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Photo Kevin McAvey Rider Will Donovan, back tail
Checking In France
Show & Tell
NUT & BOLT
SNOW / SK ATE / CULTURE
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Stewartsmithphoto.com, Kevin McAvey, Luka Leroy, Christian Shepard, Sam Muller, “Joe Face” Monteleone, Jason Ross, Dan Ward, Taylor Allen, Dan Winter, Mike Ford, Trevor Vaughan CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Sydney Lindberg, Bryan “Butch” Wright, Kahli Scott, Arthur Bouet, Peter Levandowski, Vaibhav Sutrave CONTRIBUTORS
Marco DelGuidice, Daniel Muchnik, Dominic Palarchio REPS
Pete Prudhomme, Doug Brassill, Chris Gadomski, Doug Setzler, Nick Legere, Dustin Amato, Ryan Brouder THANKS
Tom Ryan, Ben Meadows, Nick Carmer, Georges Dionne, Jerry Bellmore, Snowdogg Carter, Phil Ashworth, Moi Martinez, Mingo Gallery, Sean Mitchell, Trevor Denman, Anthony Leone
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ISSUE 31 SLEEVE: Wissam Shawkat - Letters in Abstraction ISSUE 31 COVER: Mr. Penfold
EDITOR’S NOTE Halfway through this issue, one of our writers disappeared... No joke, he’s literally disappeared. But that’s not to say he’s on a missing persons list somewhere, he’s done this before. This time he was right in the middle of an assignment for a feature interview, had the date all set for the call, questions underway and then boom - gone. It’s been weeks and we still haven’t heard from him. He doesn’t make it any easier by not having a Facebook account or instagram and rarely does he use his phone either. Email? Seriously, a lost cause. Some of us think he moved or is in jail. Perhaps he’s in hiding. I think it might be a combo of all three. Either way, I know he’ll resurface again in a few weeks like nothing ever happened. Unfortunately for you, you won’t be able to read the interview he was working on for this issue, maybe next issue... The good news is, we’ve got tons of other kick ass stories and interviews in 31 so it really doesn’t matter. The new cover sleeve is pretty rad too. Stay afloat people! Enjoy,
Checking In FRANCE
Street skating has always been a huge part of the French skate scene. Easily explained by the fact that France caught up very late on the massive European, concrete skatepark flowering, with countries like Belgium, Denmark or Sweden for example.
Words Arthur Bouet Photo Luka Leroy
Checking In FRANCE
That being said, it feels like most French youngsters started skating in the streets and have always been used to wandering around looking for spots. It sure shows in the abilities of well-known skaters, such as Jean Baptiste Gillet or Lucas Puig to name but a few, comfortable on all fields. In the past few years, Constructo, a young skatepark manufacturer has managed to work in unison with town councils and the country finally got numerous, quality concrete skate-parks popping up all over. With those grew a new generation of â&#x20AC;&#x153;clinging to the parkâ&#x20AC;? kids, whom I hope, when they grow up, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll get their boards out of the skate-park fences and go ride the city. Still, strong and active street scenes remain in the major cities. Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille bring a very dynamic vibe with young and older skaters riding along, filming, partying and basically just having fun.
I hope, when they grow up, THEYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll get their boards out of the skate-park fences and go ride the city.
Checking In FRANCE
have a drink with your mates, before maybe going to a house party in someone’s flat. In Paris, the opening of the new Place de la République last summer has helped a lot in gathering all the different crews. Located in a central area, it basically offers all you need to start the session before going to some off-center spots, or to chill all day playing S.K.A.T.E. with your friends; it has a very large flat-ground space, a couple of stair sets and some nice ledges. It is definitely the first place to go as a foreigner if you want to meet locals and see who’s out there. It’s not far from what is known as “the skater’s bar”, the U.F.O., where you can relax and have a drink with your mates, before maybe going to a house party in someone’s flat.
Checking In FRANCE
Street skating in Paris has also found quite a new youth, thanks to Greg Dezecot & Olivier Fanchon and their PARISII edits. The concept is simple, involving any young wolf down to stride across the city looking for spots, and produce videos, each one dedicated to one district only. This got a lot of guys psyched to move away from their daily spot and explore what the city had to offer. Luckily, French cops are quite mellow, so you can pretty much skate everywhere without fearing (too much) about getting a ticket.
If you’re feeling lonely, you can still skate the Dôme, which is the classic spot and where you’ll be sure to find some friends to skate by your side. Berçy, the other famous spot was destroyed a few weeks ago. To conclude on Paris, the suburbs are not to be
outdone. Guys are developing their own small scenes around local skate-parks, D.I.Y. and cool, unknown spots. However, Paris is not necessarily THE place to skate. As a matter of fact, many people give Bordeaux the status of skateboarding’s capital city. Nicer weather, a very good skate-park on the docks, and a great variety of spots close to each other. Though smaller, the scene has got a whole different vibe, a love for the ride through the city and night sessions. Marseille and Lyon also have a lot to offer; several skate and street-parks, legendary spots and motivated locals shredding the streets day and night, which is why these cities should be on your list if you’re ever planning on taking a trip to France.
Show & Tell Mardi Nider
Were you born during Mardi Gras? Nope. Actually, I was born on St. Patrick’s Day, a different, yet equally drunken holiday. How many kids picked on your name in school but tried to pretend they didn’t when you saw them at the class reunion? Every single one of them! Remember ‘The Name Game’? Mardi Mardi fo farty... Elementary school was tough stuff...
Unfortunately there was no camera and I had to throw it back... Would you consider this garment more of a doiley or a poncho? Definitely a poncho, that’d be a big ole doiley. Is there a large demand for hippie models? There is! Unfortunately most hippie models have a good 40 years on me. That’s hard to compete with.
24 What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught? As big as my arm! You should have seen it...
Have you ever milked a cow? Ew no, I don’t even drink milk! But if you’ve got a
Interview AB Photo Stewartsmithphoto.com Hair/Makeup Jessica Candage steak on hand, I’ll take that. Medium-rare.
How many cowboy boots do you own? 8 pairs but, somehow I always end up in my worn out Ariat’s.
Is that a Maple Leaf tattoo? You’re not Canadian are you? Nope, I’m Native American and it’s a lotus flower. I am a big fan of things from Canada though... Ryan Reynolds *swoon*.
Any spurs? Haha, no, but now I’m thinking I may need some. When was the last time you ate a bacon cheeseburger? About 48 hours ago... I have a serious Whata-
What’s the manliest thing you’ve done this week? I laid tile in my kitchen, went mudding in my Jeep Wrangler, and drank a 6 pack with my pizza; take your pick!
26 Words & Photo Marco DelGuidice Rider Alex Cole
Alex and I had both scouted this site before. It has a lot of different options and we were both eager to get after it. Since we knew there were choices at this site, we stopped by another location earlier to do a quick spot check and grabbed coffee. We parked, walked through an open gate in a thigh-high chain link fence, couldn't see anything worthy of setting up and left. At this point, after a few rather large coffees, my bowels were starting to let me know something was brewing. We arrived at the spot and by this point I am looking for napkins, or anything. I grabbed the bungee, my camera gear and whatever else I could carry. Off I went, trudging through knee deep snow, my face tightening with a grimace with every step until I couldn't take it anymore. Dropping what I could, I bee-lined it to the woods, trying to find a suitable tree or rock before the storm in my stomach exploded into my pants. Walking out of the woods, I picked up everything I had tossed and made my way back. Hearing someone behind me I turned, and to my dismay, there was a cop approaching me. Shit. Turns out that little knee high fence with an open gate was the property line to an active military base, and they were looking for the trespassers. After checking our ID's and calling off the military search party, he told us we couldn't park where we were and to move to a different spot. He even gave Alex a ride back after. With a quick run in, Alex dropped, and got the shot. 27
Words & Photo Daniel Muchnik Rider Moses Salazar, Lipslide
Behind this photo, lies a story of deep vengeance. Well, maybe not that deep, but there was certainly a small definable element of retribution in play. Moses skated this rail many years ago, and that time, the rail won, leaving our protagonist with a dysfunctional ankle. This time around, Moses trained diligently, lipsliding everything in sight for weeks before coming here – well, no, just once actually. Still, he called out the spot a week in advance, and the crew assembled in an orderly fashion to handle business. This spot lies under the jurisdiction of a fellow by the name of ‘Bob the Filmer’. Bob is very much down to film, and so the shorthand that “BTF is DTF” quickly became the mantra. Dirty jokes aside, he’s a standup dude. As we rolled up to the spot, Moses came out with guns blazing. He grinded it for fun (and snapchat, of course), and as I set up and metered my lights, started hopping on lipslides with full resolve. This is the kind of spot where you can land perfectly, and still get stuck in mulch or a grate, so after numerous painful sticks and tosses, Moses rode away, into the light, on a horse, never to return again. (cue classic western theme) But no, he just did a kickflip, and will probably be back soon.
Jack and I had just finished riding the local hill, Words & Photo Dominic Palarchio Rider Jack Harris
he wanted to show me a few more spots around Lansing before I drove home. After checking out a few different things we both agreed that this elbow was really cool. It had never been hit before. We decided to go ahead and set it up now, despite the brutal -10째 windchill, in hopes of convincing a few people to come out the next weekend and hit it with us. We told a few friends about it during the week and assembled a crew to come out to Lansing the next weekend. It was really convenient to show up and already have the spot set up to shred. The session was heating up, I grabbed my camera and climbed onto the roof, with a little help. All the homies were putting down some hammers, but Jack's clean tricks and smooth style always catches my eye. At the end of the day, after a fun session, everybody went home with some good shots.
Dillon is a New Jersey native, and no stranger to harsh terrain. Words & Photo Daniel Muchnik Rider Dillon Constantine, 5-0
I’ve lived minutes away from this “hubba” - if we can describe this thin slab as such - for two whole years before I saw anybody take it on. Dmondre “I did it for my niggas” Webster was the first to grind it, backside, but since then the spot has changed. This whole complex will be torn down very soon, and recently a whole row of bricks - just out of frame - had been ripped out. The ground on top is soft, the grind is skinny as all heck, and with the bricks gone, you’re not even safe once you put your trick down. Oh, and it’s beveled too. Luckily, Dillon has the “make it or break it” attitude instilled by our harsh northeast winters, and often harsher spots. He started throwing his trucks at this thing immediately, and
I wasted no time in setting up. I was standing on another equally thin ledge for this angle, and a few tries into shooting, I was barraged by a swarm of bees. I felt a few dig right into my hair as I pressed the shutter - It sucked. I stormed off of my ledge and toward the filmers, looking for another angle, but to me, this was the shot. I got back up there, and luckily never got stung again. Dillon nailed it within a couple minutes of the stinging, and I couldn’t have been happier to step down. Celebrations ensued as they naturally do, and I forget exactly how many tall cans were paid out, but the day’s mission was complete.
Twenty four seven ricketts
Schuyler has been around for a while now. He throws hammers, motivates everyone following in his footsteps and is just a genuine individual. I've personally watched him throw some of the gnarliest tricks with my own eyes. If you don't believe me, check out his footage in any of these videos... Go to Sleep, Coliseum’s Boston Massacre, Foundation’s WTF, and Transworld’s Hallelujah.
Words Bryan “Butchy” Wright Photos Christian Shepard
Recently he went through three different knee surgeries. The first doctor went ahead and completely cut out his whole meniscus without telling him when he was supposed to. Sky realized his knee wasn’t getting better and went to the same knee doctor as Danny Way. Then he had a meniscus allograft surgery. Basically, he got a whole knee meniscus from a cadaver. This didn’t stop Schuyler.
With tons of physical therapy and hard work, Schuyler got this fakie heel flip. He is back, full force and ready to get hammers. This is true motivation and dedication in a single photo. Be ready to see more. 35
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Man Made 42
Words & Photo Dan Muchnik
Sometimes, the best way to gain a more thorough understanding of things is to step a few paces back. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exactly what happened to me, by chance, with this series. I shot Man-Made in late 2010, and almost immediately lost the photographs to a hard drive failure. Having put dozens of hours into scanning and touching up the images, I was overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all over again, and set the film aside for months, and then years. Recently, I scanned the whole project again, and in the process of doing so, realized that my own thoughts about the project had matured over the years.
one might walk by such a space as those depicted here every day without once contemplating the reasons for its existence
y original fascination with the subject matter arose out of a desire to explore the subtly forbidden realm of industry – the “behind the scenes”, if you will, of the comforts of our lives. I chose to use a large format camera with color positive film for the project, and in combination with techniques of dramatic isolation and deception of scale, attempted to force attention onto the spaces and systems we so often overlook – because they are designed as such. We have all seen the horrors of industrialization, illustrated in photo essays, and discussed at length, yet we seem to have accepted industry as a necessary evil at worst, and in an ever-expanding capitalist state, as the crucial life support of constant growth at best. Instead, I chose to focus on more subtle and small-scale
manifestations of industrialization. In our hectic world, we have grown so accustomed to superfluous conveniences, trumpeted as great innovations, that without such blunt depiction, one might walk by such a space as those depicted here every day without once contemplating the reasons for its existence. This is not to say that sinister reasons exist behind every transformer station – certainly not – but the point is that the form of life we have crafted for ourselves has made such a transformation of the urban landscape a complete necessity. rom the moment I had originally assembled the series, one image always stuck out from the rest. However, instead of dismissing it from the series, I realized that the image of water by the towering Boston shipping yards has a special significance within this series, as it is the only image which places focus onto a natural element rather than a man-made one. Still, water is the most crucial element in the shipping industry, as well as a perfect example of a usurped, and neglected finite resource. Placing the focus on nature as opposed to the much more obvious and towering forms of industry within the scene has the effect of a forced reevaluation of our own scales of importance. Without global shipping, we won’t have inexpensive or exotic goods, but without water, we won’t have life.
