RISKYONE - WCA, MSK, AWR, DMS 7th Letter
Interview by: Lee Majors for 50mm
Photos courtesy of: Risky himself and Roger Gastman
What's up peeps? Lee Majors here again on the move and bringing you
another exclusive interview with yet another L.A. Legend and pioneer of graff.
Well for the record, this interview is well over dude. About two months old and
Risky has been at it since then. Regardless, let’s go back to what he had to
say then as many know what he’s up to lately.
While some of you weren't even conceived yet or were probably having your
diapers changed, one L.A. cat was already rocking walls, doing full fledge
productions, getting paid for graff, staring yards and bombing L.A. like crazy.
From one of the most longest running crews in the graff scene...and then
some, I come at ya with an interview with the one and only - RiskyOne. So get
ready to sit back and get edumacated as I bombard him with mad questions
and get his insights on this whole graff shit we all in to.
LM: So Risky what's up? What year did you start writing?
RISKY: I started writing in 1982
LM: Damn that's a long time ago. What got you in to writing or
RISKY: I was sitting in school drawing on my desk, when this
kid from New York, said; "Hey, what do you write?". I was like "Surf, Happy
Holidays, wipe out, all kinds of shit." He was like "HUH????". I said "I draw
whatever I feel like".....And he said; "Naw man, what's your tag?" Then he
broke down the whole New York Train scene to me. He was from new York
and had recently moved to my school. He wasn't really into graff, but being
from New York he had tagged the trains too and our school like most kids in
those days. I thought that was cool so that day I went and racked a few
cans of paint. That same night I hit my school and never stopped!!!
LM: What or who were some of the first graff writers you saw in
RISKY: The first writer I saw in L.A. was Crazy J and BLITZ,
they did a rooftop at my school. It was way better than mine. I was like wow!
They had all these colors and bricks missing in the background with colors
glowing through and 3d's. It was mind blowing to me at the time. Then
I saw the Bible........"Subway Art" and it was Game On!!!
Crews are like family to me - Risky
LM: Yeah Subway Art is a dope book and definitely considered
the graff Bible. We know you are WCA (West Coast Artist), but what other
crews are you repping?
RISKY: I push WCA, MSK, AWR, DMS, and SEVENTH
LETTER....I'm down with other crews but I mainly push those. Crews are like
family to me that I grew up with. I did serious time with all those dudes, so
that's what's up! I respect a lot of others and appreciate being down, but I
made a decision to keep it family.
LM: How did WCA get started and when?
RISKY: WCA got started when Rival R.I.P. came up to the Pan
Pacific and said hey lets start an all city crew, but even better we want to king
the West Coast! So WEST COAST ARTISTS was formed and our mission
was to dominate, not only the city, but the entire WEST COAST, and after we
did that, we could start focusing on the world and call ourselves WORLD
We met up the next day and started picking people we wanted n the crew and
set out to dominate the city. We thought eventually other crews would morph
in and we would be like WEST COAST ARMY..... but it didn't really happen like
that. We met up with crews like K2S and they also wanted the city title. So
there were lots of dudes starting to
give us a run for our money. That was cool because it forced everyone on the
West Coast to raise the bar... Pretty soon LA was on top of the game! and
LM: Tell us about your first pieces? Where were they and with
RISKY: My first pieces were done with a friend of mine that
wrote Chance... We killed our school. We actually broke in and did the lockers
inside. I started doing these locker rockers because they couldn't be buffed
as easy. One night, I did a wave that rapped from the top staircase down to
the first floor and it said wipe out in the middle.... We did some crazy shit, hung
over the roof tops.... my favorite was writing "you love SURF" on the girls
bathroom mirrors... I wrote Surf at the time...
I would do pieces while I watched them party in their trailer -
LM: That sounds dope. Locker Rockers, I like that. These new
youngsters now-a-days don't know about The Pan Pacific Theatre, tell us
when and how you started painting at Pan Pacific?
RISKY: Pan pacific was dope. I remember seeing it in a movie
with Oliva Newton John called XANADU. When I saw the building, I was like
oh shit I have to kill that. When I went that night I saw a piece already there by
Soon. It was hot, the shit was on fire, and it had ICY GRAPE and PLUM! I was
like what the fuck? What's that other purple!!! any way after I started killing it
they hired these two lames to be night watchmen. They were cool just lame
security guards. I would do pieces while I watched them party in their trailer.
The next day I would come check out my piece and they would be like who
did this???? how did they get in???? etc???? eventually I convinced them that
it would be cool if they'd let people paint, it would be like a huge gallery, and
they would be local heroes! After the LA times did the piece on the Pan Pacific
they were fully into it. It was on! We had a legal yard that we could paint and
everyone could see it.
