. I would mostly focus on the point most people will see the artwork from, like a 90 degree angle.
How â€˜realâ€™ is nostalgia and how much of it is our mind playing tricks on us? Looking backwards can end in losing the feel for the present. Even though I think that future is past...
How do you reconcile stillness and motion? Motion is expressed with a paint drip and a spray stroke where as stillness can be found in the moment a stranger stops to view a mural. How do you view colour? Over the last years my work is mainly done with grey, black and white, as I feel it suits best. If it comes to a lot of colours It makes it more difficult as a colour is always attached to a certain emotion. What was you experience of Sarajevo?
When I went there I could still recall the pictures of snipers and war I saw on the news a few years before. It was great to be there personally, great
people, great hospitality. During the car ride from Zagreb/Croatia I met writers I am happy to still call my friends, the YCP guys. All of the different countries of former Yugoslavia show signs that real friendship will always be stronger than all politics Do you find a certain irony in sharing a name with the European Central Bank? When I started writing the name way back in 1989 due to letters that appear in my first and last name we still had the Deutschmark. No idea if the Central Bank already even existed. It is nothing that I pay to much attention to. What does the upcoming year hold for you and ultimately - what is the dream? As it is looking right now it will start with a trip to India for painting some murals and an
exhibition. Some other international shows as well as some other projects in the pipeline. The dream, feels like to me as I am living it right now...
It Is What It Is It is what it is. I mean we’re born this way Only not knowing why we’re here, Or.. Or like animals just getting on with it. No one really knows. And the boat seems to be sinking So many trying to hold on But we’re naturally out of control Cause no one really knows. Since I was born always had the feeling it would be a chancer. But science keeps saying it really has some good answers, Ways to overcome Becomes a power base to some, A certain dynamic Giving birth to negative statistics They deny it, But Gaia surely knows, Of how the pollution grows And grows And trees cut down, Less kinds of fish swimming around Too much grain in that beef sold by the pound Sun burns the arable ground. But it is what it is...
Say it again We don’t know why we’re here Living through life with death always getting near If it isn’t yours it’s somebody else The only real truth,life ,death, love and fear. But I’m only a pawn of my generation No real info just the news at ten But I’ve watched a lot of documentaries Nuff’ to drive me round the bend Desperation hard not to fall down in tears But one thing’s for sure I got this from a seer It is what it is Can’t beat the system...... Go with the flow
Reality as Subversion
I had a weird vision the other day. Having brought our newborn back from the hospital just days before, my wife and I weren’t getting much sleep. I lied on the bed next to the baby and slipped into one of those theta wave trances you can reach on the way to a magick spell, visionquest, or psychedelic trip. I was in a natural chamber of some kind, maybe a cave or clearing in a woods. It was a starting place from which any number of journeys could be taken. At each opening, another creature or entity beckoned me to follow it. And, had it been any other time in my life, I probably would have picked the one that seemed the most promising and followed it down the twists and turns of its path – and been either delighted or terrified by what happened. (The idea of being an experienced
traveler or magician is getting better at predicting, guiding, or simply tolerating the variety of what’s on offer, and learning to bring back things or ideas of value.) This time, however, for no particular reason other than really being okay with floating in that little entrance foyer, decided to stay put. The beckoning entities gave up and scurried or drifted down their reality tunnels, and I lied there, motionless. Only then, after I decided to do nothing, did I notice the Elders. Three or four of them shamans, prophets, zen masters, or some combination – sitting on a bench to my side, looking down at me. “Welcome,” they said, nodding. And I immediately got it. By doing nothing, I was doing everything. The path of no path. Just be.
And though I’ve spent a career, maybe even a whole lifetime creating realities for myself and others as a way of retreating from the oppressive consensus culture of the American Marketplace, I’m wondering if we might best abandon that tactic. Maybe, it’s time to stand still and let them do the conjuring. Hear me out. What I teach in my classes is that the evolution of media sees control of the story move away from the teller, and towards the reader or listener. The invention of text allowed people other than priests and royals to read and write, showing human beings that they were contributing to the human story. Thanks to the alphabet, we got the JudeoChristian tradition, laws, and all those notions of progress. The printing press put texts in the hands of many, leading to the democratization of interpretation, the development of “perspective,” and eventually the Enlightenment. If all perspectives matter, then all people matter equally.
Although TV set things back a bit, deconstruction and post-modernism came to the rescue, giving us all the ability to take apart what we see, and dissemble the many messages being piped into our living rooms and brains. Master deconstructionists, from William Burroughs and Bryon Gysin to Genesis P-Orridge and Negativeland, cut-up the news and paste it back together in news ways, in Burroughs words, to find out “what it really says.” Of course, they were only foretelling the advent of the Internet, which turned the whole mediascape – the primary landscape of alternative media creation – over to us. Now, at least in theory, we are as capable of creating and disseminating a message as anyone else. Your basic middle class American teen (admittedly, among the planet’s better equipped individuals) can build a set of images, texts, or videos that extend his visions to the greater world. Rupert Murdoch’s ideas matter no more than those of the kid posting on Slashdot. And so we fight for our rights or even just our
freedom to do what we want to in the media space. To keep our Bittorrents flowing and our alternative media blogs rolling. We know the power of image creation, and want to retain our ability to make the images that stimulate, hypnotize, and program our world. That’s why the powers that be are so committed to retaking their control over the image factory. Whether it’s American Idol recasting its stacked deck talent show as some sort of SMS-enabled democracy, or Project Echelon monitoring all our keystrokes so that truly subversive material can be cut off at the source, we’re witnessing first hand the dismemberment of our new body politic. Just as the forces of business turned the original Internet into a strip mall, they are now bribing the most popular bloggers with ad-based revenues and creating watered down simulations of online autonomy. Meanwhile, they distract us with scary stories about how the latest and greatest technologies will be used against us. Neuromarketing, for example, the latest new tool in the advertising arsenal, is supposedly capable of using MRI technology to measure,
definitively, our response to packages and advertisements. They shove some poor soul into an MRI machine (that could be used for a diagnosing a sick person) and then show him some Coke or Pepsi labels and then see what parts of the brain light up. Then fascinated but misguided journalists write bestselling books about that moment of decision that supposedly takes place independent of any conscious or rational process. Worse, these subconscious triggers can be tripped intentionally by any marketer or political linguist with the access and money. That’s magick, people. And fake magick, at that, except for the fact that we believe this
shit. It just isn’t true. It’s the kind of tripe that marketers and advertisers use to peddle their wares to the companies trying to compete with real culture, real thought, and real human progress. Of course the books claiming that our most important decisions happen in a “blink” are going to sell well, because they are part of the culture of selling. It’s no wonder we get fooled by such stuff. For in our effort to exert some measure of control over our reality, we have migrated to the semiotic landscape – fighting with image and symbol, rhetoric and reason. In the spirit of Hegel, we match their faulty thesis with our daring antithesis, but forget that neither one necessarily brings us any closer to the truth. Just because you’ve got two opposing arguments doesn’t mean they resolve into some reality-based synthesis. (Two politicians can argue about whether the tax code should have 39 or 40 lines while a peasant starves on the Capitol steps.) The realities that marketers offer us, just like
the ones we offer back in return, are speciously detached from reality on the ground. Sure, they provide solutions to our problems, but from where do those problems originate? As a new parent, I’ve been painfully aware of how little real community there is around us. This is a market success. Our parents are too far, our friends are too shy, the mothering old ladies are nowhere to be found. So who teaches my wife to breast feed? The “lactation consultant.” Yes – there is such a thing! And who watches the baby when we have to take a shower or get to work? Not a family member or friend down the hall, but a professional babysitter, daycare center or nanny. The diminishment of community is what fuels these new markets. The greatest magic act of all – the unrecognized king of all sigils – was the creation of the dollar itself. We support the reality of this symbol whether we’re going after dollars or complaining about the lack of
opportunity to accumulate them. By taking the very real values of wealth and prosperity and assigning them to the symbol of money, we dissociated our labor from the real. Sure, if we had some authority over that symbol system we might be in business. But we don’t; it’s the most protected and inaccessible set of mythology around. No cut and paste permitted, William. I’m thinking we should let them win. Surrender the unreal realities to the bad guys. If they want broadcast television, mainstream newspapers, or even the web, let ‘em have it. They’ve conjured up an alternative universe that has very little true connection to what’s really going on here. And the market-based, competitive, reality-as-propaganda dream has swallowed them up. They are the victims of their own illusions. We don’t have to be. We can take charge of the real reality they left behind. I mean the world we’re actually living in. The yards and streets and fingers and tongues. Let’s build bike lanes and barbecues, after school programs and AIDS care networks, places to play music and playgrounds for kids. They’re so busy monitoring the airwaves for
signs of treason against the market or state that they’ve lost track of what’s happening between real people. Turn off your cell phone and speak to that guy sitting next to you on the bus. That’s about the most subversive thing you could do. Instead, like well-meaning Pied Pipers, we play our tunes hoping the children might follow us instead of the other guy taking them off the cliff. But when we enter into that competition, we’re no better than the tune we can muster at that moment. If ours is more hypnotic or captivating than theirs, we win for the time being, and keep the kids believing our version of things until the next round. And in entering that pissing contest, we deny ourselves the home field advantage. We live here, after all. If we can learn to sit still for a moment rather than following any of those phantoms, we can take over real reality, instead. It’s right here for the taking.
Douglas Rushkoff www.rushkoff.com
Born out of the jazzy, liquid basements of abstract drum n bass, the infamous Aquasky stormed beyond the stylistic confines of genre eating itself and forged a spectacular history slicing across spectrums and laying waste to full throttle dancefloors. As a fundamental, inspirational driving force behind the golden age of breaks, they opened the millenium with riotous banger after rollicking tune as the original party vibes were lashed kicking, screaming and rushing their nuts off back onto the floors. Outrageous basslines and sizzling beats dropped thick n fast under all manner of mayhem - pure torrid tear out as they stamped their unforgettable mark on one of party music’s most driving peaks.Their epic collaborations with the Ragga Twins have
danced dancehall lockdown through the years, and their relentless energy and eye poppingly prolific output has seen all manner of beats, breaks, vibes and styles rocket through both their studios and their label, Passenger to pound warehouse walls into spent submission. Kicking up chaos and breaking back out into the eye of the storm yet again with their new album, Raise the Devil - a white knuckle ride through sinsister, ruthless bass and controlled anarchy’s smiling face, Aquasky have rammed the rave back down a quickening culture’s eager throat. As the windows shake and shatter with raw, gleaming frequency, we caught up with Brent from the notorious trio for a chat.
How did you guys initially come together as a trio Well I was at college and one of the girls who I’d been sharing a house with had moved into a new place at the start of the academic year. As she was settling herself in, knowing that I was a pretty keen record collector and into my music, she invited me over to meet one of her new housemates who apparently had a little studio, and that turned out to be Dave. This was about 93 and I was massively into my hip hop, and scouring my records for samples and quality breaks, so we sat down together and began making a bit of hip hop. Kieron was recording early drum n bass and jungle with Dave at the weekends and as we were feeling each other out musically, I came across this tape Kieron had done under the name DJ Kerry – he’d left it in the studio and it had all this – god I hate the term – intelligent drum n bass on it – the jazzier side. It had Horizons, Krust’s Jazz Note, Roni Size’s Music Box, a couple of Peshay bits, Wax Doctor and some Skanna on there, and I was completely blown away. I’d been a big raver in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but I’d walked away from it – you
know, started college and generally pulled a lifestyle change out of the bag which musically meant going back into my hip hop and starting to collect jazz. Having all connected with this new sound, the 3 of us decided to meet up and have a crack at making some using samples off my jazz records. We did – and I suppose the rest is history. The first tune we made was called Images in February 95 which ended up as the B side for our first release on Moving Shadow. So you say you were a big raver but that you’d moved away from it – was there just a massive comedown after 92 Yeah there was. I mean, we used to be able to go out every weekend – and Bournemouth had a surprisingly lively scene being right next to Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon where a lot of the big illegal parties used to go off – parties Kieron also used to go to although we didn’t know each other back then. We’d all meet after Madison’s or Kevin’s House which were the clubs down here, posse up into convoy at 3 in the morning and drive to some illegal
party in the back end of beyond. Then slowly, people began making more money out of the illegal activities at raves and on the flip side, realising the scale of legitimate money that could be made, organizers started to push up ticket prices as violence crept in and people started getting robbed and stabbed. It went a bit dark and lost its original appeal and with the Criminal Justice Bill killing off the last vestiges of the free living, free partying culture, it was time to move on, though having been drawn back into it around 94– here I am 20 years later! As you were starting off with the drum n bass, how difficult was it to get heard It was hard work. Don’t forget this is before internet and email, so while you’d occasionally get hold of a phone number for someone to contact at a label or something, it was all very underground. For us, living in Bournemouth, it was that much tougher, but I remember the day when I cycled down to HMV on my chopper – back when HMV did loads of vinyl and sat in the aisles writing down the addresses of all the labels – Moving
Shadow, Metalheadz, Mo Wax, Reinforced, Good Looking – the lot. We recorded a demo cassette, graffed it up with a bit of spray and sent it off to Moving Shadow, Reinforced and MoWax. Within a week, we had a call back from all 3, but Moving Shadow had the most significance for us and it was a very proud moment to sign with them. Obviously Reinforced the same, but erm – Moving Shadow had that much more money to put behind new artists at the time, so we went with them.
How much of a sense was there in the mid 90’s that the idea of all types of dance music on one floor had disappeared, and you were very locked into your scene, be that drum n bass or anything else for that matter A very real sense – and we were a case in point. Before we began making drum n bass, we had all established ourselves independently in different areas. Dave had done the rave bands and made a name for himself in the chop up Amen jungle world where Kieron also had a presence after his punk band days, and I’d signed with a good hip
hop label. We left our individual backgrounds behind to make the drum n bass, but it didn’t take long to turn round and look at what we’d all been doing before and want to incorporate that into what we were currently doing and try out those styles under the name Aquasky. And it was a real no-no in drum n bass until I would say 2000 / 2001 to be jumping massively between styles and I would say that had a detrimental effect on us, because we weren’t really making music for the hardcore junglist scene. We had our own little scene with the abysmally pretentious title of ‘intelligent’ as I said. Names can be a nightmare – I liked ‘jazzy’ drum n bass but that was still a bit gay, and it wasn’t until Fabio coined ‘liquid’ in 97 or there abouts that it had a name you weren’t embarrassed of to some degree. We were the first people on Moving Shadow to release a downtempo track – hip-hop speed with drum n bass sounds which wasn’t all that well received by the hip hop community because of the drum n bass elements though it did make it into America and onto a DJ Riz mixtape. Photek did that Into the 90’s track and J Majik was doing some interesting stuff, so there were a few of is trying new styles out, but it was definitely massively frowned
upon. I would go so far as to say that it wasn’t until people started to embrace the overseas producers in drum n bass that artists realised they could experiment a bit, and now you have a situation where a junglist is more likely to be making dubstep than drum n bass. When you moved more into breaks, you added the Masterblaster name and you’ve got the more electro project Black Noise – why isn’t the same artist making a range of styles embraced as a positive thing rather than frowned upon to the extent that artists feel pressured to work under aliases. Basically, back in the 90’s, there was a jungle mafia who dictated what should be done and what shouldn’t be done. You were embraced if you fit their mold and were on the right label and if you didn’t conform to their view of how things should be, you were left out in the cold. And that’s just the way it was. If you wanted to be in the record boxes of the top 3 DJ’s, you had to be making the music they wanted to play and it was very hard to change that culture, and for 3 guys down
in Bournemouth, it was near impossible to make a real impact on that thought process. But we kept at it and over time people began to accept that we were a little bit different. Then we did the Orange Dust LP in 97 and that really did stamp our range on what we were doing. And we all had side projects – Dave had Dave Wallace going on and his house project with Trevor Loveys as Soul Motive, I had my hip hop stuff under the name Jaziac Sunflowers and also Skin Divers with Kieron and one of the guys from Appaloosa, I had Spacelink on Reinforced, Kieron had his D&B project Artimis and then we had this live band disco house thing called Tenth and Parker on Mr Bongo. Masterblaster was definitely the tail end of our attempts to be undercover – we just slapped it on the end so people knew it was us. We’d been through tons of aliases and without the internet to help make the connections, no-one knew it was actually us, so it was a definite relief to set that straight When you headed down to that medium tempo breakbeat, did you find that you could suddenly stick a far wider range of influences on that were out of range at 170 bpm Massively. It was brilliant because when we
first got into breaks, it was a lot slower and seemed more designed for the back room of a house club than the main room. Hands in the air – let’s have a party vibes. When we came into it in 99 with our drum n bass background, we knew how to lay down a dancefloor track and felt that particular musical process wasn’t really being followed. We decided that firstly, we wanted our music to be faster than what
was currently out there which I think was designed to be compatible with a house set if you wanted to drop it somewhere. We just threw that out the window. We wanted to make the kind of music we were listening to in the early 90’s where so many different styles and vibes were being mixed together - to bring in all those influences rather than remaining glued to one platform, and we found that the tempo was a joy to work with because you could rinse stuff from so many different genres, chuck it in your tune and it would work. Create something that hadn’t been done before which was very difficult to do in drum n bass, largely because you wouldn’t sell many records. Breaks was a very young music at the time and had none of the structure or rules that drum n bass had built up, and after the strictures of dnb it was so liberating to hit breaks – it felt like being back in the day – proper party music. No-one was making music like us when we first did Aquasky and Masterblaster, and had to argue with Botchit and Scarper for over a year before they released 777 which went on to become their biggest seller. That was a benchmark for breakbeat – bassline breaks and it was a great time.
Do you think that dance music should have a little bit more to say for itself – take on some of the wider cultural and social significance that it had at its origins. Absolutely. I think there’s a lot more to say in general about the world we live in that doesn’t get airtime in the mainstream media. Back when I was growing up, we had Public Enemy – the Black CNN as they used to call themselves, and then of course there was rave culture which was pure anarchy and everything Conservative Britain hated. Growing up with that kind of rebellion music does make you realize the extent to which
that’s lost now. There’s still elements of it, but there’s no making a living out of it. These days – if you want to survive, you have to do things a certain way and it’s already a bloody hard scene, so adding a political or a social message into your music can only really slim your audience down. We tried to do it with our new album – Raise the Devil – there’s obviously a few lighthearted tracks in there but we did want an overall message with tunes like Frontline and Humble. I do think there’s far more scope for messages in music – it really hinges on whether the person doing it can make it financially worthwhile. But then music isn’t always about financial rewards.
Did you initially set out to make Raise the Devil as a concept album or was it more a case of putting together a collection of tracks. Well it was originally going to be called White Riot after the Clash song about uprising amongst the very placid white middle class community during the late 70’s. The song was about how things were not that great for the middle classes; basically saying come on – let’s join our brothers and hit the streets. We knew there were going to be riots this summer and when we had Tenor Fly and the Ragga Twins in the studio back in March doing Frontline and Humble – the vocal content and the vibes we were trying to create were very much tied into those ideas, and in Frontline we were working
off something that had a definite relationship with the late 70’s and early 80’s and the social atmosphere of that era. We wanted to inject a sense of standing up for yourself and being heard. Our White Riot concept did slowly begin to fall apart though, especially when the riots actually kicked off – had we got the album out when it was supposed to come out before the summer it would’ve made sense and we could have run with the title, but under the circumstances we changed it to Raise the Devil and did the Raise the Devil track. Which is about finding that devil – that anger – that strength inside yourself to step up, step out and make a difference while the power and the aggression of the music itself raises the devil himself. That’s the key to the album – the twin meanings of evil, sinister, fiery music on one level - a soundtrack to crimson anarchy, while on another – driving your desire to go out and make a positive change with that energy running through your veins. Bit optimistic - but ya gotta throw it out there!! We’re going through a massive social change at the moment and things over the next couple of years are going to just keep accelerating. Riots are kicking off across
Europe, nuclear reactors are melting down, revolutions are toppling governments with Western forces orchestrating in the background, secret elite cartels – it’s all coming to the fore. We’re discovering more and more what happens behind closed doors in this world and as that happens the scale of changes to the global financial system and political changes as the police state cracks down in all kinds of countries as well as our own. Our prime minister waxes lyrical about how incredible the Egyptian people are for standing up for their rights and against their oppressors while authorizing the use of water cannon, rubber bullets, shutting down social media and banning public assembly in our own country. There’s a dichotomy for you – and it’s just one of so many as the hypocrisy gets exposed and the dissatisfaction spirals.
How well placed is the music scene which has been intensely commercialized over the last 10 years especially to provide a soundtrack for that kind of a paradigm shift
140 isn’t that new to us because we stamped the 138 sound when we did 777 which triggered a load or artists putting stuff out at that tempo. We re-started Passenger because we couldn’t actually go out and DJ a set at It does already in many ways. Maybe not 138 because we hadn’t written enough tunes so much the dance scene but certainly for a whole set, so we needed to get a label the hip hop scene is raising its voice again. set up and we already had Passenger from Obviously not the stuff in the charts, but the our time with Polydor. We began encouraging underground is alive with rebellion. I don’t other artists to produce at 138 and we were know in dance music – a lot of people I speak quite successful, so 140 isn’t that big a leap to are very aware and would like to help play a from what we were doing between 2001 and part in some sort of change, but you can’t go 2006. We did slow it down though after 2006 forcing stuff on your audience. It’s one thing and started making a few more electro house to inject some subversion into your music fused breaks tracks which did well at the time undercover or to touch upon these themes in – and that switch up in vibe happened after interviews, but I don’t know whether it would spending some time with Meat Katie as we work if you made a whole album of ‘fight the power’ music. I don’t know though – it worked in 89 – but 2011 is a different set of circumstances altogether. How much do you think this new 140 sound is breathing new life into a breaks scene that had slightly stagnated while being perfectly placed to unify dubstep, breaks and drum n bass.
realised that you could still make tuff music at a slower tempo. In fact breaks in general seemed to slow down at around that time and somehow managed to lose its identity and its soul for us after having been in as long as we had. By that point also – we knew ourselves so well – to the point that from an initial sample, we pretty much knew exactly how a track would evolve – we had a very effective template. Now that’s great in one respect, but when we did Teamplayers, it was great to open that way of working up to collaboration and open up other creative avenues. 140 is a great tempo though – perfect to unite breaks and dubstep and give it all a bit of an edge again. Because without any sweeping generalisations, there has been a bit of an edge lacking for a few years up until the start of 2011. And one of the other things that led to that stagnation and something we were partly responsible for was the whole bootleg breaks scene. On reflection and with the benefit of hindsight, that was a very uncreative and unimaginative moment, because people knew they could just bootleg a track and sell loads more records than if they’d made an original piece of music themselves. We could see a good thing when
it was waved under our noses, and we were on board for a while, but when you could go into a record shop and find 2 new tunes and 10 breakbeat bootlegs of house tracks, you knew things were on a slippery slope and it did water down and kill off the scene to some extent. But that’s just my personal opinion and we were as guilty as anyone for a while. But that added to us being a bit tired of knocking out the same kind of tunes did lead to us walking away from breaks for a while.
Gotta ask – 2 people in a studio – yes - but 3 on a permanent basis?? How does the dynamic work. Obviously you’ve been at it for years so it works beautifully but how does it play out – is it quite compartmentalised Well it is at the moment. When we started and didn’t have the responsibilities we have today – mortgages, rent, kids – the lot – we could all sit round and spend ages doing tunes and take all the other stuff very much in our stride. And obviously the money in music was much better, so you could take your time over tracks knowing that it would pay off, whereas now, you’ve got to have your fingers in many pies, and if we’re all sat in the studio together all the time, it means that all the other stuff isn’t getting done, all of which helps pay the bills. Running a record label, running a publishing company, doing our sample packs with Loopmasters, doing gigs – all of which is absolutely essential. Nowadays – we’ve got 2 studios so we can have more than one musical project on the go simultaneously while also be outside in the office running label stuff. When we did Raise the Devil, we did all sit down together, but prior to that with the Black Noise and Aquasky single stuff, one person would start it, another would turn up halfway through and get involved and all of us would
be there for the mixdown and the final part of the track. But as I say, with Raise the Devil, all of us were there from beginning to end and I think it makes for a stronger of body of work, but we ain’t done too badly with 3 of us in one studio for 16 years! Does playing out work the same way – sort of taking it in turns It certainly does now. Again, back in the old days, we intentionally wanted all 3 of us there and again there was a lot more money around so promoters could afford to fly 3 people
out to a gig, but we soon became aware, especially when we moved into breakbeat which is a smaller scene that just didn’t have those resources that all 3 of us at every gig was optimistic at best. Equally, we had more than enough gigs to warrant splitting up on the weekends so we could take 3 gigs on one night rather than just the one. And I doubt we’d have lasted as long as we have if we hadn’t split the gigs. When you’re working in a studio together all week, the thought of jetting off to another country for the weekend, putting in a couple of extra days on either side and making a little holiday of it was very appealing – less so now with kids though I must say, but it was a great incentive on a grey Wednesday morning! You guys are famously from Bournemouth – it’s your home and obviously you’ve stayed there all these years so you’re very comfortable there, but what is the scene like down there – how much of a buzz is there –
do you go out much or is very much a work and family based place for you. It certainly is about work and family for me personally. The last thing I want to be doing after a week in the studio and a round of gigs is to be going out to clubs in my spare time – I’d much rather catch up with friends or spend time with the family. I know I’ll be having a wicked session somewhere in the world the next weekend so I don’t feel that need to be out all the time. And age plays a part in that too, so I’ve gone through the going out every night thing and moved on from it. Bournemouth is one of those weird places – a lot of people come here for stag do’s and hen nights and it’s very well catered for on that level. Bournemouth slightly lost its way at the end of the 90’s – we’d had a thriving rave scene and then an amazing drum n bass scenedown here with a lot of resident producers and either Bukem or Fabio down here one after the other every weekend. It was just relentless, but then that commercial housey scene started to infiltrate
and dilute things and it never really recovered. Saying that, nowadays, the dubstep guys are doing really well and there’s a big dubstep community down here with a lot of nightlife in that area – which is great because it reminds me so much of our early days. We had to fight quite hard to get a night on in town and you could never guarantee any success, but at the end of the day it’s Bournemouth – so there’s no point kidding yourself. I’ve travelled the world though and I always look forward to getting back down here, and if nothing else – that really says something for the place that we live in if not every element. What’s the plan after Raise the Devil then? Well the immediate plan is to carry on with the sample packs we’re doing on a sub label with Loopmasters called Monster Sounds. Artist packs, vocal packs - the works. It’s something we’ve had to put on the backburner while we did the album and Loopmasters have been pretty cool with that so it’s time to crack on. They’l be a few singles and a few vinyl cuts.
Still doing vinyl then Well as Aquasky we’ve got a reasonably good vinyl following, so we can still be relatively confident about sticking stuff out on vinyl, but with the label as a whole, as vinyl becomes more and more difficult to sell, we’re mostly digital. And digital gives you another kind of freedom – we’re looking next year to do a ‘Best of Passenger’ sort of thing – a sackful of tunes for a tenner to get the back catalogue out there and potentially remix a few of the old classics into a 140 tear out sort of sound as that would work well with where we were at round 2003. The beats were pretty heaving , the basslines were pretty ruff back then and the tempos were similar so there’s some good scope for creating some new tunes out of our older stuff… But basically – we’ll keep on doing what we do and see what next year brings………..
Tearing a finer shade of gobsmacking into some seriously stunning walls, Australian born, Glasgow based artist Smug is a man on absolute fire. Harnessing phenomenal can control into outrageously well defined characters bursting with life, love, laughter, rippling pathos and an electro magnetic radiance, his jaw dropping photo realism has hit a new gear of total awesomeness. Real rockets through hints of surreal, rips up some bad boy biznizz on the fly, ram raids science fiction into a concrete star system, skids into a grinning wink and lovingly slides down liquid sensuality on the shadowy curve back into the human form. From the richly animated to the nano weighted his precision characters and devilishly honed visual spaces
take on a gloriously unpredictable whirl of subjects, all impeccably finished to hypnotic standards of funky excellence. Thereâ€™s always something about his photo realism - that intangible element that whisks the piece out of the realms of reproduction and slams it into a new window of imagination. Whether itâ€™s a sinuous embrace of the female form, an irreverent take on pop culture, a violent rebirth of a comic character or profound emotion softly spoken into a face laden with silent backstory, every piece is an absolute stormer where technique and personal perception rifle a subject into a newly spun life. Epic stuff. We caught up with Smug for a chat.
Bottom - with Kak
How did you initially start out in Australia I originally started out by skating and hanging out on the streets at night with a group of mates just being kids and writing our names on walls and listening to Hip Hop. Graffiti was very much a part of that culture, so it all came together. I was living in a very small town at the time with only really 3 other graffiti artists so we pretty much had to build our own little scene ourselves with influences coming more from magazines and then the internet than other artists. The longer we painted we started travelling to the nearest city, Wollongong, which actually had a quite a strong scene with people doing work that even to this day I would stop at and think – wow - what an amazing wall. Crisp and clean, amazing letters, and full on productions with backgrounds and characters, so that was a heavy inspiration to me. But the scene there now doesn’t seem to be as strong – it’s much
more about bombing today, but at the time, there was so much mind blowing stuff going on that it gave me a big, big push. Was it always Smug – obviously it’s got connotations – how did that name stick Mate – I have no clue. Everyone’s got these funny stories about how they got their name, and I simply don’t remember –probably found it in a dictionary or something. I had a number of tags in the first few years of painting. Unfortunately it was SMUG that stuck… How did you start developing into characters and more figurative stuff Well for the first couple of years it was just bombing – no dubs or throw ups or anything like that – just dedicated tagging without
Bottom - with Vodker
even having picked up a spray can. But as soon as I got the can in my hand, I started to really become part of the local scene and my development started to accelerate as I began doing my letters almost straight away. It was a natural progression from tags into throw ups and on into Wild Style pieces, but I’d always had this feeling for characters. Even as a kid back in school, I’d be the one spending 3 days drawing up the title page for a my history book or something and so while I won’t say it came naturally to me years later – it was always there on some level. I was doing all the usual B Boy stuff and a lot of Manga when I first started out, but as I got better with my use of the can and continued evolving past that cartoony feel, it just took on its own momentum. At first it was just flat colour with a bold outline, and then I’d start cutting back that outline and making it perfect - then blending my colours and moving up and up and up, continually challenging myself. Even to this day, I think that photo realism is the hardest thing for me technically – letters are tough too because I’m never completely happy with the outlines, but every single time I do photo realism, it’s seriously challenging but then, I do love that drive to keep pushing myself.
got a photo in my hand. Not everything I do is straight from that photo – there’s a whole bunch of things that I’ll make up and change, and there’s always elements like shadows and light sources that I need to play with to tie it into the wall. A lot of things don‘t translate When you’re doing the photo realism – are well from photo to wall. Things might look you always working straight off a photo perfect in a photo, but would look completely or are elements of it coming from the off as a painting so alterations are always imagination necessary. Size, texture – all of these things I generally stick to the picture that I’m working play a part in how a final piece will look, so there’s always things you need to alter from, and if you see me out and about from the source photo to make it work as painting a photo realistic piece, I’ve always
Bottom - with Vodker
well, and then my next few pieces were done using even shittier cans that were runny and very far from high quality, but they did actually blend much more smoothly so I was able to get much more subtle fades and work the details finer. Then, when the transparents came out, I bought a load straight away, even though I didn’t know what the hell to do with them, and it wasn’t until a year later when I saw this young guy doing a sort of brown / orange piece that I realised that he’d been Did you have technical breakthroughs along the way that suddenly took the photo realism using transparent white and transparent black to create the 3 D transparent colour next level and the penny firmly dropped. That was a There’s always steps that I take and little little breakthrough, but now I’m trying to get breakthroughs that kick in every couple of away from the transparents because they do weeks or so, even if that’s something as take a lot of the pop and a lot of the colour simple as learning to control a can better. out of a piece, leaving it with this silvery My first couple of photo realism pieces were quality. I had a breakthrough just today when actually pretty alright, and I think that it came I found a nozzle that works really well with to me more naturally if not easier than letters the Montana Black cans, so the whole second or anything else. When I started, I was using half of my day was much easier, so they do brands of paint that aren’t really suited to keep coming. It’s a constant evolution and an photo realism, paints that don’t blend that ongoing learning cycle. a mural. But that aside, I do always try and bring something of my own to the piece – I don’t like just copying a photo to perfection – because that reproduced perfection can look a bit stale sometimes, so it’s important to put a bit of flavor in there. I find that the more I paint the less I depend on the reference material.