A lot of people ask how artists make money. When confronted with this question, Chase, another local Venice artist who I’ve collaborated with, says that he’ll ask people for mural spots, and he’ll pay for that exposure. But when somebody approaches him to do a piece, he’ll work up a price and make commision because in the end, that’s how you’ll make money.
Words Sydney Lindberg Photo KFISH
So, the only reason I use guns in my paintings is because I think it’s a comical juxtaposition with hot girls that would never shoot a gun.
artwork and creative tenants. Thank you so much Warren Lee for pulling through on this one. Opening, Ugiogo Right, Painted Skull
Inspired by Chase, I’ve started reaching out to anyone when I see a spot that I like. For the Steez mural, I was looking for a wall big enough to create a massive mural. My boy Warren Lee came back to me with a prime location in downtown Los Angeles on Spring Street. The building itself has been there since 1917. From the hallways, to the stairwells, to the roof, the entire building is covered with art. I created a giant wheat-paste stencil from a recent photo shoot with the beautiful Lindsey Smith and photographer Amanda Bjorn and then filled the background with my signature style, covering the entire exterior. It’s always easier to get some creativity flowing when you’re surrounded by other
The model and I will go to the Venice boardwalk shade stand before all my shoots, and we pick out a bunch of crazy sunglasses. I love using sunglasses. Even if the model has beautiful eyes, we’ll only lower the shades down a little bit. I don’t know why, but it’s just so fun and keeps all my wheat-pastes very Venice-esque. It brings in the vibe. If someone’s not from Venice and I bring her through the boardwalk, and get her the shades, and get her in the mood of what I want to do, and we’re doing shoots on the beach, and she’s wearing lion headdresses and Indian headdresses… then the whole crew gets the feel of what I’m looking for. By the way, my favorite pair of sunglasses would be these little black circular shades that I got on the boardwalk. I just love them. The headdress motive used in many of my works comes from a time I was costume shopping for a party. I saw this really cool Indian headdress, which I
used for the first mural I ever did on Main Street in Venice. Instead of just putting up pictures of beautiful girls, I decided, why not stage them and make them more of a creation. So, the only reason I use guns in my paintings is because I think it’s a comical juxtaposition with hot girls that would never shoot a gun. People usually don’t put those together, you know? Each mural is a production. The models and I will go to the costume shop together, we get cool things to wear, and we go pick out some sunglasses -- not to cover up who they are, but to create an image of who they are. We get the photographer and do the photoshoot, and I’ll do the design work. Then, we get it all printed and go do the mural together. It’s a pretty big production but it goes by pretty quick because it’s fun. I never use random models. My girlfriend Leah has a lot of connections in the model scene so I always find beautiful girls through her. We hang
out, we talk. I want to get to know the models before, so I can express their personalities through the mural as I’m expressing my own art. My favorite piece so far is this mural I did at my buddy William Truett’s house. It’s about 30 ft long, the ceiling kind of angles up a little bit in the middle to form a ‘v’ shape. I stripped down Truett’s wall and painted it turquoise, then got wild in my calligraphy style. It took a long time to paint, but it was one of my favorite pieces to do. There were a lot of people there at the time. I’ve done live pieces where I was a little nervous, but I knew what I wanted to do on this wall already so once I got into my comfort zone it was really cool. I had people yelling out their names, they’d be like “SYDNEY,” and I’d incorporate Sydney in calligraphy into the wall. Everyone felt like they were a part of the art, and it was so much fun! My signature style is definitely not calligraphy, but when other people talk to me about my style they refer to it as calligraphy. It’s literally abstract expressionism with typography. I don’t
know what you’d call that. Maybe someone will come up with some art term for it and we’ll make some new art school someday.
still studio art but it makes it also feel a little more like a street art piece, to be working quick and pushing into the canvas and going fast.
I want to start doing full-on poems in my pieces, just legible enough to read if you had the poem next to it, but hard enough to read that it’s still very abstract.
There’s a lot of Keith Haring influence in my art. Last year I picked up a Keith Haring book when I was at Urban Outfitters. It was the first art book I ever bought. After I read it, I immediately destroyed my dresser Keith Haring style. I did it all in paint marker, but I didn’t like how clean the lines were. I like seeing the brush strokes. I like it to be a little bit more messy, and brushy, more of an art piece. I’ve hit a moment where I love this style so in the future I feel like there’s going to be a lot more of it.
I can never work on regular canvas again. I switched to wood canvas because I hate how the regular canvas gives when I’m working on it. I like to work quick and it drives me crazy when I put just the smallest amount of pressure to a canvas and it goes out. Working on wood, it’s
But, I don’t like straight graffiti. It’s too street. I don’t hate on it, I mean, it’s art and it’s cool, but it’s not my thing. Throughout all my life there’s been instances that have steered me towards art. To start off, my mom was my art teacher in preschool and I think she catered to me a little. She loved when I used bright colors. Once in high school I spent hours and hours making her this great piece for Christmas, but it was very dark. She opened it and basically threw it away; she could have cared less. I always carried a sketchbook, but was a big ath-
Steez Mural Photo Jack Murgatroyd
lete in high school playing football, lacrosse and varsity soccer. I ended up going to Maryland for lacrosse, and we won the national championship that year. It was a D3 school. But, it just wasn’t my scene. I was surrounded by cornfields and Purdue chicken. Literally, this is where they butcher Purdue chickens. I love all my friends from Salisbury, but I will never go back there. Ever.
I was living with these three sorority girls,
It was a learning experience. I came out to California and went to Santa Monica College for a semester before transferring to Loyola Marymount University (LMU). I got in with the dumbest little sketchbook, switched my major to graphic design, and played club lacrosse there. At LMU, I was living with these three sorority girls, and I was rarely at class because I was painting all the time. Debbie Boyd, my roommate’s mom, actually bought one of the pieces off of me. She believed in me more than anyone else at that point. As soon as I got that check I decided, I’m going to do this, I’m going to make money off of art shows. I started going into surf shops and proposing pop-up galleries. I’d bring a bunch of paintings and some two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s. I’d promote the store, and they’d promote me. It was a win-win. Now, I’m having shows at Ridgemont station in New York, and I’m going to DC. A bunch of things have come out of just me promoting myself, but I’ve also had a lot of help and support along the way. Debbie Boyd still buys art from me too, which is great.
and I was rarely at class because I was painting all the time. 55
I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my family. My mom has always been my homie, but my dad still comes to my art shows and talks about how I used to be a lacrosse player. I will always be an All-American lacrosse player to him. The name KFish actually comes from when my parents met. My mom and dad have been together since they were 16 in New Jersey. My mom was the more wealthy kid and my dad was one of the not so wealthy kids, but always the new guy. He had moved around a lot and thought he was the coolest guy ever. When they met at a party in highschool, my dad introduced himself as “Fish” because his last name is Fisher. She started cracking up at him, and they ended up dating ever since that night. They’ve been the biggest supporters of whatever I’ve done -- through lacrosse, art, literally everything, so I just threw the K on there - ‘K’ for Kelcey and ‘Fish’ for the first time my parents met.
I got together a couple really sick events while I was at LMU, and one was a Steve Aoki show at Avalon nightclub in Hollywood. l decided to do an art piece to give to Steve Aoki. At the show, I went up to the security guard, and I was so broke, and I was like, “Here’s 20 bucks dude, can I just see Steve Aoki? I have this art piece I want to give him.”
And this security guard was like, “are you serious bro?” And I was like yeah man, and then he’s all like, “You seem like you’re a cool dude, lets do it. Give me your cellphone number.” After that, I went and sat down in the corner and literally stared at my phone waiting for him to text me. He shoots me a text that says come over, Aoki just got here. I run over and grab the piece, its 36 inches by 80 inches, and I’m running through this rave with this canvas over my head... I was on one as well, having a great time. I get up to the security guard, and I’ve never been the most star struck person so I wasn’t freaking out or anything. I get in, and walk up to Aoki who’s on his cellphone at the bar with this big ass piece. “Kelcey Fisher, what’s up man?” Aoki said (they told him my name). I gave him the painting, he popped a bottle of champagne and gave me a VIP pass. I ended up being on stage with him poppin’ bottles all night. That’s when, for the second time, I decided that I can do this. I’m just doing art because I love it. Everyone tries to categorize my art, but what are you going to categorize it as? It’s all different, and I feel like my art is transforming constantly.
SNOWBOARD COMpANiES ShOulD BE OWNED By SNOWBOARDERS.
R O M E S N O W B O A R D S . C O M
Gino Iannucci Words Michael Connolly Photo Sam Muller, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Joe Faceâ&#x20AC;? Monteleone
Growing up on Long Island I always heard rumors about homies catching Gino at the local spots. We used to talk about him like he was a fucking superhero, and rightfully so. He is one of those humble dudes who has solidified his timeless style and personality among the greats in skateboarding, and after catching up with him it is no surprise why.
So where you living at now? Right now, mainly in Florida. Are you down there now? No, I’m in New York. I just got here two days ago. My family is from Long Island so that’s where I stay when I come out. What was your family like growing up? Do you have a big Italian family? Yeah, definitely. I’m 50% Italian and 50% British. My father and most of his side of the family moved out to the states when they were young. My father was maybe 17, 18, when he moved to the states and my mother as well, but my mother is the only one from her family that came to the states. So, a lot of my Italian side is out here in Long Island. What’s your daily routine like these days. Do you make it a point to skate every day or what? Yeah, for sure. It’s nothing too spectacular. Daily routine, up very early, 5 or 6:00. A little bit of gym in the morning, a little skating in the afternoon. After skating, a little bit of resting, and hanging out, which could be whatever. Then maybe a little session in the evening, skating, maybe another gym session at night and then sleep. That’s pretty much my daily routine. Staying active for sure. Who are you skating with these days? It depends. If I’m in Florida, I skate pretty much solo. There’s no one around that I know because I just moved there about a year ago. Although, we’ve had a place out there since the 80s. If I’m in Long Island, I skate with the guys that I know from the island who I grew up with, or that I’m good friends with. If I’m in California, it could be anybody depending on where I’m at. It could be Girl or Chocolate affiliated, Nike affiliated, whatever.
Are you still playing hockey? No man, I haven’t. I haven’t played in years now. It’s been awhile. Growing up, that was my main sport, that took over my life for a bunch of years. Then skateboarding came along and I figured that out. I got back into hockey a bit with a lot
of older friends whenever I’d come back to New York when I was out living in California. They had adult leagues they played in so I’d hop in with them, but it’s been maybe 10 years now since I’ve actually been on the ice. What’s your take on dudes in the skate community kind of hating on the organized sports thing? What’s up with that shit? Yeah, I know, I’ve talked about it before. I was involved so heavily with organized sports when I was younger. I understand how people can be against it, especially coming from a skateboarder, it’s a completely different world. I kind of get a little offended only because I was involved
with it, but I understand if people weren’t into that then they might hate on it. I loved it. Shit, I used to love hockey and traveling all over the east coast, or at least the northeast. What’s the last skate trip you were on? You were saying you went out west a couple of times, right? Actually I just got back from Australia, let me think, a month or three weeks ago. That was the last skate trip I was on. Who were you out there with? Four Star, they had a trip out there, they were doing some demos and stuff. There was a bunch
Skating has always been the same,
it’s always going to be the same.
