Social media algorithms are getting smarter. They know you. They know what you like. So I wasn’t surprised at all when Instagram guided me to BOOGIE. Instantly I was struck by the immaculate lines and letters so full of play and animation that they almost no longer register as letters. Dude had been all over the green earth painting and gotten up in some amazing places with amazing people. I sent him an email asking if he’d like to be interviewed, not really thinking I’d hear back right away or at all…but sure enough, he hit me back in less than 24 hours AND was hella friendly about it. Check out the conversation with the funk lord BOOGIE:
What is the Boogie origin story?
Around 10 years ago – after around 13 years of graffiti – crazy things happened. Few people in my surrounding area were get busted and so I decided to change my name. The other side was my Design-study which changed my feelings for letters, colors and shapes in a big way. So it was the best moment to give my graffiti a completely relaunch. The name BOOGIE was also kind of a theme for me: funky , friendly, full color dancing letters. The double O`s and the letter “i” are also great options for doing funny things. Then in 2009 I went for the first time to Los Angeles and had a really big learning: going out at night doesn`t mean just to take chrome and black with you. It`s about quality and trying to give your best.
You rep SML. Are you one of the founders or a late addition?
My crewmate RAIN and me founded this crew in 97. Most of the members are not really the most active writers anymore – but for me that`s no problem. It became more like a friendship thing and I`m sure these letters will connect all of us till the rest of our life.
What have been some of your most intense moments writing?
Hm. Let me think. There are many of those stories. One thing was my bachelor party. I didn`t want to go the classic way like getting drunken in a city and selling your socks to tourists. So I decided to invite my crew and my closest writer friends to join me for a weekend trip to Italy. I told `em to take a black suit, a white shirt and a tie with. So now imagine: 12 guys looking like brokers in a train yard. In the end I didn`t know that each of them wrote my name. Double E2E with only Boogie pieces. When I realized this and was standing in front of the train I was tearing up.
Another moment was definitely to paint the rooftop of the TATS Crew Headquarter in the South Bronx and drinking German liquor from the Ore Mountains (where I was growing up) together with my heroes NICER and BIO in the sunset. Legendary! I hope they remember! Hahahaha.
And the third one (which wasn`t that cool in that moment but now we laugh out loud when we remember it): I gave my wife a trip to Barcelona as a birthday gift. Between lots of good food and sightseeing for sure I also had to leave my name there. I bought that great new KRINK Marker and had to try it in the toilet of a cocktail bar. When we wanted to leave the bar they didn`t want to let us go and told us we had to wait for somebody. After a while the cops came into the bar and took both of us for a free citytrip in the police car….In the end nothing really bad happened but I lost lots of cans and my new marker. Still miss him. 😉
Ok, same question but in the ephiphanic, positive sense: What are some of your most intense moments writing?
My first really international event was Roskilde Festival. I think everybody who has been part of the Graff Camp there knows what I`m talking about. Writers from all over the world doing their thing. Alone AND together. When you leave Roskilde then your ToDo- and ToTravel-List is full. You meet so many interesting and supernice people and make lots of really good connections.
I mean it`s also how you act and if you`re willing to talk to people (even if your English is not the best…I`m sure sometimes people didn`s know what I wanted to say. hahahah). You have to be open minded and I think I always try to be friendly and not arrogant. To have lots of followers on social media doesn`t make you a better human. RESPECT is still the magic word.
After Roskilde I decided to focus more on the international thing because I wanted and still want to explore the world.
In 2015 I was one of the 20 lucky guys who were invited to Ono`u Tahiti. And hey: To get the chance to get to one of the farthest destinations from Middle Europe was just incredible! So I knew: I want this.
For sure: sometimes you just go to these events for the traveling costs, accomodation and the materials you need and I hope this will change a bit in the future. A few events are more and more willing to pay also kind of a fee for the artists they invite. I think this is the right way. You can`t just traveling the whole year without making any money.
