Interview by Rabies (Bombing Science)
Bombing Science: Who are you and what’s your gender… I mean genre? 😉
Echo: I am many things.. Among them, I am a woman, and I am also a graffiti writer. I write Echo, Echoe, Honey and Dulce.
BS: What’s your greatest graffiti accomplishment to date?
Echo: There is no greatest accomplishment, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t see a point where I can say, "This is the best I’ve done," because I always feel that I can do better.
However, as weird as it sounds… Paying dues (rough missions, racking paint, difficult spots or trips to jail) is what makes me feel "accomplished" as a writer. Until you’ve had to suffer for graffiti, you won’t truly know its value.
BS: What’s the biggest misconception about you? (Or what do you do differently than most writers?)
Echo: The biggest misconception about me is probably that I’m a guy. I’ve had a lot of different male writers tell me that I "don’t paint like a girl." I’m still not sure what that means… I don’t think there’s a gender difference in applying spray paint.
BS: What do you always take with you when you go painting? What do you always leave at home?
Echo: I always bring paint and cell phone. Always leave my responsibilities at home.
BS: What is your favorite art forum and why?
Echo: Is Flickr.com considered a forum? I love Flickr. I don’t have a favorite forum..
When I first discovered graffiti forums, I was blown away by the amount of graffiti I had access to, and the concept of finding pictures of my work that other people had taken.. I definitely spent a good amount of time with an ill internet-graffiti addiction, but soon realized the negative backlash of participating in graffiti forums, so I try to stay away..
It is difficult to read negative things about yourself without wanting to jump into the computer, but I’ve learned that it’s stupid to give those anonymous losers any attention.. Now, I take it as flattery and move on with my day.
BS: What places have you traveled to so far?
Echo: I have a difficult time staying in the same place for too long without getting antsy. I moved a lot with my family as a kid. On my own, I’ve been moving around consistently for the past 6 or 7 years – I think it keeps me stable in a strange way… This year alone I’ve lived in Miami, Los Angeles and New York.. I’ve traveled many places in between. As far as going abroad, my ex-boyfriend took me on a trip to Spain last year.. Other than that, I haven’t really been out of the country as an adult.
BS: What is your favorite city and why? Where would you like to go next?
Echo: My favorite city is Pittsburgh, Pa. It’s a totally working-class city with no groups of pretentious people. It has mountains, lots of greenery, lots of old, rusted bridges and buildings.. It’s the nicest during springtime, when everything blooms.. I love the way the flowers contrast with the rust and brick.
My future travel plans include Argentina, Chile, Italy and France.
BS: What city do you think is the most underrated and why?
Echo: Graffiti-wise, I think Atlanta is really slept-on. The city is built for graffiti, and the spots run for a long time.
BS: How has globalization influenced graffiti?
Echo: Most significantly, style-wise and commercial-wise. Many graffiti writer’s styles no longer have a genuine geographical origin (for instance, European writers using NY styles). Commercially, graffiti is used to sell products or add an edge to someone’s image. Graffiti has become a business. Money is one thing, but true graffiti will always remain pure and untouched. Real recognize real.
BS: What side projects are you currently working on (including personal/art shows)?
Echo: Haha.. My life! For a while, I made graffiti a huge priority, and it never really returned the favor. Since the end of 2005, I’ve been focused on setting my life up for success. Graffiti isn’t going anywhere, but I am getting older. I think it’s important for me to make the most of what I have at any given moment, and to set myself up for the future. I don’t want to wake up one day with nothing but a shitload of flicks.
As far as art shows.. Doing art for a gallery doesn’t motivate me at all. I stopped doing "fine" artwork about 7 years ago when I decided that graffiti was the realest shit out there.
BS: Do you prefer solo missions or have a favorite partner?
Echo: There are a few freight spots where I prefer to go solo, so that I don’t have to worry about anyone else.
Other than that, I prefer to paint with a guy. It’s an easy get-over, and it’s much safer for me. I’ve been assaulted on the street a few times, and very often I don’t feel safe in public by myself. I only roll with people who will unquestionably catch my back.
BS: Have you seen anyone biting you? How do you feel about it?
Echo: I definitely can’t say I’ve noticed anyone biting me. I don’t think my style is THAT distinguishable.
I have noticed people use certain techniques or color schemes after I’ve done them, but everything has been done before. As far as graffiti is concerned, I have not reinvented a thing.
In regards to biting in general, I think it’s embarrassing. If you bite other peoples work, everyone will know and no one will take you seriously.
BS: What books/movies are you featured in? Why or why NOT?
Echo: I’m featured in a college textbook. I don’t even know the name of it, but I do believe it came out this year. I submitted a photo that I found on Flickr, of a track-side wall that I painted in Atlanta. I think the book places the graffiti in Miami, even though it wasn’t really done there. I was just happy to represent Miami graffiti in any way.