Top - with Deno and Movs
How much do you work in angles of view to a wall – how something will look straight on as opposed to say a 45 degree angle To be honest – not really at all, unless there’s obstacles I have to paint around. If there’s a box or a sign or something that plays with the dimensionality, I’ll put an X on the ground where you can stand and everything will line up. But then if you move off that X it all starts to distort a bit – though that’s just life dealing with obstacles and the urban landscape. I don’t ever really think what a wall will look like from angles other than straight on, because when people do come across a mural – they tend to pick a central spot to look at it from, so I put all my energy into making it work as well as it can from front on. Do you thrive on obstacles and uneven walls with huge recesses and ledges or are they more of a pain Are you kidding?! Painting around electricity boxes and recesses and window ledges is an absolute nightmare! It takes twice as long because you need to stand back all the time and gives me a headache with all the squinting to see if lines up! Give me a perfectly smooth wall any day… But then I do love the challenge that they give. I like it when artists can paint these obstacles so that you can’t even notice that they’re there. Where’s the balance in your view between legible letters and styled letters I don’t think you can even say that there is a balance any more. There’s so many guys out there now doing every conceivable style that
I don’t think that there’s a definite line stating what’s legible and styled (or over styled). You can stand and stare at a piece – and you know what it says and you know their style (you might have known this writer your whole life) and you can honestly say that you can’t make out the letters at all. My pieces aren’t that abstract and I would like to put more funk into em and make them crazy and out there, rammed with all these different techniques because it looks so much fun to paint, but I like the clean boldness and my letters which have a heavy New York influence with some German flavours are pretty legible I think.
Bottom - with Aztek and Zadok
How important is a sense of history and a knowledge of styles through the years and how much have you found your own way. I’m still finding my own way of painting with every piece that I do. I’ll find a new technique or a new colour scheme or 2 colours that I’d never used together before coming together to create a fresh effect. But I do have a fairly traditional background, and I do still firmly believe that letters come before characters, despite being more of a character artist than a letters guy. I think that these days you don’t necessarily need to know your history because in many ways, things have evolved past that, which is a real shame. But you still need to start somewhere rather than just jumping straight in with no foundations because you need to know the basics of letter structure and outlines as well as having a good handle on the proportions of faces if that’s what you’re painting, otherwise it ends up looking like this child style, Euro style, new anti style thing that’s going on now where the letters don’t make any sense at all. You can read them - they’re perfectly legible, but the structures don’t add up at all – you get fat bits going into really skinny bits with no flow or rhythm at all and that kind of thing drives me crazy. I’d rather look at a plain wall or a Banksy stencil because the guys painting this child style stuff have no background at all and it shows. They’ve thought - well if that guy can do it, then so can I –it’s a cheap way to do graffiti. You need to know the basis of letters and where the outlines hang from otherwise literally anyone can do it. A 60 year old woman or a 6 year old girl can scribble her name on a wall and it’ll look terrible – but if a 24 year old male does the same thing in the same style– suddenly it’s cool – and that is just ridiculous. You’ve got all kinds of things going on in your work – from old Chinese men to overturning cars – where are the ideas coming from – does the wall itself or its location play a part in deciding what to paint? Top - with Estum
Top - with Kak
It can be relevant to the wall that I’m working on – I’d say that’s the case about half the time. If I find a messed up derelict building for example, then I’ll find the wall within it and think about what fits; whether it ties in with the derelict location, or acts as a contrast to it. But to be honest I paint whatever I like the look of at that particular point in time. There are subtle threads running through my work, like semi naked ladies or animals or hip hop orientated stuff or comic book based stuff – but generally it really does come down to painting whatever I think is cool – without that sounding dicky.
Last weekend I was painting at the Hall of Fame and that and pretty much every other Sunday I’ve painted at one of the 2 Halls here, I’ve been virtually all on my own all day, and no-one will turn up. That’s just crazy. Saturday and Sunday are painting days where if you have a Hall of Fame in most cities, it’s full and every wall is getting painted week in and week out. As far as painting in Glasgow goes, it’s sort of cool in a way that I can put up a piece and it may last for months on end, but you know – it’s lonely.
Well dicky would be painting what other people think is cool. Speaking of cool – or rather bloody freezing – why did you make the move to Glasgow and how is the scene up in Scotland. I originally came to Scotland while I was travelling around Europe and the UK with a backpack, as everyone does when they leave school. I ended up in Scotland for work and met my girlfriend which pretty much cemented me here. The Scottish scene to be honest is kind of shit, which is such a shame because there’s walls here, there’s paint shops here and there’s history here. But the majority of the graffiti artists just aren’t very dedicated. Top - with Vodker
Top - with Kak
Tell us a little about your collaborations and how the dynamics work I like to collaborate as much as I can. I think that’s what graffiti is all about. I work a lot with my good friends and fellow crew mates from Infamous Last Words (Dead, Bonzai, Epok and the might Kak) and when we work together everything just kind of falls into place. Everyone is completely comfortable with each other personally and artistically so no-one’s afraid to work with someone else’s piece and/or criticise. I just like painting with my friends. They push me to become a better artist. Painting, to me, is all about having a good time with good friends and producing good work. So if you’re an asshole you can stay out of my way. But then I know my sarcasm and childish dry wit can get a little overbearing, so maybe I’M the asshole! How important is a sense of humour in your pieces Well I try and put a bit of humour into pretty much everything that I do –art related or not. I like to have a laugh while I’m painting, and if I’m painting with friends, we’ll be joking around and laughing the whole time, and if I’m painting solo, I’ll probably just be laughing at myself. I like my stuff either to be deadly serious or funny, and people do tend to like the funny stuff and in many ways – I like my funny pieces the most.
You go from comedy pieces to some very hard hitting, serious pieces. How do you see the role of social comment and a political edge in your work To be honest social comment and politics would probably be the last thing I think of when planning a piece. If people see that sort of thing in my work, then great, everyone interprets things differently. But generally there’s no deep hidden meaning in what I do. I like my work to be understood immediately, at face value.
Top - NO those are not real buffers ;-)
What is it about the female form that keeps drawing you back in Mate, I don’t know. There’s just something about the beauty of the curves and the soft skin… I also think that painting a sexy woman is one of the hardest things to do. Proportions need to be perfect and the fades need to be smooth and her expression needs to be readable. So the challenge keeps drawing me in. Saying that, I did an obese woman once -I mean I PAINTED an obese woman once- and it was so fun to paint. The dimensions were off, there were extra rolls in her flesh but it all looked accurate. My girlfriend keeps telling me that these naked women I do is now old news, and that it’s becoming inappropriate, but there’s just something about the female form…
Australia for a couple of months next year and get over to Europe for a couple of exhibitions. I also think that I’ll be spending a lot more time down south in London and Bristol, but I’d just love to get the chance to travel as much as possible and paint bigger and better walls.
What are your plans for the next year I’d like to plan my next 12-24 months and say that I’ll be off travelling throughout, but I don’t think that funds will really allow it. Saying that, I do have plans to head back to Top - with Estum
Life is short and most of us have it easy compared with the poorest people on the planet. A lot of people out there aren’t fulfilled in life and believe there must be something more to it than ‘work, eat, sleep and die’. Below is an interview with the fundraiser, adventurer, conservationist and founder of the socially active adventure company ‘Global Enduro’. Not getting enough out of life? Then why not change it, he did… meet Simon Smith. Until 10 years ago Simon was a self-confessed member of the living dead. Working in an office every day from 9-5 and recovering from 20 years partying he was far from happy in his work; out of this frustration came the
inspiration for ‘Global Enduro’, which is now more of a movement than a business. “I was fed up just lining my own pocket and needed to connect with the wonder of adventure and to help other people, I had an idea for a business that would enable me to do both.” Simon’s plan was for a unique organisation which would combine empathy with hardcore travel benefitting everyone involved in more ways than one. The aim was to deliver the adventure of a lifetime to participants while also raising money for projects that he believes in. Being an adventure biker, the first trip of Simon’s dreams was always going to involve motorcycles but it has now grown much bigger with husky adventures based
on the lives of the Sami tribal people of north Norway, an amazing dance music adventure party called ‘to the beat of the drum’ in south India and extreme adventures by car, jeep and motorcycle in Cambodia, Africa, the Arctic and the Himalayas.
promoter, Simon had experience of organising events but the first Global Enduro event – taking 100 motorcyclists 2000kms across India for charity in 2003 - wasn’t without its problems. “If I look back at how much I didn’t know I would never have started!
Connectivity, adventure and pushing limits is what I love – doing the impossible in mad places is great fun but it takes on an entirely new meaning when you can help others by doing that.” A former club-owner and
10 years on however his company Global Enduro has evolved into a multi-destination organisation that has contributed over £3.2 million to causes he believes in. “I just think most people want to do something for others, we’re ‘soft wired’ for empathy, we all feel the same things at a base level, the human being is only conditioned to believe that it’s all about ruthless aggression, that isn’t our nature at all” What’s different is that Si and his team put their effort and money where their mouth is and make incredible projects come to reality. “There’s been loads of great projects over the years but recently we were contacted by a guy in south India who was desperately trying to help tribal children to go to school, they live in the ‘elephant corridor’ – a very dangerous place for a kid to walk about and even if their parents had the money for school uniforms they couldn’t go, because they risked getting killed everyday. It’s simple to sort these kids out and it makes me sick that the Government or wider community don’t help” says Si, “We
made sure the guy was trustworthy and saw that he had been trying for years to raise funds, and that he was taking as many kids to school as he could in his own car, once we trusted him and saw his amazing vision, we bought a brand new bus and all the uniforms and books etc, now 44 more kids go to school, it costs £115 per year to put a child through school, about the price of 3 London lagers a month” Anyone reading this who can spare the price of a few beers to change a child’s life (there’s another 200 that need to be paid for) can visit www.adventureashram.org - the direct action charity founded by Simon. But it’s not just children that his team support, they recently funded a direct action film that closed an illegal mine in south India, it had been literally ripping down a mountain by paying off corrupt officials for 30 years and was just about to have the permit granted for another 30!! “I have a good friend, a film maker and conservation warrior called Shekar Dattatri who is based in south India, he told me that this mine was wrecking a rainforest in
south India and killing off farmers livelihoods, polluting pure sacred rivers with iron ore and destroying a national park, he explained he would secretly film the destruction and bring it the world’s attention, so we funded it, he showed it, it closed”
Other projects Global Enduro has funded recently involve relocating the villagers that were left behind by the mine once it closed. “ The people brought in to the mine were simply abandoned so we bought them houses and made sure they were looked after, that they had access to school, hospital and had the means to grow their own food free of the dangers of leopards and elephants”. “Global Enduro is more a movement or a family than a company,” says Simon. “It belongs to everyone who makes it possible, from me the founder to our incredible team of dedicated souls in the UK and around the world. We’re all about challenging people to
live life bigger, building a tribe of like-minded people and helping the communities we travel past as directly as possible.” “We do between 15-20 major adventures a year right now and each one takes around 1214 months to organise. It’s a big responsibility working with so many great causes depending on us. The logistics can be hard work; our most recent trip was for disabled riders and drivers, we went to the Himalayas in terrible conditions. We got stuck for four days in between landslides, but finally got everyone home safe. My favourite trip so far is one we did to India during the monsoon. It was raining so hard we had to pull in and shelter; the thunder was so loud it knocked four heavy motorbikes off their stands, rocks the size of small cars were landing in the road in front of us and we I had to ride 14 of my clients bikes (it was so bad they wouldn’t do it) across a thin plank 20 feet above a flooded river which was meant for pedestrians, the wood was splitting further every time I crossed and I knew if I went in it was over for me, but there was no way back! That trip was hectic!”
Besides indulging his passion for adventure, Simon loves the challenge of Global Enduro. “There’s huge satisfaction in bringing people together, achieving what everyone says can’t be done and of course helping so many people in need”. So what’s next?
is all about, not just turning up and getting smashed, but learning about the issues tribal people face, raising funds to help them live better lives and of course dancing with them too. I’d I also love the idea of putting on big UK parties to raise money, I hear Genesis is having a one off, we’re all very excited about this one, it’s been a long time!!
“I’d like to run a Global Enduro experience The India party will happen in Oct 2012 and with the San bushmen in Botswana and I’m LSD have been invited to come along and working with Jonny Lee of the dance music cover it. Watch this space.” charity ‘Last Night a DJ Saved my Life’ to run To contact Simon phone him on 07939 569 a tribal adventure party called ‘To the beat 516, email him at of the drum” in India where participants fundraise to enter but then have a tough email@example.com or for more info 5 day adventure driving 1950’s cars or simply visit riding motorbikes through the jungles and mountains before reaching the party itself. www.globalenduro.com “This concept is going to redefine what a party
his Scan t find o code t e r out mo
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Tik Tok Clean the Block
“I wish I hadn’t written my name so large.” She has her back to me, scrubbing the wall of the public convenience, in the park. Two other girls are doing the same thing. They are sound. I like them, They’re not gangsters, crooks or nutters. They are just three naughty kids who got caught putting graffiti on the walls. Pointless, aimless stuff. Their words, not mine. The punishment is community service which I am supervising. They have to remove their own handiwork. It is cold, A harsh grey winter in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Civil war grey. They finish and we leave. There is a complaint later from the parks supervisor, about the mess we leave behind – paint particles, dust, that kind of thing. You can’t please everyone. Cut to summer, hot, steamy, 100+. I’ve learnt
a lot since the winter. Firstly that the title “Community Liaison” covers a lots of bases and secondly where to buy some brushes to tidy up the mess we leave behind when the graffiti gets scrubbed off. Started covering it up as well. Tidier.
Some of the people I take on graffiti community service are youngsters who have committed various crimes, involving gangs, drug use or getting into fights or stealing. Some have not done anything like that but are excluded from school for other discipline issues, such as swearing at a teacher. Community service is part of their programme. That is common,
here in the U.S.A. I also take out prisoners from the jail. Eyebrows were raised when I started. People thought it was a risk to me to be on my own. Any number up to a dozen. What are they going to do to me? Eat me? Really. I discovered they were happy to come out on work detail and…..work. Painting over the graffiti or scrubbing it off. They have a sense of community service too. “I’ve always been a bit of a bad boy – it’s good to do something which people really appreciate and does some good too. I’m a bit tired of doing bad all the time. It’s good to do some good.” He is very large, with no neck but a gentle voice. He is with seven others from the jail as we paint over the building near the High School. It is covered with “Crips” “Blood” and all the rest of it. Rumour has it that the people who did it are very dangerous and very near. They don’t take kindly to people interfering with their paint jobs.
a very good job. All gleaming white paint. All covered up. It didn’t do any harm that one of the guys from the jail was a professional painter and decorator, before he got locked up. He takes a real pride in the afternoon’s work, giving instructions and advice about the mixing of the paint and the density before it is applied and the temperature. It is a real art and he takes a lot of pride in it. The Community Police Officer drops by as we are packing up. I go out with him, in the patrol car each week. He squints at me in the burning sun. He knows We give books to kids that are hanging around what I am thinking. in the street and talk to them about education “What are they going to do to us? Really?” Bit and literacy and how it can help you get on in life. He is a good man and the prisoners relax like what I was thinking about them. Everything comes around. They finish painting. It is in his company despite the traditional culture of mistrust of people in uniform.
I give them all a drink from the supplies I brought with me and we load up into the van. A dog barks loudly in the distance. We drive off passing a really good looking young man leaning against the corner of the next block of buildings. The prisoners all talk quietly amongst themselves. There is a moment’s silence before one of them speaks to me. “Do you want to know what’s going on?” I nod. He sniffs before continuing. “The good looking dude hangs around the school until kids gravitate towards him cos he’s cool and nice looking. After a while he will introduce them to the ugly one – the one with drugs, who won’t be far away. They never are.” I look at him in the mirror as we pass the gas station (petrol in Blighty!) “Just thought you might want to know” I nod again. I tell the police about it. I drop them back at the jail and they are checked to make sure they are not bringing anything back into the jail which they shouldn’t. Some are picked for random drug testing. There are rules about going out with me, applied by the jail. One of them is no contact with people on the outside. I find out the first time how easy that it to infringe. A car pulls up beside us at the lights. One of the men tells the one sitting next to him that the car is there. The man looks across to see that it is his wife and child in the car.
“Do you want to stop and talk to your family” The first prisoner asks. There is a pause before the other man replies. “Nah. Don’t want to get Mr Robertson into trouble.” I don’t say a word. They are not allowed to ask me personal questions about where I live, that kind of thing. I return the favor – I don’t say “So, you’re doing time in Virginia but you’re from Texas. Why’s that?” It makes for very tranquil sessions. I am starting to think everyone should be banned from the small talk. Hadn’t realized how much I enjoy not having to do it.
They are doing good too. There is graffiti on a building. “If you are not from here, fall back.” Rumour has it that it has been there for years, not months, Now it is gone. I go into the bank to get a few dollars. The lady serving me starts crying when she talks about it. It has bothered her for years – seeing it on the way to work and back and so on and so forth. She sniffs as she counts the last dollar. “Tell them, thanks.”
I’ve learnt a lot. Human spit mixed with baking soda can remove some paint. Early mornings are not a good time to paint. Spraying on is easier than scrubbing off. Shapes cut out of pizza boxes make great templates when painting. I really enjoy seeing the images and the messages of hate, territory and violence gone. People, generally like to do good. It makes them feel good. Learnt something else too. The prisoners are afraid of one thing – my driving. I am used to the British roads. This could take a while…..
Dirk Robertson Virginia U.S.A July 2011
Peering through the hole in the wall and seeing sense - seeing Xenz on the other side where imagination trips lovingly through Xenses and blue sky highs meet freestyle organic rides. Moving away from straight lettering and traditional interpretations of graffiti, Xenz has taken his can on a symphonic tour of memory - collective and personal where subtle shades of natural impression spiral away into the whirlwinds of infinity. Soft textures and fragmented reflection swirl through frescoed clouds of classical dreams - landscapes suspended in dreamscapes illuminating the cityscapes - a lyrically honed, poetic escape.
Old school as ya like on the one hand yet experimentally liberated to chase those elusive visions of beauty, his gentle fascination with natural wonder weaves into the metaphysical mindâ€™s eye and breaks out into wild, exotic worlds - sprayed rays of Edenâ€™s myriad faces. Rolling horizons of grandiosely modest infinity - a fractured vortex of dreams where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon hang wistfully in the heart of urban Babylon itself and endless skies meet creatures from the cortex and modern fables of fantasy envelop the senses in tapestries of primal feeling. We had a word with Xenz
How were you first exposed to graffiti? I was about 12 or 13 it was the late 80s i was growing up on East Hull in Yorkshire, England There was a lot of punk and skinheads names written in big letters in white paint all over town along with the “no poll tax” political stuff, but my first encounter of the arty stuff with colours and swirls which looked like the stuff I’d seen in films like Breakdance was a tag saying Cosmo. It was done using two colours and it completely caught my attention. I started to notice other tags written more like signatures and became fascinated trying to read them all and so began my journey of discovery into the world of graffiti and I knew I wanted to do this more than skateboarding, breakdancing and bmxing all put together. Were you always arty or was this something completely inspired by graffiti? As a kid I loved drawing, copying cartoon characters and the outlines of the continents in the atlas while I also enjoyed drawing on peoples faces in magazines. I think the thing
which propelled this fascination with graffiti was the Superman logo and the flying 3D Superman letters. Then came Spraycan Art and Subway Art two books that consumed my early teenage years. Was there a scene in Hull during the eighties and if yes, who were the players? There was a thriving graffiti scene in Hull where I grew up but I’d put it more in the early 90s when it got really active. I say thriving but it would be the equivalent of one block in the Bronx by comparison to the New York scene. We had all the usual inter school/estate rivalry like any city, we wrote on bus shelters, and if we fancied a girl we’d scratch her name into a wall. We didn’t have phones or the internet and graffiti was what Twitter is today - just on a very local level. The unique elements that generated such a vibrant scene with the spraycan art style of graffiti was fuelled more by the East / West divide in the city, we lived on the east side and our competition lived on the west. We hung out in a park called East Park and thats where we did our murals
mostly at night but eventually we just painted in the daytime as people just thought we were being funny. It got to a point where each weekend we would be painting a wall in the tennis courts and friends would bring sound systems and we’d be having reggae sessions in the park on balmy summer nights. I set up a crew with two of my friends who tagged Paris and Decode2 we agreed to sign our large colour murals as a collective, we called ourself The TCF Crew - Twentieth Century Frescos. We were in competition with the legendary Devious Rebels of Art aka DRA of West Hull (pinky elete leebo perv ziml spam). Our mission was to paint the crassest shit possible. That was the competition the rivalry wasn’t violent in any way it was a healthy sense of experimentation and one upman ship, more hippy hop than hip hop. Hull used to have a thriving dock community along the River Humber and the River Hull. By 1990 the landscape was empty warehouses with massive walls. These derelict industrial estates became our halls of fame. Tell us a little about the equipment back in
the day compared to the streamlined kits of today. How did you learn the techniques? It wasn’t equipment, it was just spraycans from the garage a fairly limited colour pallete and a varying unpredictable paint consistency but we loved it. We managed to blag loads of free paint by doing murals at youth clubs and we also mixed our own pinks and blues by freezing one can and putting the other in a bucket of hot water. Then using two WD40 spray nozzles with the straw we pumped hot red paint into a frozen can of white. There were various techniques developed to achieve a certain thickness of line using hair spray nozzles for fatter, turning the can upside down for thin. Did you have mentors that showed you the way or were you just winging it? Mostly winging it, we had our inspiration and the paint and the wall, it was usually an organic idea that grows but in the early days we looked up to the London crews like Chrome Angelz, Non Stop Arts and also people
Who were the main players in Bristol when like Inkie and 3D from Bristol and the Essex you arrived? Rockers. This was all alongside the pioneers and the avant-garde pushing it back then like Futura 2000, lokkiss, Jon 156, Vulcan, Crayone, Paris, Banksy, Inkie, Lokey, Dbz, Fsh, Awkward, Tes, Shimz, Turroe, Infoe, Feek, Nick Walker, Dicy, Shabz, Rowdy, Vermin, Jago, Will Barras, lewis the Barron, What motivated your decision to live in Bristol? My friend who I started painting with moved there to study at the art college and Iâ€™d gone up to Edinburgh to do the same and after we finished in 1998, I decided that moving to Bristol was a good idea as I wanted to do more murals. Banksy had organised a weekend graffiti event in Bristol called Walls on Fire and I basically came down for that and stayed for 9 years.
How much influence did Bristol have on your style as an artist? A lot of my work got lined out in the early years and I developed my style to accommodate this and this is where the floating city scapeâ€™s and scribbly rawness comes into it. Bristol was and still is a busy scene, you have to have style to stand out and you have to put effort in. Working with the
crew environment encouraged me to get a bit wacky on the backgrounds and themes for the wall and thats how my paintings evolved into the tromp style I call tramp (lol). What shows do you have lined up for the run up to Christmas? I have a solo show opening on the 1st of december called k ‘exotic’ which I’m quite excited about as it’s giving me a chance to show new work alongside some recent work extending the theme of exotic worlds You’ve been in the business decades and worked with many legends in the game. Do you mind naming a few for readers? I’m rubbish with names. Eko, Paris, Elete, ziml, si2, Feek, Dicy, soker, vermin, flx, Banksy, Eine, Busk, Bonzai, Snug, Inkie, Panik, Chu, Tizer, Nick Walker, Petro, Gasface, China, Shock1, Rowdy, Elph, Derm, Cept, Snoe, Ponk, Pinky, Solo one, Astek, Mudwig Insa, Peeta, Joyz, Ogre, Probs, Moas,
Daddy kool, Connor Harrington. Mutoid Waste, Bleach, Best Ever, Ian Cox, Lazarides, China, Shock1, Aroe, Spam, Replete, Sune, Pyyro, Cheo, 3dom, Run, Nosca, maclaim, Huim, Klit, Ram, Mode 2,Vhils, Panik, Chu, Tizer, Broken crow, Mysterious Al, Eelus, She one, Mr Jago, Will Barras, Alex one, Miss Van, Sweet toof, Descreet, Zest, Detone, Mos, Mao Mao, Mac1, We imagine you must have raised a few eyebrows within the graffiti community when you started painting what you wanted as opposed to what the culture dictated? Are you saying I’ve got big eyebrows! no not really people probably just thought i was high, some of my close mates said wheres the letters and that used to start big arguments when id get all deep on them and try and explain my stuff is so far beyond when im drunk. The letters are in there but they are usually disguised as hills or clouds but theres always x e n and z in the composition it just doesn’t look like the obvious graffiti style. For me it was a case of wanting to get lost
in the painting as i work real fast and doing quick lettering pieces is a quick hit but it doesn’t satisfy my creative urge. The battle is always ongoing theres always symbolism and subliminal statements in there.
The work you produce today is far removed from graffiti you created in the past. Tell us a little about the transition from graffiti writer to full-time artist. When you hit 16 and 17 you think you rule the world and the decisions you make then are what form your future. I decided I wanted to paint murals with spraycans. I didn’t think about the money, I didn’t really think about the future, I just planed my next piece and that hasn’t changed for as long as I can remember. I do remember wanting to live like an artist when I grew up. I suppose I am living the dream - well my dream anyway. wwww.xenz.org
Do Words control the way we think Words do not only control the way we think, they are the way we think. Thought is nothing more—and nothing less—than the complex interplay of signs and symbols within the human mind. It is the process that makes order and sense out of the vast constellation of instincts, emotions, and sensations that make up our daily lives. The thought process works by turning every unit of experience into a basic unit of information. These units of information form a coherent system: a language. That system is thought, and that basic unit of information is the word. The spoken word is audible thought We talk all the time about how thoughts connect to the mouth. To “put words in someone’s mouth” is to misrepresent their thoughts or intentions. An idea is said to travel by “word of mouth.” A person whose name is “on everyone’s lips” is famous, because when a name is on someone’s lips, it means the person attached to that name is not only on their lips, but simultaneously “on their mind.” We feel thoughts to be connected to our mouths, because it is with the lips, the tongue, and the sounding chamber of the mouth and throat that we form speech, and speech is thought. It is evidence of the powerful connection between speech and thought that we can say, “I spoke without thinking.” But we don’t really speak in the absence of thought. When we say that, what we really mean is that we thought aloud when we should have thought silently. Many millions of people like to “think out loud,” and for good reason. The process of elaborating ideas in conversation allows
a friend to work with us on our thoughts as instantaneously as if the sounds were actually part of the mind, and the friend’s suggestions went straight into the speaker’s thoughts. And in a sense, they do: a spoken word is the sound of a thought. The thought duplicates itself in the word, and once a word is spoken, the thought can be examined by any hearer. In this way, a word links one mind to another. With the right words, a telephone is better than telepathy.
Written language is visible speech Writing is the visual representation of the spoken word. It allows the flow of thought to be captured, preserved, and shared. The introduction of writing had profound cultural significance. In Homer’s time, writing was uncommon, so bards memorized thousands of pages’ worth of complicated poetry just so they could entertain people. To us, that level of memory is unthinkable—literally. Now that we can write things down, we do not need the habits of thought that make Homeric memory possible, and so we do not develop them. The same is true in the field of argument. When writing was more laborious, and writing materials costly, orators memorized and rehearsed speeches and arguments. Debate was highly personal. Now, we can write down an opinion once. With no rehearsal at all, we can convey that written opinion to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people we will never meet. Even better, if we put our writing online, they can answer us within
minutes. Homer would have been green with envy. Signs and symbols are the thoughts of the eye Not all words can be written or spoken. Some must be drawn. The experience of drawing engages the hand, the eye, and the arm in ways that writing does not have to. When writing using the English alphabet, bad handwriting is a nuisance. When writing using the Japanese or the Chinese alphabet, based on pictographs, bad handwriting is the next best thing to illiteracy. Poetry in these languages is so closely linked to calligraphy that to properly understand a poem, one has to see it on paper.
Symbols and representations of objects also form words. No one would argue that “:)” is not an intelligible unit of information, nor would they argue that it is in the same category as “;-)” or “:-(,” and that while they are all units in the same language, they all have different meanings. Many argue that there are dialects within this language of emotional indicators, and differentiate “:-),” “:-},” and “:-D.” Gestures are the thoughts of the body For some languages, we don’t even need the paper. All we need to do is see and feel. This is how sign language works. Where audible language is in the mouth, sign language is in the hands, the arms, and the face. The
words are gestures, performed by feel and “read” by sight. Even for those not fluent in sign language, there is a “body language” of motion and facial expression. It is not by accident that we speak of “reading” the faces of others, just as those who do not hear might “read” their lips. Inner language is pure thought There is a language unique to every man, woman, and child, literate or illiterate, with or without speech, sight, or hearing. It is the language too deep to write, or speak; its words too deep and strong to share except in pale approximation. These are the words of pure thought. The memory of the sight of a lover’s hand on the doorknob may be a
thought-word meaning “betrayal,” or “loss,” or “perfect joy”—or all of the above. The urge to tap one’s foot—and the feeling of doing so—may be a word meaning “I don’t care,” or a whole paragraph about boredom and the desire to go out in the sun. But you know what those words mean, and you know how they form into sentences, into
paragraphs, into the story of your life. There is a grammar of decision-making, just as there is a vocabulary of memories, and a set of punctuation marks for emotion. There is a language to the way you know yourself, just as there is a language for the way you express yourself. And what is language, if not a way of expressing what you know? Further reading: Walter J. Ong. Orality and Literacy: the technologizing of the word. 1982. Ferdinand de Saussure. Course in General Linguistics. 1916.
Mace Moulton Spiegel.
A word with
Garfield Hackett London's Pleasure Gardens
Overflowing with vibrant energy and radiant positivity, Garfield Hackett, the man behind the living, breathing creative matrix of Cordy House and one of the key driving forces behind the now legendary Mutate Britain has got a new project. And we’re talking some seriously next level evolution both in creative terms and in redefining the underground’s relationship with the wider world. Hardwiring London back into it’s lost consciousness and setting the spark for a dazzling new world of creative possibility, London’s Pleasure Gardens are about to explode into the throbbing heart of the capital.
ingenuity bolts raw atmosphere into place. Steamrolling the underground’s knee jerk fear of legality, negotiations with authority and the wholly subjective phantom of ‘selling out’ with overwhelming conviction, fierce integrity and an intoxicating positivity, the Pleasure Gardens are in many ways, the The original Pleasure Gardens were a sublime underground coming of age. space where social hierarchy dissolved into the shady walkways of secret serendipity In an object lesson in belief, talent and vision - where rampant hedonism rode free flow sweeping anyone and everyone away in an expression and Hogarthian downtown beautiful idea - in an intangible, infectious flooded through the blue blooded veins of vibe , the Pleasure Gardens are throwing polite society. Long forgotten and betrayed open the underground dreamscape of by the Victorian passion for all things rigid sparkling creativity to a new universality and self righteous, they were a place of , and infusing that connection with an all uproar and euphoria; of whispered trysts embracing inclusiveness that brings everyone in the moonlight and unbridled celebration into the heart of the headspace - no matter under the flickering, glittering lamplight. Art what their preconceptions. And entirely on and artifice washed through the breezes as their own terms. This isn’t about them and glorious debauchery danced to it’s own fluid us anymore - this is about all of us and the cultural identity and swept the perpetual yearning for magic and experience that unites party deep into the night and away into the us all. A new cultural nexus starts here mists of memory. Having won the Meanwhile competition to renew the Victoria Docks in East London, the 21st Century remix as Garfield puts it is slotting into place as irrepressible
While we spoke to Garfield alone - the range of creative talents involved are extraordinary. Please note the contact email at the end of the piece if you would like to get involved and be a part of it.
Just to take you back a bit – how did Cordy House originally come about Well in a nutshell, a friend of mine told me about this space, and having spoken to a few people about the potential it had, we took it over and ended up being there for about 5 years. The initial idea was to just do a little show in the building and things just mushroomed from there. We basically created a home for people to do stuff rather than formulating this cunning long term master plan - we had no idea how things would evolve – whether it would be major or not, but there we were with the opportunity to do something and on that basis – it was simple – let’s give it a go. It really was a case of things connecting up organically and riding their own momentum, and if you want the honest truth, it was a perfect creative hotbed because through no overt planning or specific goal beyond creating this free creative space and seeing how it developed, we got some great people together into one zone. And suddenly you had this flood of collaboration – often between people who never would
have collaborated otherwise, and that idea of putting extraordinary people together and seeing what happens is exactly what I love doing. Did that dynamic of a living, breathing 24 / 7 space create a channel of energy that no conventional gallery or exhibition could ever dream of generating Oh yeah...completely. This was people’s lives. People were there day and night, day in, day out and rather than being limited to a show here or a show there, it was a constant, living, breathing show. There was never any sense
of a 6 week exhibition that would run its course before we started to pull the next one together in that traditional linear format – from the moment we started to the moment we ended, it was this relentless, shape shifting burst of creative expression. And I say ended, but we’re planning on getting back in there at the end of the year to start doing some more stuff. So how did you then connect up with Joe Rush and the Mutoids to the point of total collaboration with Mutate Britain I’d known of them for years and we’ve
totally been in the same circles both directly and indirectly for a long, long time. Don’t forget, I’m an old geezer and from the same generation as Joe so I remember them from the early 80’s and their original projects and parties in West London. But over and above that, I think it was the timing. You know when things just HAPPEN. When things just cross paths at the perfect time and they fuse and roll from there. Well that’s exactly what this was and it totally clicked. I have to thank Spencer Style who was the person that introduced us to Cordy and the person that re-introduced us to Joe, and once we started talking, we just knew that we were
completely on the same page, and it all synched beautifully. Our family have the same philosophy as Joe and the Mutoids and you always know when something really special is happening when there’s that sense of having been together for years after 5 minutes. It seemed so – it WAS so natural, and nothing we did from that point onwards felt like work in any way – borderline freaky in one sense but pure connection on every level. I think it was a great way for them to get back into London because after they had done Burning Man, they were looking for a project to do back in the UK, and Cordy House was the perfect marriage for them – the perfect place – the perfect fit. You’re dealing with pirate artforms born out of the street and the abandoned warehouses where exhibition in any defined, formal sense generally strips them of their power. How did you manage to put them in a legal, accesible context without them losing any of their spirit or integrity. Without sounding naff– the bottom line is that whatever we do – we do it from the heart. We do things as we feel they should be done and try and present things in the way we feel they should be experienced, and once we’re passionate about a project – the enthusiasm and the honesty naturally forms a platform for that concept. Now I’m going to use this term in a strange way, but what’s actually happened is that we’ve become ‘cuddly’ as we’ve got older!! It’s a very strange feeling where 20 years ago we were the outlaws,
and now, somehow – we’ve become the accepted outlaws without anything having changed on our side. People have begun to see what we do not as a threat as they once so emphatically did but as something to glory and revel in and genuinely shout about as a part of their own culture rather than this weird, suspicious bunch of nutters who are completely alien to them. As I say, we’re still doing the same thing as we were 20 or 30 years ago, but just as everything in history and culture alike moves in cycles – I think we’re hitting a peak in that cycle again, and the key now is to harness that and really make it last. We need to make it as constructive and as positive as we possibly can – throw all our energy behind it because I believe this is one of the greatest creative forms this country has ever produced and I want the whole world to know about it.