of the Girl, and Four Star guys out there, they broke out Frederico who is a filmer. He stayed out there with a couple of guys, Cory Kennedy and Shane O’Neil. Pappalardo and I ended up flying out there together which was cool. We spent like ten days and just stayed in Melbourne the whole time. That’s rad. When’s the last time you were up in Boston? Boston, wow. It’s been a minute, man. It’s been a minute. Probably, shit, maybe like five, six years or something like that. Yeah it’s been a while. I only recall being there a few times skate wise. The last time I do remember, I think it might have actually been when we were filming for ‘Yeah Right!’ I do remember going there and I think Ty Evans was out filming with some guys, we just took a drive out there for a couple of days. That was like ten years ago, that’s a long time ago. So you grew up and lived on the island, then you moved out west, and now you’re back home, or on the east coast at least. What was the reason you moved out there originally and then what was it that drew you back? Okay, I started to skate, and then obviously everything you read or see in videos and magazines was in California; all the spots and all the pros. When you thought of skateboarding, you thought of California. So, being a skater and seeing all that, and then once it got to a level of being like an amateur kind of, getting sponsored by some companies that were based out of California, you started to form relationships with
the company owners. The next thing you know you’re flying out west to visit and spend some time skating. Then it was inevitable, you had to live there. Every other day going to a spot that you’d seen in a video you grew up watching on a daily basis and being like, “Wow, I remember this spot from this video,” and then the next day you’re at another spot. All these famous skate spots, it was like heaven. What year was it that you moved out there? It was around ‘93. Can you remember the first time you went to a spot that you had seen in a video and were star struck by the spot? Do you know where that was? Yeah, I do. It’s kind of funny. I flew to California, it was my first time going there. I was sponsored by Black Label at the time, John Lucero was a professional that I grew up watching in videos and I knew all about. Lucero owned the company. He picked me up from the airport. We drove up north by Sacramento to an amateur contest and that was the first time I’d seen guys who I had watched in videos, so that was a trip. That was the first taste of that kind of thing. Then an actual spot. We drove back down after the contest to around Huntington Beach, California area, and I remember the drive home I got really sick, I got like a crazy flu. We ended up going to a spot called 7th Street, which is in so many videos up to this day. It’s a bank-to-bench school kind of by San Pedro, California. The funny thing is that it was such a famous spot, and I remember seeing it through the gates because you have to hop the fence to get in, and I couldn’t because I was so sick. It was one of those flus where your body completely shuts down. I ended up staying in the car, sleeping in the back seat. My first time at 7th Street. I knew that there were people there who I would have recognized from mags and stuff, there was a huge session going on, and I couldn’t skate. That was my first experience with a famous skate spot. That’s super funny man. That feeling of you coming up and seeing your idols in person and being in that pinch yourself moment like, “Oh, shit, this is actually happening.” Growing up on Long Island and skating out
I grew up in an era where we were learning as skateboarding was evolving. here, we always heard rumors of you coming through to different spots like, “Holy shit! Gino was just here.” Basically a role reversal of what you were just talking about. What are your thoughts on that and the impact you’ve had as a local kind of hero in the L.I. skate scene, as well as being recognized by skaters nationwide. Your name resonates with people, how do you feel about that? I think it’s awesome. It’s cool. It’s strange. It’s funny how the tables have turned to that. I know how it felt when I was younger and, whether it’d be a pro or someone I admired who was skating, you know, someone that moved me to skate, or just made me excited to get on my board because I watched their video part; then if I would see them, it was like seeing a rock star. If I make someone feel that same way, it’s kind of weird. It’s awesome. I don’t really think about it I guess. When you mention it, then I’ll think about it, but I don’t know what to say. It’s cool, but there’s nothing like...I’ll never forget how it feels to be that guy. It’s funny, growing up on the east coast we didn’t see that many pros. If you grew up in L.A. or whatever, California, you saw a professional skateboarder probably every day from the day you started skating at whatever spot you went to. It’s so normal for them, but for us growing up out here, we just had our friends and our cliques that we skated
with. Seeing pros was a new thing. Moving out west, it was a constant, like, yeah you’re already sponsored and you’re skating with your peers, but you also have this respect for them that they don’t realize. They’ve never even heard of you, but you know all about them. You’re the same age, you’re on the same level, amateur skaters just skating spots, or whatever. It’s kind of interesting when you think about it. In your opinion, now that you’ve lived out west and skated there multiple times, as well as lived here, could you sum up the difference between an east coast skater and a west coast skater, whether it’s style wise or personality wise? It seems like when I was younger, in the early to mid-90s, California was more progressive with skating and spots were more perfect. I always used to say and I still say that I am glad I’m from here, because I kind of grew up skating a lot more spots that were a little tougher to skate, like rough. Crusty. Crusty yeah, you know how it is, dealing with the weather. You felt a little more tough when you went out west and skated these perfect spots so, nothing really bothered you about anywhere you went. I grew up in an era where we were
…ask me if I have a tre flip,
...you felt a little more tough when you went out west learning as skateboarding was evolving. Like, when switch stance became new, we started learning to skate again but the opposite way, and new tricks that were coming out, flip into slides, flip out of slides. It seemed like at a certain point, New York kind of started going backwards. It was getting less progressive during the 90s. Guys were going for more basic tricks. I can remember wall rides becoming big again, and I was kind of tripping out because I’m out west when everyone is trying to get really technical. To me that was a little different back then. I just thought skating was a little more basic on the east coast than it was out west. Now it’s a different ball game. Now to me it seems like it’s just the same everywhere.
You’ve said before that you’re not really watching a lot of the skate videos coming out lately because it’s at a level where it’s almost ridiculous, but you can watch a video from ten years back and be moved by it, and still feel that initial passion and inspiration to get out and skate. How have you seen skating progress since the late 80’s, early 90’s, to where it is now and how does that sit with you? Yeah, I know. We all know how it is to be moved by watching somebody skate and it’s not about the actual trick. Shit man, it’s hard to say. It used to be all about the tricks. It was all about doing something that wasn’t done, something technical or whatever, and hoping that you did it and made it look good, of course. Watching somebody skate that might not be doing anything spectacular, but it attracts people more,
they want to see it more, or they enjoy watching it more than somebody who has just done something incredible; incredibly technical and incredibly hard, but it’s not really doing anything for you, you’re not really moved... I think it’s just pretty simple. Skating has always been the same, it’s always going to be the same. It was the same in the 80’s, 90’s, and now. There’s a group of pros and some are going to look more appealing than others just because they have different styles, and that’s what it’s always been about. That’s why every pro out there or any skater out there, you ask them, “Who do you like to watch skate,” they’ll always have their preferences because everyone has different styles as far as technicalities and tricks and all that shit. Shit man, this is the kind of shit I think about all the time, but it’s hard to find the words. I can watch someone like Tom Penny, like a video, some skate park footage of him. It’s not a video part, it’s just some random shit that you see, but just how he skates, and it could be basic tricks or whatever but, there’s just something about watching him skate that makes you want to pick up your board, go outside and skate, or rewind the part and see it again. You could then see another guy with an amazing, crazy part and you’re just not... you might even turn it off before it’s over. You feel guilty too because you know how much work he put in or the fact that you probably couldn’t do his shit in a million years, so how can you hate on it? The simple fact is if it doesn’t move you, it doesn’t move you, and what are you going to do?
do this trick, I’m fucking embarrassed!” For the most part there’s always a battle but, that’s what it’s all about.
A lot of people explain skating as an escape or form of expression for them. Has it ever been that for you or is it just kind of something you felt comfortable doing? Yeah, I think it’s just something I felt comfortable doing. I remember talking about this a long time ago. For me, it’s never been when something dramatic happened in my life that I say, ‘give me my board, I’ve got to skate and just escape.’ It’s never been that kind of thing. It’s just something I enjoy doing, I like doing it. The feeling that I get, I’ve come to appreciate more as I’ve gotten older now, but maybe subconsciously I’ve always felt it. Has skating ever felt like a chore to you at any point, in your career? Totally dude. I’ll be the first to back the fact that I never look at skating as a job, and the day that I did or have in the past is when I’ve hated skating. It has gotten to that point sometimes, but then again you can argue the facts because, I can name specific tricks I’ve done in videos that have taken me hours to film, and those hours of skating aren’t fun man. They’re fucking stressful. You’re pissed off, throwing your board around, talking to walls, you’re like, insane. It’s still not looked at as a job, you know what I mean? People can say, “You worked hard for that man, what are you talking about? That’s like fucking working”, but no it’s not a job dude, it’s just something about conquering that trick, that goal or whatever. When you do it, it’s all about that feeling you get. Sometimes though, it’s a double-edged sword because sometimes you’re almost like, “All right, it took this long to
So whats next? Got any big plans you’re excited for? Or are you just skating and maintaining? Yeah, no, there’s no big plans. I just want to continue to skate and hopefully stay healthy enough to skate. My goal at this point, I mean, I’m 40 years old and I would have never thought when I was 20 that I’d be making a living skateboarding at 40. It’s pretty amazing. I have a lot of respect for that now, and appreciation. I guess my goal is just to make sure I stay on my board and I’m capable of skating in a way that keeps me happy. Once I feel like I can’t do it, if that ever happens, I can’t imagine how that would feel. I don’t have major commitments or videos or anything like that, and I think that’s what’s cool now. It’s more just riding out, just skating, and having been through so many years of doing that stuff, videos and shooting photos and that kind of thing. You know what I mean? I don’t know how to put it. Not to take it too seriously. Not to get too stressed about what’s going on in the skate world nowadays because it’s unrealistic. At least for me, I feel the effects of being older. I think the one most important thing I’m enjoying so much now is, there are days I go skate and I don’t even want to do any tricks. I just want to skate around the park and actually feel how good it is to skate, just to be able to push around, skate, do my shit, not fall once at a session and cruise around. You know what I mean? Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think I ever really felt that up until recently. What’s the go-to trick right now? You still got three shuvs on lock? Always, I’ll always have that trick. That’s the best thing about that trick. I’ll always have that. I don’t know why, but ask me if I have a tre flip, never. Tre flips have always been like, fuck, one of the hardest tricks. 67
Photo Jason Ross Rider Moses Salazar, feeble
Photo Dan Ward Rider Tom King, ollie
Photo Dominic Palarchio Rider Oliver Dixon, miller flip
Photo Marco DelGuidice Rider Ryan Kittredge
Photo Dan Ward Rider DJ Ward, dropping in
Photo Dan Ward Rider Julian Lewis, smith 76
Photo Taylor Allen Rider Gabe Spotts, kickflip 77
Photo Dan Winter Rider Steve Cromp, long 50-50
Photo Mike Ford Rider Josh Weathers, crook
Photo Kevin McAvey Rider Rj Cruz, nosepress
TOO $HORT Words AB / Photo Provided by Too $hort
Have you ever tried to fight someone for calling you Todd? In elementary school people used to make fun of me for having the name Todd. As an adult you grow into it. It’s never been a problem for fans calling me Todd. Is anyone in your family too tall? I have first cousins that are 6’5”, 6’6”. I have some tall cousins, I really do. My country cousins down in Louisiana. Have you been back to Boise, Idaho lately? Yep. I went back and it was a nice show. There were a lot of police officers there and nobody said anything about anything. I didn’t mention it and they didn’t either. What ever happened to that 10lb. gold chain? I still have it and all of the jewelry I had back in the day.
Have you ever considered sampling a Kenny G track? Not too familiar with the music, but I could defi-
nitely redo a Kenny G song. I could find a way. You’re a mentor at a youth group, do you allow them to listen to your music? Nope. No. N. O. no. You’ve got to be 18 years old to bump Too $hort. You’ve got to have parental permission. Do you even remember having a beef with Luniz or was that too long ago? It wasn’t really a beef, it was just a song KMEL (radio station) played, and then their manager got beat up at Summer Jam, and that was it. Now that you’re 47 has anyone told you that you’re too old to rap? Yeah they tell me I am too old to do everything I am doing, but I’m still doing it. Are pimps these days now accepting square payments, or is it still a cash game? I’m pretty sure there’s a pimp out there somewhere working Paypal, no doubt about it.
Clive Dixon Words Bryan “Butchy” Wright / Photo Trevor Vaughan
Are you jealous of all the chicks Clint got to make out with? How about the chin touch? Nah nah. I guess that’s his move. Do you have an endless amount of Gatorade? I do have a lot of Gatorade. My friends do too! What’s up with trifelife? Some silly lifestyle a few friends and I said we were living on a Birdhouse trip a few years back. What’s your best blackout story? Had a sort of epiphany, decided to quit blacking out... Worst trouble you have gotten into on a Birdhouse tour? I don’t think I have ever ran into trouble on a Birdhouse tour. A few dudes didn’t get into Canada on a west coast trip. 86
What’s your favorite video? Shaqueefa Mixtape Vol. 2.
Does Tony sign your checks? No, I wish! What’s the least amount of words you have to use to get laid? More than you would think. Who’s the minuteman? Some dudes in the civil war who could be ready for battle at any moment within a minute’s time. If you had 48 hours left to live what would you do? Not sleep. Who was your first board sponsor? 5boro NYC Who was your favorite skater growing up? AVE.
Sage Kotsenburg Words AB / Photo Provided by Sage Kotsenburg
The Wheaties box was cool but if you could be on any cereal box, what would it be? Being on the Wheaties box for me was a monumental moment in my life. With the past athletes they have had I feel so honored to be on the box now. When they unveiled it I was almost speechless, I just never thought I’d have the opportunity to actually be on the front of it, it all seems so surreal. Has Shaun been whining and trying to buy your gold medal yet? Haha he has two golds. I don’t think he will be whining to anyone on his shortage of gold medals anytime soon. Have you ever eaten a bacon explosion? I don’t even know what that is, it sounds amazing though.
If you had to change your name to a different herb, would you rather it be Basil, Clove, Oregano or Fennel Kotsenburg? I feel like Clove Kotsenburg has a nice ring to it.
Do you think Putin wanted glass incorporated in the Olympic medals so if people bit into them they’d break? Actually, I dropped my medal already. That thing is sturdy! How many bottles of vodka did you try to sneak through customs on your way back from Russia? I actually didn’t, but I do know a story of people trying to bring one back and they wouldn’t let it through security. So, a group of people all chugged the whole bottle... I’m sure that was an amazing flight to be on hahaha. Do you find it unfair that XBOX only has a Shaun White Snowboarding video game and nobody else? How are you supposed to practice in the off season as him? Yeah, I’m more of an Amped 2 guy. I would seriously play that game for hours every day, it was unhealthy.
Carrabassett Valley Academy W W W. G O C VA . C OM
Rider: Nick Malone Photo: Waylon Wolfe
Luenell Words Taylor Kendall Photo Provided by Luenell
How many takes did it take to do your scene in Taken 2? It took me about six or seven takes to do that scene, because of pulling up in the car. Were you able to make Liam Neeson laugh? No I was not able to make him laugh. I was able to take a lovely picture with him though. He is quite tall. Have you ever gotten up in a cop’s face? No I have never gotten up in a cop’s face. I have always tried to stay very calm. They usually took me to jail anyway... When making love, Marvin Gaye or Barry White? Barry White. What’s your spirit animal? A black panther. 90
Which came first, the player or the game? The player.
If you could hang out in anyone’s shoes for just one day, who would it be? Beyoncé. You’ve been ordered by the president to a decree a new holiday, what’s the Holiday? National Cougar Day. If Nash Bridges came back in 2015, would you try for a cameo? I would not try for a cameo, I would expect a role! Which 007 actor is the sexiest? Edris Elba, he just has not had the opportunity yet. Were you born with blonde hair or did it gradually turn blonde? It gradually turned blonde...everywhere! Most outrageous memory you’ve had on the road? Flying all the way to the Bahamas to do a show and not getting paid by the big star who hired me. FUK that bitch. Did the show anyway, for the people. Sued her, lost... Food of choice for the munchies? Nachos. How often do you visit your birthplace Tollette, AR? Every two years unless something comes up. Do you call Snoop Dogg, Calv or Calvin? Calvin every now and then.
Jim Breuer Words Michael Connolly / Photo Provided by Jim Breuer
Three reasons to wear a fanny pack? Three reasons to wear a fanny pack: One, they’re mystical. Who knows what’s really in there. Two, a fanny pack is easy access to most needs. Three, fanny packs are easy to travel anywhere with. When was your last shot of tequila? I truly can’t remember the last time I had a shot of anything. My days of liquour are long, long gone. Most terrifying metal show you’ve attended? The most terrifying metal show I have ever been to was Judas Priest in 1987. People were lighting and tossing M80’s! Do your eyes ever fully open? My eyes fully open only when I’m mad! Last thing you dry humped? I don’t dry hump things. Just people. 92
Ways to cope with swamp ass? A way to deal with swamp ass is to go commando!
