SHUTE from KOC CREW is a graffiti writer from Canberra. He first got into graff in the mid 80's and has been hooked ever since. His style is public but with his own fresh and unique flow. Check out the Route 666 videos to catch loads of his and the crews rolling steel. We caught up to find out a bit more about him and asked for his favourite flicks.
1. What got you into graffiti?
My friend in high school in Canberra in the mid 80’s borrowed subway art from a girl he knew. I remember being so blown away when I saw it. I’d never seen a graff mag or anything about graffiti as a scene. I tried break dancing in primary school (and was totally shit at it) I’d seen beat street when it first came out and a rock steady crew film clip on count down, but I was in primary school so I really didn’t grasp the full extent of it all at that age. Subway art was an awesome window into this underground New York subculture. It looked cool, it was illegal, it was happening in this huge city (which was the complete opposite to where I was living) so it ticked a lot of boxes for me as teenager. Also I was already into drawing so when I saw the book both me and my friend wanted to try painting immediately.
I was a shithouse skater at the time so I ditched my skateboard, shred threads and vision sweet wear shoes (well put them to the side anyway, I was poor and would never chuck stuff out like that) and started to look for paint. Its weird when I think of it back then, Canberra is a small city and I never really left my suburb in high school so initially when I started I thought I was the only dude in Canberra to do this shit (totally not the case which i discovered pretty quickly but was not much graff going on around in Weston Creek back then anyway)
2. How would you describe your style?
Not sure to be honest, there's elements of consistency throughout my pieces over the years but I’ve been painting for over 20 years now so naturally have changed my style over time to keep it interesting. Earlier on I tried to be as original as I could but later more and more New York influence has crept in, in saying that have tried to keep some element of individuality. Lately been liking seeing younger guys revive old New York styles and techniques, for me that has kept it fresh and new for me.
3. KOC Crew & the Route 666 videos had a huge influence on Sydney graffiti, What was it like being part of such an active crew?
It was awesome, for me the time around the release of route 666 was a really cool time for the crew in my opinion. At that stage there were members that had been in it for ages and some that were relatively new but by then we’d all been together for a while and it was a group of mates that, as well as painted together, would hang out together. We were all doing heaps and pushing each other and inspiring each other. It was a proper crew in my opinion and a lot of fun.
Id already seen bits of the dvd and Liks and Nope had hired a theater somewhere on Parramatta rd to premiere the DVD. Was a good turn out and was quite a few non-graff people there so was thinking, is this going to be boring for non-writers. But to see it on a big screen, the quality of how it was put together, the editing and the bits of comedy in it (unfortunately me tripping over at a layup was one of the comedy items). I remember being on a massive high after it to be part of a crew that had produced this. I can’t remember seeing many graff videos like it at that time either well not that I knew about anyway.
4. Looks like you've done a fair bit of traveling, could you tell us about a cool mission from abroad?
Ive done a little traveling but to be honest never painted much overseas, i didn’t travel with writers and didn't have much time so was more interested in being a tourist. I did stay with a friend in London who was a writer (rather not name names here) so one night we met up with his mate that was a big train painter in the UK, he was a cool guy and we all got on well. After a few pints we headed to this bar, the elbow room and bombed along the way while talking about Tim Westwood. Was a cool thing for me in the UK people really knew there music. The elbow room was a club that played mainly hip hop (well I got the vibe it did, I was only in London for 5 days) and it was awesome they were playing all this underground hip hop that I knew but would hardly hear out in sydney.
The friends I was with must of bombed the toilets because we were suddenly surrounded by a bunch of Uk ragga, Dancehall looking bouncers and were escorted to the door where my friend I was staying with was handed over to the cops and taken away. I remember being surprised as the friend left behind with me was half the size of these bouncers who were politely staying ‘its probably best if you both leave the club’ and this dudes yelling at them ‘don’t fucking touch me mate’. On advice from the my newly met UK train king friend we basically went back to my mates house I was staying with and emptied his place of any graff related stuff as it was more than likely they’d raid his house after the arrest. fun times
5. Do you have a good chase story?
Surprisingly the worst chase I’ve had was in Canberra in my early years in graff. We where painting this handball court wall at night it was an easy spot in a quiet neighborhood. Maybe cause it was so chilled we were noisy or I think someone must of been trying to break into the school at the same time, but next thing we know this paddy wagon came screaming into the car park, no siren but lights flashing, we ran down to the oval at the back of the school and cause you couldn't access the oval by car the paddy wagon had to drive out of the school car park at the front and drive round to the back so as we were bolting across the school oval, i just remember hearing (it was so loud as no other cars where around at this time) this paddy wagon’s engine screaming along the road around to the oval and seeing it barrelling towards us.
We managed to get across the oval and ran up the nearest street and we found a house with a carport and climbed up the side and just laid on top of the carport totally silent. I remember hearing the paddy wagon driving up and down the street (and other streets) and seeing spot lights shining everywhere. After what seemed like an eternity laying there most of the time in total silence we finally felt like it was safe, we climbed down and made our way home. I just remember the next day being amazed we got away, those cops were on a crazy mission to get us.
6. What motivates you to keep painting?
not much to be honest and I’m on the way out to graff retirement. A lot of mates have already quit and being an old man with a wife and kid I’m not really in the area of killing shit illegally anymore. I never did the most or really that much to speak of in the scheme of things but I felt I gave it a crack at the age and time your supposed to and well I’m still painting now.
These days I just love the art form of it over the adrenaline rush. I always did like the art form of it actually. But now its weird I feel like I'm totally not relevant, interesting or a ‘keep it real’ writer at all. so I sometimes meet writers who (totally understandably) don’t know who I am and think I’m pretty shit, I try to avoid these situations at all costs as i feel i have zero in common.
But fuck I still love the shit and like I mentioned before love seeing younger dudes taking old styles and twisting it to invent new styles and just the access now to so much stuff that I never had access to. I saw this doco recently that broke down the history of european graff was so cool and inspiring to me, that shit keeps me interested.