CRAZY APES Interview
by Matthew J (@iamjamesmatthew)
BSCI: Let’s start off this interview with some basic information on the Crazy Apes Crew. Who is in the crew? Where are you all from? How did your group come together?
CRAZY APES: The Crazy Apes, first and foremost, is a graffiti crew (plain and simple). The founding members were LITH, BETA, FEZAT and HAVOK. We decided to form a crew while at a house party at Lith’s. Now we are 11 members:
LITH, BETA, FEZAT, HAVOK, NARC, MISTX,
KREDD, EGOR, AKUMA, KORB, and NASK.
The crew is based in Montreal but we have members in Quebec City, Gatineau and Luxembourg (Europe). I would have to say we’re very diverse stylistically with each member bringing their own personal touch, to the crew, making backgrounds, painting characters, and for their lettering even for crew motivation.
BSCI: What is Crazy Apes Crew’s mission statement? What do you represent? What is the crew’s objectives, as far as graffiti and the overall culture of graffiti is concerned?
CRAZY APES: We believe that the Crazy Apes is a crew of a new generation, in the way that we paint for fun and for good times, the BBQs and to stay in contact with the people in the movement. We don’t try to act like gangsters, which is more on the old school side of things, according to us. Our objectives is to stay present, to visit new cities and to empty as many chrome cans as possible. Also a particular thing about our crew is that we rep Crazy Apes more than we do our own respective tags, meaning the majority of our illegal hits will be a Crew hit and we keep our names for murals and productions. It sometimes happens that at jams we will rock a collective CRAZY APES to have more impact than a traditional wall with all the pieces of our members.
BSCI: A typical graff-interview question is, “what is your definition of graffiti?” Rather than asking you for a definition, I’m more interested in knowing to what impact this culture has had on your life? How has this art form contributed to your development?
CRAZY APES: Graffiti has dictated the path for many of our members. The majority of our members work in industries related to graffiti – design work, advertising, or video games. Overall it has helped us in our personal development [in graffiti]; pushing us to explore avenues throughout the world. Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Ithaca, Rochester, Toronto, Bali, Budapest, Germany, Amsterdam, Belgique, Vietnam are a few places the crew has had an opportunity to visit, and as time advances we have more chances to travel and share our work. One thing that always surprises us is how people are so receptive to us when we visit other cities. As much as there is beef in their own towns, people are always happy to show us cool spots to paint. We can get to any town, meet the locals, and become their brothers because we share the same passion for this culture. We do the same thing when people who visit Montreal. That’s our way of sharing this culture and making it stronger and stronger.
BSCI: What’s next, for your crew, in terms of projects or events in 2013 and 2014?
CRAZY APES: We have a freestyle mentality. We see opportunities and we make what we can of it. We have a few projects coming up in which we are visiting FUA crew shortly in the US. We also have a European trip, for many of our members, in June 2014. For the rest of the time, our biggest plans is to find new blood for our crew, which is surely the most difficult task for any solid graffiti crew. It’s easy to find writer at the top of their game but to find young writers, who could influence the scene, is a challenge for years to come.
BSCI: You mentioned looking to add new blood to the roster. Of course, graffiti crews don’t hold auditions, in the traditional sense, for prospects, so if somebody wanted to join, the crew, do they contact you or is there more of an in-house process, where Crazy Apes approaches the individual?
CRAZY APES: The selection process for new members of the crew is pretty complex, first off the writing skill level has to be advance, but it isn’t all, we look for personalities that would be a good mix with the existing members, before even being painting buddies, we have to know each other and have a good chemistry. Lately, we’ve been concentrating on the up and comers, we want the crew to survive when the existing members become older and pass on to other things, which is inevitable with life getting in the way. For example, Nask comes from Luxembourg, 5000km away and it doesn’t stop us from keeping contact and sharing our pieces. Nask comes to visit us every summer and CA is planning a trip to Europe in the summer of 2014. There is no way to apply, you have to be in our entourage.
BSCI: I consider Montreal to be one of Canada’s graffiti-capitals; it is one of the few cities that embraces the art form. Since you live on the frontlines, I want to know what the overall scene is like in Montreal? How competitive are the artists? Who, do you feel, is properly representing your city?
CRAZY APES: Montreal is a great town to paint in. The scene is constant and well received by the Montreal population. There is a big bombing scene here, probably the best in Canada. We as a crew lean more towards the mural scene in Montreal and it’s pretty competitive, especially between a few crews, but the competition stay amicable and the other crews motivate us to go bigger and better. We can’t talk about Montreal without naming STARE, ZEK, and SCAN, these are 3 writers who dominate the Montreal scene. There are many writers who have made their mark in Montreal but I will name only these 3 because they have always been present. We consider perseverance one of the best qualities a writer could have and these 3 writers are the definition of it.
BSCI: Continuing with the last question, what do you feel allows MTL to standout, be it culturally or astatically, compared to other big Canadian cities such as Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver?
CRAZY APES: We are big fans of the Canadian scene, every city has their advantages and we are proud to be Canadians. When I think of guys like BACON, KWEST, ASESR, SUEME, JARUS… I don’t think Montreal is a standout city from the others but we complete one another. One of the advantages of Montreal is the fact that it is a French city, which means many French writers come here to visit or establish themselves in Montreal. We are close to New York, so the Americans love to come party in Montreal. Also there are many crews who work extremely hard for the scene like K6A and KG.
BSCI: This question is a bit subjective, but I want you to tell, up to this date, what has been the biggest accomplishment for the Crazy Apes Crew?
CRAZY APES: Like I’ve mentioned before, we have a freestyle mentality, we paint for the pleasure of it so we dont have a set challenge to accomplish. We loved our experience of being invited HipHop/GetUpState convention in Ithaca. We painted alongside TC5, COD, MSK, Bates, Mare139… it was an absolute honour for us. We were the youngest crew at this jam and they showed us so much respect. Also the crew in itself is surely our biggest accomplishment, we assembled such a talented group of guys and to stay consistent year after year.
BSCI: Where can people find your crew online?
CRAZY APES: If you’re looking for us online, you can check out the following links:
Our website: http://www.ca-crew.com/
Our blog: http://www.ca-crew.com/blog/
And our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/crazyapes
BSCI: Your crew has put together an amazing body of work- especially in regards to your murals- and therefore [your crew] obviously has a solid grasp of the techniques needed for pieces. For our last real question, I want to know, what advice would you give to an aspiring writer who may be struggling with their own handstyles or mural skillset?
CRAZY APES: There is only one secret to graffiti and it practice, of course some are born with a gift but if you keep practicing, your pieces will get cleaner. For the rest, there is no recipe, we organize ourselves quite well, we research different topic and concepts, we challenge ourselves with colour combos for pieces and to create nice environments. Also another step goes unnoticed in graffiti is your first outline, for us it’s a step that demands a certain attention. Too often, people do their first outlines and say they’ll adjust the letters with the fill in and effects, but we forget. If the first outline is good, your piece will probably end up good as well.
BSCI: Before we go, I want to give you the opportunity to shout-out anyone whom you feel deserves recognition. Who do you want to salute?
CRAZY APES: Shout out to all the people who we’ve had the pleasure to share a wall with, all the people that we have met during our vacations and road trips, and to all the people who are present in the graffiti scene. Stay up!