LM: See? that's what I am talking about. About Soon and how
that yard got started. Soon was dope! I remember seeing his shit back in the
days too. So who were some of the first writers to paint there?
RISKY: The first people to paint there were Soon. I also thought
Bill Rock from NY too until recently I found out it was a copy cat piece that
was probably from Subway Art. Anyways, myself and Cooz. I also did my first
paid gig there with Cooz. It was the cover of hot rod magazine. They had a
chick holding a can and it said that she did it. They also put the door back on
the building upside down fucking up the whole piece.
LM: I remember seeing that issue. A piece of Rick's K2S piece
comes out on that cover too right? So who else other than you was up at Pan
RISKY: Other dudes that came down and killed the Pan Pacific
was K2S. I remember when Rick and Make rocked the front. That MAKE
piece on the front wall was one of the pieces that stood out the most to me. It
was the shit. It was the first time I saw a style that wasn't WCA style, that shit
was clean, large and in charge! Other dudes were Stylie and Sieze. Eaze and
Daze who did the Na Na piece down in Santa Monica also did a nice
production. Defer used to roll thru before he was K2S. Cartoon, Dream,
Green and all of WCA were usually there every weekend.
LM: Dope. I remember that NaNa piece. It was a shoe store.
And I remember seeing Sieze up too. He had a yard by Wilshire and Kingsley
behind a Radio Shack. Did you ever see that?
RISKY: Yea I remember seeing that shit, he was up with Stylee,
those dudes were tight
LM: So most of your pieces at Pan Pacific were up front and
also on the rooftop facing Beverly Blvd? Who were able to paint the front
walls? was it just anyone?
RISKY: No the front was only for big gigs and/or special for
people from out of town or with skills. I had a juice card there so I could paint it
at will. But the roof top was never allowed because the roof was all rotted and
unsafe. I used to go at night and kill it. The security guards were always like
"Hey Risk, could you umm not umm paint on the"....and I would always walk
away before they could finish saying it...
LM: Hahahaha - What were some of the most memorable
pieces for you at Pan Pacific?
RISKY: The most memorable productions were when West FC
came down and did the Fame City piece with Serge FC, The Eaze and Daze
piece that said Cheers LA was cool because it was so Hollywood and clean.
They also showed up in a limo with hookers so that was pretty cool. When we
did The Young Lords who was Risky, Soon, J kool, and Legit, we did the
whole front wall. I thought that was awesome, it was the biggest piece I had
ever seen at that time. Looking back it was so ugly!!!! but that Green huge
character was dope!
Belmont was just a free for all, and definitely run by K2S -
LM: How did painting there differ from painting say at the
RISKY: Painting there was way different because they had it
sanctioned and would have music and food and security sometimes etc.
Belmont was just a free for all, and definitely run by K2S. We had music at
Belmont but it was Dream pulling in his car, and we didn't need food, we had
beer!!! We couldn't drink beer in the open at the Pan Pacific. A lot more shit
went down at Belmont too. I got shot at the first time I painted
there. I actually liked Belmont better because by the time that was popping the
skill level of everyone was better.
LM: The Motor yard is also another yard many never got a
chance to paint
at? tell us about that yard?
RISKY: Motor was probably my favorite yard because it was
tucked away and you had to know where it was. Also, when shit got hairy
there it was on! I remember Ace shoving a pipe up some kids ass. I saw
some real sick shit go on there, but it was a cool yard if you could get down.
The walls were high and you could do whatever you wanted and it was pretty
much survival of the fittest. If your shit was good it stayed up, whether you
were from our crew or not. There was a lot of space and not a lot
of little kids scribbling on everything. It was our yard most people called it the
West Coast tracks not even knowing that the West Coast tracks was actually
another yard on Sepulveda and Pico that got shut down years earlier. It was
the first real yard in LA....way before Pan, Bel, and Motor.
LM: Shit. West Coast had mad yards. There was another West
Coast yard on Fairfax too right? Who started that yard?
RISKY: The West Coast Yard on Sunset and Fairfax was
actually created from painting it illegal at night. Mist and Miner were the first,
followed by myself, Piro and Rival...after a while sooooo many people were
rolling through during the day to get photos, someone thought it was legal and
started painting. We used to tell the KSNs it was legal and go over to the gas
station and drink beer waiting for the boys to come roll them up, but it never
happened so we said fuck it and started painting during the day.
LM: hahahaha - that's cold man. I know this often gets asked
but can you tell us a bit about the WCA and K2S battle?
