TREM is a graffiti writer, M.C & Producer from Melbourne. He is a solo artist and one of the founding members of the underground hip hop group LYRICAL COMMISION & the record label UNKUT RECORDINGS. We could do a whole interview on his music achievements and album releases but today we are focusing on where it all began, when he first picked up the can and started writing graffiti. We caught up and asked for his favourite five flicks.
1. What got you into graffiti?
Like most in my age bracket (early 40s) the entire Hip Hop movement when it first hit our shores grabbed me instantly. Rock Steady, music clips and varying shows like Welcome Back Cotter with glimpses of New York graffiti. Eagerly awaiting Beat Street to come out on video at my mates dads video shop and scouring bookstores for the rumoured “impossible to get” Subway Art which id copped a glimpse of at the school library were major sparks to say the least. Those two things changed my life! Trekking to this one tobacconist spot at Eastwood from memory to get those ill Dansk graff stickers was a weekly ritual too...
Many people dont know but I actually lived in Sydney (before moving South) when that first wave engulfed Aus. I grew up in Meadowbank & Ermington and was in between Metro and his bro Mahem’s years during primary school and for a year at Marsden High when things really took off, so WRB (West Ryde Boys) were as inspirational as they were intimidating to me as an impressionable kid! I still remember the devil character on West Ryde train station platty as much as i do those Crime In Style burners at Circular Quay!
Riding the bombed red rattlers and walking the drain systems as well as chillin with my cousin from further out west (he went to school with some MTV dudes) were incredibly instrumental. Everyone was bustin out with super magnetic futuristic tag names and bombin anything and everything at school with primitive boombox sketches and front on mugsies with big arse shades! I even remember Mahem taggin up the school cricket pitch with model paint, it was exciting times!
2. How would you describe your style?
Or lack of??? Haha... man i aint tryna change the wheel. NY blueprint, with a touch of DMA dna? Wow, That makes it sound too good i suppose haha...
Traditional classic letter structures with my own touch i’d like to think? Nothing too fancy, ive experimented with variances over the years but clearly not enough to make it my own. I never felt I was as gifted at crafting super stylistic burners as my team mates so i use to get busy with charos alot around 90-93, an easy way out to a degree, but they seemed to come more naturally. Since my re-entry early/mid thousands after a hiatus, ive worked again at getting my letter forms correct. Its definitely the essence of the artform for mine. Much respect to all the Kings and queens out there whove pushed and perfected it
3. Do you have a good chase story?
A few... Ive been saving most for a book but... heres a goodie...
Myself and 3 crew members (names withheld to protect the guilty) including my closest graff partner had been scoping an undisclosed station layup after a day of festivities with no luck so resorted to a fresh new trackside spot.
We were rolling in my homies mums Commodore (she was out of town), all of us under the influence and all unlicensed. We hit the spot and parked in an industrial area, unbeknownst to us at the time in front of a brothel. Out the Commo and onto the tracks we strolled to the wall and started marking up. Taking our time as the spot was mad chill.
Mid fills some dude rolls round the corner with a massive german shepherd on a leash! (im at that end and notice him first) i whisper loudly to homie next to me and as the others start realising the situation, old mate with the dog starts chatting like all was cool as he approached. Caught in limbo of half expecting him to pounce and half packing up as we conversed ready to bolt if needed, he just continued down the line and wandered off into the night... we continued to paint briefly but agreed it was just too weird and called it a night unfortunately.
We cruised back to the Commo and clambered in, unsuccessful and headed for home in the dead of night. As we aproached the first roundabout, no other vehicles in sight, a marked police car came from the other direction passing us as we rolled through the roundabout. We started buggin’ but maintained composure on our route as both cops in the front seat glared at us as we passed (shit wouldve looked suss as fuck!), steadily increasing speed around a bend we saw the cops slowly roll all the way round the roundabout, from out the back window, and onto our road. “We’re fucked” our driver exclaimed as we continued out of sight round the continual bend, he hit that accelerator on some James Hardie 1000 shit and we were off, it escalated quickly into a high speed chase for a few k’s as the jacks continued in pursuit with lights and sirens blaring. My other homie in the front passenger seat was freakin out stating “this is how dudes die!” repeatedly! Eventually escape was off the menu as shit was getting a little too serious so we pulled over expecting the worst.
After some not-so-pleasantries were exchanged and our unlicensed, over the limit chauffeur was arrested, the talk soon turned to how we mustve had a great time at the “sweet hoaries” (apparently cop slang for prostitutes?) What the fuck??? They repeatedly went on about the “sweet hoaries” and how was our night, even as they rummaged through the boot full of paint! They genuinely had no idea! Once we realised what the fuck they were on about we gave a nudge n wink and set off for a cab. Not a completely ideal outcome as my homie copped a hefty fine and remained unlicensed for 12 months but damn, those sweet hoaries certainly saved us from alot worse!!!
4.How have you seen the Melbourne hip hop scene change over the last 20 years, and what do you think of it in 2018?
Tough question! I guess its just lucky i committed for better or worse a long time ago! Ive definitely learnt to do me and not be concerned with the scene. Im a purist/traditionalist when our culture as a whole is concerned, much like the basis of my own graff and the styles i like, the classic rap blueprints we studied and built off is still the nucleus to it all in my opinion, so although i can appreciate the varying directions its taken over that time if its not Hip Hop, please, dont fucking call it Hip Hop.
5. What motivates you to keep painting?
Its my escape now. With music, the label, a family and a day job along with the tribulations of life i need it more than ever. Ive come full circle to a degree where painting and spinning wax are my release outlets again.
As i mentioned i had a big hiatus from it after a couple of legal issues and a shift in direction as i gave my all to the music element of our culture heading into the mid 90s. During a chunk of that period my team continued to represent and i kept a keen eye on it but apart from a little bombing and an occasional mission i was pretty much graff celibate for nearly a decade. Too engulfed in the studio & on stages with the other elements, it wasnt til my homie Prowla’s continued hounding to come out for a quiet paint with RDC had me eventually dust off the touch ups and tuxans! Haha
Ever since ive attempted to get out a few times a year, hardly enough to constitute a guernsey on your site which features some serious Kings and heavy hitters, but I do sincerely appreciate the shout out nonetheless!