What do Artie Lange’s farts smell like? Artie Lange’s farts smell like stromboli’s and fresh mozzarella. Best advice your dad has ever given you? The best advice my father has given me is, “Don’t be an asshole. Period!” Where was your worst flop? My worst flop was Gator Growl. Just horrible! What is your go-to midnight munchies? Midnight munchies is mint chocolate chip ice cream with crumbled cookie on top. Yum! How many pop tarts can you eat in a sitting? I’m not a pop tart fan unless they are toasted! But if they are toasted, then I could smack out two good ones. What do you miss most about the 80’s? What I miss most about the eighties are the metal concerts.
landyachtz.com photo:Gordon neilson
Words AB Photo Courtesy of Dweezil 94
umility should have been Dweezil’s middle name, but his father probably would have been too humble to even contemplate that idea. He’s had big shoes to fill since he decided to dedicate his time to playing his father’s music. Now, almost eight years since forming Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil has continued to impress even the most devout Zappa music fans with his continued quest for an extraordinary level of musicianship. He’s one of the most talented guys in the music industry, and he’d never let you know it. I guess you could say it’s family tradition. You’re on tour right now for The Hendrix Experience. You’re working on your own projects like Dweezilla Boot Camp and you’re also touring for Zappa Plays Zappa. How do you keep it all sorted out? It’s a challenge because I have to try to balance that with being home and spending time with my kids. This particular run, I had a twomonth Zappa Plays Zappa tour and then I had a month long Experience Hendrix tour all back to back. That’s the longest I’ve been away. It’s pretty challenging but as a musician sometimes you’ve got to work when you can work. That’s kind of how some of those decisions get made. Generally speaking, I usually have a couple of times a year where we tour, and I also try to carve out time to make sure that I’ll have a good amount in the summer with my kids and all that stuff. Fortunately, my wife travels with me fairly frequently because she’s actually a flight attendant so, she can get to a lot of locations through her work.
How surreal is it to be representing the music of Jimi Hendrix on stage with other rock legends considering there are not many people who could take on that honor? I think the way they go about doing this tour is
really a celebration of his music. It’s not meant to be like a re-creation of note for note versions. That being said, it is more of my approach with a lot of the songs I’m playing on because, some of them are so iconic that I would prefer to try and play them as he played them. For example, with “All Along The Watchtower” I’m trying to re-create the same sounds, even the panning, all that kind of stuff that happens on the record. There are all of those little challenges, like finding a way to play the slide guitar part on a regularly tuned guitar. Those are things that I enjoy and try to do. That’s actually one of the songs that was new for me to play on this year. I’ve been playing on “Freedom” and some other tunes from last time but, one of the ones I’d like to play on is “Spanish Castle Magic”. That’s pretty much my favorite Hendrix riff. You started Zappa Plays Zappa in 2006 and since have been touring with it pretty much nonstop. What’s the experience been like and what have you gained from it? It started as an idea of a way to give to current and future generations who never really had the opportunity to experience the music in a live situation. To be able to hear it in a way that’s commensurate with what exists in a catalog. Meaning, we diligently work to re-create all
of the timbre and texture of the orchestration, and play the parts the way they’re meant to be played. The improv sections are still improv but, there’s a lot of other very complicated stuff that is intended to be played the certain way it’s written on the page. What I’ve gained from it is, it’s been sort of like the experience of going to a music college for the last several years because, the deeper we dive in on some of the more complex pieces of music that he wrote, there’s more to the language of music that I get to learn. I don’t come from that sort of varied theoretical background. For example, everybody in the band can read but I don’t read very well. I learn everything by ear. It’s definitely a lot more challenging when you’re picking it apart by ear because it’s very time consuming to learn all that stuff that way. The advantage is that when you learn it, you memorize it and you’re playing it, you get it memorized before people when they’re learning it and still looking at a piece of music. We don’t have music on stage when we’re playing. Everybody is off the page by the time we’re playing shows.
may be a version of the song on a record, when he played it live he would usually alter it for whatever type of band or environment he had at that time. There are multiple different versions of songs and the improv sections always made the song fresh, and new. You could see the song played ten nights in a row and it would always be different with the improvisation. In that sense, the songs were almost like these living, breathing organisms. We’re very dedicated to playing the structured parts exactly as they’re meant to be played. Whatever happens in the improv happens for that audience in that environment that night. It’s exciting for the fans to hear new versions of the songs in that way, in that context. It’s been said that you’re one of the most underrated and unsung guitar players in the music industry. How do you respond to that? I don’t really think of those things. I mean, I just go out and play music. I guess in the beginning a lot of people would say, “Well, why would you want to put yourself in direct comparison?”, “Wouldn’t that be sort of a kiss of death kind of
Anyway, it’s really been about becoming more of a musician in an ensemble context and learning more about every style of music, as there is every style of music within Frank’s music. Throughout the process we’ve realized several goals, one of which was to see the audience grow into a younger audience, so we can see that it’s being picked up by future generations. We’ve started to see that quite a bit. That’s a good sign. Do you feel a lot of pressure to deliver his musical experience properly? Do you just enjoy knowing that Frank is probably happy to see you carrying on his legacy? I never think about it that way really. I’m a fan of the music, and in my lifetime I thought rather than see it sort of fade away, I could give people an opportunity to discover it if they haven’t discovered it yet, as well as give other people a chance to hear it again. One of the things about Frank’s music that was always great when he was out and touring was that, even though there
"Oh, it's the son of a famous guy, thing?” Again, I didn’t really even consider those terms because I knew that whatever I was going to do was going to be focusing on the music, and letting the music speak for itself. In that sense, the direct comparison actually helped because people could see, “Oh, well, if he’s playing that stuff maybe I should pay more attention.” Before, people were quick to dismiss. “Oh, it’s the son of a famous guy, who cares about that.” People can very easily be critics. I don’t concern myself with that because, at the end of the day if you do look at a direct comparison, it’s easy to see that a lot of work went into it. It speaks for itself. You draw a lot of influence from Van Halen. You even had a little bit of mentoring from Eddie growing up. How did that shape you musically? You’ve got to put it all in context to my starting playing guitar. Van Halen was the biggest band playing in the world along with Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads and all that stuff. A lot of guitar players wanted to learn to be very proficient technically, and do all these kinds of things that were like what those guys were doing. It was a great time to be into rock guitar. Over the years, many things changed. If you learned to play in that rock style by the time of the grunge period, all of that kind of stuff was just like a party trick to people. People didn’t care about rock pyrotechnics. They would rather you barely know how to play guitar and have the right tattoos and stupid outfits. There’s always some sort of trend that takes music a certain place. Having learned a lot of the rock stuff and then being really displaced in music, I mean, there was a period of time where I didn’t play at all in the late ‘90s, I pretty much stopped playing guitar. I was working on trying to do film and television work which, I did
start doing a bunch of that. Then I got back into playing guitar when I was thinking, “Well, you know what, I want to do this Zappa Plays Zappa thing.” Little by little, that style of guitar playing has sort of come back into favor. I think as any guitar player matures, there are all kinds of things that become interesting. The things that are most interesting to me at this time are developing a new style of rhythmic vocabulary for phrasing, and some other kind of off the wall influences like Middle Eastern stuff, as well as Indian rhythms and things which eventually will probably come more into my playing as I develop them more. You talked a little bit about Zappa Plays Zappa and the initial idea was to introduce the music to a younger audience. How big of a challenge has that been and how has it changed over the years? We’ve only ever done it one way, which is just to go out and play the music. One of the best examples is that of Chris Norton, who is in the band and playing keyboard. He’s been in the band for three years. He never heard Frank’s music before until he saw us playing. He was twenty-three at that time. He wanted to audition for the band several months after hearing the stuff. He just became a freak for learning it; he was sending me videos and things like that. That right there in a nutshell is what this whole thing is all about. You’re very particular about your gear right down to your guitar picks. How big of an impact does all of the equipment have on your shows? Can you tell us a little bit about some of the unique stuff that you tour with? The guitar equipment changes as we go through which songs we’re going to learn because my dad used so much equipment. I had to find a
who cares about that."
“if you do look at a direct comparison, it’s easy to see that a lot of work went into it.
It speaks for itself.”
way to have a modular type of system that could allow for things to change and still give me a good amount of reliability as well as flexibility. The system is based on these digital modeling devices called Fractal Audio Axe-Fx. That’s the majority of the sound, but I use other pedals and things. It comes down to some pretty crazy routing so that certain effects can go to certain sides of the audio spectrum. I can blend things and do stuff that would be the equivalent of what you could do in a studio. 100
It’s really more like having all the amps and all the effects the way you would have them set up at a mixing console, so you can send amp
sounds to different effects in different ways, and process certain things as you please. You can then store them as presets. A lot of the stuff also has expression pedals that will control certain parameters of things. They just make it so that when I’m improvising, I can play stuff and then play off of new sounds or things that happen on the fly. It helps give more inspiration to what I’m doing, because I don’t like having to play the same thing over and over. I want to keep striving to do something I haven’t done before. That’s one side of what we do. The other side of it is we don’t carry a monitor engineer. We mix
our own; we can do any of our mixes ourselves. We have computer tablets with mixers; we all use in-ears, and that helps. Music is so complicated you have to be able to hear things the way that you need, to really catch all the cues and play everything right. We’re one of the few bands who have a setup like that. Here or there you run into some problems but, for the most part it works out really well.
He would definitely be into all of the new software and digital things that could be done now. He was one of the earliest people to start recording with digital tape. I think he had maybe the second, or third, Sony Digital Multitrack tape machines. In his book, he was talking about applying for a patent for what essentially was iTunes. This is back in 1980 or ‘81 or something.
If Frank were with us today, do you think he’d be embracing and experimenting with digital technology or continuing to push the boundaries with more of the analog type equipment that he used?
He was talking about a delivery system, to deliver music digitally over phone lines and all this kind of stuff. There was something at that time that wouldn’t allow it to happen, which is the baud rate. He just wanted to make sure that
it was going to be like a full scale representation of the music, not what it became with like MP3’s and all that stuff. He wanted like a high resolution sound and the baud rate wouldn’t allow for something like that. Can you tell me a little bit about Dweezilla Boot Camp and what’s on tap for this year? How important are these teaching experiences for you? We’re still in the planning stages of what we may or may not do for the camp in America this year. I do have one planned for the UK in November. I have been doing on tour Dweezilla classes, 90-minute classes before sound checks at most shows on tour. It ranges from 10 to 50 people at these things. The main thing I’ve really been able to develop out of that is a sense of what quagmire most guitar players are finding themselves trying to get out of. There’s a certain thematic that happens to most players. They get a little bit of knowledge about how pentatonic systems work, then they get stuck in these little places from the neck, and they have a hard time connecting ideas. I tried to develop an easy lesson that just shows ways to utilize what they already know, but use it more effectively. That’s been going over very well. I think I’m going to do a lesson, an actual produced lesson with a company called TrueFire, so that more people can have access and use it at home. Where is the “What the Hell Was I Thinking” project currently? I know you’ve talked about a live performance of the continuous piece. That thing is still in the editing stage. There’s definitely still more to do. I am probably not going to have enough time to work on it very much this year along with other things I’d like to do for my own composing. It’s just hard to find the right amount of time to do it. I would like to do more stuff on that thing and get a few more players but, I just don’t know when I’m going to be able to do it. 102
Your father archived everything. How often do you still reference his archives? Are you as obsessive about archiving all your own
work as he was? We are trying to record as much as we can because there are great things that happen on a nightly basis. It’s a challenge if you’re doing more than a hundred shows a year and each show is three hours and all that kind of stuff. There are not enough hours for me to go through everything and pull tons of stuff together. Usually what happens is, I try to listen to shows after we do the show, and then take some notes. You said before when you were younger that you didn’t see yourself dedicating a portion of your life to playing and evoking Frank’s music. Are you happy with your decision to do so? Would you have changed anything? Yes, I’m definitely happy that it turned out this way because I certainly can do things on guitar that I never even dreamed of before, just based on the work that went into planning to do this. I’ve always been happy to try new things and to see how they work, whether it’s music, or TV and stuff, or recording, playing golf or whatever. I like to just try different things and learn how to work. I like learning the fundamentals of things. What’s ahead for you? Years from now, what do you want to be remembered for? I think there are probably several different recording projects and things that will eventually come out. I’m working out some new material of my own. There’s more Zappa Plays Zappa DVDs. I think I’d like to get into at least one opportunity to write and record music with an orchestra. Also, a rock band as well, combo. Much like my dad’s answer when somebody says, “What do you want to be remembered for?” He says, “I wouldn’t.” (Laughter) I don’t really think about those things. I don’t really have any idea of like, what society or the public at large would need to know about me. I want my kids to have a good life and be good people. That’s mostly what I would like to have happen in the future. Awesome, have a great show tonight!
“I want my kids to have a good life and be good people.
That’s mostly what I would like to have happen in the future.” 103
Words AB Photo MARBLE Right Defeated Sanity
If you’ve ever been to hardcore show in or around NYC, chances are you’ve bumped into Samantha Marble. She’s the girl with the camera shooting like crazy, trying not to get trampled by crowd behind her. Samantha worked hard to get to where she’s at and has shot photos for Pitchfork Media, High Times Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine to name just a few. She doesn’t take any crap at shows either, and she’s definitely not afraid to bite through your arm if you get too close to her equipment. Sometimes she’s uncertain of her future but we’re sure she’ll do just fine.