I’m not featured in any book that focuses on female graffiti writers or isolates women from the rest of graffiti. I don’t think gender has anything to do with graffiti. I am constantly dealing with negative stereotypes of female graffiti writers, and have been since I started writing 9 years ago.
I have worked very hard to be respected as a writer and not be pre-judged for the sake of being a female that writes. I refuse to condone any publication that celebrates gender alienation or praises shitty graffiti just because it’s done by a girl.
BS: Who do you see up the most right now?
Echo: This depends on where I’m at:
In New York, different writers kill different neighborhoods. At the moment, I don’t know of anyone new who’s killing every boro. Nekst has been putting it down in Manhattan and Brooklyn, doing it bigger and more times than anyone else – his work is some of the only shit that motivates me at the moment. Dceve’s work also motivates me, he has lots of clever ideas and he’s consistently producing quality work.
In Los Angeles, MSK holds it down. It’s ridiculous how much they run the city, both legally and illegally.
Although LA has a really strong buff, it feels like it has one of the most active graffiti scenes in the country because of the work required in order to constantly be up. There aren’t a lot of random, easy spots like in New York, so writers are hungry to paint anything and are used to watching their work get cleaned within days or weeks. I think it keeps everyone on their toes and probably has a lot to do with the progression of graffiti styles among those who are active.
BS: Who would you like to see hitting hard again?
Echo: Dondi (RIP) and Mber
BS: What do you think of the Utah/Ether situation?
Echo: I don’t know anything about it.
BS: How would you feel about being "outed" on the internet, should an investigation about you occur? What would you want to tell people?
Echo: I’d want to tell people to mind their own business. I don’t keep up with people’s lives unless those people are significant to me. I don’t understand the whole hype of knowing personal info about people you’ve never met and will never meet.
BS: Who are you listening to now? (musicwise)
Echo: Ghostface.. Freestyle dance music.. Old 60’s and 70’s Soul music..
BS: What is the significance of writing multiple names?
Echo: There is no significance.. I get bored, I like variety.. There are times when I can’t force myself to paint another Echo piece.
It also helps to progress my style, I learn things from doing different letters.
BS: What’s the longest break you have taken and why?
Echo: At the end of 2005, I quit writing for about a month and a half. This was during the same time I decided to be serious about getting somewhere in life. I also had just come out of a shitty experience with graffiti writing "friends."
I had done some wreckless bombing in Miami, thinking it was a cute way of saying "Hello, I’m back" and my oldest brother got really mad at me. He made me feel like a loser for writing. When I thought about the loser, waste-of-time people I had met through graffiti, I started to resent it.
I stopped writing during the few weeks I spent in Miami and then moved to Jacksonville, FL where I became friends with Smash74, an OG writer from Miami. He’s paid a ridiculous amount of dues for graffiti, and has still been active for over 20 years. He would stop by my place just to show me flicks, or call me just to tell me he painted then get off the phone. After 3 weeks of it, I went out by myself and got a bunch of paint. I called him and told him that I couldn’t take it any more and asked him when he was down to paint. From there, he motivated me a lot and pushed me to get better because I didn’t want to embarass myself painting next to him.
BS: What is your advice for the generation of writers just coming out?
Do you think they should be taught or just figure it out for themselves?
Echo: My advice to new writers is to pay attention and to put in a lot of work. I think when you try to teach kids anything, they take it for granted – resistance to authority is natural.
I taught a graffiti class for a few months when I lived in Los Angeles. It was really rewarding when my students would really soak up something I showed them, or when they took initiative to attempt things they hadn’t been shown yet.
A problem I found with the class was that all except for two of my "crew" didn’t really have heart for graffiti. They didn’t practice on their own, or wouldn’t show up to the class if their friends didn’t go. It made me not want to show them, because graffiti is something that I’ve worked very hard for, and it’s a waste of my time to show someone who isn’t going to pay dues and just wants to be down to seem cool.
Even still, the two little writers who I could see having a future career made it all worth it. I watched them take graffiti seriously and know that unless something seriously derails them, they’ll end up being really good writers.
BS: What safety precautions do you take when painting?
Echo: I try to make sure that I always have a way out.
BS: What are the effects of graffiti on your personal life (positively)?
Echo: Graffiti has shown me that I can do anything I want to do, it just requires work. So far, I can say that I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do in my life, and don’t doubt that I will always accomplish my goals. I don’t give up on anything I really want, and am willing to put in a lot of work. I’ve very adaptable.. Graffiti is just one aspect of me as a person, but I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons through its pursuit.
BS: Finish this sentence: I am voting for ________ and why ____________
I am not voting _____________________ why
Echo: Anarchy, because I don’t like to follow anyone else’s rules.
for Satan, because I’m all about being good to people.
BS: How do you continue to defy clichés about your own graffiti?
Echo: I’m not sure if there are any cliches about my graffiti, or at least I hope there aren’t.. I do know that I continue to defy haters by remaining active and painting consistently… Holla! 😛