Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Eez - interview

Some of the newer writers may not know the name Eez but if you know a little bit about the history of graffiti in Scotland then you will know about the Livi Jam 1994. Eez was the driving force behind that, and other jams. The fact that he was able to fund and organise an event on that scale prior to internet hook ups etc says far more about the man than i ever could. But dont be fooled, there was far more to the man the jams. His graff style, IMO, was miles ahead of its time, people are just beginning to catch up now (take a look around and you will see what i mean). Also, be sure check out this as an example of some of the music created by the man.
Eez has stated that he is willing to answer any further questions via the blog, so be sure to leave a comment or two.
Introduction by Eez.

I wanted this interview put up cos there were a few 'misunderstandings' about myself that needed sorted out. Firstly, I've never been in jail – never been in court for anything I've done either. Was living in Ireland for a good few years having a great time of it all. Seems like the jail stories got started and spread by those who would have liked that to have been the case. Whatever, their ineptitude is something that they will have to resolve.

Also, bizarrely, there was also someone pretending to be me on an internet forum. They probably found it amusing that a few people believed their waffle, and again Chinese Whispers began. I feel sorry for all involved. Being jealous of my talents won't give you them? Confucius says, Better to work on your sparkles rather than look for another's drips )

If there is anything that any reader wants clarified about the following just post a comment and I will come back and answer.

Introduce yourself, how long you have been painting, what crews have you been part of?

EEZ aka EASE-A, EEZ-A, EEZ BAK, E, EB, BEEM, BE, BIZ - never anything else in graffland. There have been plenty of misspelling overs the years, EZE springs to mind? - Maybe the 'style' was too 'wild'

First painting with spray paint, 1983 (ish). I used to write my name in a calligraphy style for years before that (my older sister was a very good artist and forced me into drawing 'battles' with her) - but 3D with sparkles on the bubbles, 6ft high, was a new one to master from 83. I remember a guy called 'Smiffy' in my class at school showing me some of his graff drawings on the front of his maths jotter and then the same day goin home to find my wee brother doin fuckin handspins! That was cool n funky, with xtra cool n funky sprinkled on top ) Have to take the opportunity to give the bro a big mention here as he was always around when everything was goin on. Amongst numerous other things, he was the one who sat up and constructed the event pass that most people still have from the Under Pressure session (more on that later).

Yeah, so around 1983 was my first actual piece and EEZ is my main alter ego.. Earliest crew was a breakin one, Livi Supreme Breakin Team aka Nike Warriors. Now THAT'S xtra cool n funky too haha. Most of the time I just painted solo cos it was easier to get things done - I didn't have crew ties so I could deal with others with less friction (which came in useful for future events organisation). In later years I got invited into the TTK - Third Teem Kingz (although there are numerous spelling variations). That's a legendary crew btw so I was honoured. EEZ TTK is what I'm happy to be remembered as.

BIZ was one of my first names/vibes in graffland. I vaguely remember seeing a piece by, or sayin, Bizerk in the Blues N Soul magazine (Tim Westwood had a page in it that covered Hip Hop, including the results of breakin battles). I liked the sound of it - Doin the biz, Takin care of business and so on. Also my housing scheme was bit crazy at that time and Bizerk was how some people were running around. Anyways, I digress.. Moved onto EASE-A. Just liked the sound of it. Take it easy. Easy does it. The 'E' was good to draw and so was the 'A'. The 'S' linked them together. I changed this to EEZ-A as some people were pronouncing it EASY-A and I wanted to redefine the sound. I dropped the 'A' eventually because EEZ had a good look to it and Extacy (along with a general drugs culture) was in fashion. I didn't write EEZ or E because I was taking them, I just tuned in to what was goin on around me. Because painting on a large scale at a high standard is so physically demanding it is better to be as clear headed and as agile as possible. Ladders and scaffolding are not to be tackled while mashed up ) I've tried and it's nowhere near 'cool n funky' )

