We got to sit down and talk with DAER from EMT, CULT, BLS, 1810 and AOM
How and when did you get started with graffiti?
I started in Jr. High back in 1991 drawing little characters on the restroom walls. I initially didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t see the difference between the gang graffiti and the tagger graffiti either so I guess it made it a little more comfortable for me to just blast on the walls. I kept doing that until high school in 1993. Half way through freshman year I got into my first crew (usk) I still didn’t know what I was doing. The rest of the crew thought I sucked and dropped me. Man, that sucked. Later that day after school the crew came up to me and said that I wasn’t dropped and that I could continue writing the crew but they were all dropping the crew and getting into another crew leaving me hanging again. I told myself that I would get better and create a force to be reckoned with. I told myself that I would commit to this and try to be the best I could be and have fun throughout the whole ride. Since I didn’t know shit, I realized I needed a teacher. My Homie Soar took me under his wing and schooled me on everything he knew. Then one fateful night, Soar gave me a pep talk to go out to just the corner and write on something and that’s it. I just needed that one little push and I was off. I nearly walked almost 12 miles in one night and wrote on all types of shit that a lot of people saw. Right after that my grandfather passed away and I didn’t have any other outlet except for graffiti. So I ran with it and never looked back.
What was the climate like in the local scene when and where you started writing?
It’s the desert. Its dry and hot. It’s miserable in the summer if you’re not prepared. The heat is no joke. Drink water. I always give that warning for anyone who’s never been to Phoenix. To me I think it’s cool. It’s home.
What does EMT mean to you and how do you and your boys work to keep the crew organized and connected?
EMT means a lot to me. I mean, I put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears, jail time and paid huge ass fines. The crew has grown since I got in back in 1998 so I have a deeper appreciation and respect for all its members and the crew itself. From all of us out here in Arizona to the San Francisco/Bay area. The So Cal Cats to MAUI in Hawaii and WAYNE in New York. Spread out like jam. Today social media, phone calls or actual face to face is how we all communicate like everyone else I guess. If we have a goal as a whole, we usually go for it and make it work. Nothing to it but to do it. Team work makes the dream work. (laughs)
What do you think makes the southwest graft scene unique?
I think its the scenery. Other major cities have more buildings or doper freeways that have all the dope spots to paint. Out here its flat and everything is spread out. Whenever I visit other cities, I see what they have similar to my home turf and get those same dope spots. So now if you go into 90% of the yards out here you can bet you’ll find DAER tag with a date or multiple dates from me passing by lol.
But for me, the scene out here is like the wild wild west. You never know when things will get wild. For the AZ chapter today, you either love us or hate us. It’s funny that it’s like that but I guess that’s just another element to the scene. Now that I’m older and seen a lot, I try to be a better example to myself and whoever’s around me and give the best advice I can.
What benefits and positive things has graff brought to your life?
Friends that turned to family. Awesome opportunities to paint and travel. Met some of my favorite writers and they’re cool as fuck. Being acknowledged for being me.
What kind of damage has it caused in your life?
Jail time. Fines. Friends dying. Friends that turned to enemies. Met some of my favorite writers and they’re asshole pieces of shit. Being hated for being you.
What motivates you to stay active in graffiti culture?
My OG 125 puts in work on the daily. So if my OG is still painting then I really don’t have an excuse. That dude’s a beast. Plus it’s fun and a great stress reliever for me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Probably flick and archive everything I did better. So much of it is gone.
How did you get your name and what’s the meaning behind it?
After the freshman year incident(see question one), I wanted a fresh start. I went through a grip of names before I ended up choosing DARE. A year later I got into some trouble and swapped up the E and the R because I thought I was slick.
What have you learned over the years, both graff related and life lessons?
Being able to read people and situations. Balance. Having balance and understanding it. Self discipline. Having a name and knowing the responsibility that comes with it. If you fuck people over that shit follows you, so be good kids.
What do you think it takes to make a well-rounded, respected writer, both in terms of putting in work and character?
To put in your dues. Be in the street. Be in every ones face from tags to bombs and pieces.To do all aspects of the trade.
To do all the grimy shit in the areas that no one wants to go. Also letting your work speak for itself and keeping your mouth shut. Sometimes your mouth can give you a bad name. Knowing you have a name and keeping it respected by not screwing people over. Always push yourself to be better. Always have respect for the past and the future writers. You never know who’s feelings you’re gonna hurt.
What kind of effect(s) do you think the internet has had on graffiti?