Art has this tendency to take itself quite seriously. How critical was injecting this freestyle party atmosphere and euphoric energy into the more traditional idea of looking at creative gems on a wall or in a space.
I gotta be honest – we wouldn’t know how to do it any other way. Sometimes I wish I did – but that is the only way we know how to do things....because that’s who we are (some seriously infectious laughter here – that we only wish we could translate to the page)
Love it. Skipping straight from the party to the more formal side of things, you’ve been involved in projects as diverse as Brent Eid and Harvey Nichols in Dubai. Obviously some of those events are well outside your natural zone, so how do you respond to the wildly changing context of projects like that I love that.... I love the challenge. One of the things that defines who I am and what I do is that I hate being in a ghetto – be that a geographical ghetto or a ghetto of the mind – anything that imposes limits. I feel that what we do should be loved by everyone and how we do it should be loved by everyone rather than just being appreciated by our crew. Everyone needs to know about it and everyone needs to experience it because it’s wonderful and I totally believe that. And doing those projects further afield is a core part of what we do because we put our own spin on things and take what we do to ever widening
audiences – if the context changes – the vibe never, ever does. I mean..... we did the Ryder Cup last year!! We were living in Newport for nearly 3 weeks underneath that big red Steel Wave sculpture and it was brilliant because there were people who would never ordinarily experience what we do – they’re not from London – they’d never go to a festival, and they were there and loving it – and that for me is what it’s all about.
It’s strange because you get this sense in the underground sometimes of people wanting it to remain this kind of closed esoteric circle with the perpetual fear of ‘selling out’ hanging over anyone who wants to break out. Is that just bullshit. Should we be trying to blow a hole in mainstream consciousness. Absolutely. Why shouldn’t we?? Why
should we just sit around and talk amongst ourselves? Especially when we all know what we’re saying and we all agree with it. Surely we should be out there trying to spread the message to people who may not instinctively agree with it, until they’re on board too. The last thing we need is to become an ever decreasing circle of self involvement – we need to spread things right out and have enough conviction in what we do to create that conviction in others. And hopefully help unlock some of their own buried creativity in the process. We totally believe in what we do and that is an incredibly positive force in itself to keep pushing understanding and inclusion. How did you even end up entering the Meanwhile competition to renew the docks. It was an odd one. It all started with an idea
Debs from Shangri La had to design an art hotel which I came on board with alongside my partner Andrea and her husband Phil. We were going to do it in Hackney Wick but there were some problems with the land and the idea was to construct this modular, mutated art creation which people could live in. Once we ran into difficulties with the original site, some of the people from various organisations who we’d been in preliminary discussions with told us about the Meanwhile competition. Debs really drove the whole thing at the beginning and she started putting together a proposal which if I’m honest, I didn’t even know that much about until literally 5 days before we were due to give a presentation when she rang me from Thailand saying we were through to the next round so we better sort it all out sharpish! It was amazing because the other entries in the running were from these seriously major companies – after all this was a prime piece of land and a very high profile redevelopment push. Then me and Robin Collings who glues everything together met for a few days, and went to do the actual presentation with Debs in full effect via a Skype video hook up from Thailand. We had our scraps of paper and our talking points, but the reality was that we just went in there and were honest. Totally honest. We didn’t lie about what we wanted to do – they knew a lot about our pasts which we made no effort to deny or hide and don’t forget – ultimately the final decision had to be ratified
by Parliament because it was an enterprise zone so the fact that it went through with all of that on the table was massively encouraging. And fortunately, 3 members of the board from Meanwhile London had used Cordy House as a model for the regeneration of derelict old buildings which I only found out about afterwards. And they loved it – they thought that we would bring some real vibrancy back to the area while keeping it very real. What I loved about the Mutate show we did in Ladbroke Grove was that people would arrive with firmly forged preconceptions and what they’d end up seeing was the whole of London in one thriving space. And when I say the whole of London, I mean rich and poor, black white or green from every background and headspace under the sun all together in that spectacular mish-mash that is the essence of modern London.
Excellent. Because there is this in-built suspicion of authority with our sub culture – was this a case in point that if you’re up front, positive and have a vision, that councils and Conservative mayors etc will understand and respect it and there really doesn’t need to be this divide a lot of the time. There absolutely doesn’t need to be this divide. I’ll hark it back to the One Foot in the Grove show. We went 100% legal there – it was totally above board in every respect – fully licensed and passed every single official hurdle and throughout we were working with the council. And that was a dramatic learning curve as we went through the initial round of community meetings and then into the license application process which was littered with objection after objection stemming from people’s misinformation about who we were. And then ultimately, getting it, doing it and winning over the community to such an extent that when we reapplied, not only were there no objections, but there was full throated support from the same people who had been so sceptical the first time round. I know this may sound all hippy, but at the end of the day, we’ve all got the same hopes, the same fears and the same worries and most people are intrinsically quite good so let’s take that as a starting point rather than mutual suspicion. And after all the work – after all the expense – because we fund everything ourselves so
there’s no question of surrendering identity to sponsorship or external interests – I could sit there when the show was in full flow and see the life that I lead being lived out in front of me. I knew everyone there from all sorts of different angles of my own life and the show’s life getting to that point and I want all our events to have that kaleidoscope of life running through it – because that’s the world we live in. How much is this relatively new concept of doing things completely legally an intense boost to the creative potential of a show or an event when suddenly budgets and set up times offer this totally new platform of possibility It gives people a chance to really show off what they’re capable of without the
limitations of time and money. Some of the best producers out there today learned their craft in the illegal scene, but now they have the chance to push all those ideas which were just too big or too complex before and prove how good they actually are. The quality of the work was only really hinted at in the illegal past, and now that people really do have the space and the liberty to let rip, unbound by artificial constraints – the creativity is flowing. And it’s getting better and better. How much did that mad decaying sense of an industrial, imperial past that the site in the docks has impact on the design and how much did the landscape itself kind of frame the ideas for the Pleasure Gardens Well funnily enough, well before any of us had even heard of this competition, Robin had spied out the land from a passing train, and it was totally that feeling that inspired him about the land. He’d been sat there on the train thinking – wicked – we have GOT to do something there, and sure enough synchronicity took its course. The landscape is absolutely a fundamental element of the project’s dynamic and I see this as a seminal
opportunity for our scene to show the whole world how great they are....and that for me is a buzz and a half. We get a bit spoiled because we see so many mad things that we get used to it – it is our world, but for most people, that’s not at all how it is – it’s fantastical and I can’t wait to see people experience it and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see it. I don’t want to call it the ’growing up of the scene’ but I do think that we have the chance here to push things into a whole new stratosphere. How important was it to breathe new life into the forgotten concept of London’s Pleasure Gardens where people in the regimented social structure of the 18th Century found a levelling hedonism and the barriers came down – the city rediscovering it’s own lost identity. That’s driving it completely. When we started researching and reading about the old pleasure gardens – the parallels with what we’d been doing all these years just hit us and it seemed such a natural fit. It’s a 21st Century remix of a pleasure garden...
How do you see the experience unfolding for a visitor.
at Mutate who’d been there 5 times which is exactly how I want the Pleasure Gardens to be – and for them to come back not just to I don’t want to reveal too much as we’re still see new physical things but for the relaxed, in the design stage, but there’s going to be friendly atmosphere. We literally want to something there for everyone and elements of create a new cultural entertainment zone everything we love. It will be somewhere that that’s not Shoreditch – that’s not Dalston – we feel comfortable spending every single but ours – and if we make it work – it could be day – and to distil it down – the best way to there for years – it could be a game changing describe it is that we are creating our world – hotbed. and we firmly believe that once we’ve built it – everyone will come and love it. What is the timeframe on it as it stands and when does it all kick off
How fluid will it be – how much will someone The current timeframe on it is to 2014, but revisiting 6 months later find new aspects with all of these projects – original schedules and new experiences rarely survive contact with reality, so I think It’ll be constantly updating – again – that’s the it will end up being much more like 2015 and nature of who we are. There always has to be maybe longer. But as someone said to me change and ongoing creation and mutation from the council – the London Eye was only – partly because we can’t help ourselves and meant to be there for a year. partly because we feel that if we ever stopped enjoying ourselves or finding new dimensions We open on June 1st 2012, so from next year, – the public will too. You have to consistently we need as much involvement as possible. keep things fresh – and that was one of the Anyone who’s got any ideas, suggestions, fundamental characteristics of the Mutate offers of help please get in touch. We’re going Britain show – it was never the same, and to to need as much help and as many volunteers be honest – the happiest we were with it was as possible – so please email us at the address about 2 days before the end. below or contact us through the website and we’ll get straight back to you within a couple of days Well that’s a beautiful thing – constant evolution and a constant drive to keep pushing. www.londonpleasuregardens.com And the public love it because they feel a part of it. I used to get people coming up to me
Well, here we are then, 10 years after the collapse of the twin towers changed the price of toothpaste forever (3.50 for a 100ml tube airside, you gotta be kidding!), and despite the relentless installation of security measures the world over since this event, yer CCTV cameras, yer data mining, and all that lovely information being sent and received across the social network landscape, phones with built in GPS as standard so they can be tracked anywhere, by anybody with the right software ( where’s my ipad app anyone?), recording digital conversations over the cellular network as a replacement for the common or garden hotel room bug, yes despite all this, it seems that crime is as rampantly fun an activity for the youthful masses as ever.
A new breed of teenage hooligan, one that delights in filming people getting their heads smashed in on their mobile phones, capable of such wanton acts as burning down warehouses full of good music, recently took to the streets en masse destroying everything in their path, and for what? Chants of ‘what do we want? Nike and Nokia! When do we want em? NOW!’ as far as I’m concerned, spell it out as clear as day-glo paint. The revolution, as we know it, has never been in such jeopardy as it is today. What started as a ‘peaceful demonstration against police brutality’ wow people get shot by the cops in the UK these days but ‘oh no we mustn’t use the water cannons’? escalated
across Britain as directionless fury, a selfish grab for goods at the expense of damaged local businesses (why wasn’t McDonalds torched to the ground for example) and a full on excuse to prey upon the weak and unwary in wolf like packs. Now before you start
thinking I’m just another Guardian subscribing passive reactionary that reads like all the rest of the media coverage and opinion, I now wish to explore some of the sickening irony and shootings in the foot these events are made of. The state of society has always been an excuse that has given certain of those of underprivileged and unstable upbringing ‘carte blanche’ to burn down, steal from, damage irreparably, beat on, stab, drive into a wall at high speed etc, anyone and anything their frustrated and envious eyes bear down upon. But it also seems the very architecture of state accommodation is built to encompass and purport this violence: Labyrinthine stretches of homogenous concrete as high as the clouds and equally as windy crowded to bursting point with the surplus of population affected by market downsizes, mergers, and abolitions of key industries in favour of outsourcing to the Third World, subliminally browbeaten into the acceptance that there’s ‘no way out of this zone’, or ‘no more jobs exist’, even ‘those foreigners coming over here stealing our livelihoods’, and before we get to the whole ‘anchored to this state of perpetuity by the imposed chains of state benefits’
we must realize that this one, particularly in parts of Europe, goes right up the scale as far as doctors and schoolteachers forced to supplement their earnings with ‘Working Tax Credits’ in order to survive the tide of inflation and keep roofs upon heads. What hits me quite hard is the fact that the recent riots provided these ‘social cases’ with an abundance of exactly a choice of the artifacts that keep them so separated, alienated, and dispossessed in the first place: Fuelled by the lyrics of ‘gangster rap’ (god I sound so OLD!!!), deluded by their successes in such tournaments as ‘Grand Theft Auto’, and advertised to from all corners of their vision ‘En Permanance’, is it any wonder that when an excuse to mug all who walk by, smash a window and grab the most expensive shellsuit and trainers, then pocket the latest and greatest of all smartphones before ram -raiding Tesco’s with a hotwired BMW 316 to grab all the booze presents itself, well, something just flicks on inside the head and encourages the masses to join in among those of a certain age? The way advertising works is all about manipulating secrets: The way that the market survives is by depriving members of the population with the means to make
their lives better while telling you all along that this is what they set out to do – make our lives better. The foundation of ‘cool’ is built upon that of ‘exclusion’, the button push that scares you into feeling like the party is going on somewhere else, without you, and you gotta have one of these, or wear some of this to get in. A whole segment of the population is sent round the twist up to the point of no return by the media, unable to afford the lifestyle contained in the images thrust upon them day by day, and discouraged from having a bright future by the appalling academic points hungry education system that now relies on multiple choice examination sheets, and surpasses itself with the ability to completely ignore the individual needs of the children concerned in favour of national averages, all championed by a coalition government that is prepared to step back and let it all happen, pussyfooting around in the political equivalent of Jesus sandals, and acting all surprised when after cutting back national services to the point of faciliatational redundancy, once the situation gets out of control the law enforcers are unable to do anything about it, leaving shopkeepers to defend themselves with
brooms! Nothing can be done….
They didn’t even try to rob a bank……..
Except of course, tighten national security to the point of curfew.
Fair play to Waterstones bookshop for staying open though, purely in the faith that if anybody came looting round their way, the spoils would be literary and who knows, they might learn something!
That’s right kids, you might as well keep that flatscreen you robbed from Dixons there, you’re gonna need it on those endless nights in digesting media and staying out of trouble. Those images of that kid getting helped up and then consequently robbed when it was clear he was badly injured are just gonna get played, and played, and played……Alan Moore’s ‘V for Vendetta’ Britain is just around the corner it seems…. And so we see the powers that be now sifting through the footage and going after anyone they can find ‘after the events’. What a surprise. Slogans like ‘we’ll get you in the end’ bandied about at newstime whilst in the background, deals are being made to allow sectors of government free run over the access to each and every one of our Facebook accounts; soon the slightest bit of dissonance on your part can be construed as hate speech and incitement to riot under the new laws section blah blah blah act and get you 4 years inside. Thanks kids, I really needed that hanging over my head every day like a sword of Damocles.
Wonder if insurance companies nationwide are trying to skip compensation: act of god?
I guess that what happened there is just a sad, senseless waste of energy that could have been put to much better use some other way, and now people right across society have to pay the consequences for the actions of a ‘few bad apples’ yet again. Some are demanding the return of the ‘short sharp shock’ and compulsory military service and bringing back corporal punishment, others are blaming the parents and propose their offspring would be better off in state care while yet more retarded race and creed hate builds up on all sides as the distance between people in communities increases due to them having the wrong buttons pushed in front of the television, internet or whatever fix of their choosing. And all the while, those who have appointed themselves in charge of the flow of material energy are losing billions by day publicly while feathering their nests quite nicely and privately somewhere else. We’ve never walked on such fragile ground before, as a race, because this time if it kicks off, remember that it’s the existence of the trap of society that stops the nuclear reactors melting holes in the ground once the switch is flicked off, and the futility felt by our younger generation was seen clear as day, across the planet: these things will eat us alive from
the inside, and once they have done, what else is really left to protect and salvage here? Savages with guns fighting over the last bottle of mineral water. There’s no escaping the panopticon; its almost self imposed, but things can be done to make the imprinting a sight more positive, or we lose the lot, that means you too richies! Ok I got 4 and a half thousand pages on the Illuminati to get through now, maybe I’ll find some answers in there, otherwise it’s a healthy comical dose of David Icke to round off an afternoon in the park. Tell you what though, check out the new features spoof video of the iphone 5: the laser keyboard and holographic video display are an absolute must. Wonder how far away from that we actually are? The laser keyboard idea must be possible by now; press a button and a qwerty keyboard appears on the surface in front of you, allowing you to tap your emails on a coffee table! Fantastic, I want one for xmas! Bye for now.
51m0n. 11 sep 2011.
A friend of mine is beautiful, funny, interesting and creative, I have a huge amount of love for her…but lately she’s become so volatile that I’m finding it hard to be around her anymore. At first I thought this was aimed towards me, on reflection I’m beginning to see she’s become one of the those people – you know the people I’m talking about - if they don’t get their way, they blame you, blame someone or something, blame anything except themselves We seem to want to blame others, I read the story about a girl who gate-crashed a house party, was told not to go near the swimming pool and yup guess what? She dived in, hit the bottom and sustained a life changing spinal injury. That’s sad. Until you read she’s suing
the parents who own the house (who were not even at the party) because the pool had no warning signs to let her know it was the shallow end…un-f**king-believable! And the soldier who’s suing the government, because he got shot and says the army didn’t fully warn him of the dangers of war…oh come on!! Stop blaming. Stop thinking you are the most important person and stop chasing easy money. If you need more money then £65.00 per week jobbie benefit, you will have to work. If you cannot find the type of work you want, you may have to do a job you may not like much – if not, its pretty simple you’re not getting that money! Don’t try to blame it on ‘there’s no work’ or
friends because they didn’t help you get work at their company, or because you’re brown, small, fat, tall, from another country, not qualified, over qualified, covered in tattoos, your hair is green or you look like a mass murderer This blame attitude, is a double negative force, not only does it make you feel the world is against you, it shows the world how twisted you are inside. It’s impossible for you to see how its affects other parts of your life, and it makes you very ugly to be around. Positive people will begin to distance themselves from you. As like-attracts-like, you will find negatives being drawn towards you, this just We humans have a unique ability…we can fuels more negative thoughts…and so the solve problems. It’s right there within you, circle continues already build into your DNA. Go ahead try using it. Attitude is your greatest gift or the If you want that job, money, recognition, fame, house, car or anything that you haven’t biggest hurdle to getting what you want. The right attitude will open doors you never currently got, you’ll have to make some sort of change to your life. If you are not willing to imagined possible. The wrong attitude will slam them shut. make that change then I’ve got something to tell you…IT’S COMPLETELY YOUR FAULT It will take some effort, it will require changes, Its pretty simple, to get more you have to do more. No matter what you want, it involves more effort and probably some expense Start looking for answers and stop looking at the problems. People that are doing the job you want or have the things you want, have already faced the exactly the same problems, and they have found their own answers. You can too.
you may have to take one step backwards to take two forward and there will be times when you will just want to give up. However, life will get better, the world will help you, and that little voice which lives deep within you, will begin speaking to you with a smile
Ian Milne is founder of 3000monks www.3000monks.com facebook – universal monk twitter - @3000monks
In an age where so much techno is virtually indistinguishable from the last tune dropped into the mix - where microscopic subtleties lay a questionable claim to individuality, Mike Hulme is a towering bastion of up front, rolling dancefloor power. Immense basslines laden with mesmerising menace, pulsating analogue warmth and myriad layers of precision crafted nuance weave sublime intricacy into spellbinding soundscapes where mind and body, abstract and physical coil sinuously together and disappear down the rabbit hole of rampaging rapture. Managing to straddle the artificial divide between the raw energy of the out and out slamming and the whispered mysteries of intensely psychedelic voyaging, his music is perhaps best summed up by the title of one of his own tracks - Quantum Mechanics.
As multi-sensory bursts of electric energy spin through fleeting multi dimensional realities where one man’s bass drenched banger is another man’s silky cerebral flow and serpentine twists on the mechanical peak into fluid channels of non linear musical experience, Mike is setting some awesome standards in hypnotic techno’s mystical matrix. Currently resident tech warrior at the massive U&A Recordings, he has spent the last few years serving up slice after glorious slice of liquid modulation and fractal frequency - tripping a synthesised blue sky fly, while always remaining anchored in some seriously heavy warehouse balls as introvert dances dualism with extrovert. We caught up with Mike for this fascinating interview, pushing through the envelopes and into the eye of his creative firestorm.
Tell us a little about your early years and the original epiphanies that drove you into music Without wanting to sound like an opening line from a Scorsese film, as far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a musician. Music was a part of my life from an early age thanks to my parents’ love of Motown and good ol’ 60’s/70’s rock. We had a record player in the living room that frequently had either an LP or cassette broadcasting its life and energy in to our home. Looking back, it’s not hard to see why I later developed an interest in synths given that Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds was, and still is, a favourite of mine. As I got older I discovered dance music through listening to mixtapes and buying magazines like Muzik, M8 and Dream. There was something about it that grabbed me: like-minded people coming together to dance all night like some kind of ritual. I knew I wanted to dig deeper in to that underground world which seemed so far away from what during that time. You had a cool collection everyone else around me was doing. of shops practically next door to each other: Eastern Bloc, Fat City Records, Piccadilly Records, Dr. Herman’s, Affleck’s Palace, The Coliseum. The streets were full of vinyl junkies How much did the currents of the and party people looking for their weekly fix. Manchester scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s shape your creative perspectives? During that time I was studying music tech Not a great deal if I’m honest. I’m 28, so I’d be lying if I was to say the whole acid house / Hacieda / Madchester thing had a significant influence on my life. I’ve never really been a fan of the whole Manchester indie thing either. I’ve always been more interested in discovering fresh sounds and moving things forward rather than looking back. I started DJing when I was 12 and got in to raving in the mid-late 90’s (my height and a good fake ID convinced a few bouncers I was old enough). When I was about 16/17 I started to work at one of the main vinyl outlets in Manchester, The Spin Inn. Naturally I’d spend everything I earned a week on vinyl. I went through all different phases, musically – House, Techno, Hip Hop, Breaks, Hard Techno, Acid Techno, Jazz, Drum & Bass… There was a real buzz about that part of Manchester
in the city, working at the record shop on weekends and partying in-between at places like Tribal Gathering at Sankeys, Tangled and Airtight @ North. Those long nights spent dancing in sweaty, dark rooms shaped a deeper understanding of music and how it can take people to another world. On top of that it was a shitload of fun experimenting and getting wild. It was around 2000 / 2001 I started to get in to Breaks heavily and I heard London calling me down… How introspective were your years recording under the Introspective alias and what prompted you to leave the safety of an established identity and front things under your own name
I’ve always been quite introverted. During my days working as Introspective though, I’d say on the whole it was a very hedonistic time for me. I was partying a lot and getting lost in music, both in the studio and out at parties. I learnt many things about myself during those years, and picked up some essential experiences that helped me to understand the mechanics of electronic music and how it works on people’s minds in a club.
Mark (Meat Katie) that they convinced me to go under my own name. I’d been trying to come up with a cool new pseudonym, but I think it was Mark and Marvin @ Lot49 who said my own name sounds pretty ‘techno’ anyway - haha! I think it sounds more like an environmental professor or something, but hey, what do I know? ;)
I was also surrounded by creative people, working at Sinister Recordings and meeting a whole bunch of lovely people in London out at parties. It is a chapter of my life I’m fond of. I’m also proud of what I achieved in the breaks scene under the Introspective alias. I was able to experience the full circle of dance music, from the business end right around to the dancefloors and I was able to learn a great deal from real-world scenarios.
Could you give us an educated layman’s guide to modulation?
But like most things over time, situations change and stuff evolves. Towards the end of working as Introspective, I was still buzzing from the music, but I wanted to try something different. Each track was getting a bit formulaic for me and it didn’t seem as much of a challenge in the studio anymore. Sure, I had crafted my own style as a producer, but I felt like I had explored that enough. Also after Sinister closed its doors, it kind of took the shell away from everything I’d built with those guys. I was still doing remixes and DJ’ing, but I began to feel a bit lost under that guise, creatively. It was after talks with Simon (Elite Force) and
In short, modulation is when a signal is layered over another signal to create more complex, new sounds by altering the original signal’s characteristics. Amplitude modulation is an easy example to understand: if you take an audio signal (say a saw wave oscillating at 440Hz), send that signal to a mixer and send another sine wave oscillating at low frequency (i.e LFO) to the mixer’s control/modulation input, the volume of the original saw wave will fluctuate and you’ll get a classic ‘tremolo’ effect. The frequency of the LFO dictates the speed/rate of the effect. If you change the frequency of the LFO up to audio rate, you’ll start to hear more apparent AM modulation as sidebands get introduced to the signal. Modulation is fundamental to any music, to add dynamics and different colours and timbres to sound. As I’ve delved in to the world of modular synthesis over the past couple of years, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up in this area. Frequency modulation alone can create
amazingly complex textures that evolve over time. How seductive do you find a rampant bit of obscure geekery I think there’s got to be a line drawn somewhere. I love geeking out over music technology, and I get gear acquisition syndrome just like most music head do, but it’s all just a bunch of equipment you use to make music. It’s essential to know your way around things and knowing what tools will do the job, just as it’s important to keep track on new technology and knowing how it all works, but some folks can get too bogged down in that kind of thing. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending more time lusting after gear and buying/selling it than actually using it to make music. How do you perceive the physics of frequency - both in a rigidly technical sense and in a more abstract sense?
It’s easy to grasp the concept of frequency more by using spectral analysis tools, but they I visualise waveforms in my head based on can also be misleading. A visually stunning EQ what I’ve learnt. I know that lower frequencies plugin doesn’t mean it’s going to make your are made of longer, wider sound waves sound sonically stunning. That’s one of the that are Omni-directional and can pass reasons I prefer analogue, to use my ears to through dense surfaces like walls, and higher call the shots without my eyes being seduced frequencies are shorter, more directional by a fancy GUI. sound waves that get absorbed by objects and surfaces more easily. I think a lot of modern music production tools enable a person to visualise frequency on a whole new level, and How important is a whisper of synaesthesia in any art form with the right set of ears and good monitors, you can really mould a sound with great I think anything that bends the rules of detail. ‘normal’ reality a little is a good thing. I think that ‘seeing sounds’ is a good thing to be aware of, especially when you’re the one making the sounds. Even if your audience isn’t consciously aware of it, on some level you can connect to people by using different sounds like colours on a palette. As well as applying this way of thinking to music production, the same can be said for DJ sets. Different tracks conjure up different moods or ‘colours’, so having an
were right at the moment of making it, and it’s a reflection of somebody’s personality. So if you’re honest to yourself, you shouldn’t have to feel like your smuggling anything in to a track. It just comes naturally during the creative process. If people don’t like it, then, well, I guess they don’t like it and there’s not a lot you can do to change that.
How do you weave ethereal dynamics into the formal mathematics of music? Oh man, I try not to think about it all like that. I find thinking too much about music gets in the way and creates a mental barrier. I think it’s better to just get locked in to it and just guide the music in a particular direction.
understanding or perception of this can help you to paint a picture during a set.
What is the role of melodies within dance music and do you find yourself almost having to smuggle them into tracks?
But on some level, I know that everything is connected. To quote Aronofsky’s Pi, “Mathematics is the language of nature”. So music is maths, and maths is the basis of everything we have come to understand around us. It’s no coincidence that our minds react to sound. We’ve evolved in to this environment and we are subject to the same laws of nature as everything else.
I do think having knowledge of how mathematics is connected to music helps to Melodies are a subjective thing and different create a bigger picture of what it’s all about. people have different tolerance levels. It’s The brain reacts to sound, and frequencies in much like vocals in that respect. I see melodies a scale excite chemical activity in the people’s as a good way to tap in to emotions. Some heads. Our ancestors figured that out at an people shy away from melodic dance music, early stage, even if they weren’t consciously but I think if it’s done right and with taste, aware of the exact science behind it, I guess using nice scales like the minor pentatonic, they didn’t need to be. They used their natural melodies can play a key part in ‘peaking’ a instincts and how it made them feel to guide track or DJ set. them. I don’t think people should have any shame in I think you can get too distracted in the the music they make. You’ve got to do what techniques and trying to be too precise and comes from your heart, not really what you thinking too much about it all. I have always think others will like or approve of, so with the tried to let the flow of the writing experience same mindset, I don’t shy away from adding guide the track. You should try to let your such elements in my music. I get in to the flow instincts guide you based on your own and let a track evolve naturally and let my experiences, having leant what feels right and instincts guide me. what doesn’t, as well as being aware of that indefinable element of nature that’s in us all. Whatever the finished product sounds like, it’s a collection of ideas and sounds that
Do you find certain liberation or a certain limitation in working with remix parts that provide that initial spark of inspiration? I love doing remixes, always have. It’s a challenge to rework someone else’s work and put your own stamp on it, whilst trying to maintain the original spirit of the track. It can be a delicate balancing act, but it’s a shit load of fun. For me, it’s all about the original track. If there’s something in it that gets me rocking or sparks my own creative thoughts, then I’ll want to dive right in to it and start rearranging the pieces. But if that vibe isn’t there for me, even if it’s a cool track in its own right, I find it almost impossible to do an honest job on it. I’ve turned down a couple of remixes in the past based on that. I don’t think it’s fair to the original artist(s) to do something without your heart in it. Forcing yourself to be creative kinda takes the fun out of it. If you don’t mind, can you tell us a little about your work on in flight entertainment systems? For my day job, I create the in-seat radio channels, album selections and safety announcements for airlines. So if you’ve flown on the likes of Monarch, Thomson, BMI, Iberia or LAN recently, chances are you’ve heard
some of the stuff I’ve done for them. I get exposed to a wide range of musical styles from all around the world, so I guess it all goes in to the creative melting pot.
Can you ever see yourself making a living solely through music? The music industry can be a cruel, fucked up business to be in. It can be a bit like Wall St at times, but without all the mountains of cash. If we’re talking about making a living from selling music, under the current setup, the answer is no. When I first started out on Sinister Recordings, I was seeing a good return from vinyl sales and remix work, but even then I still had to hold down a day job to pay my bills. The moment everything went digital and vinyl/physical format started to fade away, so too did any chance of making a decent living from just selling music. Most folks went from selling singles at £6/7 each, down to $0.99. I’m no financial expert, but surely that’s not a good strategy? (Unless of course you’re a multi-billion corporation hell-bent on shifting your handheld mp3 devices/subscriptions models/advertising streams to the masses at the expense of the people creating the music). Even in the vinyl days it was always hit or miss if a release was going to break even. But now in the digital age, it’s even more of a struggle since that $0.79 per track model was introduced. Don’t even get me started on music piracy.
But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Of course people do make a living through music, but only by way of extensive touring, or if they’re lucky being commissioned to create music in other areas such as the gaming or film industries. As well as making the most out of the fortunate position I’m in at U&A Recordings, I’d like to get more in to other areas of production too. I recently scored a soundtrack for a short film created by friend of mine who works at Kudos Productions in London. That was amazing fun to do, and it’s something I can see myself getting more involved with later in life. I hoping the forthcoming sample CD on U&A will spread my name further a field in to other media production areas too. Is the sound in your head ever still elusive? The amount of technology available these days makes it easier than ever to get the sounds out of your head and in to the real world. The technology other people conceive and create brings innovation and new ideas that I could never have thought of myself. I’ve got the utmost respect for those people. I’ve developed more of an appreciation for this since I delved in to the world of modular synthesis. Some of the products in that market are mind-blowing. Likewise, software developers are constantly pushing boundaries and creating fantastic tools to work with. I think the key is to learn your tools inside out, so that you have a palette in your studio that you can dip in to. I spent a lot of time learning the tools I have. It makes the flow process so much easier. It becomes second nature to move around the studio, knowing for example that you can use this guitar pedal to make that sound, or patch asynth in a certain way to make whatever you want. Does perfection sacrifice emotion somewhere along the line?
It depends what your idea of perfection is. for me, I couldn’t think of not involving my emotions in what I do.
How much room is there for cheeky irreverence in the deeply serious matrix of hypnotic, transportational techno? Nothing should be taken so seriously that you get offended when someone breaks the mould. The purists who get too absorbed by the concept of ‘genre’ have lost sight of the bigger picture or don’t fully understand how to ‘feel’ music. Music should be free from barriers. The only ethos I have in my music is that it should get people get locked in to the groove and create a tribal atmosphere, so the whole event of going to an event is like a shamanic ritual. Do you ever find yourself causing a diplomatic incident by unwittingly crossing the cheese frontier?
