Tuesday, 29 June 2010

LSD Magazine Interviews Cilvaringz (Wu Tang Clan) Issue 4

Scion of the legendary Wu Tang Clan, Cilvaringz overcame astonishing odds to take his place in one of the most influential hip hop collectives in history. Hitting the heady heights of international stardom with a magnetic cocktail of sublime lyrical flow, heaving beats, and a conscious, politically engaged lyrical canvas, Ringz is now a universally respected artist, manager and producer. Conquering his dream, he rolled the geopolitical and cultural maelstrom of the post 9/11 world radically across the beat, the street and the international heat, opening up debate and a fiercely dynamic dialogue with power, policy and identity. He took a moment out from strategising his upcoming tour to tell us his story and have a remarkably free exchange of ideas with LSD

How the hell did a Moroccan guy from a small town in Holland end up part of the Wu Tang Clan?

I was playing a lot of basketball in my teens for the South Dutch team, and with the initial passion for the game and the culture within it, the hip hop just fell into place. We had begun listening to hip hop on and off the court and one day, a friend of mine comes up to me with a tape that he had done, I took one listen, and thought to myself…’let me see if I can do that myself!’ I pulled in one of my teammates from the basketball courts to see if we could lay down a rap, and we had so much fun doing it that it became almost addictive as we kept nailing one and trying another and over time it started sounding better and better. At that point you start dreaming about going pro and looking at your idols like Snoop, Dr Dre and the Wu Tang in a different light, wondering if it might actually be possible to finish up on stage with them one day. My journey into hip hop started around the same time that the  Wu Tang Clan put their first album out, and I became a super big fan, going to all their gigs and snapping up all their records until one day I heard that group was expanding to take on new members and I was basically crazy enough to believe that that might just be me. In 1997 when they were Grammy nominated and at their peak, they announced a May show in Amsterdam and while I bought my tickets the second they went on sale, I went off to New York in February. Standing in Times Square with all these huge ‘W’ ‘s everywhere, the sheer enormity of the Clan hit me and I’ve got to say, definitely discouraged me. 

No matter where I went – billboards, Virgin Megastore displays completely decked out in the colours, 20 foot banners – the Wu was EVERYWHERE and I was awestruck intothinking ‘Fuck…there’s just no way I can crack this’ The dream took a bit of a battering at that point and in the time leading up to the May gig, my visions of a future with the Wu certainly calmed right down. But May came and they hit town riding the phenomenal success of their second record. We were right up front for the whole 3 hour show when they suddenly launched a freestyle session for local talent to jump up. Now I was a bit shy, but my cousin who was with me literally pushed me toward the stage making it look like I was pushing my way through, and before I knew it, Method Man and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were pulling me up and putting the mic in my hands. A total blur descended on me and I just started rapping. There was no getting into it, no letting it sink in….I just launched straight into my rap with Method Man and Ol’ Dirty Bastard flanking me. RZA, the leader of the Wu Tang was standing over by the DJ table, not really participating, but as I started to settle into my panicked flow, I noticed that they were all getting into it. Ol’ Dirty had this big smile plastered across his face and was looking back at RZA as if to say ‘This is pretty cool’. What RZA told me years later was that it wasn’t that they were blown away by my raw talent, but that I looked like such a nerd with my glasses and retro haircut rapping away on stage in all my hip hop clothes! For him, the impressive aspect was less my rapping, but this kind of Clark Kent persona I had going on– this nerd that suddenly turns into Superman when he gets on stage.

LSD Interviews - Fugitive Images (I am Here) - Issue Two

Boarded-up and half-empty housing estates have become familiar landmarks in the contemporary urban landscape. Their façades function as projection screens for collective fears and fantasies of troubled and dangerous environments that may lurk behind. This perception is all the more emphasized when rapid redevelopment encircles such estates with new luxury loft apartments and live–work spaces.

I Am Here intervenes in this dynamic of preconception and projection, replacing the 67 bright orange boards – which have covered the windows of empty flats in Samuel House since April 2007 – with large-scale photographs of residents on the estate. Located alongside the busy and picturesque Regent’s Canal in the heartland of Hackney, wedged between Kingsland Road and Queensbridge Road, the five-storey block quickly became an object of curiosity, often pointed out, talked about and photographed by passersby.