Have you been to a bad show lately or lost your hearing? I have lost my hearing, I think, not from one specific show but a few years ago. When I very first started shooting bands, heavy metal bands, I didn’t like wearing earplugs because I just felt like the earplugs muffled the music and I couldn’t get into it as much. There was a period of about two years that I didn’t wear earplugs and then I went to go cover SXSW in
2011. I think it was a combination of my allergies and covering all heavy metal. A lot of times I was up front, I would wear earplugs but not consistently. When I got back, I definitely noticed that something went wrong with my hearing. Especially when winter starts to turn to spring, my allergies come out and I’ll lose hearing in usually the left side of my ear for a week or two. I always wear earplugs now. I do not mess around.
I really felt like the teachers figured I’d be pregnant at 16 and a bagger at Shop Rite. Yeah, that’s crazy. You got into photography at a young age. Can you tell us about that? I got into photography when I had just turned 16. I had a little zine that I used to sell to skate shops, I was taking a photography class for fun. One of our first assignments was to take the camera out for the weekend and just shoot. After we’d start to learn how to develop and everything. I went to a hardcore show in Pennsylvania; it was Snapcase and 108. I came back and the photography teacher thought that I had real promise. He was really a gruff, older guy. He knew that everyone was taking this class as an elective. Anyway, he thought that I had promise and he offered to let me take out his personal camera and start shooting with that. In the beginning I thought, “Oh god, this guy could possibly be a dirty old man.” He wasn’t. He ended up being a father figure to me. He helped me. I had been in a bad car accident when I was much younger and it caused learning disabilities, so I was always in tard classes. Like, the remedial classes. If you take the test when you’re a little kid and they see that you need remedial classes, they throw you in those classes forever. There’s no testing out of them. I really felt like the teachers figured I’d be pregnant at 16 and a bagger at Shop Rite. This guy really gave me hope. He took me under his wing and started putting pressure on the school board. I was able to test out of some of those classes and get into mainstream classes. He really had a plan for me to get into college, to go to school for photography. My senior year of high school, he got diagnosed with cancer.
Right before that he had helped me build a dark room in my basement. We were stealing chemicals from the school over the summer. He was my buddy. We smoked cigarettes together and he would let me take his car out when I wanted to skip a class. He really was like my delinquent father; it was great. Anyway, he passed away my senior year and the school gave me a scholarship in his name at one of the schools he had wanted me to get into. At the time, RIT was the best school in the country and I got accepted for early admission. It was awesome, but I turned it down because I was too afraid. I just wasn’t ready to be that far away from home yet. I really wanted to be in New York City. I owe everything to this one teacher.
That’s incredible. What was your approach to getting into the music scene? You talked a little bit about going to that first show and stuff, but were you always into metal? Yeah. I grew up 15 minutes from Center City Philadelphia, so I was always going to the city. There were always shows going on. I was a hardcore kid in the early 90’s and I always went to shows, eventually I just started shooting for fun. That’s how I initially got into music when I was younger and taking pictures but, it was just a few years ago, I’d say maybe five years ago or less, that there was this old hardcore band called Rorschach. They reunited and had a show in Brooklyn. I was supposed to go shoot another assignment with a friend but I wanted to go to this show first. I had my camera equipment on me so I took a couple of pictures. I e-mailed them to a local website that covers music called BrooklynVegan and I was just like, “Hey, I was at this show. It was incredible. I think it’s really important that it gets talked about. If you need any pictures, here are some pictures I took.” From there the editor was just like, “Do you want to do this more often?” I had just left my full-time job and was collecting unemployment, so it was a way for me to get into shows for free and to really have a reason to shoot. That was the introduction into it all. Are you still using film or do you also shoot digital? I shoot mainly digital now. I still love to shoot film when I have the time to really get in the groove of processing it, and being able to take my time with it. Most of the time editors just want something as quickly as possible and digital affords me that. I have a few little tricks when shooting digital that I use to really try and replicate the feel of film. I do my best.
That actually leads into my next question, when and how did you develop your high contrast style? One of my best friends, Brian Montuori, is an incredibly talented painter. He really was the one that inspired me to experiment and really play around, color outside the lines. I never fully realized that I was doing such high contrast or
saturation. It was whatever looked good to me. I’m psychotic about that stuff. I will fuck around with contrast and saturation and colors. I’ll do it for hours if you let me. The other thing that really inspired me was the music itself. When I hear a band play, you kind of see colors. I know that sounds crazy. Certain sounds inspire certain colors and certain contrast. It’s all about giving it a feeling and saying, “How can I make this picture look like how this bands sounds?” That’s mainly what I’m getting at. That’s why I really try to tune into that when I’m shooting. You have some diverse portfolios including fashion and street life, and then of course you like heavy metal concerts. Will you continue to go in all those directions or is there one direction that you would rather head in down the road? I would rather go down music and portraits. Music, street photography, and portraits. I know that’s not really zeroing in on one thing. Fashion isn’t really something I want to get too involved in. I like shooting a good looking person and having style. Someone that’s well dressed and is stylish is one thing, but just the fashion industry itself freaks me the fuck out. I don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. I worked in fashion for five years and it was an experience. I just want to do what I like. Music is really inspiring and my friends are really inspiring, life is really inspiring. I want to keep going in that direction.
Top Heavy Metal Parking Lot Bottom Brian and Casey
Tell me about protecting your images because you have so many images online. Have you ever run into any issues or ever found them used without your permission? In a very few cases I have, but if I e-mail the person they’re usually more than happy to give me a photo credit or link to my website. I feel like that’s pretty standard and the people that do that, really just don’t know any better. I don’t get too offended by it. Say if I shot something for Pitchfork, the editors over at Pitchfork are really great about looking out for that stuff, so they’ll contact the person for me. Usually I don’t even know about it. Give me a rough estimate of how many shows you’ve been to?
Yeah, that’s really difficult. I would say upwards of 300? That’s off the top of my head. I’m just thinking about all the folders that I have on my computer through the years. That’s a rough estimate. I’m usually at one a week. With all those shows you had to have seen some pretty crazy shit. Have there ever been any scary situations? Yeah, I remember this one time I was shooting Trash Talk. Anyway, I got hit in the side of the head. Someone kicked me in the side of the head once where I thought I lost my hearing. I shot Death Grips, people ripped the gates down and started rushing the stage. That was pretty wild. There have been fights at shows where there’s a drunk person just being too aggressive.
As he was grinding up against me, I saw his arm reach around and touch my camera. I just bit into his triceps as hard as I could..
Actually, this is the best one. I was shooting Cave In and there was a mosh pit behind me. I’m really mindful about mosh pits, staying out of the way and letting people have their fun, and shooting around that. There was some drunk guy in the crowd and he came up right behind me and started blocking my lens with his hand. I turned around and I was like, “Hey, you need to back off. Leave me alone.” He wouldn’t stop. All of a sudden I felt him grinding up against me. I actually felt him grinding his penis up against my butt. I was like, “Oh my god, what the fuck?” As he was grinding up against me, I saw his arm reach around and touch my camera. I just bit into his triceps as hard as I could and I hung from his arm by my teeth. I scared him enough that he ran out of the club. That’s crazy! Do you typically get private access to the groups ahead of time or do you just decide you’re going to a show and you’re gonna shoot? It usually gets set up for me but, I don’t typically meet the bands ahead of time. I’m not in there talking to them privately. I just show up, I get my press pass, and I go in and shoot. If it happens to be a particularly good show or something I’m really inspired by, or the pictures turn out great, I’ll contact the band and say, “Hey, I shot this of you. You guys were great.” Then maybe I’ll get to know them a little bit better so next time they’re in town I get better access. Have you ever had any surprises like that from some of the bands or whoever, that saw your work afterwards and were super stoked? Yeah, actually there is a band called Eyehategod that is incredible. I shot them once, and I happened to be in Florida like eight months later, I went to one of their shows down there and someone introduced me to one of the band members. I just said, “Hi, I’m Sam.” This guy was like, “Are you Sam Marble? We saw the pictures that you took of us and we were really happy with them. Thank you.” My photos of them have been on NPR. I shot them for High Times. Whenever they’re in town, that’s my band and they’re super supportive of me. There are definitely a few bands that I’ve made that kind of connection with, but definitely I’d say Eyehat-
Left Teenage Heavy Metal Fans
egod is my biggest example. Can you explain survival in your field, specifically what you’re doing because there’s so many people who want to shoot bands? What are some of the keys to doing this and making a career out of it? I would say if you’re starting out and you really want to get into it, see if there’s a local paper in the neighborhood or a website. For me it was BrooklynVegan. Something that’s like a community kind of website that promotes shows and whatever. I would suggest reaching out to them and be willing to shoot for free for a little while. I’m not really that good at this but social media is really important. I’m starting to learn. I hate it but it’s a necessary evil. Just being a good networker is really important, and so is practicing. I might only have less than ten photos that get posted up on a website about a show for a client, but in actuality I’ve shot like over 200 frames or 500 frames. I shoot my fucking ass off. I don’t just shoot for the first three songs or for half of the set. I keep shooting until I feel like I’ve got some really solid images. Experimenting with your camera. It’s just figuring out what works. I have certain settings which I figured out that work for me in those situations, and then that’s what sets me apart from other photographers. That’s what gives me my style. If you can find a combination that works for you, magical things come out of that. A lot of the time with me it’s just trial and error. Obviously you do a lot of freelance but have you shown your work in galleries or plan on selling to more books, websites and magazines? I would love to show my work in a gallery. I just had a few small group shows and I am starting to sell more images to magazines. I just had a photo of Matthew Barney that was used for press all
over Europe for his movie “River of Fundament” and into a poster for a talk he’s giving at the 92nd Y. I’m really stoked this week. I had Rolling Stone just contact me about a photo that they wanted to use and that’s coming out in this week’s issue. I was thrilled about that just because it’s something that my parents can really be proud of. Rolling Stone in the 90’s is what inspired me to want to become a photographer. They had Herb Ritts back then, to me he was the be-all endall. It was a real honor to have them contact me because I still don’t know really how to contact magazines and really push my work. I’m trying to get better about the business end of things, but it’s really hard. Where do you see yourself and where do you want to be in the next eight and a half years? Honestly, I don’t want a whole lot. I just want to be able to have a business where I’m shooting all of the time. Where I actually have a working photo business or just a working studio. I never intended on staying in New York. I moved here for school and then I figured that I would work here for maybe a few years, and then move and become a mother and, I don’t know, shoot portraits either in a smaller city or a town. It took me a lot longer than I expected to get to this place. I do retouching on the side for a jewelry company and for some other clients, and that’s really my bread and butter. That’s what pays my rent and puts food on the table. I would like to not have to do that in eight and a half years. I would really like to be shooting full time. If I have the opportunity to show my work in a gallery, that would be amazing. I have this grand daydream where in 50 years they have a retrospective of my work and Jay-Z comes and raps to my mom.
Obviously your high school teacher was a major inspiration. Is there anyone else? Right after I graduated from college my apartment was robbed. I was an idiot and didn’t have renter’s insurance and I lost everything. I had been collecting camera equipment since I was 16. I lost like $10,000 worth of equipment. It
was right after 9/11, so the economy was shit. I had been a studio manager but had been laid off so I was waitressing and doing photo-assisting work when I could. When my apartment got robbed that completely crushed me. I felt really defeated but, I felt like I really had something to fucking prove. I took a full-time job in the fashion industry so that I could save up to buy a camera again. It took me two years to really start shooting on the side. I stayed at that job so I could buy a computer and buy all this equipment. I really felt like I wasn’t going to let this city get me down. I wasn’t going to be leaving New York until I felt like I had accomplished what I came here to do. Anyway, back to your question, Brian Montuori was my other biggest inspiration. I was just starting to shoot again and working in the fashion industry so I was pretty insecure about my abilities. He gave me a photo book on Nan Goldin and inspired me to shoot whatever was around without judgement. He actually became my muse, more so than the models I was shooting at work. I have about five years of photos documenting him and his work. He’s the one that got me back in action. Any shout-outs? I want a shout-out to Brian Montuori who is an amazingly talented painter and who is so devastatingly underrated. Without him there wouldn’t be me. Also Brandon Stosuy, an editor at Pitchfork who has been in my corner for many years and has provided me with some amazing opportunities. Fred Pessaro, one of my best friends. He’s one of the editors over at VICE’s Noisey. He was the one that really gave me my start and got my work out there. Saint Vitus Bar, which is a club, a bar that has a lot of shows. All the owners over there are really good to me. That’s always a really fun place to shoot. It’s a really good vibe. They’re a group of people that are just like us, that are doing it, and they’re making shit happen.
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Mr. Penfold Words Michael Connolly Photo Courtesy of Mr. Penfold
Mr. Penfold is a UK based artist who appropriates his super clean illustrative works across a variety of mediums. You can catch his signature style characters and color palettes intricately worked into gallery walls, printed on apparel, or thrown up in the streets. His influences include a background in skate and screen printing.
Where were you born and where do you live now? I was born in Cambridge, UK. I’m still here as it’s a wicked place to live! What were some of the first things you liked to draw? I remember always drawing racing bikes and cartoon characters off the TV. My dad always used to do drawings for me to color in. I used to redraw them because they weren’t tight enough. I think that’s where my obsession with clean lines came from. Is your dad also an artist, or was that just his way of occupying your time as a kid? Yeah both my parents are artists. My dad’s a screen printer and artist, and my mum is a calligrapher. 116
What is the story behind that signature nose? It started out like any old nose, over time the
shape became a lot more curvy and I started to detach it from the face. Somehow I came up with the shape I paint today. It’s a tricky shape to get right, I think that’s why I like drawing it, If it was easy I’d get bored of it. Do you pull any inspiration from animated cartoons? If so, which? Yeah I used to a lot, not so much any more. I used to watch loads of old European Disney. I’m a big fan of Ede, The Big Bad Wolf. Have you ever thought about animating any of the characters you have created? Yeah I’ve given it a go in the past, but just simple gif animations... Nothing fancy. I read something about you working in a skate shop, did that have any influence on your work? I worked in that shop from 15 - 17. I don’t think I’d be doing what I do now if I hadn’t worked there. It was then that I got into drawing stick-
ers and posters. I used to cut up and mash old skate stickers together. Do you skate? What was the local scene like when you worked in the shop? I’ve been skating since I was 11. The local scene has had its ups and downs. Right now it’s pretty good. There are some kids making big moves in the scene. Back when I worked in the shop, it was in its heyday. It was around the time all of the computer games were coming out so loads of kids were getting into it, and scooters weren’t around back then! I hate scooters. What were some of your favorite skate graphics? The old Vision classics are awesome. Being from the UK I always skate UK boards. I used to love the old Blueprint graphics and The Harmony graphics by Dist. You work across a variety of mediums, are there any you would like to explore? Do you
I used to watch loads of old european disney. I’m a big fan of Ede the big bad wolf.