It helped by getting to see graff from other cities and countries. Meeting other writers and networking. That part was cool. It ruined it because now graff is too easy to get into. taking a lot of the real fun out of it. I use to rack all my tips. Now instead of racking you can order online. Going out and venturing to all the spots and seeing the raw graff first hand. Taking it all in. Soaking up all the surroundings. Now its just a finger swipe on your smart phone while sitting on the shitter. Its cool because its convenient. I remember the struggle trying to find paint and hoping it didn’t suck. What you had to do to paint a spot. How you got your materials. It made you appreciate it that much more. The internet can get you in all kinds of trouble. Like catching beef over words you typed to getting caught up for something that you posted. With new technology comes new rules. Be smart about it, really.
If you could only use one writing device (can/marker/scribe etc.), what would you choose and why?
I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I love smashing streaks but I’ll have to say paint. I like painting big and it takes your whole body to be involved with my throw-ups. Flowing together, all one motion.
Can you tell us one of your best bombing/chase stories?
Trying to paint in Boyle Heights(L.A.) ending up with GYROE, DYAL, AMENS, and myself being held hostage for 5 hours under a bridge at gun point. Shit was intense. It was a 5 hour ordeal so I’ll have to cut out a lot of detail. The Big Homie Triple OG DISM said there was this spot we could paint by the Boyle Heights Memorial Hospital. It was a spot that GYROE was familiar with.So we headed off. I followed the fellas down the side of this underpass. As soon as we were walking down and away from this under pass I noticed this campsite up in the corner and some dude posted up. When all of us passed by he ran up and put the strap to my temple. The guys didn’t see this happen so they just kept walking. I hollered for them to stop and that’s when they seen the gun. He patted us down and took our wallets. I was wearing a fat gold necklace and a Jesus piece on it that I still cant believe he didn’t find and take it. He had us separate our paint by colors and proceeded to have us paint his underpass.He had GYROE paint his sons name “Angel.” Dyal’s job was to paint Boyle Heights. Then the weird part happened. While AMENS and I were praying our butts off, The Homeless Gangster Bum asked if we wanted a beer. I politely declined but he insisted and said “Take it! It maybe your last.” So AMENS and I proceeded to drink his 6 pack with him all while telling us that if his wife or child wake up that he would have to kill us. So we had to be quiet as fuck.
Then we noticed GYROE and DYAL messing up. GYROE was painting “Angle” and Dyal was painting “Boil” .. The Gangster Homeless Bum had AMENS go down and help fix everything before things got worse. That’s when the Gangster Homeless Bum’s wife woke up.
As I seen her creep out of the tent, I heard her say “oh no, not again” That’s when I knew he wasn’t lying about doing this to some taggers the weekend before. She seen me sitting there praying my butt off and asked what was going on. While that was happening, the Gangster Homeless Bum was terrorizing the fellas down below. He then seen me talking to her and ran up and put the gun back in my face. “WHAT ARE YOU TELLING HER” he yelled. She quickly calmed him down. I totally thought I was gonna die under that underpass that night. He asked me what I could do. “Shit at this point I could probably paint your sons face to the T” I told him. I can do some gang letters (something I seen a lot growing up as a kid). He was like “Do uh, BIG BAD BOYLE HEIGHTS MR TEMPER LOCON with some Roman numerals and uh my homie RIP SHOOTER LOCON. I did just that. Each letter was as tall as me with a slight tilt. He was loving it and getting all excited. Telling me how dope it was and that he wanted to pay me $1000. Dude was nuts. He realized how big it was and that I needed help finishing it up. So he went and got the fellas to stop what they were doing to come and help me finish what I started. I purposely walked to the furthest end away from the underpass. the further the better. Like a quarterback, I read the field and seen an opportunity for all of us to dip. Once he had us gathered together, he went back to his tent. I had us all huddled together and I was telling the guys to start packing up. Once I count to 3 I was gonna dip. It was our only shot. I reassured them that he wasn’t gonna shoot because he woulda shot by now. With 2 bags in my hand I counted to 3 and we dipped down the train tracks. I fell from the momentum and adrenaline and dropped some ones bag, but got back up and ran. He gave chase for a little while, but stopped, we were just too far from him to catch up with the football field head start we had. That was one fucked up night. There was a lot more that happened within that 5 hours but this was the guts of the story. Moral of the story is always know where you’re painting and have respect when you have a gun in your face (laughs). That night graffiti saved my life!
If you had to pick one form of graffiti (tag, throw-up, piece, straight letter) that personified and conveyed the true essence of what graffiti is all about, what would you choose and why?
I would say a tag. It’s so basic but can be so powerful at the same time. Make it readable and in your face. I love tagging!
What informs your style? What kind of stuff are you inspired by?
