RAYES is a graffiti writer from New Zealand & a member of the notorious GBAK CREW. He has done some serious travelling and painted in amazing places all over the world. His style is unique with smart connections and well thought out schemes. We caught up with him for a quick chat and asked for his favourite five flicks.
1. What got you into graffiti?
I always remember driving into the city with my parents when I was young looking at all the tags on the motorways and thinking it looked sick but wondering why they did it and what type of person did that stuff. Back then, when I was growing up in Auckland, most fences along the motorways were filled with big straight letter tags, or 'straights' as we call them.
There would be top to bottoms, big crew rolls calls, back to front....so many different styles and names. I got a bit older and would see on the train tracks and this old hall of fame called oriental markets that there were other types of graffiti, not just tags and eventually I thought I'd try it myself.
2. How would you describe your style?
Hopefully my own? I think its pretty normal where I'm from to have a 'tech' style and then a more simple style. Most of the best writers in Auckland had very readable styles when I was first starting so that's the type of graff I prefer. Having lived abroad for 10 years I guess I've been influenced here as well, no astro outlines for me haha.
3. Do you have a good chase story?
So the most memorable one is not from cops or security. I was in Medellin, Colombia and I found this big open storm water drain to paint, it had a couple pieces in it and so I thought it looked pretty chill. I sort of slid down cause it was quite a drop not really thinking of how I would get out. Started doing my outline and some crack head girl starts throwing rocks at me from above and screaming at me, I told her to fuck off but she wasn't having it, so I packed up my paint and started walking down the storm water drain looking for a place to get out. After a couple hundred meters and no luck I turned this corner and there was a big group of homeless people under the bridge, we sort of looked at each other for 10 seconds weighing each other up and then 3 of them grabbed a metal pole or a bat, a brick and I think a knife and started chasing me.
I took off in the opposite direction as fast as I could with them about 20 metre's behind me, running for what seemed like ages looking for a way out. Finally I see some normal Colombian workers sitting on a bench having lunch or something so I shout at them to help me up, they lean over and pull me up to safety as the 3 crack heads close in. They didn't speak much english and had no idea what I was doing there, but still sometimes think how lucky I was that they happened to be there.
4. You have travelled to some epic places, can you tell us about a crazy experience you've had abroad?
There's been a few. I was in Cairo with my then girlfriend and we were walking around doing tourist stuff. We were there not long after the second revolution when the president got thrown out of office by the army. Anyway, we were walking into a metro station and I caught tag out on the streets, as I was about to pass into the barriers and 4 or 5 police came up to me and said come with us. I got taken into the back room of the station and grilled for ages on what R-A-Y-E-S meant.
They thought it was some political or some anti government graffiti and were not happy, after about 30 minutes of being asked over and over again where I was from/what I was doing/what it meant my girlfriend pulled out her phone which had photos of bunch of pieces I had done. I showed them the pieces and eventually they realised it was not anti government stuff and just a word, they ended up apologising and let me go.
5. What motivates you to keep painting?
That I still find it fun. When I stop finding it fun I am sure I will give up. Hopefully that won't be for a while.