Your arms are the best tools for perfect curves... unless you got a dodgy shoulder. have a favorite? I don’t have a favourite medium. I need all of them to balance things out. If I’ve been painting canvases for weeks I need the release of painting a big wall with a fatcap. Every medium delivers something different, I never dismiss any. Do you ever have trouble translating and scaling up your super clean/tight illustrations to wall sized pieces? It really depends on the image. It can be tricky! I used to use projectors for big canvas’ but I try not to use them at all now. For walls it’s just learning your marks, using your body to scale up curves. Your arms are the best tools for perfect curves... unless you got a dodgy shoulder. How do you normally come up with a character? Are any taken from real life encounters? I used to draw characters of dudes that drank in a pub I worked in. I don’t tend to draw people I see anymore. The characters are more about color and composition rather than emotion and characteristics. How has observational illustration like that informed your use of color and composition? My rules for composition and color have come
more from trial and error rather than observation. I find it more about balance rather than what is and isn’t realistic. You seem to have a background in print making, can you talk a little about that and how it supports your work? I’ve worked as a screen printer for six years now. It’s a great practice to have under your belt. It’s been a great way of meeting artists I’ve admired and looked up to over the years. It’s also handy to be able to make my own prints without restrictions. Has that experience allowed you to appropriate your work into apparel? Was that always a goal of yours? When I first started I always wanted to design t-shirts. Coming from a skate background, tshirt designs were always a big deal to me. Working as a printmaker helped me understand the boundaries and limits of screen printing, although my experience with print making has always been on paper. I’m a complete novice at textile printing, but the basis of it is still the same. Are you excited about any upcoming projects? Yeah this year is gearing up to be a fun one! I’m looking forward to getting back over to Australia in the spring. I don’t wanna give too much away though. Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists? Why? Always! It’s an important part of painting for me. My studio work is very private, but when I go out painting walls it’s always with friends. I think if I was to paint on my own I’d take it too seriously. It needs to be fun and spontaneous. What do you like about working in an urban environment versus a gallery? I like both equally. It’s nice to work outside in the sun and it’s always nice to get responses from the public. I’ve always painted to cause a reaction, whether it’s a good or bad one, it’s all good to me. 119
Words Michael Connolly Photo Courtesy of Doppelgangaz
Meet Matt Ov Fact and EP, the ghastly duo from OC born hip-hop group, The Doppelgangaz. These two dudes are extremely passionate about their craft, and after several serious years of production, have one of the most unique and creative discographies out. Oh, and if you happen to knock boots because a chick noticed your Dopp hoodie, don’t forget to throw some bills in their Paypal.
So, where are you guys from? MOF: We’re from Orange County, New York, aka parts unknown, 8-4-5. Where are you at now?
the two of you guys? MOF: The group is us two, but we are always with
family, you know, our man Big J-O Tropicana Josh, and our manager Scoob. We’re always roaming on a four man status.
MOF: Oh, we still here, we ain’t never left, baby.
Right, so is that Groggy Pack?
Explain the name Doppelgangaz and how it applies to you two. MOF: We think the word is cool, you know what I’m saying, we think it applies to us because we consider ourselves doppelgangers, like a ghastly duplicate of yourself. I think it’s even said to be like an omen. It could be a sign of something bad happening if you see a doppelganger but, us, we just look at ourselves as doppelgangers when it comes to the creative process of music because we’re on the same wavelength working on stuff. So, even though E is like three foot two, and I’m me, we still have similarities when it comes to this music game. So, who does the crew consist of besides
EP: Yeah, that’s Groggy, right. MOF: Groggy Pack is our company, yeah, every-
body puts in work for the company. You guys steady rock black cloaks in the shows and in the videos; what is the black cloak lifestyle all about and where did it originate? MOF: I think it originated from us just making things happen with whatever tools we had available. So, especially with us, starting out we used to just rock that black cloak and cover up some bum ass outfits, you know what I’m saying? The black cloak made us feel good, it didn’t matter what we had on underneath. It kind of represents us with everything we do. We make use
of anything, whether it’s cheap ass records, or whatever. No matter what equipment, we’re going to make sure things sound good and look good. You’ve got a lot of people with fancyshmancy type stuff and the mixes sound shot, the look is shot, everything looks bad. So, it doesn’t really matter what the tools are, it’s all about the vision. Where was the first cloak purchased at? MOF: We got them cloaks, let me see, I’m try-
ing to think... them cloaks had to get special ordered, you know what I mean, dead ass. I can say, we’re currently working on a little cloak duplication, so you’re going to see a lot of cloaks on deck sooner or later. EP: It’s cloaks baby! Cloaks not capes. So you guys vibe on this nomadic DIY mentality, which you were kind of referring to before. What’s that all about? EP: I mean, I don’t even know if it’s anything that we really chose, it’s more something that
we’ve just grown to become. It’s just what we’ve been presented. We don’t necessarily have all of the resources at hand. We’re not in the five boroughs everyday having somebody doing this or that. So, it’s really just about us making moves man. We don’t have any movers and shakers, big industry people, behind the scenes doing stuff for us. Really, it’s just all on us to get stuff done man and as a format, I’ve got to say we’ve definitely made some decent progress. It’s about us going as hard as we can to make stuff happen, so we pretty much had to be as hands on as possible but, at the end of the day, I think we’ve grown to really love it. I don’t know if we really want it any other way, just because we’re big on overseeing the vision. It’s not to have the least amount of hands involved, because if there’s something that we need, we’re definitely going to outsource it and go to somebody who provides that special service. It’s very important for us to oversee the mixes, oversee the video, oversee the production, get the packaging, the merchandise. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
It’s rap or die out here, you know what I’m saying?
How has growing up in a more rural area, like Orange County, affected your sound and your style? MOF: One thing I can say is, for us it’s been such a unique mix of characters. Everybody that we know moved here from the city, and it’s just like a funny ass mix of diverse and crazy people. So honestly man, it definitely has influenced the way we mixed up talk, all the weird type of stuff we say, sometimes people wonder where the hell we’re getting this stuff from.
Yeah, totally. It seems like critics and media alike kind of peg you dudes as NYC artists who are trying to bring back hip-hop, but it seems pretty clear that you guys are making an effort to expose the true roots of where you’re from. How important is that to you guys? MOF: I think it just has to do with the fact that there’s not really a scene out here for music at all. So with us, from day one we always knew if we wanted to get anything going that we had to take it down to the city. Everything we do is down there, so I think that people just assume we’re from there. I think artists who try to keep things up here and remain up here see that, unfortunately, there aren’t many outlets to. Even
something simple like, we used to hit up open mic nights in the lower east side and around that area every single week. There’s not even an open mic out here; it’s definitely quieter, when it comes to that type of stuff. You’ve got to get the hell out and you’ve got to make moves to get heard, definitely. Yeah for sure, EP you got anything to say on that? EP: I mean, definitely the same thing, there’s really not much of a scene out here. We’ve definitely had to go above and beyond to stay active, all the while still trying to represent for this area, but it’s hard too man. At the same time we’ll be out hitting up all of the important spots to hit, all the boroughs, and people are like, ‘Hey, you guys from Brooklyn, bro?’ And we’re like, ‘No.’ It’s an honor too, to be like one of the only people from here. We’re really trying to push to make these parts unknown, known. Yeah I feel that flare and style from growing up in a different area, but still having all that access and exposure in a big city. EP: Yeah, you are what you are, you’re mix is everything. To reiterate what Matt said, our area is a product of people moving up and out of the
city for whatever reason it may be. So, you get that urban flare, you get in that diversity, but you’re also getting the people who have been around here for awhile. You might come across some more interesting people. You know, some people don’t realize that New York is a real diverse place. If you leave the city you can come across country folk out here, it’s crazy. At the same time it’s just hilarious, man, I don’t think that people are definitely in tune with the state. I think a lot of people assume that New York is just one big Manhattan. It really made for a cool, unique, and diverse upbringing. We were even just talking about that the other day. We were out one time, just rolling deep and someone was like, ‘Damn, that crew over there looks like the United Nations.’ We’ve got everybody. I wouldn’t change my upbringing for anything. MOF: We got a white, black, Cuban, Asian, everything. EP: Yeah, whatever you need baby, we got it! So, I heard that you guys were both part of a bigger group back in the day, what was the name of the group? EP: Yeah the group was Fab Nickel man, we put out two projects, and it really just consisted of all our people. Matt’s brother was in the group, and two of our other boys were in the group. Matt and I were the youngest ones in the group, and were able to focus on this one clear cut goal we had of just going really hard. At the time even we weren’t sure that music was something we really wanted to pursue, but I think it was just burning inside of us. I don’t know if we could even help it. Even if we tried to tell ourselves, ‘yo, I think maybe we should try to get a job.’ It wouldn’t allow us to do itMOF: It’s rap or die out here, you know what I’m saying? EP: Haha yeah, it was rap or die. So when did you guys start doing your own shit, like start being serious, what year was that? EP: Well, it was 2008 when we first put out the Ghastly Duo EP. I mean at the time we were still definitely testing the waters. MOF: Yeah, when we say serious, I guess we mean that we realized we wanted to just go all in, but it took a little while to even get anything
going. 2008 was probably the earliest stage of that mentality. EP: 2010 was when we started our own business and really went hard, quit the jobs, all that. I mean, that was the reason for the cloaks too man, we had the worst outfits. We had seven dollar sweat outfits from Walmart. I’m not joking man. MOF: We had the same Fruit of the Loom sweats, and dudes was selling sneakers. EP: Yeah, Matt has a huge sneaker collection, mine wasn’t as crazy, but I literally let go of all my Jordan’s. It was a hard thing to do, I sold them all on eBay, but I didn’t care, it was all for this goal. It’s kind of crazy, how you’ve gone from the OC to now touring Europe, and it seems like you guys have had some crazy success over there. What’s the difference, between Germany or wherever, and the States? Like that immediate acceptance? MOF: Honestly, sometimes people ask us how we even have people in Germany, or other countries, and the answer for us always is that we have no clue. Because we didn’t do anything in particular to get ourselves out, we just happened to have people who were messing with
I’ve been eating mad Jamaican cheese right now. it in different countries after we put out Lone Sharks. We had a German company put out a vinyl for Lone Sharks and it happened to sell out over there quick. So, that was the gauge that forced a tour there, because it was like, yo, we sold all these vinyl out there and we’ve got people out there; that’s how it started as far as the touring goes. But, we definitely feel it picking up in the U.S. too; we get a lot of love out here. It’s more spread over here, it’s a big ass country. We’re actually working on our first U.S. tour coming up. So, yeah, love is love, you know what I mean? Yeah, absolutely. So, you and EP have obviously been homies for years and kind of started this movement together. I know you vibe off each other when it comes to music but, does mixing friends with business ever complicate things? EP: It’s crazy man, because that was definitely one of the first things we always talked about like damn, the first people we’re going into business with is straight friends; this shit could be crazy. Surprisingly, it works when everybody literally comes together for the same goal and is willing to sacrifice. There’s nobody really taking on leadership roles, it really is just a group process man. We all sit down and kick around ideas and stuff, we all have the same goals in mind, we write down these goals and we try to execute. I want to say that it will continue to be that way.