I want my graff to embody that ’90s raw graff. Big bold and steezy. That grimy beast feel. I like the gang hybrid tagger feel. That night in Boyle Heights changed everything for me!
Do you ever struggle with the legality or the right versus wrong nature of graffiti? Do you feel it’s inherently a bad thing to do, if not, please explain?
I don’t think about it unless it’s on someone’s personal property or churches and/or religious places. Not everyone likes graff. They like their happy little world as it is. I feel like it’s supposed to be there just like all these billboard ads or campaign posters. Visual pollution. It only feels bad when you get caught.
How do you choose who you bring into your inner circle? How do you separate the real heads from the marks?
I have a small circle of friends. I’ve been fucked over in the past with people taking my kindness for weakness. So it takes me awhile to let someone “in.” With others it just clicks. I try to distance myself from drama. I also look at how hungry you are for graff.
The recent past has been tough for your crew in terms of losing some really influential and prolific writers and solid people. Can you tell us about how you knew Yesm and Vote and the impact they had on your life? Why should the world know about these two guys?
I went out to the (S.F.) Bay a lot over the years and made a lot of friends. GERMS introduced me to everyone out there. When I would visit GERMS, VOTE and YESM were always around. Those 2 guys made everything fun and showed so much love to me that it made me feel like I knew them all my life.
I’m eternally grateful I had the pleasure of calling them my friends and the positive impact they had in my life. They just had this energy that made people gravitate to them. Same thing with ANEML, YOGEE, SAZE and the little homie LEGOS. REST IN PEACE YOU GUYS.
How does your family feel about graffiti? Do you ever have conflicts with your relatives about how you live and your activity within the culture?
At first my family hated it but they saw I wasn’t gonna stop so they just accepted it. Other family members don’t know and don’t need to know.
If you got a free plane ticket to anywhere for a spray-cation, where would you go and why?
Somewhere tropical maybe. Paint next to a waterfall. Just to get that nice picture shot. Hawaii is on my list for sure.
If you could reverse history and take graff to the early 90’s by changing just one thing about how it has evolved, what would it be and why?
Destroy the internet. Keep it at that primal state it once was in. Go back to dope graff mags like LIFE SUCKS DIE.
If you were raising a son, would you want him to pick up graffiti? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t want this life for him. I would want him to be creative and give him that creative outlet. He’s also interested in sports. It’s dope, he already knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to be a helicopter firefighter. “I wanna be a real EMT daddy” (laughs) whatever I have to do to help him reach his goals.
What non crew writers out there are killing it? Whose work do you like?
CHARLES CREW definitely brings something different and new. SOFLES is always fun to watch. ALOY never lets me down with that grimey steeze he has. ZES is my favorite. To me he embodies that rawness, something I strive for in my graff.
How important do you think it is to maintain your spots and keep less experienced cats out? Do you see it being done enough these days?
I think it’s real important to maintain your spots. Stay consistent and in everyone’s face. Like I’m not going anywhere. Depending on the spot though, it could just be that one time spot. During beef I think its very important.
How do you feel about beef and graffiti drama that turns into actual violence and maybe even gun-play?
I think its all retarded at the end of the day. A bunch of guys beefing over art (laughs). It’s all ego, hatred and jealousy. I’ve been around and seen it all. Someones always out there to dim out your shine or try to out shine you. People that are usually quick to pull a gun are usually just scared. It’s never worth it. Keep it to a fair fist fight.
Do you think it’s possible to be original today, with so many styles already being rocked? What do you do to stay original?
Theres always room for originality. I look at the homie SUER’s style. His is original and different. It’s dope and different. VOLAR as well. A lot of people get stuck on the latest trend and get comfortable using other peoples ideas because its easier than creating their own ideas. The internet helps with that lol Give credit when credit is due.
Do you plan on painting forever or do you ever see yourself retiring?
I’ve been doing this for a longtime. I see my “elders” still pushing strong which shows me your never too old to do what you love. This shit is fun. I have so many awesome memories and down ass friends who are like family to me. I love all you guys.
And last words or shout outs?
Rest In Peace:
VOTE, YESM, ANEML, TARD1/2, GYROE, YOGEE, SAZE,
LEGOS, DAYZ, LOWK, FABLE(TWK), UNEK(RA)
Shout outs to all my crews: EMT, CULT, 1810, BLS, AOM
My homies SOAR and PHEL , GERMS, APEL, CENTRAL PRODUCTS AOTA, 125, DISM, ARTE, DAYSER…too many of you guys to write down.. VENUS, my little family and my dog Rusty
DONT DO DRUGS!!
By Paul Lukes