Haha, I’m not well known enough to cause such a stir. I avoid what I perceive to be the cheesier elements of music, as they simply do nothing for my soul, but that’s just me. I’m sure some Deathcore Techno fans out there would laugh at what I do because it’s too cheesy. Is it even possible to define the intangible essence of soul or is it understood on a purely intuitive reflex? I don’t hold the secret of life, I’m just a music head, but aside from all that I like to think of ‘soul’ as energy. I believe that everything that was, is and will be shares that same energy, a product of some distant cosmic vibrations, and it’s what drives life on. There is still so much that we do not know about our surroundings, both here on Earth and way beyond as well as ourselves. We can explore inner space through various techniques and gain a little more understanding. Similarly we can use our
intelligence to develop technology which enables us to explore outer space. I think the people calling the shots in society are not interested in such things, but fortunately individuals still have some element of freedom to explore and discover their own understandings of the world and to wake up to their own sense of reality without the need for a self-appointed tribal leaders to tell them who they are. Eventually, if we change the way we spend our time alive here, and explore together, there’s hope that we will all be closer to understanding such things. I do not believe the religions or belief systems we have created are beneficial for us as a species. Do we need more proof than to look at our own history to show that these do not work? They only divide us and make us look different to each other. If we ever move forward and learn to look at ourselves with the same pair of eyes – equally - I think we can evolve to a higher level of understanding of our own spirituality and learn to love of all types of life.
How important is the odd accident in the creative process? Well it’s all about experimentation for me. If you’ve got a flexible set of tools to work with, that paves the way for more experimentation, and you’re bound to have a few happy accidents along the way. I think those moments are important for discovering new sounds and coming up with fresh ideas. Once you discover something new, it becomes a technique in your arsenal for future work and helps you refine your craft. How do you feel about MP3 320’s being the industry audio standard in so many ways It’s the equivalent of having a wire brush at the end of a Lamborghini production line to go over the bodywork on their finished cars. There’s no way they would do that to their cars, so why do musicians allow it to happen to their music?
With all the care and love that goes in to music, not to mention all the expensive gear that’s used, it just doesn’t make sense to encode it down using data compression. The craziest thing I’ve seen recently was the entire Pink Floyd ‘remastered’ catalogue getting released on iTunes as 256kbps. Seriously, what’s the point? Here’s an idea… how about we get rid of the mp3 format completely, shift everything to wav/aiff and dump the $0.79 per track bullshit? That way the fidelity of the music is retained, it sounds how the artists want it to sound, and they at least get a little bit more money back for all their hard work? You’re soon going to be releasing your first sample CD, ‘Sounds From the Modular’– Can you tell us about it? And how do you see the role of sample CD’s in either compromising or encouraging originality? The concept behind ‘Sounds From The
Modular’ is to give people the chance to have a bit of that unique modular sound in their productions. I wanted to capture the vibe of what the whole modular synthesis thing is about, and give people material they might not have otherwise been able to create using more accessible technology. It features over 500 audio files. Any tempo related sounds are at 128bpm and all main sounds have a dry & wet version to add extra usability. There stuff ranging from raw analogue waveforms, through to complex soundscapes and textures, with loads in between. There were also 9 different guitar pedals used in the sound design process as well as my trusty, customised valve preamp/ compressor and a handful of carefully selected plugins to create the ‘wet’ versions of each sound. The idea was born after I had more or less completed my first modular system. Each time I sat in front of it and started patching I’d be coming up with a new sound and discovering something new, so it made sense to start building a library of different sounds and textures. I think sample CD’s play an important role in music production. Used wisely and creatively, samples can spark new ideas and be really helpful in creatting a more interesting dimension to a track. I use samples mainly on the rhythm/groove side of things and as well as adding extra depth to things, they can help to keep to momentum of the production process going. Whether the final product is original or not is entirely in the hands of the creator. Obviously if somebody just makes a track out of samples taken straight from a sample CD, they are missing the point. IMO if samples are used intelligently and in the context of that artist’s own unique style, re-worked and tweaked to create something new, then it all helps the music to flourish. Tell us a bit about the vibe at your label U&A
The ethos at U&A has always been about releasing top notch dance music, whatever form it takes and absolutely not limited by the restraints of genre classification. In short, 100% pure warehouse shit.
I’m very fortunate to be a part of the family. Shack has always offered his time, experience and support to guide my music and I’m very grateful for that. Has the free flow magic of a good improvised tweak and twiddle been lost somewhat in a sea of sequencing? Not in my world. That’s one of the key reasons I got in to the whole modular thing – lots of live tweaking! I do a lot of real time tweaking on the modular in my tracks while recording. That way,things grow and fluctuate in a more natural way. You’re playing the instrument and changing the intonation much like a guitar. You can’t beat that feeling. It’s important to bring something organic in to a track and to allow things to get loose. That’s
the fundamental difference with analogue gear for me, whether it’s a valve preamp or a synthesiser, they all have voltages surging and flowing through the electronics. You can’t truly capture that spirit and that kind of depth and resolution to the sound using just a computer. Do you now know what true fulfilment is? Hey, I’m no Dalai Lama, but a combination of a lovely girlfriend (hi Magda!), family and friends mixed with a creative output and some rocking music keeps me happy! The occasional ‘blow out’ helps, too. How do you feel about your namesake Professor Mike Hulme Hey, we’ve all got to be called something right? I imagine it pisses him off more, finding YouTube links to my music in Google search returns!
What does the next year hold for you? Aside from making new music, i’ll be DJing in Estonia in December, Budapest in February, South Korea in March and hopefully a mini tour of West Coast USA in April/May. Later on in the year i’ll be back with all the lovely folks at the Wickerman festival in July and fingers crossed i’ll get my ass to Burning Man next year. I can hear it calling me.
www.facebook.com/mikehulme. uaarecs soundcloud.com/mike-hulme
Headpress, the gospel according to unpopular culture. Free online zine and collector edition hardback. ld out HP2.3 so
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outwomen ld men, HP2.1 so and children are herded like cattle for the pleasure of mutant Nazis. Critic Brian Sewell called Fucking Hell the first great artwork of the twenty-first century (London Evening Standard, June 6, 2008). Predating this work by the Chapman brothers, but less well known, is Concentration Camp Lego, by Polish artist Zbigniew Libera.
Stepping up to the Age of Empathy
While our radio talk shows and 24-hour cable TV news programs incessantly play off the political rift between conservative and liberal ideologies, the deeper conflict in America has always been the cultural divide between faith versus reason.
of scientists, scholars, and social reformers are beginning to challenge some of the underlying assumptions of both the Age of Faith and the Age of Reason, taking us into the Age of Empathy.
The empathic advocates argue that, for the most part, both earlier narratives about huAt the dawn of the modern market economy man nature fail to plumb the depths of what and nation-state era, the philosophers of the makes us human and therefore leave us with Enlightenment challenged the Age of Faith cosmologies that are incomplete stories—that that governed over the feudal economy with is, they fail to touch the deepest realities of the Age of Reason. Theologians and philosoexistence. That’s not to dismiss the critical phers have continued to battle over faith vs. reason ever since, their debates often spilling elements that make the stories of faith and over into the cultural and political arenas, with reason so compelling. It’s only that something essential is missing—and that something is profound consequences for society. “embodied experience.” Today, however, at the outset of a global economy and the biosphere era, a new generation Both the Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Chris-
tianity, and Islamâ€”as well as the Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, either disparage bodily existence or deny its importance. So too does modern science and most of the rational philosophers of the Enlightenment. For the former, especially the Abrahamic faiths, the body is fallen and a source of evil. Its presence is a constant reminder of the depravity and mortality of human nature. For the latter, the body is mere scaffolding to maintain the mind, a necessary inconvenience to provide sensory perception, nutrients, and mobility. It is a machine the mind uses to impress its will on the world. It is even loathed because of its transient nature. Â The body is a constant reminder of death, and therefore, feared, disparaged and dismissed in the worldâ€™s great religions and among many of the Enlightenment philosophers. Most of all, the body is to be mistrusted, especially the emotions that flow from its continuous engagement with and reaction to the
outside world. Neither the Bible nor the Enlightenment ruminations make much room for human emotions, except to depreciate them as untrustworthy and an impediment either to obedience to God in the first instance or to the rational will in the second instance. In the modern era, with its emphasis on rationality, objectivity, detachment, and calculability, human emotions are considered irrational,
quixotic, impossible to objectify, not subject to detached evaluation, and difficult to quantify. Even today, it is common lore not to let one’s emotions get in the way of sound reasoning and judgment. How many times have we heard someone say or have said to someone else, “Try not to be so emotional . . . try to behave more rationally.” The clear message is that emotions are of a lesser ilk than reason. They are too carnal and close to our animal passions to be considered worthy of being taken seriously—and worse still, they pollute that faith and God’s grace are the windows to the reasoning process. reality and the Enlightenment idea that reason is at the apex of modern consciousness are The Enlightenment philosophers—with a giving way to a more sophisticated approach few notable exceptions—eliminated the to a theory of mind. very mortality of being. To be alive is to be physical, finite, and mortal. It is to be aware Researchers in a diverse range of fields and of the vulnerability of life and the inevitabildisciplines are beginning to reprioritize some ity of death. Being alive requires a continuous of the critical features of faith and reason struggle to be and comes with pain, suffering, within the context of a broader empathic and anguish as well as moments of joy. How consciousness. They argue that all of human does one celebrate life or mourn the passing activity is embodied experience—that is, parof a relative or friend or enter into an intimate ticipation with the other—and that the ability relationship with another in a world devoid of to read and respond to another person “as if feelings and emotions? ” he or she were oneself is the key to how human beings engage the world, create individuNew developments in evolutionary biology, al identity, develop language, learn to reason, cognitive science, and psychology, are laying the groundwork for a wholesale reappraisal of become social, establish cultural narratives, human consciousness. The premodern notion and define reality and existence.
If empathic consciousness flows from embodied experience and is a celebration of life—our own and that of other beings—how do we square it with faith and reason, which are disembodied ways of looking at reality and steeped in the fear of death? When we deconstruct the notion of faith, we find that at the core are three essential pillars: awe, trust, and transcendence. The religious impulse begins with the sense of awe, the feeling of the wonder of existence, both the mystery and majesty. Awe is the deepest celebration of life. We marvel at the overwhelming nature of existence, and sense that by our own aliveness, we somehow fit into the wonder we behold. Although faith is set in motion by a feeling of awe and requires a belief that one’s life has meaning in a larger, universal sense of things, it can be purloined and made into a social construct that exacts obedience, feeds on fear of death, is disembodied in its approach, and establishes rigid boundaries separating the saved from the damned. Many institutionalized religions do just that. It is awe that inspires all human imagination. Without awe, we would be without wonder
and without wonder we would have no way to exercise imagination and would therefore be unable to imagine another’s life “as if” it were our own. We know that empathy is impossible without imagination. Imagination, however, is impossible without wonder, and wonder is impossible without awe. Empathy represents the deepest expression of awe, and understandably is regarded as the most spiritual of human qualities. But faith also requires trust—the willingness to surrender ourselves to the mystery of existence at both the cosmic level and at
the level of everyday life with our fellow beings. Trust becomes indispensable to allowing empathy to grow, and empathy, in turn, allows us to plumb the divine presence that exists in all things. Empathy becomes the window to the divine. It is by empathic extension that we transcend ourselves and begin connecting with the mystery of existence. In the empathic civilization, spirituality invariably replaces religiosity. Spirituality is a deeply personal journey of discovery in which empathic experienceâ€”as a general ruleâ€”becomes the guide to making connections, and becomes the means to foster transcendence. The World Values Survey and countless other polls show a generational shift in attitudes toward the divine, with the younger generation in the industrialized nations increasingly turning away from institutionalized religiosity and toward personal spiritual quests that are empathic in nature. Reason too can be salvaged from its disembodied Enlightenment roots and be recast within an embodied empathic frame. While
reason is most often thought of in terms of rationalization, that is, abstracting and classifying phenomena, usually with the help of quantifiable tools of measurement, it is more than that. Reason includes mindfulness, reflection, introspection, contemplation, musing, and pondering, as well as rhetorical and literary ways of thinking. Reason is all of this and more. When we think of reason, we generally think of stepping back from the immediacy of an experience and probing our memories to see if there might be an analogous experience that could help us make the appropriate judgment or decisions about how best to respond.
order the world of feelings in order to create what psychologists call pro-social behavior and sociologists call social intelligence. Empathy is the substance of the process. Reason becomes increasingly sophisticated as societies become more complex, human differentiation more pronounced, and human exchange more diverse. Greater exposure to others increases the volume of feelings that need to be organized. Reason becomes more adept at abstracting and managing the flood of embodExperience, as we learned earlier, begins with ied feelings. That’s not to say that reason can’t sensations and feelings that flow from engage- also be used to exploit others, for example, ment with others. While one’s sensations and to advance narcissistic ends or create terror feelings make possible the initial connection among people. with the other, they are quickly filtered by By reimagining faith and reason as intimate way of past memories and organized by the aspects of empathic consciousness, we create various powers of reason at our disposal to establish an appropriate emotional, cognitive, a new historical synthesis—the Age of Empathy—that incorporates many of the most and behavioral response. The entire process powerful and compelling features of the Age is what makes up empathetic consciousness. of Faith and the Age of Reason, while leaving Empathy is both an affective and cognitive behind the disembodied story lines that shake experience. the celebration out of life. If empathy did not exist, we could not understand why we feel the way we do, or conceptualize something called an emotion or think rationally. Many scholars have mistakenly associated empathy with just feelings and Jeremy Rifkin’s superb book, the Empathic emotions. If that were all it was, empathic Civilisation is available everywhere now consciousness would be an impossibility. The critical question is where does reason come from? The Cartesian and Kantian idea that reason exists independently of experience as an a priori phenomenon to be accessed does not conform to the way we reason in the real world. Reason is a way of organizing experience and relies on many mental tools. The point, however, is that reason is never disembodied from experience but rather a means of understanding and managing it
Reason, then, is the process by which we
It’s impossible to walk into a room with Goldie and not instantly be slammed up against the walls by the sheer intensity radiating off him. Forget his media portrayals, forget what you think you know about him, he is a deeply complex, highly intelligent firestorm of taut volatility oscillating furiously between genius and lunacy, creativity and destruction, karmic peace and frenetic chaos - a seething mass of edgy contradictions where spectacularly vivid lucidity hurtles through the particle accelerator at Einstein bending speeds and shoots out into mercurial redemption. But one overriding, overwhelming light shines scorchingly through - he is 1000% - 24 carat fucking proper. The realest deal It seems both trite and pointless to wade through his life’s work trying to cobble together some sort of biography for an absolute underground legend whose spectacularly harnessed energies straddle art, music and the wider cultural matrix. He’s done it all, smashed untold barriers to crystal shards, revolutionised musical vortices, torn a spray soaked whirlwind through graffiti and urban art alike and caned the absolute arse out of every last drop of existence rampaging through wanton absurdities of hedonistic excess while somehow keeping a magnetic hold on integrity, spirituality and the profound essence of conscious connection. Twisting, turning, yearning, burning at a million miles an hour through cryptic fractals of tempestuous metaphor and sub atomic switches of synaptic electricity, this is not a man who fucks around in an interview keep up and get it - or do one. In the nicest
possible way of course. Alchemy was a perpetual theme - weaving its serpentine magic through gloriously non linear flows of reflection and self awareness. The extraordinarily multi polar bolts ricocheting out of him were dripping with insight - as streams of spirituality crackled with a silent violence and unashamed vulnerabilities remixed passionate bursts of flame forged knowledge. He hurled it all out in front of us with extraordinary honesty - certain about his lack of certainty as humbleness, the path to unspoken wisdom, the timeless trap of ego’s siren song and ultimate self knowledge rode the most ethereal cosmic currents while always staying locked firmly down to the concrete rhythms of the streets. He is truly one of life’s magical people and only laying out what was said can possibly do it justice..
So – to crack straight in then – how do you perceive the relationship between alchemy and creativity Oh fuck – don’t start me off……. It took me a long time to work out that I was an alchemist – and not being funny but I was sweating my arse off in a Bikram (yoga) studio this morning thinking about the same question. It’s something that plays through my mind every single day. Alchemy stems from two core elements – the creative and the conscious – and consciousness is really the underlying foundation of that dualism. It can take a lifetime to work out who the fuck we are – with only the constant presence of the ego making us believe we might be something other than who or what we fundamentally are, but by pushing through those surface levels of ego driven consciousness, you start to seriously fuck with the dark arts – and that can be a dangerous game as well as a profoundly enlightening one. Now when I say the dark arts - I’m not talking about sitting round some poxy Ouija board – but dealing with transformations on shadowy, subconscious levels that you’re entering into
almost blind – with intuition and the hidden aspects of yourself feeling their way through rather than the standard, self- control based, daily realities of the ego side of consciousness. And that can be dangerous, because you’re never quite sure where the fuck it will lead or what it will uncover. I’m an artist who didn’t know he was an artist for a massive chunk of my life - I fell into music almost accidentally and within the spheres of audio and visual, I’ve probably experienced everything that I’d ever want to experience, and then broadened those ranges into the physical… He takes a primal circle of gleaming chrome off his finger – fluid curves sparkling with a quiet power, shoots it a split second of intensity and lets it spin onto the table – a pride and a deep connection laced with a sense of not quite believing some aspect of it. If that makes any sense? We’re talking light speed impressions here. As it ripples in the ray of light peering through the door – it’s clearly fucking beautiful – no frills – no bullshit – just curves curving away into mirrored cycles – but he almost self deprecates – far more nuanced than anything as simple as false modesty – cos
it ain’t. He’s completely comfortable with all his achievements and everything he’s done from the stratospheric to the simple – but he almost seemed to play his role in making this profoundly personal symbol back down the second he put it out there – but only for a nano second as his sense of wonder at life’s kaleidescope kicks straight back in…. I made this fucking thing…. But that’s true alchemy right there, going straight back to melting gold and transforming it’s form and function – melting it hard into the crucible until it’s no longer gold but a chrome fucking liquid darting across the surface of itself metamorphosising through endless patterns of chaos until you pour it into a mold and hit it with a hammer in the hope that you can break that down into a new, shaped essence given meaning through the process. How does that stand up as a metaphor for your life My life has always worked backwards. It’s like I’ve been walking backwards – and that’s not just a directional thing – it’s actually walking backwards – tripping up all over the gaff - making it difficult for myself both as an artist and as a person rather than just taking the simple, obvious route. Drugs – rock n roll – you name it – there’s always been gaping pitfalls created along the ride – by my own hand. But there’s a process in that…. If I’d just gone and done Madonna’s album or worked with Puffy or whatever – gone to LA and taken all those ‘obvious’ opportunities I was offered,
I’d either have been found dead with a needle in my arm, done a Phil Spectre , running round with a 9mm trying to shoot someone or ended up on my hands and knees searching for gear in the back garden at 5 in the morning cos I’m off me tits. All of which was always a milimetre awaythat much is obvious. But then as he said – there’s a process in that – those darting liquid patterns of molten chrome that ebbed and flowed through every conceivable angle where the alchemist’s hammer can only hope to impose form on chaos – not order – cos who the fuck wants anything quite so dull as order –no, definitely form. The balance that keeps unity synched if not structured. I had to have a certain amount of resistance – trust in a certain spirit that’s had to hold me back from riding extremes into apocalypse.
I’ve had to be muted , and muting for me was about going out and getting completely out of my nut – and that was a very dangerous liason.
of your early days been triggered by your current sense of balance or has your younger self always been a conscious presence.
I’ve always done it. Right here right now – in If I look at all the Bikram I’ve been doing in the this gallery – I’m done. The paintings are on the walls, the melting pot has been stirred, the last 18 months, I know it sounds weird, but I feel like I’m now balancing into a natural drug chaos has been thrown up into the air, been freeze framed as an idea and collapsed back with the yoga where that muting is organic and the insights are slower but infinitely more into my mind. It’s done. But just yesterday as I was standing on a painting, thinking about this powerful. chunk of burned wood that I’ve got stuck into Makes total and utter sense – drugs of their with this mad drill, lasered and sanded down different stripes- the outright sledgehammer – I’ve realised that it doesn’t even need an hedonist rush to the psychedelic journey image on it – it’s mental. And in that instant I are modern culture’s short cut to elevated was straight back at my first handyman lesson or numbed reality – invaluable bursts of at school. I smelt the classroom. experience intrinsically cursed by their own The golden age of life for me is like a set of short termism – as if the effort they absolve coils that are circular and you keep going you of making ultimately fucks you until you realize that those benefits are only sustainable back to them. And that works on so many levels. Recently I did this massive gig in naturally and with an awful lot of hard work Holland, and suddenly drum n bass is this put in. But back to the backwards rewind….. OG thing and 20 years has passed – you’re wondering where the fuck those decades went, but part and parcel of maturity is that Speaking of living your life backwards – acceptance of letting go – of dialing down the you’ve been talking very openly about your ego and making way for youth as the cycles childhood recently – has that exploration
turn rather than clinging on to your own self absorbed trajectory. I’m still making music and playing music every week – still deep in the matrix, but the combination of age and being switched on allows you the humbleness to see past the record company cheques in the back pocket, the ridiculous piles of cash, the drug dealers hanging off you and the women throwing themselves at you…… And when all that paparazzi shit’s gone, you can start to realize what being a real artist over the years takes. Now some people might call that a mid life crisis, but I’ve had my mid life crisis – my Saturnz Return (for those who don’t know what Saturn’s Return is – the phenomenon not the album - look it up and see how it reflects on your own life) – the point at which I made Mother when I was about 33. So I’ve already been through that car crash. And as you push through into new understandings of your artistic self you start to differentiate between forms of art and the headspace they exist in. There’s processed art – a commission – a beginning, middle and end – a functional process to an end where you stick your B Boy
Mac brain on and think ‘Right – that image – like that – twist that – warp that – do this to it and we’re golden – cool’ It’s mechanics – it’s Macified if you like – creativity through hyper logic. But the new stuff that I’m doing with paint and acrylics – with burnt wood, layers, African images all these new elements swim with me all the time. I can’t switch off. When you turn
a light off – the current is still running to the light – it’s just that switch that stands between on and off. And I don’t have that switch – it’s a constant fucking flow. And the coil turns full circle back to dualism – call it left brain right brain – yin and yang – throw whatever cultural context or spiritual theory over it you like, we’re back to that fundamental interplay – that unstable dance between ego and unconscious – logic and intuition –classical physics and quantum mechanics. True art is something that channels though the artist not some clever conception that the Mac brain can impose on the senses. So what you’re an artist??? No… The artist is pretending to be this guy called Goldie…
like the wealth of experience - no material wealth can touch it. And while as I say, I’ve pissed untold cash up against the wall in my younger days, I’m lucky enough to still be doing alright and I can have nice things around me because I now have the sense and the ability to hold onto them. It was difficult for me back in the 90’s – drum n bass was going off – there weren’t that many people doing it, and by it’s nature it was a faceless music. And so I ended up as the poster boy for the whole scene. Mouthful of gold teeth and and an electric vibe – bound to happen. Absolute gift to a media eternally looking for simple imagery to act as a vehicle for things they don’t really get. They’d always much rather break down the complexity of an underground movement into one symbol, one personality – eternally skin deep rather than doing their fucking job and opening windows of actual understanding. And once the media’s got hold of you………………….
The age I’m at now, I feel that the universe thinks I’m responsible enough to handle good things in my life. Given to me too early, and I’d have spunked it. And I did. Been there and done it. Wrapped Ferraris round trees, Bentleys, fast cars, fast women, the biggest piles of Columbian flake you can imagine – I’ve It ends up almost like paintballing. You run and you run with all this information and done it all. And you know – there’s no wealth
opportunity and wealth and fame and fuck knows what else spraying all over you – then there comes a time when you stop, realize there’s no cunt behind you and you’re being shot to pieces. I felt like the face of it all out there being crucified – and you know – we’re all fucking human. Every cunt wants to be on the front of a magazine – so at the beginning – course I was up for it. But if we’re talking about the shallowness of media portrayals – just look at graffiti. You’re never really going to understand it in its purest form unless you know letter form and font and understand style and how a letter can live infinite stylistic lives. And it’s only a handful of people in a nation of people that can genuinely read it, appreciate it and live it the way it was intended. But as soon as it emerges from that closed circle, it gets watered down and endlessly diluted until it can be slapped onto a T-shirt and sold in Selfridges for a ridiculous amount of money under some stupid name. Which is what happened to drum n bass Exactly the same. It’s the same fucking thing. Just happened to dubstep. But then culture
is a thing that constantly evolves. Look at the impact of stencil art – the reason Banksy was so clever was because he realised that we were now living in a CCTV society where we don’t have 4 or 5 hours like we used to have in the yards in the old days. You’ve got a fucking hour at most so you have to adjust your medium and your way of doing things to a constantly shifting platform. Bang – stencils… And no matter what happens – however movements get chewed up and spat out by commercialism – the true core will always remain and find ways of adapting. Seen used to get up on loads of trains because he had the keys to the yards. Look at the poster art now – how do you adapt your approach – find a guy with a shit job who works for the billboard companies – chuck some money at him for a set of keys to all the billboards, open em up and you’re away. I come from a different era – I come from graff and you look at some of the ‘street art’ and you can’t help but think it’s a bit like painting by numbers. But then you’ve got to respect the process and the evolutions. Interesting – there is this divide between so called street art and graffiti that from the outside seems almost irrelevant – it’s either
good art or it isn’t – and does the fact that can control took years to master diminish the meaning and impact of a stencil? There’s a lot of tribalism in this – and while as a graff artist who’s spent years getting up freehand with painstakingly honed skills, it’s got to piss you off that someone can stick up a few stencils and be raking it in at the galleries without any of the blood sweat and tears – or the strong identity of graffiti – is that objectively wrong as some graff artists would have it or is it as Goldie says – an inevitable offshoot of cultural flux that has to be respected even if not embraced Or neither - Art is fucking art creativity is creativity and integrity is integrity The only argument is with yourself. That’s what it comes down to. This table we’re sat at looks to me like a glass table – it looks to you like a glass table….. But our perceptions of it are different. I mean take this exhibition of the Olympic athletes. It’s a flex on how I see the Olympics without it being this super sharp, totally digital, computer generated way of seeing it that so much of the media generated version of it is that I feel is just too detached from normal society. Something I can feel – something I can taste. Something that takes me back to the age of 9 sat in a children’s home watching Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in a moment that stuck deep in my mind like a smell or a touch that instantly opens a state of emotion back up. And that’s the only way real art can ever happen – it’s a take on stuff
– a viewpoint – it can’t be universal or mean everything to everyone. You make a track or an album because you’re feeling it and then all of a sudden everyone wants to buy it – great – but you can’t make it according to what you think people will want to buy because apart from it being a betrayal of art on every level – it more than likely won’t fucking work. There’s always this danger of being an all round artist – of jumping from music into painting and so on – the old adage – Jack of all trades – master of none. But it’s also about how you actually see the world on a second by second basis. I look at the planet as if from a plane – to all intents and purposes it’s flat –
but I can see the curve in that horizon – that underlying rhythm of detail and that’s how I’ve seen the world since I was 9 years old. I’ve always had this super conscious outlook on reality – and that in itself is dangerous as you start buying into your own ego. Stop. Stop……Hold up……. He frisks himself You want art – this is fucking art – the guy who created this –this planet – the natural world in all its complexity. Now that’s an artist. And if it was all a cosmic accident??? What an amazing fucking accident. The Dalai Lama was once asked what creature astounds him the most. And his answer was mankind. When pressed further on why, he simply said – he spends his entire life either looking at the past or looking at the future – never in the present. And when he dies…..he never really lived. And sat here at 45 years old – I just want to live so hard. What have I got – 20 / 25 years left in the bag? That could be the most conscious time of my life. But didn’t that have to come now. The spiritual side of what you were saying about the universe now thinking you’re now
responsible enough to have good things in your life. That realisation – that wisdom – that peace could only have been born of all the mad shit you had to go through to get here – yes there were fleeting windows onto this level of consciousness along the ride but without the stability to balance into it – a bit like the Bikram vs the drugs And I so nearly ended up dead next to a needle and a bag of drugs on that journey. But there’s turning points and milestones along the way. There’s a silent voice. I’ll never forget the day my manager called me and told me I had to get the fuck back home from the studio by 6 o clock because Madonna was going to call the house and I had to take it. He told me that she loves my music and wanted me to fly out to LA and work with her on her next album. Sure enough, she rang me up, told me how much she loved Timeless and laid it down – she wanted me over there working with her…….. What would I have fucking done? Done an album and it would’ve been dead in the fucking water. I was about 25 minutes into Mother on the Saturnz Return album Says it all
So I turned it down. People thought I was a fucking idiot – but there it was – and she never forgave me. When she was with Guy I could always feel a weird edge. But artistically – I had to do Mother. And hopefully the difference now is that I can get the recompense from decisions like that – that not going down the obvious paved with gold route can now pay off both financially and personally.
And that raises a fresh set of questions about artistic purity and financial rewards. Well there’s some things obviously that you look at and think – you’re having a fucking laugh…how much???? But then you have to consider – why am I doing this? There’s contradictions there. Yes I do it to put my kids through school, but I also do it for its own sake. I think what it comes down to is Integrity – with a capital I. There’s ways of doing things. I remember when Metalheadz became really big – there was this sound – now on the one hand people could call it commercial, but then on the other – it was as far removed from commercial as you could possibly get. The bridge between the 2 was accessibility and that’s a very different thing from commercial.
Intent and the original energy behind it I think the concept of distillation ties in with integrity on a very important level He takes off the ring again and contemplates it This is my wedding ring. Now I know that it weighs roughly half an ounce. Now forget the distillation of its curves – of the way the light shines off it – the engraving inside it and the sentiment poured into this tiny object. Just consider the distillation that you can’t see. The 3 ounces of solid gold that it took to distil it into half an ounce – the work within the mold to guide it into its current form – the solid integrity behind the finished piece. The alchemical metaphors distilling back through our streams of thought. The solid elemental basis for transformation – the finished album or the finished painting whose integrity, whose final voice can only have genuine resonance and genuine value if the energies and the raw materials of soul that went into the furnace are strong enough and pure enough to yield gold and not some watered down alloy. Both could be sold at an equal price (especially if you can find a mug for the cheap alloy) but only one has intrinsic, integral value.
There’s something solid behind everything I do – I’ve been doing this for 27 fucking years – do you think I give a fuck about what the media say? All the endless bullshit they’ve spun out about me over the years. Goldie Hillfiger this – music won’t last for 2 seconds that – bastardisation of music – you name it… Fuck off. Go do one ya cunt. I’m still here – where are you?? Writing some silly book about music you barely understand yourself?? The real argument as I said is with myself. And that’s consciousness surely. I can tell within about 3 minutes of talking to someone whether they’re switched on or not. And before – I used to take the ones that weren’t apart. But then I realized – who am I to be judging anyone. They could be the smartest person in the room. But there’s a difference between cleverness and consciousness just as there’s a difference between something that sells really well because it’s got integrity and something that sells really well because it’s manipulated well. And there’s always going to be critics regardless. Look at the Beatles and the Stones – all the Stones lot thought the Beatles were a bunch of poncey boy band cunts. But they stood the test of time because they were amazing songwriters and that was and always will be solid.
Sad to see the state of things today with such a lack of integrity and genuine songwriting. What are we left with – absolute fucking garbage rinsing the airwaves so that cunt Cowell still can’t get himself a decent haircut. Great businessman – Doing no good for the youth of today. Actively corrupting the youth of today by setting both success and artistic merit in formulaic terms rather than opening spaces for self exploration He rubs his index finger and thumb gently together
Know what this is? The world’s smallest violin. Amplified it becomes......Build you up, shoot you down – switch to camera 2 – mother’s tears – strings on in the background and keep doing covers. Fucking do one… And that is exactly what Goldie’s band wasn’t about. That was about the kids achieving something real as a group of people. And that idea of a group is key, because as an artist over the years, I’ve realised that no man is an island. I work with this kid called Massive from Twist Design, and this lad is like a little Jedi. From when we first got in front of a computer together and while I was watching his processes on Photoshop, I gave him some advice – he has gone through the roof to the point that I now trust him with my life. It’s the same idea as conducting an orchestra – I need people to work off and so often – with a little external input – someone can suddenly take huge leaps to fulfilling their potential. The best music I make is with musicians despite not being able to play a fucking note – now why is that?