Quickish word on the other nom de plumes. EEZ BAK and EB came from a line in an Ice-T track and just summed up how I was feeling at the time. Which was pressured with all the publicity that was goin on (paintings on the front page of the Guardian, front page of the Herald, double page in The Face, Live radio interviews, TV interviews gettin fucked up in the edit, peoples reaction to all that, phew the list goes on) Yeah so EEZ BAK, time to get my breath back, biatchs. And the E and B letters blended nicely into each other too )

BEEM was because of my initials - I'd sometimes been misrepresented as I wasn't a 'hardcore' letterist (although if you 'read between the lines' there plenty to see. Wild Style anyone?) I drew it so that all the letters consisted of the same shape, imagine how you would line draw a bird in the sky, that was the core letter - I just tilted the B to the left kept the two E's in the middle upright and tilted the the M to the right. And BE was just for the same reason as EB, also it sounded cool. You can be want you want to be, I think therefore I be.. Or something like that )

In summary - the style of the letters, the vibe of the name and it's context within the environment - that's what mattered to me.

  • You mentioned that you had a lot of exposure and that there were reactions that came from that. How did you first deal with the media side of things and then the reactions of people that came from that exposure (i assume that you mean negative reactions from other writers)

Not necessary from other writers and not necessary negative. There were a few things over the years - an interview here; a higher profile commission there. That taught me a few things about the media and how other people reacted to seeing myself within that portrayal. When the events kicked off it all just got combined and intensified. Hence a reason for calling the eventual main event, Under Pressure.

Journalists can be sneaky bastards, asking you ten questions, be all pally and then twist something to suit the theme they have attached to whatever is going on. Because I was one of the first to get a consistent national profile I had to tread carefully through the questions especially considering the illegality of the artworks reputation. The publicity itself was no big deal. I was more concerned about the painting looking cool n funky within the article that seeing myself look back out amongst the adverts and other stories on the go.

On reflection it was all a beneficial learning experience. Let's just say I would employ a professional publicist for any future endeavours.

  • Who were your early influences?
In graff, the main ones were DOSE and LEE. Dose because of the B-Boy characters on the sleeves of the Rock Steady Crew records they put out and Lee because of his interview and artwork in the book Getting Up. Later on when I was heavily flick trading there were loads of styles I liked. Too many to recall really. Everyone invited to the events had an influence on my artwork actually. My style of painting was recognisable as my own so that's what's important at the end of the day. I was more inspired by meeting people than by viewing their art eventually.
  • What are your memories of the early days and what are the main differences now to when you first started?

Early memories are fantastic ones. I loved the smell of the paint, which was Carplan and Duplicolor (got some Buntlac sourced along the way too). The grandiose and scale of the artwork. The bubbles. The 3D. The sparkles and highlights. The arrows. Everything was just FRESH.

Main difference would be paint access now I suppose. You can walk into numerous shops or go online and buy everything. It's pretty fuckin amazing actually. Also viewing other people work is a big change. There were a few graff-zines in black n white photocopy doing the rounds but now you can just turn on your pc and be swamped by it all in alphabetical order. Also Hip Hop was like a remote control after a gatecrashed party! YouTube is class for catchin new and old vids now though. In a word, the difference is, Internet.

  • Back in the day there was no quick hook ups over the net and the only real way to get in contact with other writers was through a sort of pen-pal system. You were doing some real serious networking back in the early days. Is this where the initial idea for the Livingston Jam came from? What set the ball rolling?

There were 3 main events in total. The third being the most complete. I'd been to a few and had a good time so I thought lets do it it in sunny Scotland too. Although as one balls up turned out, windy as fuck Scotland! The first two were held at the skatepark, the third indoors at the community centre.

In terms of having contacts to bring it all together, I had published a graff mag for about 5 issues then put out a freebie A4 both sides newsletter over a couple of years. There were numerous homebrew concoctions at the time also so we all used to trade flix n keep the scene on the go.