I Am Here was initiated by artists who are themselves long-term residents of Samuel House, and grew from their experience of living inside such a peculiar photo opportunity. Through their open windows, facing on to the canal, they often overheard passersby speculating on reasons for the buildings demise and it’s current state. The installation aims to disturb this one-way interrogation: onlookers no longer stand unchallenged, as their gaze is met by a multitude of faces.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

LSD Magazine interviews Internet Guru & Activist 'Austin Heap' - ISSUE 4

Could you give us some background on yourself, how you honed your skills, and some insight into how you ended up designing software to circumvent Iranian internet filters

Well myself and Daniel, the other primary guy that I work with in the non profit organisation, are both self taught computer junkies. I often joked with my parents that it was the internet rather than them which raised me and there was a point in the 6th grade when they actually tried to take me to internet addiction therapy! The internet for me has always been this endless source of information, an incredible way to learn, and such an empowering tool and even when I was in 4th grade learning my first programming language, I saw just how amazing it was that we could all participate. There I am sitting at home on my little 25mhz computer and my dial up and there are these giant universities with their 100mhz machines but we can all participate in this global community. The ground work at that point in time was just being laid and I was spending phenomenal amounts of time on line learning a vast range of different programming languages and  the internet just became a central point in my life. I don’t want to speak for Dan but I know that he has a similar history. We learned everything from the open source community and from people who didn’t necessarily want any money but a chance to contribute their knowledge to what could be a greater good and help develop the potential of the internet. Throughout that time I had always been a heartfelt opponent of censorship and a vigorous supporter of open information, consumer rights and human rights, even down to Apple telling you how you can and can’t use the iphone.

I got in trouble a few years back for posting some internal emails from a company here in the states called Diebold. They are the manufacturer of our voting machines and in one of the emails to Jeb Bush before the 04 election, the head of the company promises to “deliver the election” to George Bush in Ohio. There were 5 of us, all students that were involved in the leak and people all over the world helped post and disseminate these documents. Diebold slowly started going after various people and going after their schools and you know it really doesn’t matter who or where it comes from, I just don’t like when people try to control information especially when they have no business doing it. Bottom line, when you make our voting machines, you sign up for openness, proprietary technology or not. I’m sorry but when you control our democracy via your technology, if you don’t want to be open we’re going to help you be open.

On that basis what do you make of sites like Wikileaks?

We’ve been talking to some of the guys at Wikileaks and I really hope that we can collaborate in the future. I think that Wikileaks is one of the most breathtaking projects on the internet and in their short history, they have broken more giant stories than the Wall Street Journal has in the past 100 years. Standing up for this cause, dealing with the law suits, dealing with the political impacts, setting up servers all over the world just so they can give a whistleblower the chance to tell their story is I think such an remarkably noble cause and I’m a huge huge fan of theirs.

How did you come to be a part of the Censorship Research Centre?

Pretty much right after the election happened this past summer I was on Twitter (on the internet as always!) and it occurred to me that Iran behaving in a way that falls into the category of stuff that I don’t like. Trying to mess with the internet is not something I take kindly to and that combined with Iran having such a young, well connected and tech savvy population really brought the whole thing crashing home. It became very clear, very fast (of course I say this in hindsight!) that we had to set up the non profit and do everything we could to tilt the power back in favour of the people and we were lucky enough to team up with the most phenomenal pro bono legal team you could ever ask for.

I’ll never forget them sitting me down in a bar here in San Francisco and saying ‘look Austin, you have to stop doing things so fast, you have to do them legally, you have to set up your organisation and if you want to take on internet censorship and freedom of speech as a human rights issue which was the core of our mission, you have to do it within the letter of the law or it’s not going to be sustainable. So that’s where forming the CRC came in. If you had asked me a year ago whether we would be setting up a non profit I would have said no – we’re just going to release some technology, then I’ll go back to my job and Dan will go back to his, Today, Dan and I are working 60 to 80 hours a week at the CRC and that’s not including the travel which I now consider personal time! It just got so busy, there is so much to take care of and I’m lucky to have such a great team who shares this vision but it’s not an easy or quick undertaking to say that you will provide a whole country with unfiltered internet. It’s not something that happens overnight and I think the foundation of our non profit was just step 1 in doing this the right way and making sure that we are able to meet our goal and remove the ability of oppressive governments to censor and control what people can say online.

