by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)
Bombing Science: Let's jump into this interview with a standard introduction. Who is Gravo? Where are you from? What crews are you associated with?
Gravo: I write "Gravo". In this fun game of graffiti I work with the crews KST and MASE and recently MD. My life has been based in two worlds: Indonesia and The Philippines. Although I was born and raised in Indonesia, I am in fact Philipino, by decent. In 2006, I moved back to the Philippines to reconnect with my family roots and have been there ever since.
BSCI: Let's talk about artistic motivation. When it's time for you to write, what would you say is the key factor that drives your work? In other words, what keeps you focused on the graffiti?
Gravo: I would have to say I work best when dealing with a task I'm not obliged to do. It's just one of those activities that can only be done through your own will or impulse. It is after all fun and games. Graffiti is adventure time for everybody. Working on the spot and working with spontaneity has always been what keeps me focused. When you work something too regimented, the thrill of writing goes away.
BSCI: It's not always easy for us, outside of Asia, to get up-to-date information on which writers are 'hot' at the moment. Who would you say are some of the writers from Indonesia and The Philippines that are sincerely representing the culture?
Gravo: I am not sure about Indonesia right now (I haven't been there in a while) but for the Philippines, I'd say the scene is growing fast thanks to dedicated crews such as GSM, DNB and KST.
BSCI: What distinguishes Indonesian & Filipino graffiti from other styles in Asia and abroad? How do you guys maintain your own style?
Gravo: Both are growing scenes. I haven't defined an established style that would distinguish them. Everyone is just having fun testing the waters and experimenting. There is just a really good mix amongst the writers in both the countries. Check back in a few years; I'm sure the styles will then be more noticeable and the writers more recognizable.
BSCI: This actual interview almost didn't occur due to a serious accident which put you out of commission for quite some time. Without prying too much into what happened -and for those who don't know- could you tell us what happened?
Gravo: Yeah. I was banged up really bad. I fell off a rooftop while painting. Here, in the Philippines, some buildings can be sketchy – using layers of metal as rooftops. The fall resulted in me suffering a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage. Since our brain is the root of all things, I was forced to relearn everything including my logic and memory skills.
BSCI: Wow, that is amazing. Thank God you survived that fall. How are you doing right now?
Gravo: I will say thanks to the proper support of loved ones and my true friends, I was blessed to have recovered quicker than expected. Although, I take it one day at a time, I am very thankful for progress I've made.
BSCI: Dealing with unity between writer. Is solidarity between writers important in your country? I ask because within North American culture writers are caught up in promoting rivalries and individual agendas, historically.
How do you see the relationship between writers in Asia?
Gravo: As in all places, there is an element of politics that comes between people but rivalries is not an issue right now. "Asian writers" are very supportive of one another.. and if you speak of Asia as a whole, they are very welcoming with their neighbouring countries. There are always people in each Asian country who are available to make your 'graffiti tour' more fun.
BSCI: Xeme (graffiti writer and co-founder of WALL LORDS) mentioned you as somebody we should interview which proves there are many people who support the work you do. What do you feel is the main reason(s) your work is standing out from other writers? What makes your work appealing to viewers?
Gravo: First, I want to say it's an honor to have somebody like Xeme support what I do – that means a lot. To answer the question: Basically, I keep my writing simple and flat. I try not to do overdo it technically most of the times. I don't necessarily think this is the formula to stand out though, this is just what I am comfortable with. Everybody has their own way.
BSCI: What do you have planned for 2013? Are there any big events or projects in the works?
Gravo: I would definitely like to revisit Indonesia again since I haven't been there in about four years. The internet never justifies a place and Indonesia hasn't received it's due in terms of coverage. But from what I see [from Indonesia] everything is getting crushed far more than it was during my last time there. The fun never stops over there and I want to participate.
BSCI: So hen all is said and done and your career as a writer is over, what sort of legacy do you hope to leave behind?
Gravo: Maybe remind people to not get caught up in their ego and just paint simply for fun and nothing more. I see people being self-proclaimed celebrities; writing just to get some fame. I think that's funny and played out. Straight jock status right there (haha). Graffiti needs to stop taking itself too serious. Let's just have fun with expression.
BSCI: Any shout-outs before we end this interview?!?
Gravo: I'd like shout-out and thank Xeme, Nuno, Udon, Gnjr, Xmos, and all the heads still holdin it down for the true love of just writing your name everywhere. And most importantly, my girl, Mary who has helped me hang on through the hardest times of my life.