Something about the nature of colour enchanted me from an early age. The diversity and variation within our line of vision is remarkable, colour offers perspective, contrast and has the ability to enhance or alter our moods. It exists perpetually all around us, ever changing, progressive and transcendental.
Perhaps this is why the act of applying colour to surfaces has always been a fascination of mine. This notion, placed categorically alongside those primary school classes in which you were promptly ordered to colour within the lines, may be the very reason for my behaviour, tastes and interests in adulthood: a love for graffiti, music and their associated culture the result.
Little is done to encourage youngsters to endorse or discover electronic music, unless you were raised in a family in which your parents spent time raving during days gone by there is a significant lack of public exposure towards the genre. Schools train students to use "instruments" in a "traditional" sense, computers and machines are regarded as being less real or valid. The first in many comparisons which tie the genre to graffiti - an art form which is widely ignored, disregarded and lacking in credibility.
I can recall teachers mocking much of the music I and my friends listened to whilst growing up, citing its simplicity and flawed mannerisms. Ironically enough much of my musical tastes in the present are not too dissimilar to the obscure avant garde minimalism they insisted as groundbreaking back in the days of blazers and lunchboxes.
Elsewhere I sucked at art. Put bluntly, I was awful. It was my most hated class and I was eventually ordered to drop the subject under guidance from a school counsellor. However, I certainly didn't hate art itself. It was around this time that I became fascinated with the rulebook associated with stereotypes of artistic expression. Who were these people that decided what qualified as worthy and what did not? Why must you colour within the lines? Elewhere I began to notice graffiti in a conscious sense. I remember my parents being apalled by tags which littered the lanes near to our house, I on the other hand was intrigued by the mysterious figures who drew on walls beneath the cover of darkness. How long did it take? Who were they? Why did they do it? Was it "art"?
I began to explore.
The link between the two subcultures has evolved across time. Whilst stereotypically associated with hip hop and the glory days of New York there is now an array of record labels affiliated with both scenes. Graphic design and graffiti has become synonymous with the likes of record labels such as Sex Tags, Public Possession, Klasse Recordings, Mule Musiq, Berceuse Heroique,12th Isle, Acido and countless more. Perhaps they were intrigued by the balaclava clad men seen painting to the soundtrack of I-F, Adult. and No More.
Various films showcased mischevious marauders, many would define them as little more than criminals and that is not the point of this article. These gangs would be observed participating in military esque operations by which they would tactically paint spots across Europe and beyond. To this day many of those who operated in such early films are still very much active, their friendship circles wider and their names more prolific. If that isn't a subculture then i'm not quite sure what is?
Buying into the distorted reality by which someone may lead a double life opened a world of opportunity, introduced many to new sounds, experiences and beyond. Drum 'n' Bass, Jungle, Krautrock and all things odd became the accompaniment to a world of rebellious "art" and the crusades of those whom had notoriously drawn outwith the lines.
The integration between the two worlds might be said to relate to the personalities of those caught up between both subcultures. The faceless dancer embraces culture beneath the darkness of a club whilst another walks in solitude amidst restricted spaces for the purpose of cultural expression. At the time of action neither is defined, monitored or observed by their day to day sense of self. Dance music and graffiti offers an alter ego by which to disappear and become something else entirely.
Across the years I have stumbled into a surprisingly vast number of individuals involved in both cultural communities. Many of your favourite artists make music and have at some point painted graffiti. Few have gone public with this fact however the likes of Adam X, Goldie, Fake Blood and many more have taken the chance to discuss the lineage between the two.
There is a sense of unsustainability to the lifestyle of a graffiti artist. Operating on the fringes of society is by no means pleasant: as a result many move on to focus on cultural exploits which allow them to remain connected yet distant. Perhaps this is why there is a prevalence of art emerging through less stereotypical artistic outlets. Record sleeves, rave flyers, and inserts have offered a sense of continuity to those whom have moved on from running around in the dark.