LSD Magazine interviews Graffiti Legend Mear One - ISSUE 4

If the apogee of the graffiti artform is the hijacking of commercially numb public space to question, provoke and elevate the viewer into a higher state of reflective consciousness then Mear One is spraying up the cutting edge. Unifying the psychedelic truth of inner space and the multi dimensional journey of the soul with a piercing lament for the geo political genocide of the human spirit, his work shatters the barricades of daily reality and forces engagement with the archetypal issues we face both as individuals and a society. His spirit floods forth in paint, colour and sublime abstraction, questioning our existence, subverting our comfort zones and relentlessly driving the consciousness of the street into bitter realisation, the anger of activism and the transcendental exhaltation of true unity within our collective consciousness. LSD caught up with the man himself for a quick trip

Could you please tell us a little about your background and your journey into art

I got my start as a graffiti artist in Los Angeles in the late 80’s doing vandalism, learning how to evolve my art through the graffiti form and practising and competing as an artist out here in America. Being a graffiti artist means that you have a lot of competition and it really provokes you to go places with your art that no school can ever reach or to pull unexpected bits of information out so that you can get the attention, make the noise or get the big bang that all graffiti artists are looking for. I think we all start out in graffiti looking for a major impact to get some recognition because we’re coming from the hood, coming from the streets and we’re coming from a place of poverty and coming from a place where you don’t really have a chance. In the mid nineties I evolved into a different head space after witnessing the LA riots and after going through years of gang violence in LA, being endlessly in and out of jail, dealing with getting beat up and watching the courts financially wrench the hell out of you and take all your money all the time. I think it caused my mind to metamorphosise into a new state where I started to look at the world very differently. I was raised by an intensely liberal hippy mother who was a deeply radical thinker in her own right and whose ideas and training went into me and started to emerge at this point in my life. I was waking up to what was really screwed up with the world and what was really going on, relentless oppression and this whole capitalism, money matrix that’s running the planet, and realised that as far as graffiti art went… It was great to put up my name and my crew’s, but I wanted to dive artistically into a far deeper message and I think that some of my first canvases began to reflect that. My message was revolution -  don’t believe the hype,  wake yourself up to the complicated world around you and take some accountability. I guess my art has now evolved into more of a story telling language machine that communicates ideas that we’re not always talking about but need to be discussed, and what I’m doing now is working on a lot of pieces that are either social commentary or politically charged and have some essence of the spirit in them that lifts us out of the mockery that we find ourselves in.

 Speaking of spirituality, a lot of your work references eastern spirituality and there’s a lot of third eye’s in there. Can you give us a bit of insight into that?

Absolutely. A lot of my work also references western traditions, I’m very much into philosophy, psychology and theology – I find all these ism’s incredibly fascinating… Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism whatever it may be. Religions and sciences enthral me. I’ve actually come up with a term called “ismology”  -  ism and ology fused together  and that is effectively the type of work that I do. I incorporate a lot of fantastic ideas that come from philosophy and spiritual beliefs that are a huge influence to me and I feel that to express these philosophical or spiritual ideas is the most rewarding act I can take on as an artist, because when you are painting these things they actually realise themselves in your life and start to resonate within everything you do. It actually becomes in a strange sense, healing as an artist to paint this way because it’s the association you’re hanging out with. If you’re hanging out with your art all the time and your art is talking a lot of negative shit it’s gonna affect your head space but if you’re hanging out with your art and you’re really pouring some heavy work into philosophies and spiritual ideas that thousands of people have invested thousands of years into, suddenly you have a very powerful generating energy and reality manifested around yourself and I think that that’s probably what people recognise in my art. My overriding passion within this art form is to tell stories and to speak to people directly about whatever is hanging me up in the moment or whatever I feel is hanging the world up  - quite often it’s both me and the world, all of us being held up by something and you know my biggest joy is to try to articulate that hold up. What’s blocking our lives? What’s fucking with us? And I want to illustrate that for people so that they can get a firm grasp around at least the conversation, at least inspire them to start talking about their lives and the world that they live in and the way that it’s politically or spiritually growing or diminishing around them.

On that note should art ever just be about aesthetics or should it always be pushing the boundaries of understanding and consciousness?

Well that’s an interesting question! Should life be purely functional or should we enjoy it and get something better out of life than we put into it? I don’t know. I think that there is something spiritual and powerfully moving just in colour alone; purely in form and shape. But I do think that one has to have an understanding of something higher than themselves and something greater than their own ego just to be able to use colour in its higher form because we can use colour to match the couch and we can use form to shape the environment, but at the end of the day a lot of form, shape and colour around us just falls to the background. It has no voice, it has no entity to it at all and my goal is to try to invest as much of that entity, of that voice into my work as possible. You know I don’t think that everyone needs to dig deep into their soul and express their spiritual or philosophical spectrum to do good art but I do think that art should communicate and it should communicate something that’s worth communicating.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

LSD Interviews Argentinean Street Artists - Ever / Siempre

Names, City, Country…Nombres, cuidad, pais
Ever/Siempre: Nicolás Romero Escalada: Buenos Aires: Argentina

Do you have an art background?
Tenes una formacion en arte?

