Where are you from and what do you write?
I come from the west coast of France! And when I write, I write SMEKTA!
How old were you when you began to notice graffiti and wanted to start writing?
I was about 15 the first time I saw graffiti along the railroad near my home. A few months later my best friend met a former Parisian who had been practicing graffiti for a long time; that’s how we got started. We began with tags in our neighborhood… The first of our graffiti endeavors will arrive much later.
What were some of the first few names you went through before you found SMEKTA?
It’s a long way to SMEKTA! I began with “ONET” when I was 15! After that I changed it very frequently… I moved a lot and I changed it just about every time I arrived in a new city. I’ve been writing SMEKTA for eight years and I think it’s the name that I’ve kept the longest. I get tired pretty easily of writing the same thing all the time, that’s also why I change it regularly… For me the most important thing is not the name, but rather the writing!
That’s awesome! How often do you sketch and paint? Being able to balance that and a family can be tricky sometimes I’m sure.
Yes, that’s for sure, but my family is understandable and lives in my passion. I have a lot of work during the six months of Spring/ Summer, but much less in the Fall/ Winter; that is when I paint, during the day when everyone is at work or school and draw during the evening! In the winter, I paint three to four times a month, and draw about two to three hours a day.
What spots do you like to hit when you paint? Do you usually rock trackside or do you like to paint the streets?
In general, I’m looking for cool places… Blank and abandoned places. It’s in these places that I blossom the most.
How long was it until you had developed your own style? What writers have influenced your style the most?
For now, I feel like I’m always looking for my own style and I hope I don’t find it so soon! I don’t want to piss anyone off if I stay on the same style! When I was younger, I was influenced by the writers who had been on the railroad by my house. ZIE, HEIN, MAAT, ONIE, LES, GENS. I started painting with RUSHER a childhood friend of mine, who was very skilled at that age and whom I had learned a lot. I’m also a fan of ASTRO, TILT, MIST, SHANE, PERSU, and SCIEN to name a few! Once the internet got into the game I discovered REVOK, AROE, AMUSE, WOES, ASMOE, MIEDO, GESER, MOWER, TOTEM2, and many others from the international scene!
All of these artists have inspired me from near and far, but I believe the person who has influenced me the most is my brother MARSHAL AKA SHAME with whom I have been painting with since the beginning and who in my opinion, is the most talented!
That’s awesome. The internet has done a lot for the game as far as being able to showcase your own work, and in your case, discover other writers! How long have you been apart of WAD?
I will say since 2011 or 2012? I don’t really remember. It was born from a meeting with JULIUS, a local writer with whom we share the same thirst for painting! Over time, several big painters joined us with the same spirit of departure! No fuss! Graffiti between consenting adults! “WAD is love!” To say it in the way of Haddaway! You know? Haha! JULIUS, FIOUZ, TOKA, SERY, FEVER, ET, and AISER are all WAD and I’m so proud of it! They all come from different backgrounds and different crews. Each with their own styles.
Last year when SMEKTA and I began this interview I asked him how 2019 was going so far and he told me about his seaside restaurant.
I have a lot of work the next few months in my restaurant, and I have a new project for next year. A new restaurant bar with a big graffiti cultural atmosphere, with large walls and great French writers… It’s a big project, but it’s just the birth of it! It would be a restaurant bar in the middle of a local brewery. We will organize concerts, exhibitions, and jam graffiti!
Fast forward to back to 2020: How is your year going so far with everything upside down in the world?
I’m still working on the creation of the restaurant… All of the country is slowing down, so we are taking a look at our projects. I’m taking this opportunity to do a lot of sketches.
Is there anyone you want to shout out?
There are so many things that are ruining the world and that could be subject to go nuts! Politicians, global warming, and street art! But for all to say, I have nothing to jerk off! I advance in life through the drops, I take care of my family, and I try to have fun at all costs! And advice! Do the same! Big ups to all my friends and family! Those who are ready for me and who share my life! Thank you to the graffiti with which I have already shared 25 years of my life with and to those who felt it live! Thank you too PHANT!
Written by L.E. Phant