Feedback energy loop? Has to be. And maybe it’s part of my
underlying psychology. I grew up with 25 / 30 kids in a children’s home and that’s wired into my identity ….to this day I don’t like being alone. For years I couldn’t live without a bird and being alone scared the fuck out of me. But I’ve always been alright because I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve got nothing to prove – I’ve been here longer the most – I am fucking OG, and I’ll say and do what the fuck I want because I’m happy with the decisions I take. What I am now and always have been though – is passionate about art and about music. Cut me up in traffic though and I might not be quite so passionate. I couldn’t be a teacher because I’d pull someone over the fucking desk – I couldn’t be in social services because I’d end up nutting my boss. I’m too far gone in my ways. But what I can do is be a mentor. I did my university with the Tats Cru and it couldn’t have been a better education. South Bronx – the realest deal. They’re the biggest mural company in America with commissions from every company from PGA Golf on down and after 16 years – rocking a wall with them in Camberwell, South London was fucking immense. We burned the place down – it was proper. And I’m not going to be anonymous or wear a mask - I’m no fucking Zorro – I’m proud of it – because if it wasn’t for this dirty little
thing called graffiti, I wouldn’t be here. And neither would the Romans or the Greeks……. He pauses for a split second as a train rumbles overhead – dropping in some spontaneous sub bass Society…..Society….. We’ve become such a contradiction as the ever increasing flood of science at our fingertips fries our collective mind into confusing science and faith… He picks up one of his four phones that have been soundtracking the session with their assorted rings See this – right – your mum calls ya…. Now that is invisible – totally invisible – her voice in real time…..coming through the air. Now we believe in it because it comes out the end of the phone and we interact with it in 3 dimensions, but when it comes to other aspects of the invisible – spirituality, God – whatever you want to call it – we can’t deal with it. It’s got to be material. We’ve got to see it – we’ve got to see it – we need results, we need results….and we need them now
– and while I’m needing stuff – I need those really expensive trainers – I need stuff – loadza stuff – all kinds of stuff and I need it all fucking now. I’m a religious conservative by day but
the present. The present is itself a present and I need 10 prostitutes and a pile of Viagra by night – contradictions everywhere, all the time right now is the most important thing in my life despite all the worries and all the stresses – and why??? Because mankind is fucked. and all the demands that could otherwise be Ask a Native American what the most wreaking havoc in my head. dangerous animal is and quick as a flash Straight back to the Dalai Lama – and the they’ll tell you – anything on 2 legs is not to mandala turns be trusted. I’ll walk on my hands and knees if I have to – fuck it – that’s exactly what I have So I’m painting. Because I can. Why am I been doing, crawling around in drum n bass going to dance around on TV in a shiny shirt? and graffiti cos I love it and it gives me a real Because I can. Why am I going to jump out understanding of what it’s all really about. of a plane. Because I can. Why am I going to go snowboarding in some mad fucking You don’t do interviews like this everyday – I place at 20 below? Because I can. Why am know you don’t I going to stand outside in the freezing cold Absolutely fucking right- despite really trying with a dripping nose smoking a cigarette and to standing on a painting thinking about the next And that’s not my ego – I just know you don’t concept. Because I can. because people are so shallow and caught up Had often wondered how to reconcile stuff in whatever bollocks their ego is setting up for like Celebrity Big Brother and Strictly with our them. And that really affects me. I know I’m other perceptions of Goldie – Not Maestro not solving anything with this interview, but the conducting an orchestra show, because what I am doing is affirming my own belief reality TV or not – that had genuine depth system and right now it’s about letting go of and certainly not Goldie’s Band – but his ego, of everything around me – everything involvement with the plastic end of vacuous outside this door and embracing the gift of entertainment. Big Brother?? Fucking
Strictly?? What the fuck was all that about? And suddenly the penny was dropping. It wasn’t born of the same desperate need to take the ego out for one last spin as the star faded that is blatantly the motivation for pretty much everyone else. It almost said more about our ego hang ups that we were so appalled there for a while. When you genuinely don’t give a fuck about what people think – the need to protect credibility and have a hierarchy in your own head of what’s OK and what’s not dissolves into those 3 words – Because I can. And why the fuck not – dunno if we’re getting carried away here on the analysis – but when you’re not one of those other ‘celebrities’ (possibly the most offensive word in the English language) – when you’re Goldie and you’re doing things like that with all your integrity intact – it is precisely the lack of ego that allows you to go do it, have a right laugh and inject some chaos into proceedings and fuck what the underground ‘purists’ make of it…... And he does love playing the clown. Wicked little insight. I want to do all these things because I’ve not got long left. You think there’s not more
prolific artists out there up in the Thai hills carving incredibly intricate pieces all so some tourist can haggle them down to 30 quid when he’s spent a week carving it. All so he can barely feed his family. That reality means nothing to us – it’s an indulgence – it’s easy - and knowing, appreciating and respecting that, I have to use all the advantages and possibilities I have to live my life to the absolute maximum… I’m not worried about tomorrow because I’m making it today. Does that make you ironically less immediate – that you’re not chasing the next buzz or the next rush or the next project or the next idea as much as maybe you were. I’m still toying with all this. It’s only the last few years that I’ve actually got my head round these concepts. I still go off at the deep end – all immediate – results – quicktime - now – but I keep reminding myself. I’ve realised this last year that I’m a kid on a bike without any stabilizers who makes a little more headway
The answer to that is quite simply – no… We had a fucking unbelievably intense moment in the eye of the present’s storm. What an absolutely mental interview – what an Anything else you particularly want to ask me? absolutely mental geezer – the talking points went flying out of the window in the first 5 seconds as we strapped in for the ride. Can’t thank Goldie enough for really giving in this interview – got the definite sense that he opened the door and dynamited the floodgates with a sense of trust and expectation that it wouldn’t be wasted. Here’s to you ya cunt.... Absolutely fucking epic. each time but keeps falling off. Less and less. But you know – I’m riding it on a really nice road………………………………………………..
Spiralling into eternity - the sizzlingly sublime explosions of kaleidescopic colour bursting out of San Francisco based Apex’s walls are a staggering synthesis of science and soul. Compositions of dazzling complexity vibrate with controlled energy as mesmerising movement, dreamscaped dynamism and electric ecstasy compress an eternity of experience into a lightning struck flow. There’s this magical sense of harnessed chaos about Apex’s superburners - a term he coined with Vulcan to encapsulate their all embracing assault on the limits of a piece’s possibility - a furious feedback loop of quantum lucidity diving back in on itself and endlessly mutating into geometric lunacy as the cycle spins on...deeper into a dazzling unity.
Ransacking the fringes of dimensionality and the fluidity of channelled geometry, his pieces weave micro into macro and then fire them through a hall of mirrors at breakneck speed. As the detail on his work demonstrates - trying to follow the patterns into a linear ‘end’ is a one way ticket to missing the point - we’re talking multi dimensional physics here, transformed into multi sensory experience and pushing on through into the melting of mathematics. Cutting a technicolour swathe through media ranging from umbrellas to free standing sculpture and straight back onto epic walls, Apex is setting some serious standards, and his high octane, turbo charged vividness of sprayed up abstractions are supernovas to lose yourself in, immerse yourself in and maybe find yourself a little in.
How did you initially start writing I guess it must have been late 1982 or early 83 when I first became conscious of graffiti – right at the point where it was brand new, totally fresh and literally hitting everywhere. Everywhere you looked there were throw ups and tags, and while as a kid I didn’t know all the much about it or understand the finer points, I was instantly attracted to it and it had this intense magnetism for me. A guy in one of my classes had an older brother who was a writer in the Mission district, and he began giving us the markers and the oil sticks and started opening our eyes to things that we as little grade schoolers simply wouldn’t have conceived. And it just rode from there so by the time I was coming through middle school and on into high school, it had exploded for me and I was putting in some serious hours out on the street. How did you begin to develop and personalize your letter styles into real self expression Most of the local artists were into really
simple foundation letters, and I feel very fortunate that I grew up around the heavy bombing that was my initial calling. From there my letters came from traditional fits and semi straight, but as I began to watch more documentaries and see more wild pieces put up around the city, I began to lean towards that, which was very much seen as a progression. When I went to college to study architecture, I started to really understand dimensionality, and once I had got a firm handle on working in 3 dimensions, I was able to pull that into the letter forms that I was already doing - and once the letters had that depth of form, I realised how much more scope there was to play with and create a genuinely distinctive style. So when did you start to take dimensionality past 3Ding up letters and into more complex, layered compositions Between 97 and 99, Daim and all those guys were really big and I had a lot of friends telling me how I should be doing exactly that. I was pretty hesitant because I certainly didn’t
want to be copying them – there was already far too much of that going on at the time copying without understanding. For me, style and the mathematics of it was always core. How to size it up and down, the accompanying elements that shift with sizing to maintain a visual look, and honing the underlying structures of complexity. My architecture courses were invaluable on that level – we learned dimensionality by drawing boxes or cubes, then using those cubes to build larger objects like say a house by extracting away angles. Using that same principle, I would 3D letters up and then slowly start extruding them, and within about 5 pieces or so, I’d moved away from straight lettering in 3D and deeper into a wild style. I could feel a breakthrough happening and a momentum building so I pushed it as hard as I could – sketching every day, painting every day until I started to reach the point I’m at now. It’s interesting because there is an extraordinarily precise geometry in your pieces but equally a very non linear fluidity. How do you find that balance
I had been concentrated on doing crazy connected pieces for a while – almost preparation for where I am now – I was looking for something – I just hadn’t quite pinned it down and hit the groove yet. The mathematics were already there – but there’s
mathematics in everything, everything from nature’s most spectacular twists to a basic Helvetica font. But within any form of writing, from graffiti styles to calligraphy to computer fonts, there are certain rules that define how letters can be put together to create both legibility and an aesthetic. It then becomes about using those rules imaginatively to evolve an overall pattern and overall sensation that is greater than the sum of its parts – that’s where mathematics meets art. How did the term Superburner get coined and what does the concept embody It was on a trip to Portland, Oregon about 7 or 8 years ago with Vulcan – the old school pioneer and New York Hall of Fame writer. He was always trying to push the limits – the number of colours in a piece – the size of a piece – the complication of the letters – you name it, and when we started hanging out together, I was still doing traditional 3 dimension renderings – all monochromatic – whether that be red or blue or green or whatever and always structurally in the same style. He’d look at what I was doing and say –
‘well that’s not a burner- that’s just a piece.’ And you know, we had this sparring kinda friendship so there was an element of that involved! But I didn’t fully understand him at first –why try to make something look like a real object when it’s painted on a wall and it’s not that object…..why not make it look like a traditional burner. Then one day, something clicked in my head. I went to an event in another state (without telling him) and I painted what I thought he was talking about – how my mind perceived what I imagined he meant. I showed him the photos afterwards, and his reaction was – ‘That is not at all what I expected, but I love it. You’re onto something’ I had taken his words very literally – why not paint it like a traditional burner. So you had your fill in, your design and your outline, but seriously pushed. Superburners were really myself and Vulcan putting what he was already doing in New York in the 80’s together with my new, West Coast ideas and having a creative conversation. In the 80’s and even into the 90’s, it was really hard to get colours here in the States. Even if you could get 20 colours from one paint
company, you’d have to travel to another city or another state to get another 20 from a different paint company. If you look at Subway Art any of those older books and check the paint collections – you see it – there was no one paint company with 100 colours or more. So it became a game – a challenge for artists in the 80’s, and Vulcan loved to show that he had a massive collection of paint, so he would use as many colours as possible in a piece, not least because it would make him stand out that much more in New York. Fast forward to today where you have numerous spray paint companies with, on average, 250 colours in their range, but artists still aren’t using the full palette and are limiting themselves to traditional colour scopes without necessarily knowing the history and realizing that the reason old school writers painted that way was because of the limited paint ranges available. So there was a cornerstone of the superburner – using different palettes – using more colours – seeing what happens. Painters in the ‘fine art’ tradition never allowed themselves to be restricted by narrow palettes or used the same ones over and over. There’sa huge range of gradients and details in oil or acrylic paintings that make the picture that much richer. So with that in mind, Vulcan and I decided to start this project to push the utmost limits of wild style – colour, complexity, and size – the three elements of the superburner. And the most colours we’ve ever managed to get into a piece is 533 individual colours – 533 different cans. One of the most telling reactions came
from masters of fine art who would stop by and look at our work and say that it was the first time they’d seen spray look like an oil painting. And as we began to develop the colour spectrum theme, we started realizing how colour could be used to layer pieces and how we could start to break free of old histories and forge new ones – bridging the worlds of graffiti, street art, fine art, graphic art – and when those lines blur and when those questions come up – that’s when it gets truly exciting.
relationship to the original impetus, but is Your pieces seem to have this dynamism – this sense of movement – almost like a ball of imbued with the sensation it gave me on a much more intuitive level. kinetic energy crammed into a finite space. I love that – it’s key for my style. If you have a super legible letter that you can read clearly as an ‘a’ or an ‘s’ or whatever it may be – it’s there to be read. What I’m trying to evoke in my more complex pieces is for them to be felt rather than read. It’s a continuation of a letter’s life. In my mind, thy’re frozen moments of the letters moving, growing and communicating. I can have even more fun with a single letter, where it’s almost like the letter is caged on the wall and seeing how the letter reacts to that compression. Is it going to tightly knotted or loose and open and complicated in its layering and movement? I’m having fun seeing the letters as living organisms and exploring how they react to their environment. I draw from everything from billboard placement and the language of logos to abstract emotion and try to feed that into my work – taking essences from other aspects of life and transforming those feelings into a new form that may bear no explicit
And when you’re work is on the street, that depth, that movement, that kinetic energy really attracts the eye of the passer by - it’s an instant pull into the piece, and once focused, they can be drawn right into it and really lose themselves in it. And that’s what street work is all about – giving people a break from the norm and the routine of work or school or whatever their daily reality may be and taking them on a trip. While researching the interview, we saw a few pieces labeled Funk and Jazz. Are those two elements kind of like a yin yang relationship where the funk anchors the groove and the jazz riffs off into complex swirls – do you see things in those terms This is really interesting, because the answer is yes………….but there’s a but!
I labeled those Funk and Jazz because there’s a photographer from San Francisco called Funk and Jazz who used to DJ funk and jazz on the radio, and for the last 5 or 6 years he’s been taking photos of graffiti and street art around the Bay Area. So he took those shots, which is where the label came from – it’s a photo credit. With that said though, everything you just described is totally true. I try to maintain a balance between the funk of holding true to the traditional elements of layout and structure – working within the parameters, but looking for the jazz which is the twist on those parameters – bending the rules and seeing what can be added where. If a traditional piece is outline, fill in and a 3D on it, and each of those elements can be treated in different ways, an entirely 3 dimensional piece can mash up the aspects and flourishes on each of those levels into one. Why have only 2 levels of design when you can have 30 – that’s the jazz – the improvisation that plays with the principal groove of the funk. With those exact ideas in mind – how much of the more complex pieces has to be preconceived because of their very complexity and how much scope is there for losing yourself in the process and spinning off totally spontaneous tangents. It’s half and half. For example – that 533 colour piece that I did with Vulcan, we knew we were going to do 533 colours – but how it was going to actually happen – we didn’t know.. To be honest , I find putting the sketch
on the wall, doing the first level of fill in and getting the foundations of a piece in place intensely grueling. All I really want to do is skip straight to the end where I’m detailing, because I already see the piece in my head. If a piece has 10 steps to it, step one is a basic outline – but even laying the foundation fill in on step 2, I’m already responding to my emotions in the moment. Picking up colours and putting them on the wall, but how they actually lay down is very free. By the third level, I ‘m manipulating the second level and the elements in that second level get a fresh spin as elements get added in response to it as well as new spheres starting to open up, as my fingerprint of colour sensibility starts to take shape. Every step has freeform and freestyle built into an already thought out trajectory, so the 2 kind of grow together and bounce of each other as the piece develops. How much does the wall itself dictate the evolution of the piece – are recesses, posts and strange textures something you thrive on and shape your work around
With the superburners – I don’t paint on a wall that’s not perfect. There’s already enough complications due to happen in the piece without non-controllable ones present, but for more freeform stuff like single letters or pure abstraction with no letters at all, I do like to go for odd shaped walls or a corner or something with say a pipe going up the wall. I love to see how the piece can communicate with the pipe, wrap around the pipe and use the pipe to give depth and dynamism. So what I’m looking for in a wall does definitely change up depending on what style of piece I’m looking to paint. Speaking of textures and the challenges they bring, you’ve done work on denim, umbrellas – all kinds of random stuff – is it about adapting your style to the medium or adapting the medium to your style – how does the switch up work A little of both. Painting on denim canvases was a super challenge, because denim is not at all like canvas – it has its own life. So I had to take my knowledge of painting and apply it to that, and after understanding how to paint it, I really concentrated on the fabric itself and its tone – what colurs I was going to use to interact with the tone of the fabric. If it’s something interesting – then I want to paint it because I never know what ideas or inspirations are going to come out of it. At
the outset, I was just doing some stuff on denim in my studio very casually to use as my own decoration, until a curator came in and said ‘Wow, I’ve never seen this before. Let me know when you’ve formulated it better and we’ll do a show’. I have a lot of different things in my studio that I collect to see how they respond to being painted on – and whether it’s a VW truck or an umbrella, it’s the same spirit as a writer walking down the street, seeing something and wanting to put a piece on it – it’s about interaction with
the environment. How do I respond to an umbrella? Well thereâ€™s only one way to find out, and by doing things like that, it helps me to extend the traditional parameters and see how style grows through a dialogue with different ideas and mediums. Having spent so long perfecting 3 dimensions within a 2 dimensional space, how did you respond to actually working in 3 dimensions through sculpture Well I took a sculpture class back in college, and I was lucky enough to be able to run around and experiment with a range of media, and I think that subconsciously I was looking for the right medium to sculpt my letters. In some ways, the sculpture only helped a little bit in understanding what I was doing with paint â€“ confirming what I thought something would look like in 3 dimensions wrapped around and passing under itself, rather than shedding new light. The mathematics of my style were true.
But the flip side of that was actually the flipside. It was one thing taking a 3 dimensional piece out of 2 dimensions and building it in 3 dimensions, but what would it
look like from the back – in the round – from 360 degrees instead of 180. What does it look like from above? How does it behave when you look through it, because it’s not a solid mass? At that point, it really started to help with and inform my paintings because I had to add on to the style and extend the reasoning of it so that it looked the same despite being in a totally new context. I’d been so used to painting the front, that I’d never concentrated on the back before – I had an inkling of what I figured was going on back there, but I’d never made it a focus. And that’s exactly why I knew my sculptures had to be free standing rather than wall reliefs. I had to study my style all over again and complete and confirm ideas I’d been playing with throughout. Where do you go from here – what’s next There’s a video that’ll be out by the end of year that’s me doing an animation of my letters and exploring how a 3 dimensional form can be woven into a wall. It’ll be the first step of a long conversation I hope to have detailing the professional animation of letters not done on a computer. That’s my kinda mad scientist, little baby project. Other than that, I’ll be down in Miami doing a couple of
murals for Art Basel and I believe I have a huge commission coming up here in San Francisco in January. There’s an old tunnel in the centre of San Francisco – an alleyway that runs through an old San Francisco Chronicle building, and while the Chronicle is no more, the proprietors still own the property and have been doing various art engagements there. The tunnel is 20 feet tall and about 300 feet long, and they’re going to let me paint 360 degrees around the tunnel – the roof, the street you actually drive on and of course the walls. There’s a certain level of community engagement in the project, but stylistically, it will be very much one of my murals. It’s a tunnel I grew up looking at, and to be able to paint those kinds of dimensions in full 360 is very, very exciting.
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The First Loan So few not letting it out, So many not getting it, Handful of families, Holders of the first loan, Fingers on the button of the money zone, Genetic entity, Losing control, Corrupt decisions They steal the rich mans soul, Things so obvious, Even children can see, Rich mans so blinded he don’t care for you or me, Telling us to respect, Whilst they sink the world into debt, Burning up the resources, Half the planets already dead, Rich mans calculations as he’s playing with the weather, 5 degree’s we’ll take it up the world will change forever, The people who die a calculated loss, Loss and gains the money game, Money don’t play by natures rules, A human concept with human rules, Bound by money their premier concern, The rich play you like fools, The word is out, even the children know, The cracks are showing in this money making show,
Bureaucratic corruption, Modification of scientific fact, Creating problems, Pointing fingers, It all comes down to cash flow, The money feeds on itself, Like the PCB’s, Nature can’t break that shit down! Major moves with chemistry, Driven by no other reason than profit, Future generations will call our times, The time when humanity lost it, But would the masses have polluted if the companies had been more responsible? And would the masses have gone to war if the greedy hadn’t wanted it? Who’s more responsible the one who pulls the trigger or the one who put the gun in his hand? Especially when that hand is forced! The holders of the first loan sit and watch the destruction, The scientists say it’s nearly too late, We’re on the edge with heavy stakes, But the ones who could and really should, Are the ones who can but don’t give a damn, They know in the end its gonna be alright, And for the lives of the people in the third world, They couldn’t give a shite!
Seeing as we skipped the formalities in the interview itself, a brief introduction seems to be in order. Digital punk, synaptic sage, multimedia visionary, neural netwoker, voyager on the vectors of vibration and all round transcendental cosmic nutter, Matt Black exploded into popular consciousness as half of ground breaking duo Coldcut in the late 80’s. After a brief but torrid affair with the mainstream, they dived back down underground where the eternal sunshine of creativity unbound burns bright in the burrows of the restless mind. They founded the now legendary Ninja Tunes whose wildly oscillating musical journeys slapped switched on, conscious and intensely eclectic music onto the table and settled in for an unending banquet of the cross cultural sublime. Famed
and universally respected for its output, innovation, and its synthesis of free flow musical concept and next level experience, Ninja Tunes is that increasingly rare entity - a triumph on its own terms and a democratic, artist led mirror to the souless corporate constructs success is so often seduced by. A Rennaissance man on reality’s edges channelling a dazzling circuitry of connectivity and technological symphony through kaleidoscopic media, Matt Black is one of life’s consciousness spikes, and we sat down for a chat across time and space. Standard interview formats dissolved gorgeously into freestyle and a jamming stream of electric ideas......Read on Macduff....................
What effect do you think centuries of mainstream music with only implicit rhythm had on the development of Western culture? What, no foreplay?!......It is a very interesting question, although I can’t say it’s something I’ve ever given all that much thought to. Bit of a googly really! Will try to give you a free form response off the top of my head, and while I don’t know enough about history and music’s role in it to give a specific answer, let’s just riff on it and see where we go. That’s the advantage of being in the rock n roll business, unlike school exams: ‘The problem here , boy, is that you haven’t answered the question the examiner asked, you’ve answered the question you would LIKED the examiner to have asked’. Bollocks to that!
knight of high culture, and so when I broke out in a different direction to the culture he was into, that naturally sparked a bit of a dynamic between us. I could partly read what I’ve been doing over the years as an attempt to justify that there is no division between ‘high culture’ and any other kind of culture – that it’s all culture and I think Coldcut have maintained that and could make a good case for it.
There are claims made that listening to classical music boosts your IQ. I’ve had that conversation with my Dad, and those kinds of studies are controversial to say the least. If one goes into the debate and considers complexity in music, you could argue that there are strains of African music and music from other cultures which are deeply complex, just a different type of complexity to that There are all sorts of claims made for classical found within classical music. You can put the music, and certain people do assert that the argument that complexity in all art forms classical tradition is high culture and therefore is something that feeds human beings – by implication, popular music must be low something that feeds human being, and yet culture. Now that’s a definition I’ve always complexity isn’t the only nutritional value challenged, partly because my Dad, who I have that art and culture has...there are other a typically intense-yet-increasingly-lovingnourishing components in the roots and father-son relationship with , is something of a fruits of culture such as pride in heritage and Photo courtesy of Oz Owen www.feedbackpr.com
tradition...the opposite of cultural apostasy. And, what about the intelligence advantages of music you can more easily dance to? Still with regard to the particular question about the rhythmic element, I think you’re taking a bit of a narrow view of rhythm – I mean there’s plenty of rhythm within classical music. But it’s more implied than explicit That’s not a fair definition either. The rhythm in Beethoven’s 5th is quite definite. Let’s pin this down here – if you’re talking about the explicit use of percussion instruments as a major part of the music - that would be more accurate.
And then a few years later when I was at college, living with a close knit bunch of lads, listening to music and smoking lots, my friend Duncan – another nice middle class white guy like me- who had a really wicked record collection explained to me that he thought black music was intrinsically ‘better’ than any other kind of music. At which point he started playing me stuff like Gil Scott Heron and Fela Kuti, and I pretty much had to agree with him. It had something – that indefinable quality you could call ‘soul’ which was intensely special to me. Soul, and funk. Funk that makes you want to move your body. Rather than pontificating about the ebb and flow of historical currents from my limited
Absolutely fair enough OK – well from a personal perspective, even as a schoolkid I remember being very influenced by black music and rhythm and blues – by finding soul music even before I knew that’s what it was called. When I heard tracks like Do the Bus Stop by the Fatback Band, I realised this was an entirely different kind of music to – say Emerson Lake and Palmer or the other stuff which was listened to by teens of that era. I really, really liked that funky feeling – couldn’t have explained what it was that I liked about it – just that it had a magnetic pull for me. Images - Goddess Bird - (dare the editors suggest Culture Vulture?) and Coldcut’s World of Cheese
knowledge, my own experience, is ‘I dread to think where myself in particular and the white race in general would be without James Brown’. I did meet him once , a big thrill for me, and if he was here today, I would bow down before him and say ‘Thank you for your contribution to culture’ – personally and from all those people who discovered how much that funkiness and soul means to us. It’s a seminal part of life and something I made my career and my creative existence out of – albeit with a few other ingredients!
suppose. I went to Oxford and did a degree in Biochemistry. My family is bright and we’re into intelligence and learning. But as regards music and art, they’re something I picked up knowledge of along the way rather than actually studying them. The term I was taught is ‘autodidact’ (thats a joke). When we started, I was kicking back against high culture; getting stoned and making a
We know that you’ve probed the theoretical side of music – how much did something like Cymatics open up new patterns and insights into what you were already doing and how much did understanding the behavior of frequency and waves influence your approach to making music going forward. Cymatics is a very interesting field. I do come from a fairly intellectual background I Images - Top - Neon Tart - created with Granul8 -Bottom - Cymatics - 34hz triangle wave passed through alcohol
sound by putting my hand on a big slab of vinyl and moving it back and forth was a 2 fingers up to ‘proper musicianship’ and the cultural elitism that seemed to have a monopoly on defining art. We started making music out of turntables and cassette decks. It was cut and paste – it was collage, montage – it was cut-up, but I didn’t understand the cultural and historical context of that until quite a while afterwards. In some ways, journalists who started asking questions about this were a spur to finding out more about it. I’d read William Burroughs but hadn’t particularly made the connection between cut-up text and cut-up sound. My fascination is in finding the connections between things. I have the science background but I’ve always been interested in art – and that’s always run strong in my family too. C.P Snow wrote a famous essay in the 50’s called The Two Cultures bemoaning the fact that specialists in the fields of science and art/humanities really
didn’t have anything to say to one another, and I think that while he made a critical point, there have always been people who have tried to bridge the divide, and perhaps since the time of Snow’s influential essay, those efforts have accelerated. Just the use of digital technology and the internet alone have aided communication, connection and linking up areas of experience. Also think that the psychedelic experience and the experimentation of the 60s and 70s helped break down barriers between cultures and form cross-disciplinary links. I do like to find other areas that are related to what we’re doing and seeing what the connections and the analogies might be. A large part of what we’ve been doing the last 24 years is taking ideas and techniques from music production /DJing and finding or creating the analogies with visual production/ VJing.
Image - Maybe Logic Quantum Circuit - created with Granul8
Cymatics was a term which I only encountered about 15 years ago. At that time, I was buying up a lot of science and computer graphics tapes on import from the States to source material for VJing in the same way that a DJ collects records and likes to have exclusive imports that they’ve discovered and noone else has got. ‘Numerical model of a Severe Storm’ by the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications’ was a heavy little number I loved. So I stumbled across the Cymatics tape of Hans Jennys ‘rare groove’ early work, read the description and though ‘Yep – that sounds intriguing’. I dived in, began learning about it, and used a sample from the tape at the beginning of Tone Tales From Tomorrow. ‘Everything owes its existence solely and completely to Sound’. I found it a brilliant cosmic statement and could totally see what the guy was saying – you can regard the universe as made of vibration. That’s an exciting and useful realisation, and I just hoovered up the whole concept into the big toybox of ingredients I’ve got available to mix up and have fun with. But ...what was the question again?
Erm - no idea – let’s see – something cunningly designed to open a discussion on Cymatics and the interplay of art and science - here’s the remix though - Does looking into concepts like Cymatics inform the way you approach what you do directly or are you still working on an intuitive basis while finding these kinds of ideas interesting but perhaps not transformational in practical terms. Both. What you are really talking about here is how my creative flow works and both of your descriptions are equally valid. I do totally work from intuition– in an almost crude fashion a lot of the time , pulling together things I think are cool in quite a superficial way. But then strolling into new avenues impacts the psyche – every experience – every feeling -every moment- every record – every sound – every word that you read soaks into your consciousness somewhere, and while my active recall may not be the greatest, I know that it’s in there. It gets coded into my neurons which in turn fire up every subsequent conscious moment : the feedback of new experience written into them
Image - Electric Foam
is modulating the output of those circuits, and that output is my behaviour, including what I make. I like things that blow my mind. It doesn’t happen often enough; but the Cymatics tape blew my mind. For instance, Jenny’s experiments where he put an oscillator tone through a tray of sand and talcum powder, turns the frequency up and all these crazy, fluid organic shapes began forming in the mixture that he’s passing the vibration through – geometrics and spirals fluctuating into primordial patterns until a weird creature looking thing would spontaneously come together and walk off! Blobtastic. I’m interested in life – we all are. The eternal question. What the fuck is going on, who am I, what am I and what am I doing here? In a way, art, science, religion and philosophy are the four pillars, the four directions that humans take to try and grapple with these questions. So all four are existential techniques –
branches of the game of question and answer around existence. Cymatics had a profound effect on me in so far as I gained a little more insight into what life is and how complexity can build into life and ultimately, conscious being. That is what really interests me – evolution and consciousness. Everything is a feeder into that question. On that note – do you view the evolution of consciousness as exponential and do you see the products of that consciousness – like technology for example as flowing straight back in on a feedback loop and driving that velocity ever faster Absolutely. This is really the core stuff that I’m interested in, and I think it’s fair to say that the nature of consciousness is THE question of our age. I think that we are coming up to a Singularity in intelligence and consciousness and that means no-one knows what lies on the other side, though one can certainly speculate. I have various riffs that I make up
Image - Feedback is All - created with Granul8
and play off around this – tiny windows of fleeting illumination, because realistically, this conversation could take us the rest of our lives. I’ll give you a couple of the ones I came up with recently.
but if that’s the case, one of the defining characteristics of a living organism is reproduction. So how does Gaia reproduce? And if Gaia is alive, by analogy, so is the whole universe alive – so how does THAT reproduce?
Here’s an unrelated one while I look through the list of riffs–
A friend of mine is called Yosefia– she tells me that- like Joseph- it means ‘God Increases’…… now that’s a pretty radical concept...And a ‘DJ’s spin but are scared of revolution’. Google really cool name. It kindof answers the old the last 3 words for a ref to the roots of Rap. questions that philosophers used to get hung up on the Middle Ages, like ‘Can God build a Here’s a Theory of Everything. The universe wall so high he cannot jump over it?’. I believe reproduces by generating intelligent, curious that God does want to grow. By God I mean lifeforms who then build huge machines eg the collective intelligence of the universe, Large Hadron Colliders to answer questions about the nature of the universe. The colossal because I don’t have any problem with the energies produced by these machines colliding word ‘God’, or ‘religion’, or ‘Christianity’, and while a lot of people are allergic to those particles at near light speed trigger next big bangs which destroy this universe but produce terms, I do sometimes wish them to have that new ones. A bit like waking someone up to ask allergic response so they can swell up a bit and then heal. Some are absolutely convinced if they were asleep. But hey……That’s life. that God IS NOT some old guy in the sky with That to me is quite a plausible theory. People a beard and they’re fundamentally trapped by talk about Gaia being a living organism, the idea of that God that they don’t believe
Image - Chimera
in, so they cannot have another definition of God! Working from an entirely negative basis and defining their beliefs by what they aren’t rather than what they actually are, they end up completely enclosed by denial rather than affirmation. When I say that the nature of consciousness is the question of our age, there are many approaches that one can take to exploring consciousness – myriad angles – in fact I would say that there are as many definitions of consciousness as there are conscious beings in the universe. I think that the search for Artificial Intelligence is going to become increasingly key because it subsumes a lot of the other questions. Don’t get me wrong – I think we also need to put a lot of effort into not collapsing our environment and exterminating ourselves which is looking like a very plausible scenario with a number of huge scary tipping points. People do ask – why bother with artificial intelligence when we should be dealing with our own consciousness – and it’s a perfectly good question, but it doesn’t mean that research into AI is going to go away. Not only is it a interesting project, but it’s firmly in our interests to ensure that the direction that it takes isnt defined by libertarian psycho geeks who LOLZAROFL us into some Terminator style matrix where the nice shiny AI decides it’s high time to tidy things up by offing all of humanity, using the comprehensive WMD that we conveniently provided it with, plus its own fiendish Hks, neoplagues, killer GM scorpion tomatoes etc.
I recently joined an open source Artificial Intelligence project called OpenCog (http:// opencog.org). They have a road map for AI which they freely admit is totally speculative, but they think that within 20 years we will have an artificial intelligence which is as intelligent if not more intelligent than humans. My personal prediction is a bit more vague, IMHO could be anywhere between 10 and 50 years before we have a thinking machine on that level. Some people think that’s just bollocks – pure science fiction – and some pretty bright people think that it’s impossible to create artificial intelligences but I’m fairly sure that they’re wrong – we are going to crack it. We’re zeroing in on the nature of intelligence. At the moment we can’t define it, but we are getting substantial clues and building up an increasingly comprehensive picture of intelligence, consciousness and our own nature. At which point – I’d like to slip in this thought – Danny Hillis, founder of Thinking Machines Corporation said he wanted to build a machine that could be proud of him. I love that.