That’s awesome man. So, discography wise, from what I see, there’s a clear progression from intricate lyricism to a now more refined, unique style, really highlighting who you are and what you’re all about. What’s your take on that, you’ve talked about how
you’ve grown, what’s you’re take on the growth? EP: I just think in general, you always want to get better. I think you always want to really, find who you are in music, and I think that takes time. When you first start out you have an idea what a rapper is, or you have an idea about what somebody starting out should sound like. It’s always going to be reflective of you, but it may have other things in it. For example, I feel like some people were upset with a couple of songs on Peace Kehd that had a more, they would call it ‘modern sound’. Some people even called it southern, like, ‘How dare you. You’re from New York.’ The crazy thing is, when we look back at 13 year old versions of us, we were just fans of music, and we were even rapping back then too, but we were influenced by everything. We were making southern type songs when we were young you know, we just loved music, it was all
about music consumption. I think now we’re just showcasing who we really are. I think every time we put together a new project it’s just a better representation of us. MOF: We always say, like, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to be in a situation where you’re putting out stuff just to be safe, or something like that. I feel like if you do that, you’re going to have the same five people sitting and messing with it for the next twenty years. If you look at any artist that’s heralded, who is considered legendary or successful, period. I mean, people have long discographies, people have stuff that their die hardest fans hate. You know, there’s nobody who has a discography that everybody is like, ‘Oh, I love every single thing.’ There are even songs Bob Marley made that people don’t like, you know what I mean? Right, yeah, absolutely. Verse wise you guys
have some of the most unique and wild shit I’ve ever heard. Sometimes I feel like a fucking archaeologist, replaying and digging through. Where does that energy come from? Do you guys read books, are you guys watching cartoons? I know you cook. Do you people watch? What is it that keeps everything so fresh and focused? MOF: Honestly man, I’m glad you said that because I talk to random people everyday. I’m like, ‘What’s good pop, you good?’ I’m the type of dude that’s just walking and conversing with random people. We love picking people’s brains, even with the traveling, it’s perfect for our personalities. Picking people’s brains in the U.S. and abroad, and having all that information in your memory bank. I love talking to a person and then hearing them say something crazy, I write that shit down. I just like getting stuff from everywhere. I love new vocab, we love medical
terms. We love the culinary world too, there are so many cool phrases and words. I think people who rap sometimes get caught up in the same words over and over again. I feel like there’s so many, so, we just like using everything that comes our way, and it definitely helps to talk to random people! All right, here’s the question I was waiting to ask you, what’s the cheese of choice right now? EP: The cheese of choice ooh, talk to him. MOF: I’m Jamaican, so a lot of Jamaicans leading up to Easter cut out meat and they eat Jamaican buns and cheese; they don’t eat no meat. I eat whatever, I’ll eat a pig’s ass if you cook it right. Right now, I’m eating a lot of Jamaican cheese, you get it in like a big ass can. I don’t even know what it’s really called, but it’s got like a Cheddar/American kind of thing going on. You describe it like that E? EP: I thought it definitely had qualities of like an American or Cheddar. MOF: It’s like, a little creamier than cheddar, but yeah, I’ve been eating mad Jamaican cheese right now. EP: No, it’s true man, I see why it goes with the bun, it definitely compliments it. I had some of that, and lately I’ve been about the fresh mozzarella. If I can get my hands on the buffalo mozzarella, even better. I’ve been trying to make them Caprese salads. Talk to him! So, yeah, you need that fresh mozz. All right, what’s the quick cook up, what’s on deck in the fridge right now? EP: For me, I always try to keep some chicken breasts around or a tuna steak. I always like a healthier protein, to just whip up. MOF: If I could just say man, when it comes to the weather getting nicer, we’re looking forward to this seafood. We’re looking forward to, getting some lobster rolls, sipping some liquor, and eating some oysters outside.
These days you guys are always rocking some clean gear under the cloaks, are you into street fashion at all? EP: We’re not connoisseurs or anything, the last thing we want to do is be the guys who think of fashion before we think of our music. You know
you want to look good, feel good, we try to just have nice gear. How long have you guys been branding your own apparel? EP: That’s been going since ‘10, we first released our Totem tee with the Doppelgangaz logo going downward. That came out early on; we wanted to establish ourselves and the fact that we could provide simple designs. We didn’t really want our stuff to be considered merch. We definitely try to take pride in what we do, as far as our stuff goes too. So, we made sure we called our brand Groggy Pack Apparel. The last thing we want to do was give somebody a basic tee that’s not printed well, with the screen print off to the right or something. MOF: Yeah with bacon neck. EP: Yeah, no bacon neck haha. We try to put out premium, industry standard garments, and we really try to take pride in our line. Yeah I really hate to call it merch, it’s really apparel that pertains to what we’re doing, even the latest stuff we’re about to drop. It’s not going to blatantly say Doppelgangaz on it. We want stuff that you could hit the streets with, feel good and not feel like you’re just repping a band all day. Right and if somebody recognizes that, then it’s like a whole other level. EP: Yeah, if somebody recognizes it, it’s cool and it’s like you get this extra bonding thing. Two dudes that mess with Dopp and they both have shirts and say, ‘Yo, yeah, I see what you’re doing.’ MOF: Or maybe, you could be in a party scene alone and shorty say ‘Oh you mess with Dopp?’, and the next thing you know you’re engaged in coitus. Exactly. EP: And you know how that goes, you got to give
us that gratuity. Yeah, then you get that long range wingman status. EP: Exactly, so we keep the Paypal open to things like that, if dudes score at a party because they’re wearing the gear, they got to throw in like an extra 10%.
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Words Peter Levandowski Photo Nevins
Brian NEVINS Camera in hand; dying to share the moment
Brian Nevins, better known as Nevins, has spent over 14 years with around the next corner adventures, adrenaline rushes, eye-opening moments and humbling convictions. He started producing editorial features for action sports and adventure magazines, a career that paints the pictures of athletes and musicians; it’s all about the story. His style is molded from years of deep snow, reeling ocean perfection and the characters that told the tale along the way. Brooks Institute graduate, Surfer Magazine freelancer at large and co-instigator for getinthevan.com.
What was the first photo you took that made you fall in love with photography? Are you more passionate about one subject over another? I don’t think there’s one photo. The entire process of the craft just hit me hard when I was 18. I’d moved to California to chase waves, and photography just molded perfectly to where I was in life at the time. Back then I was most passionate about surfing with my work but, over the years and many different subjects later, there is no favorite. As a profession, you have to find the best and worst of a story. The more you cover with open eyes, the more I’m left feeling nothing is simply the best. Life has too many amazing and profound aspects to be stuck on one.
How do you choose what to shoot? I’ve seen you shoot anything from snowboarding to natural disasters, what process do you go through to pick? Work finds me a lot, but the variety is a matter of chance. When you just put one foot in front of the other and live life to your fullest potential, the wildest doors open for you. I rarely turn down a good opportunity.
Can’t stand glamour, reality tv anything, fashion, and basically all the shit that makes this world worse. Do you enjoy working with less known snowboarders who are open to new ideas, or old vets who know what they like and know their style? I love both! There’s a hunger and energy with the younger, less experienced that honestly keeps me young at heart. The wisdom with age in the experienced rider yields itself to passion and conviction, both of which translate to great storytelling. What’s the best photo shoot you’ve been on? Easy Living Tour with Jake Burton? Re:Generation with musical artists? What shoot sticks out in your mind? They all stick out. Live a day with the impoverished or get dropped off in AK by heli, and everything in between. It’s easy to hold each close to heart. You’re a very diverse photographer, if you could pick anything to take pictures of, what would it be? Something entirely new or something you are familiar with? It’s kind of a loaded question, there are too many things I want to shoot. If it can generate inspiration inside someone and usher change, I’m all in. I’ll leave it at that.
Is there anything you wouldn’t shoot? Of course. Can’t stand glamour, reality tv anything, fashion, and basically all the shit that makes this world worse. I also have no interest
in weddings from a boredom standpoint. What do you look for in a picture? Is it the same for all photographers? If so, how do you separate yourself from other photographers? I look for the story. It has to have more than a cool moment, something which evokes emotion in the viewer that makes you feel as if you’re part of it. There’s more to poverty than a sad photo, more to snowboarding than the next rail that hasn’t been hit, more to music than what’s in style that moment. It’s all a life of passion driven people with amazing stories. Whatever that is, you’ll find me there. I’m not sure about other photographers’ process and I try hard not
to separate myself. If you’re focused on what others are doing and what you can do differently, you’re not focused on the moment you’re in. How did it feel to win two awards at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival Photographer showdown, especially winning People’s Choice and Best in Show? Which meant more to you? So crazy. I actually didn’t know much about that contest until the day I got there. I had broken my leg that season and a friend recommended it, so I took the downtime to enter and keep idle hands busy. It was a surreal experience showing my vulnerable side by presenting my work to
thousands of people. I showed only surf images to a crowd of skiers and riders, and to have that reception was humbling. It choked me up honestly. The night ended with Terje, my childhood idol congratulating me, and I couldn’t speak. Who is the craziest person you have ever met through having the perks of backstage or VIP media access as a photographer? The current secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon was quite a moment. It’s an honor meeting people who are true world changers, and drives home the utter blessing it is to have the life I do.
Do you feel that your photography has the ability to evoke change? I hope it does. Maybe not on a grand scale, or at least that I’m aware of but, that’s not the best goal for any pursuit. Ushering change on a oneperson-at-a-time level can be just as powerful.
Who is someone you have met through photography (Dave Matthews, Skrillex, Scotty Lago) that you will always stay in touch with and why? Too many to list, but since you referenced Scotty, I must say it’s amazing watching how far he’s taken his career. I take personally the moments I shoot with people, and enjoy the continued relationships
I get to keep. Every job has its perks and mine is getting to know some amazing characters. Do you like shooting artists or athletes more? Who is more fun to be around? Who has the better lifestyle in your opinion? They are both so different, and it’s hard to explain the grass is always greener theory to people, but both lend themselves to different pitfalls, successes and stories. I love both for photography but for such different reasons. The only common thread is both athletes and musicians are so damn passionate about their crafts, and it is infectious to be around. From grassroots to the biggest names, if you spend five
They [ Athletes ] are the cast that tells the story I’m not capable of living. They paint the picture of how it feels to me but I can’t show it.
minutes around someone who loves what they do, the energy rubs off. Athletes clearly I relate to because I participate in a lot of the same sports. I, however, was not gifted with balance or athletic talent so being around others who were is a treat, and it actually inspires my work. They are the cast that tells the story I’m not capable of living. They paint the picture of how it feels to me but I can’t show it. What are some of the perks that come along with working with Red Bull, Bonnaroo, Warren Miller? Travel and adrenaline rushes I guess! WM was a blast last year. Seth Wescott got me into the
best snow of my life and I got to scare the shit out of myself. Those moments make my love for riding stay rooted deep. I’m actually headed back to Valdez on Friday with him for another round of scared drop ins. Red Bull has been such a blessing to work for over a decade. The company has grown so much since I started doing jobs for them. Every time they call it’s guaranteed a nuts situation that keeps me on my toes. As a photographer, there’s a lot of pressure to perform with them, and I thrive on that. How long do you think you will be “able” to handle those situations? Hopefully for some time but it’s hard to say. I
nor is taking a shower, having a roof over your head, a family and a life without war. The trivial things we get upset over are outlandishly out of proportion to how good life is sometimes. Unfortunately for many, in the states it takes a natural disaster to realize this. The human spirit is undeniably amazing though, and the more you look for the good in the world with an open heart and open eyes, the more you will see how much we truly have.
feel like I’ve gotten better with my craft as the years have gone on, and hope that trend continues. It’s always your body that has to answer that question. Right now I still feel like I could go forever, but ask my old cranky bones in 20 years if they feel the same way. How hard was it to keep up with Kingwell and Wescott while shooting in AK? Did you end up in some sketchy spots just to get a shot? You can’t and yes. Setting off my first big slide will stay with me forever. Did you need a change of clothes after? Basically. I definitely needed a “timeout” for the rest of the day.
Some of your photos from the tornadoes are pretty humbling, How did you feel being at ground zero? Relief work and the NGO/poverty work I do is a very different beast. You have to be very present and very aware of your emotions. It can be very hard on the heart and very gratifying. Those moments keep me grounded. We don’t realize how wealthy we all really are. The fact that not only do we get to eat everyday, but actually choose what we eat is not an option in a lot of the world;
Talk to me about Get in the Van and what it is all about? How did it all start? From concept to reality, take me through the process. GITV started with Joey Carter’s old surf movies, but the concept that it is now came from the three of us (Nick LaVecchia, Joe Carter and myself) getting fed up with taking all these amazing adventures and telling stories with our work that never saw the light of day in print. If we did a feature for a magazine, the editors hacked it into some version that molded their image or just didn’t run it at all. It was a frustrating waste of great photos and hard work, so we wanted to take things into our own hands. We started with old work that never saw the light of day, and it matured into original pieces just for the sight. The basic idea was to have a creative home we could puke our ideas, photos, videos and art all over without anyone else’s opinion mattering. It still stands that way today. It keeps our minds moving, we seem to motivate and inspire each other by posting on there. It is our personal, crazy journey that others can watch unfold. The site is going through a big makeover and will be relaunched soon so, stay tuned! Shameless Plug- What’s the web address? www.getinthevan.com After all of the places you have been, you still go back to New Hampshire. What is it about New Hampshire that draws you back? It’s home. I love where I’m from and am so fucking proud to be NH. There’s nowhere in the world like it, from the amazing locals that fill it, the backcountry of the Presidentials to the perfect winter waves of the seacoast. I want nothing more than to be buried here, it’s my identity and my inspiration.
Words AB Photo Courtesy of Wissam
Meet Wissam Shawkat, currently hailing from Dubai. Wissam is one of the top calligraphic writers and designers in the world. His writing is so remarkable that it’s become highly recognized for it’s unique aesthetic qualities. He’s used his calligraphy skills to design everything from stationery to major corporate logos. He can obviously write his name much better than most of us will ever be able to, but the story of how he got there is probably even more impressive.