But the result of all these journeys was not only that the number of flags on my map became more and more. It`s also about connecting people. I met so many nice humans all over the globe and few of them became real friends.
Where do you normally get up at? And where have you gotten up around the world?
Since around 8 years I live in Switzerland in the region around Basel and I still try to paint there a lot. But at the moment it`s even more traveling around and I love that.
Until now I painted in around 23 countries all over the world. Most amazing places were Moscow, Detroit, Indonesia, Equador or Tahiti to name a few. But also European cities like London, Naples or Hamburg are great.
How do you think graffiti subculture is received in areas where its less known, or less ubiquitous?
Mostly it takes a while to persuade the people of painting their walls/houses. But if you respect locals, religious or traditional things then you`ll find your spot and people will love it. Last year I painted the first graffiti ever on the Thai island Koh Yao Yai. It took not long to find a spot in that really small village and after 20 minutes lots of people came around and wanted their houses get painted. Unfortunately I smuggled only 6 cans in my luggage to the island.
You do a lot of legal walls and hold down work as a graphic designer, do you see a difference between street art culture and graffiti culture? Do you perceive any kind of dissonance between the two or do you feel its all copacetic?
To be honest: it`s getting more and more hand in hand and people, who have nothing to do with this culture, they don`t understand the difference. The problem is that if you want to get a job on a big wall and you tell the people/the client that you`r a graffiti artist, then often they can`t really handle it. They think, you`re just a tagger. If you would tell them that you`re a Streetartist, then you have open doors and everybody thinks of Banksy. Hahaha.
It can be really interesting to work with street artists. To combine/exchange techniques and skills is a good thing. But if I should decide I would go with my Spraypaint guys.
With the dominance of the street-art movement in mainstream contemporary art, do you think it’s helping or hurting graffiti? Is the culture being sold?
I think it`s a normal thing that – let`s call it Urban Art – find it`s way more and more into the galleries and into commercial work. Every artist has to decide by his own if he is willing to do a exhibition or a collaboration with a brand. In the the end to me I prefer to get my bucks with a job what I love and what I`m good in and not with some bullshit what I would talk really bad about the whole weekend. There are so many so-called legends who work with big brands or organisations. I think every big name from SEEN to SMASH137, from DARE (R.I.P.) to OS GEMEOS used to or still do projects with brands or companies, But they all have one thing together: They earned their street credits – back in the days or until now. That`s the point.
As a hip-hop head, do you trace graffiti culture back to that milieu and try to pay homage to the classics? In your mind, are the two art forms still linked or has graffiti detached from hip hop culture into something of its own?
I think it`s super important to know about the 4 elements and names like Rocksteady, Taki, Blade, Seen, Grandmaster Flash or Sugarhill Gang. I still love to watch breakdancers (and I`m stoked about in which unbelievable level it developed during the years)
But I think especially Graffiti became more and more an own thing. I know so many guys in this game who have nothing to do with any kind of hip hop. But they paint f**kin burners. That`s normal.
To me the fundamental idea of Hip Hop will always stay a part of my life and I always have a pair of Adidas Superstars in my locker.
What is your personal philosophy regarding graffiti? not legal walls, or art with aerosol, but the nitty gritty, late night sneak session to catch an illegal spot? How do you view it? Why do you do it? How do you justify it?
To me the real graffiti is still the rolling steel. I`m sure that even in 20 years there will be still a few guys doing this – don`t matter how much security staff and how many cameras are around. This is what I want to say first.
I think you just can understand the sense of graffiti if you do it for a while because only with the experience and the adventures you pass through so many different funny, dangerous, epic or stupid situations. To me it`s not necessarily only about the action. The best moment is to watch your piece the first time in daylight. It can be dreadful but also absolutely amazing. But it`s also about to leave something (hopefully beautiful) on a place you`ve been and sometimes it stays there for a really long time. Its about changing a boring place into a colorful eyecatcher – so sometimes it`s even like kind of entertainment.