Images - Top - Daphne DMT Sex - Bottom - Neo Fluff - created with Granul8
Abstract emotion meets intricately rational Precisely. Now Ray Kurzweil put this idea of the ‘Singularity’ which, as I understand it is the idea that once we can make a machine which is more intelligent than we are, it can then build a machine that is more intelligent than itself. And that becomes a feedback loop which then takes a trajectory all the way to super super intelligence – the nature of which is pretty difficult to conceive for us. The Singularity is the geek Rapture. So let’s say that we reach that Singularity and evolve artificial intelligences that make scientific breakthroughs in areas and problems that have baffled us such as, say, physics, allowing space travel at speeds beyond light. At that point they can colonise the universe using artificial beings like themselves or even ‘lower’ lifeforms such as ourselves . Or both. Maybe they learn how to become beings of pure energy. I’ve always thought that if you manage to achieve zero point consciousness- a terms
for Enlightenment- you have the option of transforming yourself into a Sun which then has the power to power new solar systems and start organic life. That’s something that’s hinted at in both 2001, A Space Odyssy and the sequel 2010. When you reach a state of pure energy, reconciling inner space and outer space – you can then manipulate that energy into any form.
Images - Models of Neoneural activity in a primitive AI
That’s right. If light speed travel is not possible at this stage, then perhaps artificial intelligence could encode itself as light. (Mind you, there was just a report that a European particle accelerator has achieved faster than light velocity...if that is confirmed it’s ‘goodbye, Einstein’ .)
full flow on a sort of micro level – if you view individual human consciousness as an cell in a wider organism that is forever reproducing and re-encoding. The question then becomes linking up that cellular structure and taking it macro. Whether it’s all self organising complex systems or an overarching intelligence.
My friend Greg Sams has written a rather marvellous book called Sun of God which The ETI concept...Evolutionary transitions in postulates amongst many other interesting Individuality...how individuals come together ideas that the sun is actually a super-conscious being. But if you zoom right out of the idea, of us creating AIs which then colonise planets it opens up the possibility that this has happened already and that we are the vectors in that cycle of intelligence reproducing itself. God Increases. As you say – there are as many definitions or manifestations of consciousness as there are conscious beings – so that cycle is already in Images - Autopoesis - created with Granul8
to form next level collectives , increasing complexity and available dimensions of consciousness. As we are creators, it’s just such fun to play with the idea of a Creator though so many people are intensely unhappy with it. But if you look at this idea – I wouldn’t rule it out. A Creator with a personality as opposed to a more general term like ‘collective intelligence of the universe’ . Now remember, kids: ‘In Allergic Reaction Emergency to the word GOD being heard, break glass and bring down this handy collective intelligence of the universe smartly onto head of victim.’
Well, I’ve always been interested in algorithmic art. I was too lazy to learn the piano, thinking that I’d find quicker ways of making music to save myself time. Using computers and all the technological gubbins didn’t save any time but it did give me a syncretic way of doing things that was my own, so I guess I’m happy with that, though would still like to be able to play the piano. One of the techniques that we’ve used a lot, is randomness and its role in creativity. These aren’t new ideas, they have roots
So what’s this about creating art for artificial life – god (no pun intended) – there’s a certain poetry within that sentence before you even hit the meaning Images - Top - Autopoesis - created with Granul8 - Bottom - Tile for an AI’s spacepad
in eg Steve Reichs systems music, but now digital technology gives us capacity to explore randomness and algorithms which simply wasn’t available before. And I’m kinda horny about all that. Using evolutionary techniques like genetic algorithms to explore idea space is fascinating to me. Even so simple an algorithm as chopping up a musical phrase – chopping up a breakbeat loop into equal time sections – eg sixteenths, for instance, and creating variations on the source loop by omitting sections, repeating sections, reversing sections, pitching sections up and down.
and repeating. The human’s job is to listen to this machine variation and decide what it likes about it – to steer it – to tune the randomness into an aesthetically pleasing result. That’s a simple example of a musical algoriddim (sic). One which we will be developing further in the new app Ninja are doing, working title DJamm. The undeniable fact remains that from simple systems, you can get complex, interesting behaviour – fractals being a great example.
I can possibly claim to have invented this technique, later manifested in what is known as Glitch plugins – our first standalone one was the Coldcutter VST, though we had a primitive version in our video game Top Banana in 1989. Other examples are SupaTrigga , db Glitch and Beat Repeat in Live which Ableton programmed after I showed their CEO Gerhard Behles the Coldcutter. So what you effectively have is a deck of beatslice cards which you can then keep shuffling Images- Top - Masked Serpent (DNA anyone? asks LSD)- Bottom Image seeks Space - created with Granul8
A very simple algorithm on the surface, but when you feed the data it produces back into itself and tune the parameters just right, you get some extraordinarily complex behaviour which tells us something about the nature of Nature. Other non-linear systems give us the same message â€“ information likes to reproduce, it likes to have sex with itself, it likes to get it on, it likes to expand, feedback, mutate, connect, evolve and grow. These are imho, fundamental characteristics of the universe , life and consciousness.
With visuals, myself and artist/coder friend Paul Miller have developed a new type of video synthesiser built in Quartz Composer which we call a granular video synthesiser ; the actual program is called Granul8, though we havenâ€™t released it to the public yet. So you take a source image â€“ say a photograph of a tree or a Picasso, and what Granul8 does is to take a small piece of that image, apply a mask on top of it to turn it into a brush, and then start drawing automatically with that brush on the screen. It can also move around within the sample area on the original image
Images - Top - Electric Dragon - Bottom Left - Greentity - Bottom Right - 24th Century Dog- created with Granul8
so that the brush keeps changing. I’ve been experimenting with this a lot and combining it with other effects like Kaleidoscope and especially video feedback which is a fave technique .
or indeed fossils– because I expect that like humans , any conscious being will be curious about its origins. And perhaps they’ll keep me as a pet.
By our current, quickening, evolutionary Me and Paul were getting fully possessed standards, we have every kind of sequencing by it the other night, staring at the screen, and design software honed to extraordinary completely hypnotised by what was unfolding. mathematical precision available to us. We felt we were microscopically observing Every detail can be sculpted – laser drilled through our algorithms, an artistic impression into pre ordained, pre-calculated place. And of what data processing in an artificial then there’s the non linear, mystical element intelligence might look like, an animated of randomness. Intuition – channelling – rendering of digital neurons (neoneurons?) harnessing the unexpected by riding a flow in action. We’re using these algorithms to in a way that no digital algorithm can truly make art and I think it’s something that future match. How critical is improvisation to art, artificial lifeforms will appreciate. I think they creativity and your personal process. will enjoy art because that’s probably a key As someone who spent many years narrowly part of consciousness. Art is one of the ways focused on the screen moving hi hats around in which consciousness knows itself...the microscopically, I got bored of that approach Universe is the ultimate Art form. and I’m now a lot more into improvisation. In So I’m hoping that discerning future artificial fact I think that the whole of electronic music intelligences might collect our algorithmic art urgently needs a kick up the arse. It’s too anal, in the same way as we collect primitive art , it’s too quantized, it’s too boring and it’s too Image - - Electric Jazz
staid. Where’s the wildness – where’s the rock n roll – where’s the randomness – where’s the chaos? I’ve got a mind map on this Start getting outside the self imposed strait jacket of modern electronic music. To be less regimented – more free, wild, multi dimensional, shocking, crazy. Crazy sounds played without quantisation, edgy ,punk, horny, playful, potent, cosmic. Aggressive, raunchy, vigorous, feral. Suprising, startling, virile, stunning, revolutionary, out of control, questing, ballsy, ecstatic, dangerous and Dionysian.
boring if that’s all the sex you ever get. Even just one other person to interact with can make things a lot more interesting. That’s sex and that’s the dance of the universe. It’s not about monotony and monoculture, it’s about getting it on by people working off each other and interacting – getting feedback. I think that’s what a group essentially is – a multiple feedback circuit; a group can be very exciting to be part of and is a great way of generating a much more interesting conversation. Especially when people actually listen to each other, rather than taking turns to talk, which is what so many alleged conversations
That’s a few of the words I’ve got on the screen and not only would like to hear more music that those terms are applicable to, but am personally on a mission to re-inject that into my music and music generally, because 99.9% of what’s out there is pretty boring. It’s not going anywhere...It’s sterile. Ideas can come from one person but I’m more into playing with groups now. Initially I did a lot of the work by myself or Jon and I worked together, but one guy on a computer can be a bit like masturbation. Hey – don’t knock masturbation, what a gift, but it can be Images - Top - The mind map in question - Bottom - Setup for Sound Mirrors show
actually are: serial monologues with no real attentiveness. Good musicians listen to each other – they make space for each other. So often in jams, people just want to solo all the time, especially the better musicians. Ego shouting ‘look at me look at me’. As Brian Eno observed , that’s where someone who’s not such a great musician can be a really useful part of the band, because they find a riff and
stick with it rather than it descending into a solo soundwank. In the last few months I’ve updated my studio and started regular jamm sessions every week which are completely improvised and using mainly electronic instruments – and whatever’s around. We record it all multi track so you get the best of the digital and analogue worlds and I invite different people to just come round, jam and have an evening’s fun.
Images - Top - Rose Bani Chimera- Bottom Left - Baby Turbine - Bottom Right - A young MB - Pint & Paparazzi courtesy of- Seon Gleeson
We don’t use a metronome. We started off with one, but recently, we’ve slipped the yoke and completely dispensed with it which is so amazingly liberating. Just exstatic. We
really feel like we escaped the strait jacket. And anyway – if you’ve got a good drummer, you don’t need a metronome – the sole advantage of playing to a click is that it makes editing it easier afterwards. But that’s a cop out. And so is doing everything in 4/4 time and working straight onto a grid. Fucking lazy, boring cop out, and we can do much better. And we must do much better if we’re not to finally disappear into a grey, grid swamp of ThudULike.
Images - Top - TopBuddha - with Tantric Billy - Bottom left Space Brother - Bottom right - Herbie
A lot of what Ninja Tunes, Coldcut and you personally seem to be about is a kind of multimedia, experience based matrix – multimedia being a word that’s often associated with you. How much of that was always a core mission and how much of it grew out of the quest for next levels when the early rush of say electronic music began to wear off. Again – both alternatives are true. Jon and I both come from what you could call a mixed media background – Mix Medium being a term I sometimes use as my occupation. Jon used to teach 3 dimensional design and when we were doing the sleeve for Doctorin’ the House, he pulled out this old bit of shoebox from the 50’s that had this blue and orange pattern on, and we decided to use that as the cover, so we’ve always had visual samples as well. Both of us came from families that had a good mix of culture within them. Jon was very active in the punk era and used to collect a lot of posters and fanzines, so the visual interest was always there.
BTW, Opera is a multimedia experience. Music, song, visuals, backdrops, embodied knowledge. So is life. I had a background in computers for a long time, and the major realisation along the journey was that computers could be used to be creative. Even in the late 70’s and early 80’s I was messing about with them, getting them to draw patterns, and it was through that that we formed Hardwire which later became Hex with Rob Pepperell and Miles Visman. It was sort of a research lab to explore how we could take digital tools and apply them to art more generally rather than just music. There was a little demo on the old Commodore Amiga called The Juggler which had this kind of alien 3D juggler made out of glass juggling balls, and when I saw it playing on a computer in Selfridges, I thought ‘I have to have that’. It dawned on me that if you could do that on a little desktop computer, you could make a whole 3 dimensional film on one. Of course the limitations of the
Vintage Images - New Blob
machines were there, but that’s exactly what happened as processing power accelerated to the point that we’ve gone from that point in 1987 to Avatar in a brief hop. The roots were laid down early on and were recognisable if you were paying attention. The Amiga was the first computer where I was really able to start playing with visuals and the 40 quid little video sampler that could sample in 10 seconds of monochrome video was an amazing revelation. I then started chopping up and looping footage of a drummer to make a video breakbeat, painting with programs like Deluxe Paint and doing simple 3D animation with software like Sculpt Animate 4D all on the Amiga.
and to have the vision to know that very, very soon, the tools would not be so limited. And here I am talking to you on a computer that has a full video editing system, a full audio editing system with literally scores of different synthesisers and plugins for each of them. Can hook the sound and the visuals up together, got storage on here thats like 100 million times the amount of storage of 15 years ago. Then of course we’re networked into the global information nexus through Google and the net with access to query that information and the ability to collaborate globally in real time. Connect, commune, communicate, collaborate, create.
Again it was a kind of ‘fuck off’ to the establishment like we had done with samplers. A good sampler cost 250,000 pounds, but you could get a Casio for 30 quid. Fuck you and your elitist, rich, sterile studio. We’re the digital punks, we’re going to get in there with these toys, and we’re going to have fun and make art. There was a real drive to show what was possible using these limited tools Images - Top - Fat Sculpture - - Bottom - Funky Drummer - 1988 (created with SA 4D on the Amiga)
loving, sane human is as important as Art or And all this, all this was predicted with relish anything else. ‘The Blazing Light of Okness’ as by myself and others. There was a shared vision shaped by some key pointers along the one of my trainers put it. See that. way. I read The Shockwave Rider in 1975 and I bless the guy who had the insight to buy that www.coldcut.net for Northamptonshire County Council and put www.ninjatune.net it on a travelling library so that a little kid in a tiny village could read that absolutely state of the art, mind blowing sci-fi, primordial cyber Images by Matt Black and crew 1987-2011 punk book. It completely blew my mind. And unless otherwise stated. with that and a couple of other clues, I just Originals are higher resolution knew that computers and networks were going to dominate and I was always going to pursue that and mix it into whatever I was doing. Some made millions from these insights ahead of the curve, but I’m happy to have used them to be some kind of artist. At 50 I feel more full of ideas and energy than ever. Recommend www.balancedview.org as an approach to developing ones innate Open Intelligence and a practical way to achieve mental and emotional stability. Thats desirable for me because I’ve found surfing the bleeding edge can be quite messy. Just trying to be a Images - Top - White Space Conflict - created with Granul8 - Bottom - Temples of Perfect Information
THOUGHTS ON SHAMANISM
This essay is an evaluation of shamanism from a personal perspective. I integrate the material I have read and draw some tentative conclusions of my own. I pay specific attention to shamanism as it is practiced by mixed race (‘mestizo’) shamans of the Upper Amazon. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I have some firsthand experience of Amazonian shamanism, having been an ‘ayahuasca tourist’ myself. And, secondly, I have been influenced by Stephan Beyer’s thoughtprovoking book, Singing to the plants: A guide to mestizo shamanism in the Upper Amazon (2009). In many ways, I see myself as the product of
western rationalism and the values of the enlightenment. I grew up in Europe in an agnostic family. Partly through upbringing and partly through temperament, I decided from a young age to apportion credence in relation to the evidence available. I was a good empiricist and I soon decided that the evidence for Christianity – the religion that was shoved down my throat at school – was insufficient to substantiate the claims it made. I was not enticed by the idea of accepting things on faith alone – that seemed to go against everything else I was being taught. As an undergraduate student of philosophy, I felt that I had found a kindred spirit in
David Hume (1711- 1776). His thoroughgoing empiricism made sense to me, and he was also a philosopher who wrote with style and verve and humour and even, reading between the lines, with kindness and compassion. From Hume I graduated to Kant and here, perhaps surprisingly, the cracks began to appear. Kant’s writing about the sublime, and his notion of an unknowable noumenal world, opened my eyes to the sense that there may be more to reality than our day to day experience. However, the problem is that, by virtue of the creatures that we are, we can never know what the world is really like. We can only know the phenomena, not the underlying noumena. At most, we can hope to have intimations of it, as in the experience of the sublime. This, more or less, is the approach that has
guided me throughout my adult life. On the surface, the world of shamanism appears to be far removed from my own outlook. Even my personal experiences with ayahuasca have not provided me with clear evidence of a spirit world, hence I still approach shamanism with an attitude of skepticism. However, there are many aspects of shamanism which I see as extremely valuable, irrespective of whether spirits are ‘real’ or not (I will return to the ontological status of spirits later). One crosscultural theme of shamanism which resonates with my own classical upbringing is the almost universal insistence on time spent alone. This generally also includes deprivation and self-discipline. Shamans across the Amazon spend months in the wilderness (‘el monte’), avoiding salt, sugar and sex, and ingesting the plants whose spirits they wish to come to know (usually, but not always, in combination with ayahuasca). This period of near-fasting is known as a ‘dieta’. Beyer (2009) states that: ‘It is said that to become a banco, a supreme shaman, one must diet for more than forty years’ (p.56). The solitary nature of shamanic initiation also emerges from an account given by Igjugarjuk, a Caribou Eskimo shaman on the north Canadian tundras, to the Danish scholar and
explorer Knut Rasmussen in the 1920s. During Igjugarjuk’s initiation, he was left alone in a tiny snow hut in the dark and freezing Arctic winter. Peqanaoq, the revered older shaman who was conducting Igjugarjuk’s initiation, instructed Igjugarjuk to think of nothing but the Great Spirit. After five days, Peqanaoq returned with a drink of lukewarm water, and after another fifteen, with a second drink and a bit of meat. That was all. Looking back on his initiation, Igjugarjuk told Rasmussen: ‘The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone open the mind of man to all that is hidden to others’ (as cited in Campbell, 1970). These sentiments resonate with my own Western upbringing because they echo the thoughts of thinkers as diverse as the Aeschylus, one of the fathers of ancient Greek tragedy, and Nietzsche, the German philosopher and master of the aphorism. In his play Agamemnon, the chorus intones pathei mathos, literally ‘suffer and learn’, but more poetically translated as ‘through suffering comes knowledge’. Somewhat similarly, in Twilight of the Idols (1889)
Nietzsche states, ‘What doesn’t destroy me, makes me stronger.’ For both these thinkers, suffering is seen as the means through which an individual can grow in strength and knowledge. This is clearly reflected in shamanic traditions, all the more so when we bear in mind that the shamanic calling is
often (but not always) first heard following a personal tragedy, the survival of a disease, or some other instance of profound suffering. The solitary nature of personal growth is not entirely foreign to a Western mindset. In significant ways, it reflects the ‘hero’s journey’ (also known as the ‘monomyth’) described by Joseph Campbell (1949) . The ‘hero’s journey’ refers to a basic pattern of separation, initiation and return which is found in many narratives from around the world. Campbell (1970) states: ‘A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men.’ Campbell describes the narratives of Moses, Buddha, Odysseus and Christ in terms of the monomyth. In most examples of the hero’s journey, the central stage – initiation – must be undertaken alone. It appears that the enterprise of shamanism and the hero’s journey share key features.
Perhaps they may even come to the same thing. A further aspect of shamanism which mirrors other spiritual traditions is the emphasis on self-control and restraint. In mestizo shamanism, there is the importance of the dieta – the avoidance of all sugar, salt and frequently also fats. This is a considerable challenge to an apprentice’s strength of will. Beyers (2009) quotes the mestizo shaman Don Guillermo Arrevala: ‘To function in this world of shamanism…demands a certain measure of discipline, to live within the rules. Young indigenous people in these times don’t want to get involved in these studies… They prefer not to submit themselves to that type of strenuous apprenticeship.’ (p.385) The discipline which is required for the dieta is in many ways a precursor for the much greater discipline required to avoid the easy and tempting route of becoming a sorcerer. A shaman uses his power and knowledge to heal people, while a sorcerer uses these qualities
to harm others and to further his own ends. The battle between shamans and sorcerers is a constant theme in mestizo shamanism and it revolves crucially around the practitioner’s level of self-control. Self-control and self-discipline are important in many other spiritual traditions. In the West, the lives of monks and nuns frequently exemplify these qualities. Eastern spiritual practices stress the central importance of the ability to control one’s mind through meditation. However, an important preparation for this is the control of one’s body and of one’s desires. Eastern traditions generally encourage restraint and, in more extreme cases, complete abstinence and seclusion. Buddhist monks in the remote Nepalese kingdom of Mustang, on the border with Tibet, spend three years and three days meditating in a cave. Food is left outside the mouth of the cave; throughout those three years, a monk is unlikely to communicate with another human being. Thus shamanism
echoes many other spiritual traditions in stressing the importance of self-discipline and self-control. Another aspect of shamanism whose attraction is very clear to me is shamanism’s capacity to provide answers and, hence, meaning. One of the most frustrating experiences of humans the world over is to suffer and not to know why. It is infinitely preferable to suffer and to know why one is suffering – a cut is infected, you have a stomach ulcer – than to suffer without knowing why. When someone who is suffering consults a mestizo shaman, the shaman will diagnose the patient during an ayahuasca ceremony. Frequently, the shaman will enlist the help of plant spirits to locate the source of the malady. However, the shaman will often also provide a reason for the malady – for instance, an illness might be caused by a magic dart which was blown into the patient by a sorcerer who was himself motivated by envidia – jealousy. Not only can the shaman
cure the patient by sucking out the magic dart in a dramatic performance, but the patient also has a reason for his suffering – something which he did caused someone else to feel jealous. By contrast, although Western medicine can provide us with reasons for our suffering in the form of diagnoses, however, it is rarely able to answer the deeper question, ‘Why did it happen to me?’ Hence there is an existential aspect to the healing practices of shamanism which Western medicine lacks. So far I have described those aspects of shamanism which I readily understand, which resonate with me or which I find generally appealing. In doing so, I have also normalized shamanism to some extent. However, one of the central aspects of shamanism is the more challenging claim that shamans communicate with real spirit entities – not imaginary beings, not projections of their own subconscious, but real beings. Not only do shamans communicate with these beings, but they glean vital information from them, information which they use to benefit others.
This communication takes place when the shaman’s state of consciousness is altered. In mestizo shamanism, the altered state of consciousness is induced by drinking the potent ayahuasca brew. Beyers (2009) describes one shaman who states that the spirits are around us all the time, but it is only by drinking ayahuasca that they become visible to us. What is a sceptical westerner to make of this claim? One way in which we evaluate the truth of a proposition is by seeking to establish consensus. We tend to think that if just one person sees something, then it may well be a fiction. However, if lots of people see the same thing, then we are more likely to believe that what they saw was real. This is not an argument from necessity – there are many instances of one person being right and everyone else being wrong – but it has served as a useful guide in the past. This approach throws up some interesting results. Michael Harner (2005), describing his first experience of taking ayahuasca with the Peruvian Conibo
in 1960-1961, writes on his website: ‘At first, it wasn’t so much the sense of myself that was different. But I was completely in awe of the fact that a whole other reality had opened up. This was a reality that could not be fantasy, because the experiences that I had were also experiences that the Conibo who took ayahuasca were having independently, down to concrete details, without ever having talked about them with me beforehand.’ Similarly, Beyers (2009) refers to the novel by Cesar Calvo Soriano, based on the story of Manual Cordova Rios. Rios was apprenticed to the old shaman Ximu. Ximu, apparently, controlled the visions of his young apprentice, ‘calibrating the hallucinogenic apparitions in the mind of the young man…’ (p.228). This may be another example of shared visions. However, when we say that something is real, we generally mean that its existence does not depend upon our perceiving it. Only the idealist school of philosophy would argue that a table ceases to exist when there isn’t anyone there to perceive it. If things that are real exist independently of being perceived, then why is it that the spirits which shamans see differ significantly from culture to culture? For instance, in their altered states of consciousness, mestizo shamans see plant, snake and jaguar spirits. Igjugarjuk saw
‘the Great Spirit’, Native American shamans see eagle and bear spirits, and voodoo practitioners have their own panoply. Is it likely that spirits, like humans, have geographical locations? If Igjukarjuk had travelled to the Amazon basin, would he have
seen the plant spirits? Is it not more likely that the spirits which shamans see are based, at least in part, on culturally determined expectations? But if the spirits depend to such an extent on the perceiver, can we still say that they are real in the sense that a table is real? At this point it may be necessary to recognize another, quite extraordinary possibility. Maybe the truth is not that spirits are less real than tables, but rather that tables, and every other aspect of consensual reality, are not as real as we think they are. And, in fact, there are good reasons for thinking this. For a start, the way that humans perceive the world is only one way amongst many. A bat, which bounces sonar waves off objects, will perceive the world quite differently. It is likely that there are differences between the ways that individual humans see the world – color blindness would be an extreme example of this. We don’t know what the world ‘really’ looks like at the best of times, and therefore we should not be so quick to dismiss as illusory or fictitious the spirits who are ‘seen’ through altered states of consciousness. Beyers (2009) makes a similar point in the context of his discussion of ‘filling in the gaps’. He argues that the visual process, in normal functioning (and particularly in Charles Bonnet syndrome), has the capacity to fill in perceptual gaps. He writes: ‘Such gap filling is in fact part of our everyday perceptions. Our retinal images are distorted, tiny, and
upside down; most of the retina is nearly color blind and has severely limited powers of discrimination; the eye is in nearly constant motion; yet we see a world that is relatively stable, detailed, and consistent.We are constantly filling in perceptual gaps…’ (p.258). Beyers goes on to argue that the spiritual visions produced by ayahuasca are similar to these gap-filling processes. There is no categorical difference between normal perception and ayahuasca visions, it is just a question of degree. In both cases the brain is actively involved in the creation of what we perceive to be ‘out there’. Beyers suggests that ‘perhaps we are hallucinating all the time’ (p.259). It is very counterintuitive to think that the world as we generally perceive it is a hallucination or the creation of our own minds. For one, despite small individual differences, do we not all perceive objects in more or less the same way? It is very unlikely that you can see a table where I don’t,
although we may disagree on the precise color. Furthermore, is there not an obvious difference between matter and spirit? The material world is wholly ‘out there’ and, although we may perceive it in uniquely human ways, it nevertheless does not depend upon being perceived by humans for its continued existence. However, there is a school of thought which would deny many of these assumptions. Monism is the view that all phenomena – both material and non-material – are essentially one. From a monistic viewpoint, there are no meaningful distinctions. There is a unity beneath all the apparent diversity. One school of monism holds that everything is composed of mind. This would mean that there is no longer any ontological difference between a plant spirit as seen in an ayahuasca vision and the table in front of me – they are all just facets of universal mind. Another school of monism holds that all material and nonmaterial phenomena can be reduced to some underlying substance such as energy. This latter view is, in my understanding, the one which best fits the current theories of quantum physics. Monism also underlies most Eastern schools of thought – Hinduism’s Advaita Vedanta declares that ‘All is Brahman’. Monism is important in the context of this discussion because it breaks down the false dichotomy between matter and spirit. That dichotomy is one which is rooted in western thought, but it may be misguided. The spirit world – which may itself be reduced to pure mind or to bundles of energy – is not necessarily any less real than the table in front of me.
It seems to me that a monist world view does help to make sense of a spirit world. However, even with this monist world view, shamanism still holds many mysteries. For instance, shamans communicate with the spirits in order to glean information, specifically with a view to healing. But how do the spirits communicate, and how effectively do shamans heal? Beyers (2009) describes the shaman don Juan. He writes: ‘If don Juan can do even a tiny part of what he claims – cure breast cancer, for example - then by all rights he should be an immensely wealthy man, teaching his techniques at major hospitals and medical schools’ (p.149). In answer to the question of whether shamans do actually heal, Beyers states, rather disappointingly, that ‘There are remarkably few data on this question. In particular, even moderately longterm follow-up is lacking’ (p.149). Of course, it is important to establish an operational definition of healing, and the question of prior expectations and placebo effects will no doubt be a thorny one. Nevertheless, it does seem to me that in principle it ought to be possible to conduct research to evaluate the efficacy of shamanic healing. Although I feel that a monist world view
does help to make sense of the existence of a spirit world, nevertheless, there are aspects of mestizo shamanism which, for want of a better expression, strike me as absolutely nuts. For instance, it is rather hard to get one’s head around the mestizo notion of tsentsak, the shamans’ magic darts. Beyers (2009) writes: ‘Similarly, among the Shuar, the master shaman vomits tsensak, magic darts, in the form of a brilliant substance. The master shakes the shinku leaf rattle over the apprentice’s head and body, singing to the tsentsak, makes profound throatclearing noises, and spits out the phlegm on the palms and the backs of the apprentice’s hands, then on the chest, head, and finally the mouth; it is then swallowed – painfully – by the apprentice.’ (p.93) Tsentsak can also be received by blowing. The master shaman will transfer the magic darts to his apprentice by blowing into the crown of the head. Beyers was informed by one master shaman ‘…that tsentsak received in phlegm are less liable to leave the body accidentally than those received en aire, by blowing. “Sometimes it is enough to stumble,” he said, “and, whoops,
the tsentsak leave”’ (p.94). In order to ensure that the magic darts don’t accidentally leave the body, the apprentice will have to spend the next week in bed, ‘without coughing or speaking loudly, with one hand always covering the mouth. The apprentice also drinks tobacco juice night and day to feed the darts’ (p.94) The magic darts can be used for healing as well as for attack. They are thought to have a mind of their own and to desire human flesh – it requires great self-control on the part of the shaman to resist the temptation to use them for sorcery. However, this leads me to another unattractive feature of mestizo culture: there is a deep-seated belief in innate human aggressiveness. References to sorcery, jealousy and the desire to harm others abound in Beyer’s book. The Amazon appears to be a frightening place – not because of the jungle or the animals, but because of other humans. These complex dramas are frequently played out within the person of the shaman, either because the shaman must resist to temptation to do evil, or because he must heal those who have been the victims of the aggression of
others. I can’t help feeling that the world view of the mestizo shaman is a peculiarly dark one. Perhaps human nature is as aggressive and malevolent as mestizo culture believes, but there are many who would disagree. In conclusion, I still feel that shamanism is a very complex phenomenon. There are aspects of shamanism, such as the meaning-making function, which I find very appealing and often lacking in modern life in the west. The shamanic approach to healing is holistic: it pays attention to all aspects of an individual’s life and avoids the narrow reductionism and sterile categories of western medicine. I also feel that the existence of a spirit world is quite possible, especially when conceptualized through the lens of monism. The thought that shamans can glean information from the spirits is intriguing: I would be very interested by any research which attempted to evaluate the efficacy of this information in healing patients. However, I find it hard to know what to make of some of the more obscure doctrines and practices of mestizo shamanism: there seems to me to be some difference between belief in a spirit world and belief in the necessity of swallowing regurgitated magic darts. Finally, the world view of mestizo shamanism in the Upper Amazon does seem to be a dark and frightening one, though possibly, from the mestizo perspective, my own world view would seem rather naïve.
References Beyers, S. V. (2009). Singing to the Plants: A guide to mestizo shamanism in the Upper Amazon. Albuquerque, NM: Univerity of New Mexico Press. Campbell, J. (1970) Schizophrenia, the inward journey. Retrieved November 3, 2010, from www.mindspring.com/~berks-healing/ campbell-schiz.pdf Harner, M. (2005). My path in shamanism. In Walsh, R. & Grob, S. (Eds.), Higher wisdom. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, retrieved from www.shamanism.org/articles/ article16page2.html Nietzsche, F. (1889) Twilight of the idols. In Large, D. (trans.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Claus von Bohlen www.clausvonbohlen.com
The internet is a beautiful thing. We stumbled across Croatian artist Lonac by sheer chance and instantly recognised something very special in his work. Probing the nature of identity and fractured being dualism and unity, history and memory and delving deep into the theatre of humanity, he rides an archetypal vein into the battle between melancholia and redemption. Stark and yet laden with an intoxicating visual richness, songs and stories ripple through the spray, snatching at social politics and the serpentine shadows of time before blowing back into the timeless. There’s something alomost of the folk tradition about some of his visual language - a lavish trip into the forgotten that touches the inner reaches of our collective identity despite the unmistakeably local context of some of his pieces - but then the central theme of identity explored is as universal as it gets.
Can you tell us a little about your early experences of art and self expression I’ve been drawing since I can remember. When I was just a kid, illustrating my state of mind was my way of functioning in a group, and it still is. I guess that’s the way I’m wired. At the end of my primary school, I fell in love with graffiti art and murals, but it didn’t take me long to realize that painting characters or realistic motifs was more comfortable for me than just writing my name. My identity crisis took place during my first year at the Academy of fine arts in Zagreb. That was the time when I stopped painting by realistic motives/ experiences and my own stories…actually, I stopped painting and spraying at all, and the only thing I was doing at the time was being taught how to justify something that I don’t belive in. After two years of anger, I turned to the streets again.