  • How did you go about organising the event? How did you attract the funding? There must have been so much going on and I assume that you didn’t have any previous experience of organising anything on such a scale.
With great fuckin difficulty. Let me tell you. Without going into too much of the paperwork side of things, basically I had accumulated funding proposals for workshops I had been employed to do and reworded these to suit the occasion. The Under Pressure event that you are referring too was a follow on from other events I'd organised; so I already had experience from those (and from the windswept hairdo) which enabled me to bring it all together like a jigsaw – only the jigsaw pieces happened to be in different countries.
  • Is it true that all these writers and bboys crashed in your house for the duration of the jam? What was that like, where there any ego’s? Most importantly, who ate more than their fair share of the chocolate biscuits?
Different people stayed in different locations. At one point I think they were all in my house chattin and chillin. No ego's from what I remember. Phase 2 and Vulcan were around, how you gonna brass your case there? Haha. I could/should have spent some of the money on hotel rooms right enough but that would have meant less people taking part. Catch 22.
And, I ate all the biscuits beforehand. Do you think I'm daft?
  • The Tramways jam in Glasgow featuring a whole host of Scottish writers was another big jam that you organised – How did that come about?
Less said the better really. I wasn't solely responsible for it all coming together. Take from that what you will. On a plus side, that was one BIG fuckin white wall I sorted out. All you grumbling cunts needed to cheer up there. Need me to wipe your arse as well ?
  • Why was there no Livingston Jam part 2 - Son of Livi, Tramways part 2 – Return of the whatever? Had you become disillusioned with things?
Put simply my own inspired events were stopped because of the lack of funding opportunities. Nothing else. Plane tickets aren't free. That's about it. I wasn't disillusioned at all. The biggest, the best. The first and the finest. Nothing to be disillusioned by there. Wee grumbling fandans come and go. Been around the block you know, did a lot before the events got my profile higher. Dealt with a lot of people from a lot of places. An example would be to just have a look at the people from the events – Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, USA and so on. That takes a quality rep. I'm built to last.

  • I think its safe to say that you didn’t really go out there with a traditional approach to graff. Not many people at that time where out there doing photo realistic paintings or abstract type work (which appears to be the norm nowadays). In fact, I think its safe to say that that particular style was actually looked down on by many. Why did you take that approach rather than focussing on a more traditional lettering style?
Letters were easy. That's about it. I was pushing the capabilities of what was possible with spray paint. Most of my work was done with Carplan, same nozzle. That still fucks with peoples heads to this day.
I looked on other artists with more of a sideways glance. If they thought they were looking down on me from afar then that's cool. When I met with people it was always a different story. Those who saw my piecebook then knew what I was capable of.
I love letters. I had to point them out within my pieces as they were embedded within it more often than not. Wildstyle.
One other thing, because I was networking a lot I saw a lot of different styles. Although abstracts and realistic pieces weren't the norm amongst the train painters and dub bombers that was the main emerging style that was developing throughout the uk.
  • What are your views on the current scene, Scottish or otherwise?
I was always supportive of other artists. Some didn't keep in touch and missed out on future invites. Nothing personal. I dished out paint, cash and opportunites to many, many people. Do I think it was worthwhile? Yeah, the current scene is healthier, mainly because of internet access. Same goes for worldwide developments. There's more commercial interest now too. Was checking some Adidas Graff trainers in Footlocker the other day. That's an interesting development.
  • I always remember having some really interesting conversations with you and you telling me some incredible stories. Whats your favourite graff related story?

Most graff stories are best kept to when the photo albums are out and the company is selected. But I will tell you this, when the Under Pressure event was on and there were loads of heads goin to an fro from my house, some fucker left the gas cooker on, unlit. By chance, I headed back up to sort some stuff out and was met by a waft of some serious build up. I didn't even turn the key in the back door incase there was a spark. Had to push the window open, slow as fuck (while holding my breath) to let the fumes out. That put the whole shenanigans into perspective. Half the street would have been decorated in body parts if I hadn't clocked it. Oh yeah, another one - Shagged a wee burd in the toilets during an event in Ireland while Keen and Mode 2 were outside waitin to get in haha

  • Any plans in the pipeline for a few new pieces?

Yeah, and maybe an event too. Prob next Summer for the event and this Summer for a couple of pieces. Watch this space.