Describe your workspace/office/studio? My studio is a simple room, about 3.5m by 5m and is located within my house. It has worktops and a tilted light table, and bookshelves taking a full wall. There are also a couple of cabinets to store tools and inks. I try to keep it clean and tidy as much as I can, as I like to work in an organized environment. However, it’s really hard, when I start any artwork or project, things get messy. When it comes to doing a big piece of art, it’s always a challenge, due to the limitation of space. Because I do different kinds of jobs, from designs to art, my studio is like my office. You’re almost completely self-taught, whereas most calligraphers study under masters for years on end. How did this formulate, and how did the conflicts in the Middle East help fine-tune your skill? Yes, I did not go through the traditional way of learning calligraphy. I started my obsession with calligraphy at the age of 10 (1984) when my schoolteacher wrote some letters using chalk on the blackboard. That was enough for me to be captured all my life with the beauty of letters. However, this happiness did not last long. Schools had to stop due to the Iraq-Iran war where my city, Basra, was heavily bombed by missiles. We had to stay in underground shelters for a while till things calmed down before we could go back to school. During these weeks I spent in the shelter, I remember my escape was calligraphy. I was practicing all day long because there was nothing else to do. After that, I continued seeing my teacher and asked him lots of questions about the tools and some letters, how to write them. However, the situation was getting worse during the war, life was really difficult. We had to run from shelter to shelter, and at the end we had to leave our home. Actually, there was no one left on our street due to the random bombings, so my family had to move to a safer place. We moved north of Iraq to the city of Mosul (1000 km from Basra) in 1987. I remember during the holiday I worked at a sign-making shop so I could save some money to buy books and tools. 142 There I also attended a summer intensive calligraphy program. I was placed in the beginners
we are just copying what was done hundreds of years ago. Opening, World of Love Right, Installation at Berlin Metro Station
class studying Ruq’a. A teacher in the class saw some of my calligraphy writing on my desk in Thuluth, a more difficult script. The teacher asked who did it for me, they could barely believe I had done it myself, and instantly promoted me to a higher class. By 1988 the war was over, so we returned back to our city and I continued my calligraphy passion. Later, in 1988, while a high school student, I participated in an exhibition and won the first prize for my city. I traveled six hours by train from Basra to Baghdad, to attend the exhibition award ceremony and collect the prize from the Ministry of Education, who hosted the show. During summers, I worked in a sign-making shop in my city of Basra. I developed a reputation as a good calligrapher, and while in high school was sought after for all sorts of lettering jobs. I was going through the teenagers revolt, and in 1990, the first Gulf war started after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Again, my city of Basra was in the center of this turbulence, so school was off for a long time. Again, my calligraphy was the escape, but this time mixed with other art and graphics activities, from drawing posters, to lettering, designing lo-
gos for my friends with their names, designing skate boards and drawing on them, to drawing portraits, plus calligraphy. As I was developing as an artist, I also attended college and got a degree in Civil Engineering. The city of Basra in Southern Iraq had no art colleges, and so thinking that civil engineering would help me develop my sense of design and drawing, I entered a program there. Calligraphy saved me many duties during the next phase of my life when I was serving in the Iraqi army. I was called on to make signs and do all sorts of lettering work for my superiors, rather than the usual work of a soldier. By 1998, I was out of both the university and the army, and ready to begin “real” life. I expected to work as an engineer and got a job at a small engineering firm. I worked for only one month before I quit and started to work in my family’s stationery business. Now, I work doing all the signs for the business, in addition to my growing freelance artwork. This includes airbrush poster design, portraits, fine art airbrush works, graphic design and calligraphy. In 1998, I par-
ticipated in the Baghdad International Calligraphy Festival contributing three pieces of calligraphy that combined writing in classical styles on airbrushed, modern backgrounds. I won an award for my participation, and I sold all three pieces I had. For me that was a big success.
Although you haven’t learned under a master, you are considered and widely respected as one of the top calligraphers of your profession. Have you taught any students or granted an Ijaza to anyone? Yes, I have taught many students, and I still do, but never granted an Ijaza to anyone. See, the Ijaza thing is connected to the traditional way of learning, and since I did not go through that, I don’t think I can do that. Plus, I think Ijaza was like a certificate in the old days which allowed you to work in a job as a calligrapher and nowadays, things are not the same. I want to point out a very important thing here, most people think that a calligrapher who holds the Ijaza is a master calligrapher, when in reality this is not true.
Script calligraphy is one of the most important forms of art in Islamic Culture. Can you help explain why? Calligraphy is considered one of the most important arts in Islamic tradition. It developed from the tradition of writing the Quran and was perfected through the centuries into distinct letterforms and complex design rules. The art of calligraphy became one of the forms of visual expression because any other representational art was not allowed in the Islamic culture at the time. Now, calligraphy is considered as the most highly regarded and most fundamental element of Islamic art. You have been credited with bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary scripture within a lot of your design/calligraphy work. How has it been received by clients, and the public, in and around the UAE? It is important, and I always call for the evolving of Arabic calligraphy. When I came to Dubai 12 years ago and started to work with creative and design agencies, most of the people who were involved in these agencies when it came to calligraphy, they had the image of the traditional calligraphy. You look around and you see everything
My source of inspiration is almost every beautiful thing Left, Sight & Heart
evolving, but when it came to calligraphy, we were stuck with the traditions and the classical scripts. I believe in order for calligraphy to evolve, it must come from calligraphers themselves, it must come from the people who understand it well. I always believe that to break the rules, you need to understand them first. In 2003, I started a project of developing a new hand calligraphy style script, now called Al Wissam style. The letters have a modern look and feel, yet it’s linked to the traditional styles, because it was influenced by four different styles. In the beginning, I started testing it in many design and logo projects, to see how people would receive it, as it was not what people expect to see when it comes to calligraphy, but still has the essence and DNA of calligraphy. After I was happy with the form of the letters and the connections, I took another step forward and started using it in fine art calligraphy works for galleries and exhibitions. I came to a point that if we continued writing and practicing the traditional styles, then we actually weren’t doing anything! We are not participating in an evolutionary process, we are just copying what was done hundreds of years ago. Some of your work has been classified as calligraffiti. What is calligraffiti and how do you think your work exemplifies it? Although I don’t call myself a calligraffitti artist, some of my works could fall in this category. Calligraffiti is a term that came from calligraphy and graffiti, it’s simply looking at the written word as an image, as a painting, in my opinion; it’s the transfer of the creations of street artists or urban artists into more, fine art gallery pieces. However, some artists whose work has been considered calligraffiti, have never done street art. Calligraffiti is where calligraphic quality lines are transformed into organic, abstract shapes, which represent a drawing rather than a written word. Dutch calligraphy artist Niels Meulman put it in a nice way as “traditional handwriting with a metropolitan attitude”. Some might think it’s as easy as writing words on paper, but a piece of artwork can take years to complete. Do you mind giving
But that inner voice told me to do it, and I did. us a brief detail of the process from start to finish? My process, is simply similar to any artist I guess. I start with sketches in pencil, and scribbles about composition, text ideas, etc. After that, once I am happy with a certain design or composition, I take a step forward, by starting to write with a calligraphic pen, in order to get the feel of the strokes. Then, I work in layers of tracing paper, using many of them till I perfected the composition and the calligraphy strokes, until I am happy with the final design. This stage could be after 10 layers of tracing paper from the original concept or sketch. After that, I start to plan the final look of the artwork. I select the colors, paper and the final elements in the artwork, and then the final artwork will be born. Most of the times, I scan and print my final sketch to the actual size of the artwork. I then use it as a guide by going over it in pencil to mark the locations of the strokes, or transfer the design to the final artwork media.
Give me an idea of how Arabic type is structured. Does it read left to right, top to bottom or can letters be arranged in different structures? How many characters are there, etc? Are your works word and letter fragments, or do they read as full words and sentences? Arabic type or writing reads right to left. It consists of 28 letters or characters but, here you need to note that the system of Arabic writing is connected, so most of the letters have 3 forms; initial, middle and end. When it comes to the art of calligraphy, we can arrange the words from bottom to top or top to bottom, here I mean full words to be arranged, not letters, as the letters
in the word connect, so it would still read right to left. This connection of the characters and the variation we get from the connection, since each character changes its shape to other forms when connected, gives the Arabic language a special aesthetic and ornamental value. If you look at any letter by itself when it is done in good calligraphy hand, it’s like an abstract shape. I was first attracted to these values in the Arabic characters. In my calligraphy, I work with either full sentences or words, and sometimes just letters, depending on the visual result I want to achieve at the end. Is there a general message you’d like to convey with your work? My approach to calligraphy, as I said before, is completely aesthetic. What’s important for me is that the end result of any work I do is something beautiful, something positive, something that, when people see my work it makes them feel good. When it comes to written text, this applies also, the content of what we are writing in our calligraphy is as important as practicing calligraphy itself (except for abstract works that include only beautiful forms of letters). I always like to write what I believe in, what I understand. My source of inspiration is almost every beautiful thing. I like to write something positive, something that has a beautiful meaning, so I can reflect that in my composition and in my design. I can feel it in my calligraphy. Have you faced challenges with introducing your work to the Western world? I actually have the opposite feeling, most of the western people I’ve met fall in love with Arabic calligraphy the first time, even if they don’t understand or cannot read it. They just appreciate the beauty of it. I think they look at it as abstract shapes, so they take it out of its writing context and put it into the form of abstract art.
Right, The Love Carpet
That was enough for me to be captured all my life with the beauty of letters You’ve already worked with tons of clients big and small, and exhibited your work around the world. What’s in store for the future? Teaching, more exhibits, client work? My plan for the future is to do more art and exhibitions, and less client work. I am not saying I will stop that, but I wish I had more time to do fine art pieces for galleries. I produce a very limited amount of artwork every year because these really take time. I am a very busy person because I do everything by myself. I am a one man show, I communicate with clients, I meet with them, I reply to the e-mails and phone calls, and I produce the work entirely. People who come to me, they come to my name, they come to the quality of my work so, I have to stay like that. I am enjoying it, I’m a free bird. You use an airbrush for a lot of your work. How do you mask the lettering so as to not over-spray, and why exactly are you so keen on using an airbrush anyway? Using the airbrush was a period I passed through in my artistic career. I used it mainly with geometric forms to create a style of calligraphy, or used it in certain areas to add a visual effect in the background of the work. That was from 1996 – 2000, I am not doing this anymore but, sometimes I use it to just color certain areas in the artwork when I need a very even tone of color. 148 Yet, there is another side to my airbrush passion, which is the tool itself. I am a collector of the
airbrush, I have one of the biggest collections of airbrushes, from the 19th century till now. I was attracted to the invention, and decided to look into its history, who first invented it and where, and I ended up collecting airbrushes. Now, I have 500+ airbrushes in my collection, and there will be a feature soon about my collection in Airbrush Action Magazine in the USA. Do you find yourself still learning new techniques, even today, after decades of writing? I never stop learning. Every artwork or project is a learning experience for me. I always look for new techniques, I look at using new materials. I always experiment with calligraphy, trying to create new styles and techniques. You’ve already persevered through far more than most people will ever experience in a lifetime. What’s one message you’d personally like to send to the world? Sometimes, when I look where I am now, it’s like a dream but, I always followed my inner feeling. There was something inside always telling me to, it drives me forward every time I face an obstacle. When I decided to resume my career as an artist and designer in calligraphy, and leave my degree as a civil engineer behind, I remember my parents and family were not happy. Although they encouraged me, and helped me in the beginning, they used to tell me you are dreaming, you are not going to go anywhere with this. But that inner voice told me to do it, and I did. I was starting a new life when I moved to Dubai in 2002, after suffering a lot in Iraq during the sanction from 1990 till the fall of the regime in 2003. It was not easy in the beginning, because that was my first time traveling outside Iraq to a different country. After working for 4 years at a design and branding agency, I faced another challenge. I wanted to work alone, because I wanted to be a free artist. I then had that inner battle to quit the job or not. It was not an easy decision because I have a wife and daughter, but I had to listen to that inner voice again. So, I quit my job and decided to be self-employed, on my own, and that was the best decision I ever made. Now, if there were a single message I would like to tell the world, it would be, “Follow Your Dream.”
Rocky Words Kahli Scott
The rain blurs the coastline, and I’m not sure yet why we’re here. There are three reasons why we normally come to this spot, high on the dunes, where grass braids through the sand, itching our bare thighs so we have to sit on our backpacks and sweaters and chip packets: 1. To talk, 2. To smoke, 3. To look at the sea. Today, we’re doing none of those things and I can’t be the only one who’s confused. It doesn’t make sense that Blue has called us all here today, and gathered us in some perplexed sleepy council. Blue doesn’t like any of us. Blue isn’t even close to the leader. Blue is never the one who sends the messages to come over and hang out and watch TV, or to go get beers or burgers, or to come sit here and talk and smoke and look at the sea. He comes, sometimes, always the last to arrive, always letting us know with intermittent scowls and shakes of his long blonde hair that he doesn’t like being there, doesn’t like being with us. But none of us ever call him out on it, because for some messed up reason, we all like Blue. And that’s the reason we all came when he called. We all like Blue. Eventually, after we’ve sat there for a good ten minutes and established that no one brought any cigarettes and the rain is cold, Angelie asks the question.
“So Blue, what’s up?” It doesn’t matter that he’s the one who called the council. Blue still manages a frown at being addressed directly. His flannelette sleeves are rolled down today and he wears jeans so we can’t see the source of his pseudonym—dozens
of blue tattoos, all disconnected singular words, printed across all four of his limbs. The ones I remember straight away without seeing them are: MUCH, ZEPHYR, POINT and YEAH. I wonder if the girls who have loved Blue have tried to make sentences out of them—poems, mantras, codes—and then I wonder if any girls ever have loved Blue. I wouldn’t. Eventually, Blue replies. His voice is slow and rough and he doesn’t look at any of us, only out at the invisible sea. “Something bad happened at my place the other night.” Blue lives with Cody, who’s also here, looking uncomfortable. Last Saturday night, Cody had a party. It was a small party—maybe thirty people—and a lot of bad things probably happened. People said bad things, drank bad things, smoked bad things, had bad sex with bad people. The big mystery is which bad thing Blue could be talking about. Angelie, again, is the one to press the question. She seems nervous, I realise, sitting there braiding her long blonde hair. If she and Blue braided their hair together, you’d hardly be able to tell whose strands were whose. “What happened?” she asks. Blue answers immediately this time, like he got ready for it. “Someone stole Rocky,” he replies. “Someone fucking stole my parrot.” (Part 1 of 4) To be continued...
NUT & BOLT
Boston Corbett, the man who found and shot John Wilkes Booth, was completely insane from handling mercury as a hatter. He also calmly castrated himself with a pair of scissors. Charles II on the wedding night of his nephew and future King, William of Orange, watched the entire consummation while shouting encouragement the whole time.
Tsar Nicholas had sex with his sister. Toward the end of his life, Al Capone would cast a fishing rod into his swimming pool. The first policewoman was Alice Stebbins Wells, who joined the LAPD in 1910. Because she was the first (and only) policewoman, she designed her own police uniform.
Thomas Edison electrocuted a female circus elephant to death. At the height of its power, Pablo Escobarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cartel was spending $2.5k per month on rubber bands to wrap their cash with. Julius Caesar had an affair with the mother of one of his assassins. 152 Alexander the Great invented a spying technique still used today: he had his soldiers write letters home, which he then intercepted and read.
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