How much did the war affect you on a personal level and how much did it shape your perceptions of wider humanity
My experience helps me understand others, as well as help them understand me. I think thats why my work is evasive and done on the streets. In this way I critize myself while others critize me at the same time. Its always a two I was very young at the time, and very way street in art. confused. Even though I remeber it vaguely , today, wherever you look, you can see constant anger and frustration about the war. Time Catcher has an almost fairy tale like People tend to take advantage of the past, and quality - an elusive timelessness - please tell us a little about the painting and your use it to trigger destruction..even politicians still speak of hatred towards the other nation. headspace when you concieved it It’s like it never ended. I’ve learned to use the I was given this huge wall to paint what ever good and the bad side of my past. That way, I I wanted so I decided to give myself a test, go back to my own time and use it to trigger not only by improvising with a bigger part of real, intimate emotions that I use to create. a mural, but by making something a little bit different than any of my other “stories”. Was the war effectively a very violent My idea was to paint the end of a story, that identity crisis I would later on bring to the begining as time I would say that it still is...the greedy act like passes by. The main plan is to make the Time they hold everything by a string, the past, the Catcher murals mutually interactive, whether present and the future. They use the past as a them being on the same street or different country. I always had a thing for comics and puppet and do with it as they please. tales, so this character gives me the chance to Identity and uncertainty play a huge role in feed that part of my creativity. When I finish the story I plan on turning the murals into an your work. How much of this is a general illustrated book with the money I managed to exploration of human nature and how much save. is born of personal reflection
Why is the spiritual and emotional unity of Pangea set in the distant past and littered with skeletons
at it, it always gets some kind of reaction. I’d say that whatever I do in the studio prepares me for ‘the real thing’ on the streets.
Pangea is my metaphor for two living bodies that once have shared the same thought, feeling and time. The connection between Pangea and the skeletons therefor, in a way, represent something that once was, and never will be again.
Tell us a little about the Neighbourhood Museum project and Hrelic
What do abandoned places and empty spaces mean to you When I work in the studio, I’m more able to concentrate on details and I don’t have to worry about time..but working on the streets is a whole new way of creating. I choose places that fit the story, I never leave the importance of the scenery out because the painting should connect with its environment. Every wall, every abandoned place, every empty space has its own energy and with the feeling that I get from it – I create. I create for everyone and at the same time, for no one. I don’t worry about what people may say, will they like it, will they get it..however you look
The “Muzej Kvarta”/ Neighbourhood Museum project was created as a direct consequence of the need to explore and understand the identity of local communities within the sociourbanistic particularities of neighbourhoods. Thus “Muzej kvarta”, with it’s mobile character, travels from one neighbourhood to the next, and in each of those it tries to realize concrete actions of strengthening a specific local identity and prepeare them for changes by affronting them with real obstacles. Hrelic is the largest Sunday flea market situated on the outskirts of the city ( 5 minutes from Zapruđe), and it’s jam packed with goodies from cars, motorcycles, second hand clothes, axes, books, mowers, faucets,VHS porn, to thousands of other funny accessories. My friend Iva is one of those people who’s Sunday routine is to wake up early in the morning and go to the Hrelic. Some time ago, I asked her to
come to my studio and bring some of the stuff she bought there. In my studio we made a few photos for the painting that will be dedicated to this Sunday routine. What does the eye hold or mean for you as a symbol I think that the eyes are the greatest conncetion for expressing emotions. By painting a huge eye, whoever passes by may feel the same emotion and probably even stop to sink it in. The look of the eye calls for it to be seen, and draws you into the emotion. What is freedom - where does the abstract concept meet reality In general, freedom is being able to sit behind your own steering wheel, even if life takes you down different roads..In a creative sense, I would say that the abstract is in ideas, in the mind, in the moment, comprehending the idea or solution, and reality is accomplishing those Why is your protagonist a metal robot and ideas or dreams. does he have any control over his own destiny Actually, I would say that the fish motif is my main character- the protagonist that came naturally to me. The metal robot was fun to paint, I love doing realistic paintings, and the metal robot with all its reflections was a cool thing to do. A while ago, I asked my friend to bring me some stuff from Hrelic, and one of the things that she found was a retro old robot. After my first timelaps animation where I’ve used this robot, I’ve continued using him as an inspiration just for the fun of it. Now, in my studio, I have a family of robots waiting for some adventures. How much is history an archetypal story and how much of it is our very real and current puppeteer I look at history as a reality theatre, and it’s performing right now..
What do diptychs and triptychs offer you as a platform for a painting My studio is full of wooden panels. Sometimes, when I’m bored I like to draw or write something on them. I use to do that on my bedroom walls, after a while it started feeling a little clustery. Since I don’t like using spray on sterile canvases that much, I’d rather use those overpainted panels as a platform because by that way I can combine the abstract background with my realistic style. I use more panels for one painting because I can create my own form by combining them, and it’s also easier to carry it around that way. Would it be fair to say that there is a certain sadness in much of your work
I always loved realistic paintings and sculptures. In my high school days, being so interested in realism, I was constantly working on my techniques, and never thinking about the story, the concept, the reason why do I paint what I paint. It took me a while to realise that I needed more than just visual beauty for my art to be true. From that point, I started painting my own stories all around my hometown.
The sadness is something that burdens us, as well as it makes us stronger. It’s necessary to control and save that feeling, not to throw it away. I dare to say that a part of my work isn’t a product of sadness, but victory over sadness. Does time ever stand still How has your work evolved over the past couple of years
Time never stands still, we are the ones that get stuck in time. We tend to cling on to what we know, instead of letting go. Is greed human nature or have we been fooled into believing that by the greedy I believe that everybody is good by nature, but institutions get to them. The ones that are infected by greed spread the disease.
Please give us some insight into the wider graffiti and street art scene in Zagreb and Croatia as a whole
there is no need to understate those done by permission. I try to work both ways, but as far as the others go, illegal graffiti is done more by the writters than by the ones whose time is From my point of view, the graffiti scene of the yet to come. Zagreb street culture is changing. The graffiti What does the next year hold for you? writters always ‘had’ their own specific city walls and for those who don’t know much Thanks to my blog, a lot of people started about the ‘best’ in the game..well, let’s just following my work. I’ve been invited to a say that it wouldn’t have gone well if you couple of art festivals next year, so I hope even touched their part of the wall. I think to finally start painting outside of my own that there is a lot of resistance towords this hybrid people call street art. Its more common backyard. I hope to go to Blackpool next year, probably even London with the help of my to see new graffiti, then a new character, new acquaintances. mural, instalation or anything else that aren’t letters. Of course, there are a lot of young I’ll be starting work on bigger murals, and of course, old rusty walls are everywhere so I’ll people that are searching and trying out new keep myself creativly busy. things, creating their own way of expressing theirselves, either legal or not, or under the initiative of an organization. I never lack ideas, only the time to bring them Since I’ve mentioned illegal graffiti street art, to life. This is just the beginning... for me its far more honest and consistent then legal art. It has its own heaviness. Though http://lonac.blogspot.com
Warrior One has been exploding into bassline consciousness with a relentless ride of riotously rude riddims and some seriously heavy dancefloor pressure. With a musical spectrum blessed up at core by the original junglist biznizz, he’s taken the raw, pumping energy of early drum n bass and laid it on pretty much every style and flavour known to a properly discerning raver. Tearing up the tempos and switching up the styles,he ricochets between drum n bass and dubstep while serving up house tempo heavers that blur the lines between UK Funky and a steaming new strain of breaks. Bashing up the barricades and storming down the house, his sizzling use of disparate
influences and left field vibes shot through the prism of bad boy bamboozle has drawn remix attention from artists like Dreadzone and the Stereo MC’s. And all this in between a vigorously balanced yoga routine that makes you wonder what the music would sound like if there wasn’t a bit of karmic equilibrium in the mix. Hotter than Boris Johnson in a dress, and heavier than the Greek deficit, Warrior One is definitely a name to keep an eye on and as the first album comes together with a light speed blast through styles and full flow vocalist collaboration, we caught up with Carl, the man behind it all, for a chat.
Tell us a little about your early production days and how you got to Warrior One
what made you by a sampler instead of some 1210’s
Well I got into drum n bass when I was 15 or 16 and started going out to raves around Birmingham where I was based at the time, and from there it was a short step to production and making tunes. I bought myself a sampler with about 2 seconds memory on it, and cracked straight in with some pretty dire attempts at tracks, but it wasn’t really until I was at university at the tail end of the 90’s that I started to hit a stride. I did a couple of things for a label called Catskills Records and ended up signing to them for a breaks hip/hop crossover album under the name Black Grass before getting itchy feet and moving onto a bit of minimal techno before getting completely fed up and sacking the music thing almost entirely. And then after a bit of time in no man’s land, I met up with an old friend, Eno who got me right back into it and we started doing Warrior One together and since then it’s been all good.
To be honest, it all came at more or less the same time. When I was much younger, I was playing with a few indie bands and that kind of thing, so when I discovered dance music, the instinct to actually make the music was already there. My mate who I was going raving with at the time each bought a bit of kit – I got a keyboard while he scored himself a sampler so we could put them together, and it wasn’t until I was already a way down the production route that I ended up Djing as well, but the initial reaction was to try making it. Badly!
A lot of people back then getting into production went straight for the decks –
Tell us a little about working in Krafty Kuts’ record shop and how much you feel the sense of community around record shops with studios upstairs, Dj’s swinging through to pick up white labels to play at the weekend and that kind of atmosphere has gone in the digital world we’re in now I definitely think that those elements are missing. It was brilliant for me to have that world open to me as I was coming through
as a kid because you had Krafty’s shop, then the techno record shop Covert Records downstairs. Adam Freeland had his Marine Parade label upstairs and the floor above that was Ed Solo’s studio where you had all the drum n bass guys coming in and out and Movement had an office in there as well, so it was a real hub in Brighton. And I can’t really see that happening again which is a real shame because it did have a unique vibe and it’s great to have that community and a place to draw influence directly from other human beings rather than just online.
How much were you allowed to go and squat the studios and generally loiter with intent at the back You could go in and have a peek and people were genuinely happy to help you out with stuff. When I first started Djing, Krafty would put me on at his club night even though I wasn’t all that good at the time to be honest. The first thing I did on vinyl was a remix of a band called Pepe Deluxe and I went to Ed Solo with it because I didn’t understand compression and some of the technical stuff, so he basically helped me mix it down so there was a lot of love – people sharing the knowledge, which is what it’s all about.
Not to split hairs here – but when you talk about drum n bass – your sound seems to draw a lot more from jungle’s heyday than drum n bass Well I say drum n bass, but I stopped listening to it when it became that 2 step, techy sort of stuff, so in my mind it still means that 95 era when it was still far more junglist crossover. I guess jungle and drum n bass are basically the same thing for me – everything from the early stuff which was all about the roughly chopped samples and big Akai basslines through to the comedy jump up Mickey Finn and Aphrodite were doing at Urban Takeover, Hype and even Bukem – it was all of those elements that really drove the scene in the mid 90’s. There was a lot of the reggae based vibe around at the time – did you ever find yourself getting into the spiritual side of that sound Totally know what you mean – but I’ve never been a Rasta I’m afraid! I think that dance music in general at the end of the 90’s was very conscious – much more so than what you see at the most accessible point of dance culture at the moment, but then it was far newer, there were a lot of different influences
flying about and it had more of a social context. Scenes were being built, and I don’t think that as time went on, all those factors necessarily stayed as integral as they were back then. Everything was obviously much more hardware based at the time – how did you survive the transition to software and the more mathematical approach It’s open to interpretation whether I did actually survive it! To be honest, I think a lot of my production techniques are stuck in the mid 90’s. I am totally from the hardware synthesiser generation – I had a very basic copy of Cubase that acted purely as a midi sequencer and as plug ins started to come into the setup, it was still very much laid out as a studio. But when Ableton came along, the relationship between the new software and the traditional studio setup with everything running through the mixing desk was lost. I don’t really use Ableton, and maybe that’s why. I do miss all the old kit – the sound of quality filters on the Emu samplers all that kind of thing, but I love the fact that you can be making music on a train. It’s democratised the music making process where you don’t have to go and work in Tesco’s every day of your teenage life in order to save up for one
piece of kit while your mate gets another and you all make music together because that’s the only way you could afford it. Now, you can get a copy of Fruity Loops and a cheap PC laptop and start banging out tunes, and I think that’s really positive. A lot of your tunes are based around that house tempo – did you find that you had much more to play with and lay onto that speed compared to drum n bass tempo where you could only really work in other styles at half speed I disagree. I think that my approach comes from those drum n bass days where tracks were thematic. People would make a reggae based track or a P-Funk influenced track or jazz or ambient – whatever and it worked. The drum n bass beat creates almost a 3 dimensional space to hang all these disparate influences and different ideas on. On a linear 4/4 beat, it’s quite hard to do that, but then UK Funky really excited me when that first hit, and for people like myself and a few of the other guys who started incorporating breaks influences into house tempo stuff, that did then become a good frame to incorporate all kinds of styles - anything from reggae to jazz and beyond.
Love that 3 dimensional space line. So you’re obviously working with a lot of vocalists and leaving the remixes to one side, how collaborative is it with the vocalists – are we talking emailed instrumentals or studio sessions. It totally varies according to the situation – who you’re working with and where they’re from. Of the stuff I’ve done recently, I’d say most of it was done together in the studio. I’ll send over the track for them to have a think about, and when they’ve got some ideas formed about how the vocal’s going to work – bang – sit down in the studio and get on it. Most of the time what they’ve come up with is pretty much spot on, so I’m literally just pressing record and then processing it and tweaking it afterwards. It’s much more fun and far more rewarding to produce an artist and help them give birth to these ideas there and then in the studio. I had some really good sessions with Durrty Goods and…………… , with Serocee and Rubi Dan recently – proper sessions. On the EP, with Royston Williams, it was geographically impossible to get him in personally so he had to email his vocals in – but it is nice to have it going on live and direct in the studio.
Do you think that there’s an element in the scene now that’s pushing frequency, mad synth noises and production technique at the expense of the dancefloor. Where’s the line between innovation and the dancefloor I think there are very few people who are really innovating. A lot of producers will make the sounds that are current and cool and a lot of production is effectively copying. Then there are producers who will copy, but then push the envelope a bit further and that’s how stuff really evolves. There’s a lot of producers who are very good at using their kit and getting the sounds of the day right – big and heavy but I’d rather listen to music that’s perhaps not as strong productionwise but rammed with ideas and brave enough to put melody into music. A lot of young producers will shy away from that because they prefer to play it safe with tunes and go with what’s established cool. Melody is something you’ve almost got to smuggle in and hold back on a little bit, and it’s music that’s interesting on those kinds of levels that really makes me tick. How much do you come to a track with an
idea in your head that you knock straight out and how much do accidents and the unpredictable fit of a sample or a leadline or whatever take you off in a different direction I’m totally open to wherever the flow goes – 100%. So many tracks have started out as one thing and ended up as another or 2 other tracks or multiplied into bits How are you finding the 140 sound and how do you see it as a bridge between dubstep, breaks and jungle It’s been very exciting making tunes at that tempo..It’s a different skill to make jungle exciting and energetic at that speed and there’s a few people who are very good at that. As with anything though, you’ve got producers who are doing that, been doing it for a while and are putting out innovative records and then you’ve got a lot of others coming to join the party, My only concern with the 140 sound at the moment is that a fair whack of the people who are doing it are making it sound like breaks and I wish they would just STOP it. Yep – I’m gonna say it. Stop it – Stop making it sound like breaks – it’s doing my head in. All this really neat and tidy production and snare rolls. Stop it with your LFO’s – it’s jungle ;-)
Classic!!! So about the yoga - how much does it inform what you do musically and how much are they totally separate aspects of your life – I mean are you hitting the studio physically and spiritually centred They’re totally separate. I’d like to say that there was this deep connection between the two, but that would be lying. They’re very different parts of me though I suppose on some level they do complement each other well. I mean I’ve got a yoga mat in the studio and I cycle in every morning and I will sometimes do a bit of yoga but I usually tend to leave it to the evenings when I get home. It’s a massive part of my life, but you know, my music’s quite angry so I’m not sure I’d read too much into them both being important to me! Sitting in the studio all week and then playing out at the weekend – how important is it to have a right good knees up on the dancefloor to keep the vibeometer in check Hugely important. Most of the time when I’m playing out, I get into it and have a proper night out – few drinks – hang out and get right on it. Saying that though I don’t tend to go out much when I’m not Djing – spend enough of my life in nightclubs to push it too much more. But occasionally if there’s someone I want to
see or I’m supporting some mates – I will get myself out. I have been known to stop out from time to time if I’m really knackered after a set and I don’t really know anyone there but generally I do try and ride the night and have a proper laugh. So tell us a bit about your other projects – you’ve done the theme music for Skins and this Loop app thing for Nokia – how interesting is it to get out of the dancefloor orientated track zone and how are you coming by these projects
time on what you really love rather than using your music - your art as a vehicle for making cash.
So the last release – the Wang EP did really well – what’s the plans for the immediateish future.
I’ve got another single dropping this year which is hopefully changing things up again so I’m buzzing about that and it’s going to be featuring a couple of very exciting artists that I can’t tell you too much about because we haven’t inked it yet. But I’ll be spending most of my time working on the first Warrior One I used to dabble in this kind of thing when I album which will be very broad musically and was younger – TV themes sort of thing but it was always difficult to know how to pursue it. having not done an album for 8 or 9 years, it felt like it was time. It’s a lovely thing to do Being in London now, it’s a lot easier to find the relevant people. The Nokia thing did draw – you’ve got a CD when it’s finished and you attention to Warrior One being someone to go can write stuff on the inlay and it’s a piece of to for these sorts of things. Myself and Rack n work. There’s enough tunes in the bank to Ruin each have studios in a complex owned by make it naturally the right time – and I can’t the agency I do ad stuff for so you get pitches wait till it’s out there. and sometimes you get them – most of the time you don’t, but it’s fun to work to a brief and play around with creative concepts. And www.soundcloud.com/warrior-one of course if you’re lucky, you make a bit of www.facebook.com/pages/Warriormoney which then allows you to spend more
Bouncing back from the chemical abyss with creativity as his ‘sponsor’ and vigorous output as his redemption, Jamie Paul Scanlon has been smashing a multi media shaped hole in the walls of Weston and the paper thin facades of the ‘Big Society’. Playing a slightly dangerous game with Banksy similarities that he both plays to and has foisted on him, though with Banksy as a cultural phenomenon in his own right that demands comment and reinterpretation who’s to say he’s right or wrong. What is for damn sure is that JPS’s work transcends any of those paralells, not least through his non stencil based work where cut up and collage
spin headlines and social fault lines into the visual mix, and probing takes on the hidden underbelly of society’s flaking veneer ripple through his Broken Britain themed pieces. Harsh and uncompromising, his work has a stark directness to it where trapped, gun toting media villains loom large in iconic film poses and crack pipes, spoons and works offer up an emergency escape route. There can be no doubt that having fully recovered from his years wandering on nihilism’s edge, we are seeing only the beginning of his artistic potential, but we caught up with him for a chat right here, right now
How long you been creating art for the streets and what was your first street action? I’ve only been doing stencil stuff for the past year and a half prior to that when I was heavily drinking I was doing the odd bits of graffiti but nothing special, my first stencil gained press because i wanted to do a tribute for a murdered friend so i put his face around all his old haunts Everyone has personal reasons for choosing the correct medium for presenting their art. What made you choose the stencil format? I was inspired when I went to a Banksy exhibition, its a good medium of getting a nice piece up quickly. I pretty much keep the street stuff separate to my exhibition work where I use mediums of drawing, painting and sculpture although I’m always interested in new techniques There’s no denying Banksy has a great mind for street art but how do you feel about your
work being constantly mistaken for Banksy pieces? I consider it an honour that people mistake them for Banksy and it gets the work publicised. I’m actually pretty new to it so I haven’t concentrated greatly on ideas just practising really, although I have a lot more up my sleeve. We know in Hackney there was talk of covering a piece you recently did in perplex plastic. Would you consider this act an honour or counterproductive to your cause? Having a piece covered is cool because you know the authorities want it preserved - that’s another reason why I deliberately confuse people because if they mistake it as a Banksy it becomes acceptable. Considering your face is in the public domain do you fear arrest by police for past pieces? I should fear arrest I suppose but at the same
Yeah I’m currently a full-time artist unfortunately it doesn’t put much bread and butter on the table, i went bankrupt on 31k a few years back and have battled a drink and drug problem for years, so I still haven’t got a bank account which makes it difficult for me to sell work. I’ll get my life together soon I hope. How has art helped your past addictions?
time it would be interesting to see what sort of response happens considering one minute they’re protecting your work, can they then charge you as a criminal for it? I know eventually I will get caught but I don’t fear it - there’s too many anonymous street artists, I like to put a face to the carnage lol Most graffiti writers and street artists are considered antisocial to government bodies and even general members of the public. In your opinion what lasting impact has street art graffiti had on our culture? I think street art has become a lot more accepted over the past few years. I don’t think tags will ever have a place in society but if something is inoffensive and brightens up a wall then the majority of people welcome it. We all sympathise with just how hard making a living as an artist really is in the real world. Is this how you put bread and butter on the table full-time?
Art has definitely saved me from what was a very dark part of my life, although those years are now responsible for some of the work I produce. My advice to anyone with addiction would be too get a hobby or sport or something they enjoy because when you stop there is a massive space in your day that you need to fill, the biggest help of all is having a focus, and you must treat it as one day at a time - its a long road to recovery and you have to walk it a very long time. The greatest thing I could achieve myself is freedom from all that junk but when you start getting noticed, fresh temptation is thrown your way. Also I would like to give special thanks to Mason Storm for taking me under his wing and never giving up on me, he’s a fantastic artist and a really good person.
We loved the Wayne Rooney piece, how did the girls respond at the parlour and do you think Rooney had a chuckle? Wayne Rooney was done for Premier Barbers. I have to do about 6 players overall, but I couldn’t resist putting him running into a massage parlour, the girls came out with a cuppa for me and loved Rooney, could have gone either way though, because I didn’t have permission. I expect some of the other players I do will appear in places that reflect there private lives, Rooney was probably my best move to date because for once Banksy wasn’t mentioned You clearly put a lot of thought into your pieces, tell us a little about the little girl with the Oscar? The Oscar Girl taught me a lot about how people read what they want into things, the stencil was cut during the Oscar ceremony and I thought Banksy was set to win............ then he didn’t, so for a couple of weeks it was considered useless, but eventually I decided to whack it on a wall anyway i wasn’t expecting the massive coverage it received, by sheer luck during the time it was just lying about as
a stencil a little girl named Lara Egan dropped her fathers oscar, so some believed the piece to be a portrait of her, others said that Banksy was comparing the Oscar to a toy, but I can confirm no thought was put into that piece at all, i also got a lot of stick for using what was a Banksy girl, that in a way was what made me do new ‘Banksy’
You’re not one to shy away from social political commentaries alas your pieces on Raoul Moat, Damilola Taylor and even Broken Britain. How much of an impact has these issues had on you directly? I tend to soak up certain incidents and sometimes need to express them through art, I’ve not had an easy upbringing and have seen a lot of bad things, i came up with the concept of doing Broken Britain in order for myself and other artists to vent how they felt on that subject it was a very successful show the first was in Bristol then went to London, although the Raul Moat piece looks like a tribute its not, its titled Preventable because so many mistakes were made. Street art was considered an art-form from the very off whereas graffiti wasn’t generally recognised as art for many years. How do you think the future will look back at this particular period?
I think that it will continue for a long time and hopefully the councils will allow more stuff, i personally don’t like painting legally and avoid paint jams etc, although I do like working with other artists I’m undecided whether I’m a street artist and don’t consider myself a stencil artist, just do what I enjoy mainly. Do you enjoy doing shows and are any planned for the near future? I love doing the shows and intend to do more, the next one is in london with AK47, Mason Storm, Cartrain, Vagabond, T.wat, Silent Bill, Cunni Outsider Art who are all great artists, hoping to do some stuff in L.A soon and next year a possible Broken Britain uncut because I would like to do a much harder hitting show,
I spent 12 years wasting my life so I intend on actually making something of myself. What would you like to be doing more of in the future? The street stuff will continue, the shows will continue and I hope to continue beating my demons. I’m not worried about my identity being known perhaps it will eventually change the course of things, either that or I end up in jail.
Tales from the Soundlabz Hello Peepz ..It’s me again perched over me lappy reporting in from the Marseille Strasbourg TGV. I’m on the way to Nevers - a small town somewhere in the middle of France, but then it’s often the smallest remote destinations that have the best crowds , due to their total desperation for a bit of action. It’s all about the control DJ’ing today has become more and more dominated by the laptop computer - which has become such a powerful device that even old analogue diehards gradually switch over. The convenience and power of these constantly evolving machines have made them an essential companion for a large section of the human race. We hear complaints about today’s D.Js spending most of their time staring at their computer screens.But do the people on the dancefloor actually care ? Not really - they just wanna get down and as long as they’re having it large on the dancefloor the majority of them are not that bothered about how said DJ is doing it, as long as he/she is doing the business The biggest argument I hear against Vinyl is that we can’t be bothered to carry it. Does this say something about the evolution of the human race? In twenty years time, will a laptop be considered too heavy and our fingers become long and spindly in order to more accurately pinpoint parts of our miniature tactile screens? Muscles so wasted away they’re only capable of lifting a telephone?
As an active Chip Jockey - the tools of my trade are constantly changing, Itâ€™s now all about the control - to turn the laptop into a musical instrument we are obliged to use at least 2 midi controllers ,even so Iâ€™ve managed to narrow my current set down to hand luggage size - it was still a squeeze but all the same an impressive achievement when I remember the old days when after a hard weekend I would have blisters on my fingers and tears in my eyes after just carrying my equipment the length of the platform at Marseille station. Still there can be no compromise when it comes to sound so use whatever it takes and always build in a random factor, to keep you and the dancefloor on their toes. The music business is constantly evolving
whether it be for the better or the worse - what percentage of tunes coming out at the moment are either remixes bootlegs or contain large portions of other tunes? Whole scenes are being built on the basis of music from other ages or places. I recently saw someone on Facebook calling out for new sampling laws - but I say all theft is justified for the sake of the dance . The mix of the familiar and the fresh if done properly seems to be an unbeatable formula . Modern electronic music is now evolving so fast that not only do new genre names get invented and often instantly sacked at a constant rate - well established genres mutate at a faster rate than people can come up with new names for em ...
Modern Music In an age where the wobble was on everyone’s lips...... I decided to stay one step ahead of the crowd. Where most people were content to download a sample pack or get in a local musician I decided to learn the trumpet from scratch. I’ve always been a big fan of mixing up the organic with the technologic - an example of the success of this mix would be bringing a large sound system into an area of natural beauty ; inviting quite a few friends over and leaving it on for as long as possible . My mission is to make people dance - the maximum number possible divided by the wickedness of the vibe created, as often as possible. In which case any amount of sample theft (done in the best possible way )and any combination of equipment/records or lack of equipment/records goes , as long as the end result is satisfactory = full dancefloor = smiley happy people
It’s all about the modulation baby What really interested me about wind instruments is the way we use our own breath to modulate the sound (The tongue can also be used) Organically created wobble mixed with synthetically modulated bass tones watch this space .......
What do you do to make your life more interesting? I’m a constant daydreamer and although I do suffer a fair amount of digz from my nearest and dearest for being a total spacecase - it’s a system that works for me. My favourite novelist is William Gibson (have we sorted his interview out yet @LSD) and when I’m going about my life, I like to imagine myself to be a character in one of his novels transporting planet saving audio data around the globe in order to save multiple races from ultimate disaster. I have extremely active braincells and suffer from bouts of insommnia , whenever possible I prefer to channel this energy in creative ways , but sometimes when the action runs out I’m obliged to look for other methods to deaden the thought processes and switch it all off. To sum up Final edit coming to you hot off the virtual press from the hotel Sunday morn as this needs to be on my publishers desk by today to make it into the issue. Hope I haven’t repeated myself too much or bored you with uninteresting crap.
The liveset went well in Nevers - equipment aside it seems the most important thing for me is too keep it fresh with a constant barrage of new beats , personally designed bass noises and frequent sample digs because if it sounds fresh to me I get right into it and that normally means that the majority of the dancefloor will too. All the same this mini liveset is great when it comes to blatting around the planet but I’m not 100% convinced it does my artist cred any good just turning up at the gig with only a Laptop and Midi controller - It’s just not a good look !!!!!
Trix5ta’s Recommended Read Transition by Iain Banks Yours
(My latest identity shift)
New website to come in 2012
It is the great power of the human spirit that is shouting out for change great change a great movement, you say what can I occupy? Occupy the right side of your brain and create a new trajectory that will not only propel you, but propel generations to come into a new page, a new age of wisdom, courage, freedom and strength. A new time a new space a new spark of fire that can light the darkness of greed, insensitivity and selfishness. Go on! I dare you, to turn left when you want to turn right, speak out when you feel silenced, stand up when everyone else is sitting down, demand justice demand integrity demand change but most of all demand your freedom to demand!â€Śyour freedom to speak your rights, your freedom to BE!
I find myself in the middle of Haight Ashbury once again, what I feel is and has been the great epicenter of progression, pre-occupy, the wheels of change are turning high here and I unmistakably stumble onto a few mindaltering projects happening. PROJECT BANDALOOP www.projectbandaloop.org Wandering, meandering on a tip, into Oakland, in search of THE GREAT WALL OAKLAND, and in great anticipation to see what the buzz was all about. Enter Project Bandaloop. High flying,daring wall climbing art and movement, scored impressively with live DJ and musicians, surpassing all limits. The
Great Wall is colored and phat-ly decorated with the work of earlier interviewee Chor BOOGIE,APEX, and crew. “REBIRTH” by MTN COLORS, including the works of APEX,CHOR BOOGIE,ESTRIA,JASE,KING157,NEONSKI, and VOGUE. First clue of being on the right path. Project Bandaloop crossing all barriers and surpassing all expectations, lit up the sky of Oakland with the sounds and colors and expression truly nothing short of an artistic masterpiece suspended in air. Impressing, the
quality of production and the sheer genius choreography incorporated, and designed effortless movement, while suspended above, painting the great wall with a new form of Street Art performance. “Project Bandaloop activates urban and natural environments with perspectivebending body-based live performance. Combining climbing technology, and dynamic physicality, Project Bandaloop turns the dance floor on its side, captivating audiences with site-specific performances in theaters, on buildings, mountains, bridges and structures around the world. Since 1991 artistic director Amelia Rudolph has collaborated with dancers, climbers, musicians and visual artists to redefine dance and performance space and inspire wonder and imagination in large and diverse audiences.” The show title “Boundless” is merely a precursor to what you will experience in the show as the performers scale the length of the building, moving, occupying the space completely. One can sense a truth in artform and a limitless energy while watching and even after leaving the performance. “Bound(less)” is funded by major grants from the Wattis Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Rainin Foundation, the
National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, Lighting Artists in Dance, a program of Dancers Group, The Zellerbach Family Foundation and individual donations through Kickstarter and Project Bandaloop’s Anchor Circle of major donors. “Bound(less)” in its early form as “IdEgo” was an original commission by the Orange County Performing Arts Center. As it happens, by the skin of my teeth, I was able to get a couple of questions in to Amelia Rudolph Artistic Director of The Project Bandaloop..It went a little soothing like this:
Sierra Nevada in Ca. Clinging to a knife edge granite ridge I wondered what it would be like to dance in that environment and then wondered what climbing brought to dance as well. Hudson: What has been your greatest challenge in directing Bandaloop? Amelia: Rehearsing is very slow on a building, so you have to be very patient and know the limits of the dancer’s bodies. Working creatively within the confines of the art form. Hudson: And how did you overcome it?
Hudson: Where does the Project Bandaloop originate? How did the concept come about? Amelia: The name is from a Tom Robbin’s novel, Jitterbug Perfume. It grew as an idea out of my experience and love for dance and then my interest in rock climbing that began in 1989 when I first began to climb in the
Amelia: Thinking outside of normal dance lexicon and asking my dancers to contribute creatively. Hudson: Love the “out of the box” concept I am big fan of it. What’s next for Bandaloop? are you going global as of yet?
Amelia: We are touring the new work Bound(less) which we hope to share with thousands all over North America and the world. We have been touring internationally for the last ten years.
Catch a link to my SHORT FILM remix..... PROJECT BANDALOOP IN RETROSPECTIVE REMIXED REFLECTION
Hudson: That’s great! expanding!!! I see it as an Intense Art form that can expand greatly.. what are your further ideas for the project?
Next up a project I ran upon in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.......
Amelia: We hope to make a new mountain film that puts Bound(less) choreography in the Sierra high on granite cliffs.
SLEEPER CELLS PERMACULTURE by ARTIST SUZANNE HUSKY
Hudson: Amazing! How many members are in the project and how did you go about casting?
SLEEPER CELLS PERMACULTURE truly kicked my environmental energies into gear. So fresh and “out of the box”. Something of an idea that I have been hinting upon for a long while only in some remote countryside area Amelia: There are six dancers currently. I of France or Italy, this gave me the push I audition about every three years or so and needed.. Ingeniously constructed little sleeper look for dancers that have fluidity, strength, cells in which one could work on the Hayes and can work together well. Valley Farm by day and inhabit a sleeper cell by night. once again thinking outside the norm Thank you Amelia for your time and vision.. we look forward to seeing your progress and and outside the traditional form of housing, expansion!!! Maybe something in the UK is in an artistic-eco-habitat that lifts the lid off the system. That’s where we are right now with order.
the whole Occupy movement and pushing the envelope for Change. I was truly inspired by Suzanne’s work take a look a the links below and see for yourself. Tear the roof off!!
opening experience much like the other two projects I have written about. check the links and enjoy!