  • If you could do it all again would you change anything?

Yeah, prob wouldn't have told you the shaggin story.

PS Thanks to everyone involved with the events and assisting me along the way. You know who you are and you know what contribution you made. There's too many to mention and I would be doin a disservice to those I missed out if I attempted to do so. Lastly, no one is perfect and we improve because of the errors we make or by witnessing the errors of others. Time is the teller. Not you and not me.

Just because you don't see the sun shining it doesn't mean that it's not there.


dime_one said...

excellent opportunity to look at a piece of history. it is inspiring to know that the roots of writers like ease/eze/eez are similar to ones from my own locality, and that a lot of us old farts now - were truly inspired by true-to-the-cause writers like this!
i take off & tip the kangol to you sir!!

Anonymous said...

For such a shitty wee place, Livingston has always seemed to produce really creative / inspiring people. From the Punks to the skaters and writers. Quite a unique place.
Great interview.

EEZ? said...

Been out on the razzle the past few days, just checkin the post now.

Cheers for the feedback.

It's good that the foundations have been laid. Who knows what great things may now be built because of all our efforts?

lyken vk said...

EEZ opened our eyes in Dundee. It had never crossed our minds to club our money together to get paint cheaper etc, he showed us how to apply for funding and inspired us to put on our own events and travel. He vouched for us and introduced us to the TDA Klan in Ireland, friendships were formed that have lasted to this day. The Indoor Under pressure event hooked us up with writers from other cities in scotland and kickstarted the flow of traffic between Scottish towns. Like loads of writers at the time I recieved Mags, flicks and boxes of paint from EEZ for which Im eternally grateful. Its amazing how many writers from far flung locations when the mans name turns up ask after him and had traded flicks and been hooked up by him. He is the International Man of Mystery and to hook up with him again recently was a true pleasure. A true original and bring on the future EEZ productions!

ke beat eta said...

it'd be greta to meet up again big man....thanks for everything you done for me mate, it'll never be forgotten...the paint sitting here with oads of walls if you ever fancy a trip down to liverpool where im now based...get in touch man, id appreciate

rask tdaklann said...

a true giant of the scottish graff scene...inspired me to organise and gave me enormous help to start the bridge jam here in ireland..get in touch big man, im gonna be scotland way in the near future!

eez the gobshite said...

Vera let me know you had paid a visit here.

Lyken said you were gracin your presence in his local fairly soon.

Lost my phone a few time Dazzle so I will have a confab soon.

Hope you are well, you are Irish graff mate. Keep that in mind when you are rockin in the chair.

Glad you are showin face cos you can back up my non jail location and my many shaggin stories haha Not to mention my bouncin duties at your local mental rondayvoo, aye t

Zee-TTK said...

Eez ...A long time friend and inspiration first met him in Scarborough back in 1988 and thought what a dodgy geezer (JK haha)good to see the story come out too many forget what he did and is yet to do ...
you have had your break when we startin the next chapter ? :p
TTK is for life not just for christmas :D

... said...

Bazza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha

'Everyone's a king who does his own thing'. Legendary comment from your goodself and the reason for me reppin the Third Teem Kingz

Prologue is over, let battle commence.

EEZ? The Time Keeper

Hectik AOS said...

Alright B,

Hectik here mate... remember the old AOS zine and trading with you via the Full Effect days?

Been a while since I last heard from you... maybe '92?

Good to see you're still doing your thing.

If you fancy an email you can reach me via info(at) and I can drop my personal email to you... be good to catch up.

Hectik AOS said...

Alright B,

Hectik here mate... remember the old AOS zine and trading with you via the Full Effect days?

Been a while since I last heard from you... maybe '92?

Good to see you're still doing your thing.

If you fancy an email you can reach me via info(at) and I can drop my personal email to you... be good to catch up.

eez aka the unsung hiro said...

Indeed I do. Me, you n the postman had a fair amount of flix transported over the great unknown.

Will chase up some further banter soonish.

Anonymous said...

stroll on big guy. hope ur still painting. baz elliott