Yes but not much, just enough to develop and progress myself. I don’t think that a person should be taught art, only in as much as how to use materials (acrylic oils etc) and after that creation is free.

Si, pero pequeña, lo justo y necesario para después moverme yo mismo. Tengo una opinión bastante distante a la enseñanza en el arte, creo que a la persona se le tiene que enseñar nada mas a usar el material (oleos acrilicos,etc) y después que la creación sea libre.

How long you been painting walls and how important is painting on the streets to you?

Hace cuanto pintas en la calle y que es la importancia de pintando en la calle para vos?  Que significa para vos?

I've been painting on the streets since 2000. Like everyone, I started off by believing that hip hop and graffiti went hand in hand. I wore my trousers so that my boxers were showing and walked as if I'd crapped in my pants. I started with letters until I realised that I wasn't actually any good at making them.

En la calle pinto desde el 2000, empece como todos creyendo que el hip hop y el graffiti iban de la mano, usaba mis pantalones que se me veian el boxer y caminaba como si me hubiese hecho popo, empece haciendo letras, hasta que me di cuenta que no era bueno en las letras.

I realised how important painting in the street whilst in the middle of doing it, you can trasmit ideas through an image on a pavement or wall or sometimes it doesn't relay anything! But afterwards you wonder how a passer-by might react with the images and how they will interpret them and this feels really powerful. You realise that you have a type of 'power' in your hands. I'm happy when I know that someone takes maybe even 3 seconds to look at something I've done, I know that in 3 seconds you can think, ‘What is this?', ‘Do I like it?, ‘Who did it?’, your brain works quickly!

Pintar en la calle, es algo que a medida del tiempo me di cuenta de lo importante que era, uno transmite ideas en un pedazo de pared, o tal vez no transmite nada!, pero después uno se da cuenta de como eso llega al cerebro de la persona que camina y como esa persona procesa el mensaje, y eso si es muy fuerte. Uno se da cuenta que en su mano tiene una especie de "poder", yo estoy feliz cuando se que alguien se tomo tal vez 3 segundos en mirar algo que hice, yo se que en eso tres segundos el penso:"que es esto?","me gusta?", "quien lo hizo?", el cerebro es muy rapido!.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Old Street Corporate Street Art Hoardings

Its good to see property developers taking a step closer to actually working with street / graffiti artists. Instead of leaving a huge blank space screaming to be painted the company appears to have commissioned Judith Supine to shoot a series of photos which were then selected to grace hoardings in Old Street. This is a positive step in the right direction and contractors minutes down the road should take note. Rather than just buff (clean, paint over) walls why not commission artists to paint the hoardings once a month. This will bode well with locals and visitors to the area who are mostly attracted to the place because of the street art graffiti. So here we present a series of photos of street art photography pasted onto the construction hoardings in Old Street… erm' its kinda street isn't it?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

UPFEST this Weekend - Saturday 5th June - 6th June

Neil (Best Ever) Latest Sketch Pad Sales

Our old mate Neil (Best Ever) is flogging a series of recent drawings from his trusty sketch pad. All signed n sealed with a signature and love, the sketches can only increase in value as time creeps quietly past us. Neil is gonna be working on some stuff for the next issue of LSD and will be designing its cover...

All sketches below are limited edition signed / framed originals  @ the bargain price of £150...

Best Ever - Home


Here's a few pics of the finished NO BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS installation by K-Guy  for the 'No Holds Barred' special projects at Art Amsterdam 2010...

'It is mega difficult to capture the total effect with a few stills but after a few technical hitches the lighting changes from normal strip light to UV, Blacklight worked a treat.' K

If you want to check out the original proposal, with justification etc... http://www.k-guy.co.uk/pages/installation.php

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Busk, Zadok, Neil (Best Ever) in Studio

We were visiting Zadok's studio last week and found him, Neil (Best Ever), Busk and someone else that wishes to remain anonymous working on individual projects. Zadok was sketching his next huge pieces, Neil was finishing a piece for the ex-fatherinlaw  and Busk was doing a doggy portrait for a winner of a competition for an animal sanctuary.