So there you have it -signing off once again your roving roaming global reports of Art and Design in it’s finest!
http://www.suzannehusky.com/sleepercellhvf. Happy Occupying! html THE SF PARKLETS http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/10/ san-francisco-parklets-swap-parking-spotscommunity-space http://laughingsquid.com/parklets-the-tinyparks-of-san-francisco/ Happened upon an exhibit at Fifty24 SF gallery where i saw my first Parklet! I will be up in SF this weekend hopefully discovering more of this unique spacesaver design..A grand eye
Eat More Cake
Whipping up a supremely eclectic, full fat batter of genre snaking, speaker shaking musical dynamism, Eat More Cake are exploding onto the airwaves with their debut studio release - a double EP where Climb the Ladder blossoms into Live the Dream. Fat beats and luxurious synthesised abstractions fly into the sinuous strings of the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra and tumble intuitvely out the other side into rolling lyrical flow. Scything through stylistic constraint and the increasingly blurred lines between electronic production and classic songwriting, they’ve honed an intriguing, penetrating sound that balances the uplifting and the sweetly melancholy with consumate style. Definitely ones to watch, LSD caught up with Matt and Andy, the songwriting producers behind the bakery front for a Q&A...
How much of a political statement are your views on cake consumption and how much are they spiritual Matt - Unfortunately, our moniker grew out of our bizarre naming convention for works in progress, rather than anything more meaningful. We could maybe pretend that it has some sort of reference to consumerism, but the truth is that it was just a comedy name that kind of stuck. Andy - Yeah. Once we thought of it, it was too stupid not to keep.
Give us a little insight into the formative (baking?) years and how you began to hone a musical identity
Matt - I was classically trained on piano from the age of 6, then took up trumpet a few years later. I taught myself guitar and bass in my mid-teens and since none of my mates wanted a trumpeter in their rock bands. I ended up playing a lot of rhythm guitar. From a songwriting point of view, I started out writing mostly on guitar, since I’d spent all my life tinkling along on the piano. It was mostly overly-complicated, open chord progressions and experimenting with alternative tunings things I had never been able to do on piano.
then moved onto the electric guitar. Then when I was about 18 I got a classical guitar and that was that. I studied at San Diego State University where I spent most of my time in the studio working on ideas that Matt and I were sending back and forth (on cassete to begin with!) After that I worked at a music shop for a couple of years where I was able to practice piano and drums on the clock - happy days...
Andy - I started on the cello (screechy) and
When did electronics first impact you and how much of a spin did it put on your direction Matt - I was given an Atari ST some time in my early teens, and got hold of an early sequencer from Steinberg called Pro 24, which I hooked up first to my Yamaha home keyboard, then later my first synths - a Yamaha SY22 and a Roland U20. This was the key to doing everything myself, without having to worry about band members, co-writers, etc. I had 24 tracks of MIDI delightfulness to fill up, and this was a revelation. I set about writing a whole string of really bad synth muzak tunes…
It was my first sampler, an Akai S01, that really opened me up to a new way of writing. Suddenly, my vocal -less tunes with their empty beats could be instantly transformed with a de-tuned hip-hop break or a multilayered funk skit. I was limited to 15.6 seconds of sample time, so planning was key... Andy - Matt basically got me into electronic music. He had a demo tape years ago which I loved, shortly after which I discovered a computer with Cubase hiding away in the corner of one of the school’s music rooms, which no-one really knew about. I started hassling Matt to let me come round and make a tune. Eventually he humoured me. Now I humour him (!) How much of a struggle was it to get heard Matt - It’s still a massive struggle. There’s a lot of noise out there to try and be heard over. You start with your friends, and hope they tell their friends, then gigs, giveaway CDs (of which we did hundreds), then you just pray that somewhere along the way the right people hear it. Andy - It’s more work than I could have ever imagined. I think it’s got a lot harder as well. If we were around twenty years ago, we’d be lighting cigars off fifty pound notes but now it’s so easy to make something half decent that there’s about a trillion artists plus music is essentially free. People used to try to sell their music, now it’s a real challenge to give someone something free and get them to listen. It’s like trying to sell sweets to Hansel and Gretel. Radio is a killer too. There’s so many generic American artists taking up the playlists - you’re competing with the whole world! How does the feeling of a time and place where a song was written weather the years Matt - Sad as it sounds, pretty much every idea I›ve ever written was composed when i was by myself in my home studio. I like to
think that tunes I write are an expression of the feelings that are in my head at the time, though often they are inspired by other things I›ve heard, and bubble up out of riffs I hum in my head. Andy - It’s nice to think back to where I was when an idea was written. It’s like keeping a diary. There are a few tracks that I can’t listen to anymore because they make me cringe, but luckily I still agree with myself about most things so that’s good. How do you define soul if at all Matt - Musically speaking, my soul is the bit of me that makes me want to cry when I listen to great harmonies. Eric Whitacre choral works, for example. Andy - Great question. I really like these questions. I take it this is a reference to a line in Smoke & Mirrors. The track is about free will - do we choose what we do? - and inevitably the conversational ways ends up
with trying to define ‘free will’ and ‘choice’ and you veer away from the actual subject. I might argue that your ‘choice’ of breakfast cereal is determined by how much advertising you’ve been exposed to, what you’ve read, been advised etc. Then we argue about whether that is a ‘choice’ or not. Once you label things with words, you end up discussing the words and not the things that the words describe. So how would I define ‘Soul’? I wouldn’t bother. What’s for breakfast? Does perfection sacrifice emotion Matt - Surely it›s not perfect if it lacks emotion? Andy - Well it depends how you define ‘perfection’ and ‘emotion’ (!) - I think of dance music as being ‘perfect’ - quantised beats, very in tune vocals etc. and indie / rock type stuff being less perfect - sloppy guitars, out of tune vox etc. I think, though, that the harmonic structure of a piece of music can induce an emotional response. It’s all frequency ratios that are pleasing to the
brain. People have described my vocals as pretty emotionless. That triggers an emotion. It makes me sad.
What was the role of the producer in the studio in both a technical and an artistic sense and how organic did that dynamic feel Matt - Making coffee, massaging our egos… Joking aside, Richard Kayvan›s job was to take our incoherent, disparate back catalogue and turn it into something that felt like a collection of like-minded songs. We pride ourselves in our genre-less approach to songwriting, but it doesn›t make us particularly marketable. It was Richie›s decision to take all the looped guitar/piano/bass/drum parts, and record them again, using real instruments and without looping - this immediately gave all the songs a certain amount of continuity.
How did the collaboration with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra come about
Matt - A chance meeting between Jason Moore , our label owner, and film score composer Youki Yamamoto at an awards dinner (or some such do) led to Youki offering to help with the orchestral segments of our tracks. We had already written and arranged the orchestral pieces, and recorded them using various pieces of virtual orchestra software. Youki kindly re-scored our arrangement, then snuck in a recording of both Story of My Life and Underwater at the end of a session he was doing for another project in Sofia, Bulgaria . Producer Richie then mixed these down at Youki’s place at Pinewood Studios and our pretty good orchestral sections suddenly became amazing. Story of My Life is my proudest musical achievement to date.
played live, then working out who gets what of the leftovers - what›s going to go to Ableton and be mixed live, what›s going to Owen to be scratched in, how many layers of the beat can Alex reproduce on the kit at once, etc. The process of putting the tracks back together in the rehearsal studio often gives the track a new distinct flavour for live. We›ve tried to stick fairly closely to the recorded versions recently, since they are essentially what we are trying to sell. However, we have been known to throw in remixes of more downtempo tracks so we can bring them to a livelier stage - like Red Sky, for which there was a great bouncy house version that we played a lot last summer. The live set up is constantly evolving, so the interpretation of the songs changes with it.
Do you find new dimensions and new elements in your songs when you perform them live
Andy - Vocal wise - you really get to put something else into it when you’re playing live. I get really amped up - I go a bit mad. Most of our tracks are quite chilled but the live show is pretty intense...
Matt - Of course. From my point of view, the changes start when we convert the song ready How much scope for improvisation is there in to play it live. This process normally involves your live performances identifying the parts that are going to be
Matt - There have been times where it’s just been Andy and I playingalong to backing tracks, but thanks to designed-for-stage software like Ableton Live we have the ability to vamp things, throw extra choruses in, extend solos, etc. In the studio, we’ve been known to wander off into 10-minute jams over unrehearsed beats but, again, because we’re trying to advertise the songs on these CDs, we’ve tried to convey them fairly closely to the recording. Of course, there’s the other elements of our live show too - Andy and Owen are amazing DJs, and we’ve stripped back to acoustic sets in the past as well - Andy even does a mean solo acoustic set which he’s been playing a fair bit recently, whilst I’ve been taking a break from playing live. Andy - Yeah - the live show’s constantly evolving. Ideally we would have like a ten piece band plus a choir, brass and strings etc. but that’s not likely to happen any time soon so we adjust to whatever means we have available, really... Where is the line between writing music for yourselves and for a wider audience
Matt - Write for yourself. If the audience like it, all the better. Andy - I think if you write what you think people want to hear it’s not gonna be very good. This may sound ridiculous but how important is enunciation in a rap Andy - That’s an interesting one - I have a friend who is a rapper in the States and he is obsessed with making sure every word is enunciated perfectly. I think the lyrics are the most important thing, then delivery. I’m not so big on flow if it’s at the expense of making sense. In terms of enunciation - I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have to listen a few times to get all the lyrics. See Snow: Informer. It took me ages to figure out what Pitbull kept saying in all his tracks...
How collaborative are the lyrics and do they tend to explode out in one torrid creative session of reflection
Matt - I am completely lyrically inept. I’ve tried, but everything comes out without any style, flow or substance.
Would you find it even possible to write an entire album in one style
Andy - Sometimes I’ll write a song and the whole thing will come together pretty much instantly - then maybe I’ll work on a third verse or a middle eight for a couple of weeks and nail it. Others, the rap tracks especially, can take well over a year to write. I am such a perfectionist. Good enough isn’t good enough!
Matt - Given enough time, we’d probably be able to cobble together 12 songs of a similar genre, but it would be deathly boring. Variety is the spice of life, and all that!
Do you really need to climb the ladder to live the dream Matt - Probably not, but I think it’s only fair to have to accomplish something to get to your dreams, rather than just sit around and expect them to happen. Andy - I think the less people have the more they appreciate what they do have. The title is a lyric from the track Music Box and is intended to be very sarcastic. I think it’s a shame people have to work so hard. I am not very good at working for other people...
Andy - This is a great question. Of course it would be easy to write an album where al l the tracks were of one genre, but like Matt says - how dull! I can’t imagine deciding to be ‘a house music producer’, for example, and from then on expressing myself through a 4 on the floor beat at 130 bpm every single time. What’s the point of being creative if you have to hone it in and water it down? Genres are annoying. I’d rather hear the best group in the world make music of all different styles than listen to some crap that some moron made because I like music of that genre. If you ask anyone what kind of music they like, they nearly always say: ‘I like a bit of everything’
Did the EP’s originate as a holistic concept or were you just making so many diverse tracks it naturally came together
Matt - The EPs were born out of a slightly more mismatched al bum. The long list for that album contained an even wider assortment of songs, including comedy numbers, trance tunes and a barbershop song. The double EP track lists are much more in line with how, historically, we liked to assemble demos, etc. The light tracks/dark tracks vibe works better on separate CDs than they did as one long, intertwined album track list.
How do you see the current health of the UK music scene Matt - It’s a bit of a mess, innit? The people in charge got some fairly critical decisions wrong - not backing music downloads, for example - at crucially the wrong times. The average punter doesn’t value music at all. Independent labels have no presence on the major radio stations. Smaller artists can’t get any highprofile publicity. Advances have become a thing of the past and the market is massively saturated with distinctly average talent. On the flip side, talented people with enough motivation are finding new and creative ways of getting their music out there, and social
media is of course playing a large part in that. Also, artists seem to be much more open to giving their music away, which is something we’ve always been big fans of. Fans expect something for nothing now, so it’s best just to let them have it. Andy - It’s not great, is it? It seems like we’re trying to copy the Americans and sell it back to them... We’ve got some good artists - but a lot of the best ones don’t break through and vice versa. I don’t know.
What’s the dream Matt - A mint condition Fender Rhodes Mk1 Suitcase. Andy - Ibiza sunset. Behind the decks at Cafe Del Mar or Mambo. Love to see Eat More Cake become a regular on dance comps. eatmorecake.com Eat More Cake’s debut EP Climb The Ladder, Live The Dream is out now
Sir Child Wander off the beaten path in the wilds of Hungary and if your imagination is karmically calibrated and your eyes are open wide you might just find yourself in a very special wonderland - the magical, carefree, brain boggling adventures of Sir Child and his knights of the paint stained table. The name itself hints at childlike fairy tale and as his bizarre menagerie of mutated innocence and dreamlike paradise wander through the flower strewn groves of rustic playfulness - breathing deep the fresh cut grass, a little hint of total bonkersness comes drifting in from over the haystacks. A sort of Arcadian mushroom trip into the rhythms of life with cast of lapsed journeymen on the storybook plane scurrying through the colours and melting into the soft sunshine. We caught up with him
How long have you been creating art? I started off initially with straight up graffiti, but that really wasnâ€™t my own artistic expression. I began feeling my way into my characters and figures four years ago and since then Iâ€™ve been exploring and expanding into street art. What inspired your decision to put your work on the streets? I would like to show the people of my nation my work so that they can reflect on how they live their own lives. A huge majority of people live in a permanent shade of grey and plod through a very boring life.- often unable to see
the beautiful side of the world If they would only come into the natural world more often, they would see wonderful things, but sadly most people don’t have any time for nature but live their lives in a “computer earth”.
Do you exhibit your work much? I can’t exhibit my works in this year but I’ll plan exhibithions in the next year and the years that follow. But what I’d really like to do is exhibit in foreign countries. Tell us about some of the concepts behind your colorful characters? This is a very easy process.I close my eyes and the character’s walking in front of me. And I draw and paint them quickly.Before they disappear to some other place Or I guess one theme and choose characters in my head and work them into a picture. How do Hungarians respond to your outlandish characters? Many Hungarians don’t understand the theme of my pictures.And they often frightened by my “friends”.
Is there a street art scene in Hungary and how strong is it? The street art scene hasn’t really grown enough here because there isn’t enough of a feeling and a love for it.But the graffiti is stronger than street art - but then street art is still a very new form for most Hungarians
You paint onto canvas and then you place on the streets. How long does your work last on the street before someone takes it for themselves? First I paint on canvas and any other materials and objects that I find - anything like fibreboard, wood , rusty metal, chair etc, and to be honest I prefer to place my pieces in totally natural surroundings - between a tree or in a field of flowers. Most people don’t remove my work but they smash them. But this time is one or two week long. You also have a distinctive color palette, tell us about your choice of colors. The colors are very important for me. I like all color in the world including those I haven’t seen yet. I use the colors openly. I like using yellow for light in particular as I find it the most natural and life giving for my figures. The other colors just come naturally.
Your characters are very detailed, does it take style. And I would like to live in happiness with my artist girlfriend. you long to produce them? If I’m working on a smaller scael with coloured pencils a piece will only take and hour or 2, but the larger scale stuff takes anywhere between 5 or 6 hours Do you get to do much painting in other cities? Yes I do place work in other cities - especially because the scenes in those cities tend to be bigger and I fellmy work may be more appreciated there. What would you like to be doing more of in the future?
How can the general public purchase your works and where can they get those cool T-Shirts? These T-shirts I wear and I paint them in very small numbers. But I look for supporters who can help me exhibit my creations in foreign countries and / or can print my jobs upon T-shirts and other clothes. Anything you’d like to share with LSD readers?
Hey LSD readers - I think love and the freedom of nature is the spirit of life. And I thank LSD magazine for the interview. In the future I’ll would like to be going to other I hope we meet yet...... countries and exhibiting my paintings and creations in the streets and galleries. I’m hoing to do lots of big murals and am planning on www.facebook.com/pages/ making some animated films in my street art SirChild/174663045918173
No One Likes A Quitter They smoke too much, swear too much, love drugs, drink way too much and are always the first person on your party list, but lately they are nowhere to be seen, where have all the bad people gone? Everyone knows the naughty crowd has the most fun but it seems like being good is much more gauche. Bands are becoming more and more boring, actors just speak like PR dummies and even the worlds biggest show off Lady Gaga has been toning down her image for Christ’s sake! With a squeaky clean festival summer behind us, and a fresh football season under way, we
can only hope there’s some ferocious scandal brewing beneath a feisty fashion season. As the saying goes “when we’re good we’re good – but when we’re bad we’re better” Getting Framed The first time I noticed designer Moo was during a show at London Fashion Week. I missed most of the show desperately trying to get a closer look at her specs It was only after I chased her down that I discovered incredibly talented miniature Moo, was framing fashionable faces across the globe and stocking her frames in prestigious luxury retailers and selling to pop stars. After initially fixing a pair of broken vintage glasses with white fimo clay, Moo was inspired to take the idea further on various vintage frames and sunglasses, designing hand crafted porcelain appliqués, inspired by antique picture frames. Each piece is a one off creation making her innovative frames extremely eye catching (excuse the pun)
Now stocked in Tokyo, LA, New York, Hong Kong and the Middle East, it seems that Moo’s debut collection is getting talked about and the quirky fashion student is set to be a star overnight! www.brownsfashion.com
Dumber It seems only a few weeks back we were glued A Girl getting arrested in her uniform outside Curry’s for stealing from...the Curry’s where to the television as we watched looters run havoc threw the streets like some live episode she worked!! of Street Wars! Amongst all that angst and Man stealing carpet sample squares from destruction we couldn’t help but notice the comedy villains who stood out from the crowd a smashed up Carpet Right - yup carpet samples?? Dumb A boy posing for pictures with a large Bag of Tesco value Basmati rice The 70 year-old man who was the oldest to be arrested, after being caught looting at The woman trying on shoes outside JD Sports Sainsbury’s Ealing in Clapham Junction before looting them 10 “youth them” desperately trying to remove A group of kids breaking into a Nando’s and the flat screen tv from Ladbrokes bookies in looting the frozen chicken, then running out Clapham Junction. The man who fitted those looking like they have just done a big bank wall brackets should get an award for his job! workmanship Guy breaking into an off license in Peckham, stealing a tray of apples and tomatoes - only to have them stolen off him as he came out of the store! You can’t make that shit up! Looney Looters
Famous Fantasy Football We started wondering - if football teams were famous people who would they be? Here’s our line up… Arsenal – JLS Aston Villa - Justin Lee Collins Blackburn - Peter Andre Bolton - Naomi Campbell Chelsea – Tiger Woods Everton - Sarah Ferguson Fulham - Hugh Grant Liverpool - Madonna Man City - P Diddy Man United – Justin Beiber Newcastle - Chantelle Houghton Norwich - Jeremy Kyle QPR - Kerry Katona Stoke – Dolph Lundgren Sunderland – Jordan Swansea City - Ross Kemp Tottenham – The Saturdays Wolves’ -Yoko Ono Light it up! He’s known as the Neon Man, and with 35 years in the biz owner of Gods Own Junkyard Chris Bracey has been the bright idea behind numerous iconic photo shoots, ad campaigns, window displays and cult films such as the original Batman, Tomb Raider and Judge Dredd. He’s created lights for some of the industries finest from David La Chapelle, Vogue,
Alexander McQueen to Tim Burton So it comes as no surprise that his original illuminated works of art and restored vintage pieces have created a cult following of buyers and collectors in LA and here in the UK The list of collaborations, appearances and demand for his work is lengthy and extremely impressive to say the least, but after meeting the man himself the fame has certainly not gone to his head. Incredibly down to earth, he’s a real deal artist, who gives the impression that at the end of the day he more into his passion for the craft than he is seeing his name up in lights. www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk
Making our PP tingle….
Going down on us…
Satan’s Log – This very naughty devil tweets about all the famous dead people in Hell’s VIP, not sure if the devil is a boy or girl, but its funny as fuck - @SatansLog on twitter Future Classics: Nike is set to launch the selflacing trainers, in a hush hush limited edition run. They first debut in the movie Back to the Future
Burlesque - So over it!!!! Feels like step 5 in the 10 step program to Goth recovery. Dwarves on Channel 4 - Way too many programs and too PC. Come on C4 you’re bigger then this! Crème Brulee Machiato at Starbucks - A coffee that tastes like it has alcohol in it without having any alcohol in it! We’re calling trading standards… Big Brother Return - The Celeb edition was only watched by coma patients, and now its dragged into a series with unnecessary z-listers…please stop!
Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians enough said, you can’t not look…www. menwholooklikeoldlesbians.com Ultra Suede: In Search of Halston - An incredibly glam and hedonistic film about the designer’s career. From the sex and drugs, to Studio 54 fashion stardom and all the rest. Its coming Soon
Melany Page Photographer, poet, illustrator and all round creative firestorm Melany Page turned subject into subjective when she made the move from model to modeller. A series of stunning self portraits and deliciously extravagant slices of digital life are the least of her many talents as her fashion references, delight in the weird and the wonderful and instinct for flair in all it’s rainbow forms coalesces into an intriguing body of work. Throw in the poetry (some of which you can see at the end of the piece) and a new book project on the go, we’re fascinated to see where she heads next. Confusion and clarity extrovert and introvert all shot through a wonderfully eclectic lense - we had a word..
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do? My real name is Melania Tegon, I am a 22 years old girl from Venice (Italy). I am a person who chose to live life doing what she likes. I dedicate all my time to photography and i illustrate a lot of confused things, and I also write about them. How long you been into the creative arts? I have been drawing and writing poems since I was a child. I used to look at an empty piece of paper and I could see it written, full of my imaginary plot. If you look at my drawings,
you can see anything you like in them. It’s like a fusion of many different illustrations composing a bigger picture. I’m happy when people spend time observing them. When I was younger I got into graffiti, but I stopped doing it, when I realized it was causing me too many problems whit the police. I sometimes think I look like a very outgoing person, but I know I have always been a bit different from anybody else here. It’s like if I was living in my imaginary world. I have never been too good with words, therefore I sometimes use writing as the expressionary form of my inner self. I started taking pictures when I was a young girl and I became getting more involved in 2009.
We know you did some modeling, what inspired the leap from front of house to the back of a camera? I have done some modeling work and some of my pictures were published on magazines, such as Life&Style and Street fashion, but I prefer to take pictures of myself, by myself . It is a good practice if you want to express your feelings and opinions/points of view. What are you looking for when pointing your camera at a subject? I like the fact that I can make ordinary people look extravagant through my photography because Italy is a conservative country. Uncommon people or subjects are generally criticized, and I like to bring to light extravagant side of people, because they usually tend to hide it. How did you feel when Italian Vogue published photos you’d taken as opposed to shots you modeled for? I was the subject (they published one of my self portraits). I was surely happy! At that time I was working as assistant for a dentist and what really made me happy is that they published it on the same day i got fired from that job. I took it as a sign, from that moment making art became my priority even if there was no money income involved with it.
How often do you exhibit your photos? It depends, there are times when I do exhibitions every couple of months and there are other times when instead I could do two simultaneously. I also try to exhibit my art through local business. For instance, at the moment some of my illustration are exposed in a local boutique while some of my pictures are hanging in a salon of a local hairstylist. Tell us about some of the themes of your photo exhibitions. The style and the topics chosen for my work are often revisited. Generally the topics I choose are :fantasy, sarcasm and ease. The thing I like the most in myself portraits is that I can use myself as a visual communication tool. We love your drawings and illustrations, tell us a little about the inspiration for the works?
Loneliness, music, strange people.
What inspires your characters? My inspiration comes from society, people around me and often from my mood. It is a way to express myself, my feelings, my opinions and my points of view.
write when you see it just as a personal need. However I believe that good writing is an important skill. I need to do what I do because that is what makes me feel good. What’s your new book about?
Tell us about about your recent exhibition of illustrations. An exhibition dedicated to a collection of my illustrations is just over. The main piece of illustrations was representing a combination of characters, such as rabbits, Pinocchio, Alice in the wonderland and many others exchanging sex whit each other. it s an orgy which spreads out from a vagina that aims to represent the modern society. Your poetry has been published in numerous books and magazines, how important is writing to your creative skill set? Writing is related to my art work. I do not think it is fundamental to know how to
I have not given myself a deadline yet, It could still take me years to finish it...however,... I am writing a novel about on ordinary man who lives whit a crazy woman who turns out to be less, crazy than him. The man is obsessions with everything and finally decides to blow up the building where they live to escape from all his obsessions. My inspiration was the title I took from an article of an Italian newspaper I read while ago. Any shows coming up you’d like to mention? At the moment I am working on a nude self-portrait shooting, inspired to Francesca Woodman. The work will be exhibited in Milan next November and December.. I have had different offers
so far, in fact my next exhibition might be happening in London! Is there anything else you’d like to share with LSD readers? I would to reflect my way of thinking with this poem: The creative dreamers and the mad people are not let sitting down to brooding on what could take them far away, They only fly away and enough. They can see in the darkness. Whereas greedy, eager people, false conformist, live in the cold, Blind, drowsy for boredom, never silent, envious, they feed of the ability they are enviously fed with the capability of those who are capable to rise out of here by those the power of going beyond the limits, somewhere, Into the imaginarium.
Ever considered leaving the all too seductive comforts of a succesful business behind to spread your wings in a 21st century, paint soaked equivelent of the Beat Generation? Originally hailing from the state of Tennessee, home to both Nashville and Memphis and sacred soil for blues, coutry and rock n roll, Justin Vallee and Jeremiah Taylor have done just that. Using creative skills honed both in the wider ether and their respective career choices of hairdressing and landscaping, they fled the confines of daily life and the clutches of materialism to head out acropss the globe in a creative odyssey of experience where mixed media melt into a medium and
the road burns freedom deep into the soul. We caught up with 2square for a word as they ploughed through the miles and sowed the seeds of collaboration, celebration and challenge. Who are 2Square and what do you do?Â 2square is 2 passionate best friends that are chasing our dreams. We are both Leoâ€™s and cosmic brothers. We have shared goals and some ideals. We consider ourselves modern day renaissance men. We dabble in a number of arts which increase with exposure to them. Graffiti of course, spray
Photos by Mike Kline
can, stencil work, brush and mixed medium art and street art, poetry, freestyle, music, hair, clothing designers, models, photography, video production, and art installation. We are gypsies traveling and producing art is our job. We get out our skateboards and see cities. Seeing landmarks and doing “touristy things” holds little worth for us. We want to meet the city , the people, the under belly, the street life, the nightlife. There is so much you can learn from people and traveling if you are open to it. You’re currently circumnavigating the planet, where and when did it begin and what drives your intrepid travels?
Justin: The business was killing me slowly I was making tons of money but it was never enough and I was drowning in my huge work load. Some days are so amazing I could never explain them in words. Many days are... And some weigh you down. The road is our life now there is no safety on the road, no certainty, and no promises. I’ve fallen in love 1000’s of miles away on a different continent and then had to leave. Things like that leave a mark. I can see the puzzle slowly begin to form as we find new pieces. Our lives have greater meaning we have both felt it our whole lives only now we are discovering it. The world will as well with us and if they watch our videos they can learn a great deal about them /us.
Jeremiah - London, Discovery, the discovery of Tell us more about your mode of transport... places, people, art, passions. Justin - We discovered our potential in Justin:Well when we were in Europe 2square London about a year and a half ago. The passion and hunger for new sites and new people drives us.
You gave up successful businesses to embark on this journey. Is the road living up to the dream?
had a Ford transport it was like Optimus Prime in a van shape. We could change the inside of that mug with a quickness. Watch our cribs video about the van it will crack you up.. now we have a big F150 truck with bullhorns on the front and a vintage camper from the 60’s we painted all bright and shit. As we travel the outside will change along with our moods and at times we may want to blend in more. The inside is swagged out and getting more so by the day. We just want our place to have good energy so both we and other people can be comfortable. You’re big into global collectives and the sharing of international resources. How are artists responding to your global call for creating unified workspaces? Jeremiah: We think its going really well. its not like we are pushing it in any way. we are letting the idea build its own steam. we talk to other artist about the idea and the dream. we romanticize about the possibilities of a
Photo by Mike Kline
collective space and what it would mean to a community. people respond well to it. most people want to be involved in some capacity. Name some of the cities you’ve visited so far and some of the people you’ve worked with along the way. Florida....West Palm Beach. David k (hair).. Miami. Local street crews (graffiti) Miami Magnus Magnusun (photography) Miami NYCfunrun (art installations)Miami and NYC Various models (photography) Miami, Germany, Knoxville, Portugal Luis RUbim (photography) London, Amsterdam, Germany Migle Backovaite (photography) London many times Just to name a few.. Whenever it’s relevant and good work we try and leave other artists work up when we do walls or incorporate it somehow. I think the further we grow, the more fruit this tree will produce.
Where in the world are you now and what you up to? We are in Columbus Ohio in a Macdonalds jacking their wifi. We got rained out of a paint mission, we just ended our European tour and we are now on our North American tour. We are starting in the midwest and then who knows?...We have painted so much in Europe, now its time to take it to our own soil. Of course we want to see everything but some of our first stops are really dangerous places but we enjoy going in other hoods without heads high, it’s part of the rush.
I’m sure many artists dream of traveling the globe creating collaborative art and 2Square are doing it. How’s it working out for you so far? Its living a dream. we are constantly meeting great people. having amazing conversations that shape you. If you are open to people and a experience then you have so much at your fingertips you can learn. Money wise we are close to poor but as far as knowledge and growth from travel we fill very rich. How organised is your planned route across the world? Jeremiah - Planned, hahahahahahaha Justin - About as unorganized as you can imagine. Originally we had intended to have our ducks in a row. I think our method works good if we like a place we hit the brakes and chill. Of course we have ideas of places we want to go or places we’d like to travel to again. Part is timing and part is money.
Where do you hope to be visiting in coming months? Miami or the West Coast. We were really cold last winter, we stayed in a collective over in mile end. there wasn’t any heat, and we said if we could help it this winter we were going to post up some where warm. It will be nice to dig our feet in some where and get connected. Tell us about some of the projects you’ve done. Justin - I think your readers would enjoy our
graffiti tour we just did in Europe there were so many amazing moments i can think of. Portugal stands out to me we both started doing our biggest work there and during the day. We painted under a bridge as the sun rose. We did some great work in some buildings and warehouses in Lisboa. We spent a total of 3 weeks in Portugal it is so chill. If
youâ€™ve never been I say get your fucking ass over there. There were some scary moments also which can be just a memorable.. The line you walk when doing what we do is so thin and things can change in a moments notice. You have to think about police, people, gangs, the area you are working in and many other things.Â
What did you get up to when you came to the UK in the summer? Justin - We have such a passion for London and in the last year we have been there 3 times living there for 3 months during the winter. 2square definitely considers London a home away from home. We have some photographers we work with when we are in town including Migle Backovaite and Luis Rubim who is one of our tour/ graffiti photographers. Luis is brave and has been out in London and Germany when we are putting stuff up in sketchy areas. 2square had our first European exhibition which was really nice we hope t follow it with many more.
above. Of course we have some video footage that we hold back and some that was never release between our webisodes. We produce our own show now. Our number of poems is climbing toward 400 on our site right now so I think we could make a book out of it. Also We noticed you document your journey using inside my writing I have a few “regular”series a variety of formats including poetry, should I’ve started.. One is letters to carol and it we expect a book or documentary film on documents our travels and is a sort of love your adventures? poetry.. Sounds lame to the male readers I’m sure.. But it is a way for me to open up and Justin - Good question ...umm yea all of the
let people see a real side to our travels and I can expose myself a little. more. The other is diaries of a madman and it is whatever topic I want. I have ideas for others also.. We have both discussed writing books. Thereâ€™s so much we could talk about that we never discuss from traveling, to people, women, danger, police,blah blah...Â
Which part of the process do you enjoy most and what should we expect to see more from you in the future? Jeremiah - Good question, ummmmm I wish I knew. hopefully good work in whatever I/we do.
Justin - Well the travel part is a treat and meeting so many great people. The whole process can be humbling at times. It’s really hard for me to choose one thing I love all the arts we play around with and there is constantly new inspiration around us. You will see us playing with music more. We have upgraded our technology and can bring more with us around the states. I think our pieces will continue to get bigger and bigger. I know we both want huge buildings and hopefully we can earn it. Right now we have grappling hooks,rope, ladders, and extensions..but I think you will see some repelling from us soon
Anything else you’d like to say to LSD Magazine readers? Justin - I would like to tell them to check out our site we update it on a regular basis and we’ve put lots of work into it. Watch The
video’s from our travels we try to be authentic and show what we capture some are really funny and some are sad. Also check out our poetry it gets updated every week or sooner usually. We are readers and fans of graffiti as well. You can make your dream world a reality. Or I guess I should say you have the ability to change your destiny believe in yourself and run as Fast as you can towards it.
Published on Nov 23, 2011
LSD Issue 8 – Walls of Perception is flying atcha right here, right now. Occupying mind, body and soul, and blowing a pineal sized hole in c...