RISKY: The WCA and K2S battle was cool. We won hands
down, but to be fair I don't think they were ready for that, we came thick! We
ALL painted, we hooked up a back ground, did characters etc. We broke out
old cans. I remember Miners piece had a Krylon Hot Raspberry border....I
think I rocked Icy Grape...shit was tight! They didn't have their whole crew
show up and they rocked the small wall. People don't really know how dope
we rocked that wall because all the pictures you have ever seen are only 1/2
the story....See? our whole wall got destroyed that night after we left. When
we came back in the morning for flicks it was COMPLETELY dogged. We
actually re-did the pieces that day and got flicks. It was a really big statement
to say "Hey you can't hold us down. We'll just fix it and still hold it down!" But
truth be told, we weren't gonna rock it like we did the day before because we
thought it was going to get dissed again..... So most people don't know that the
flicks of that production was not the OG piece.
LM: Ahhhhh...But how did it come about? Who initiated the
RISKY: I don't know who initiated the battle, I'm sure it was
probably a group decision on all of our parts.
LM: I read Rival R.I.P. once say in an interview that "Them
dudes from K2S and STN were some down mother fuckers" LOL - What was
your impression when meeting some of them? You know? with the whole
rivalry shit going on and all.
RISKY: I remember seeing and meeting them dudes when they
rolled through Pan Pacific. They were pretty gangster. All I really remember,
from all of them, was meeting MAKE/GALO. I think he was with RICK. But he
was cool. He was the only one from them that broke away and went out of his
way to say what’s up and interact with us. It was nice to see someone who
whole-heartedly believed in interaction and expansion. I still see him doing it til
It wasn't until years later did I realize how important that piece was. It set
a new standard for east side style. It was incredibly influential....probably more
influential than anything we did that day! - Risky
LM: Yeah MAKE is a pretty cool fella. LOL So what did you think
of PRIME'S piece though? That shit was tight right?
RISKY: Prime's piece was super dope! I couldn't really get into it
back then. I thought the character came out of a comic book so I didn't give it
up, and the color way was so different than our candy colored pieces and
busy fills, so I wasn't really feeling it. Although I did recognize how fucking
clean it was and gave it props for being different form everything else....It
wasn't until years later did I realize how important that piece was. It set a new
standard for east side style. It was incredibly influential....probably more
influential than anything we did that day!
LM: No doubt. That piece chained the course for L.A. graff for
nearly a decade. What did you think of that old west-side east-side rivalry?
RISKY: The west side east side rivalry was by far my favorite
Graff period. WCA and K2S were both pushing for supremacy, so we were
both out there killing shit from Venice beach to the Panic Zone. The dudes at
the top had respect for each other. Skept and I, used to actually stay at each
others pads and draw all night. I used to kick it with Prime and Geo and drink
brews. I guess I was a little different than the typical west side writer because
I was very comfortable on the East Side. It was very familiar to me. I was
raised by a latino family in New Orleans for a little while. So when I moved out
to California I gravitated to all the Latino kids. Most of my friends were
Mexican. I wound up living and working downtown for years. My studio is still
downtown. I roll by Belmont (condos now) and the river every day. If there
wasn't an East Side I wouldn't be who I am today.
LM: You also hooked up with bad boy SLICK and formed
Aerosolics, can you tell us about that? Like, why was it formed and how the
name came about? etc
RISKY: Slick and I hooked up because he was killing with the
characters and I was killing with letters so it was a good team. The I G T
times said I was the best at letters at that time and he was best at characters
at that time, so they nominated us to go to England for the world competition to
represent the USA. It was a real big time because it was a chance to put LA
on the map worldwide. Up until then, the only thing the rest of the world knew
about the US was NY. We actually went and won! It was dope, they treated us
like rockstars, we were tripping out they had 5000 people show up for the
event. T.V. coverage everything you can imagine!!!!!! and then some!!!!!!!
LM: I heard you guys killed it too and went out bombing and
RISKY: Hell mutha fuckin yeah
LM: Do you still paint with SLICK?
RISKY: Yes I went down to his new studio not so long ago and
did an installation with him. It was dope! We're planning a big production
soon..... "To live and Die in LA part 2"
LM: Uuuu - that would be dope. Who in WCA is would you say
is still currently rocking and painting?
RISKY: Rival is Writing In Peace, and everyone is still doing their
thing. It's safe to say that everyone has art in their blood and still paint or do
art in one way or another. Dudes that are still active day to day on the streets
as well....Bates, Make, Wisk, Miner (recently), Cartoon, a new guy Zane,
Eklips, and Retna
LM: What made you join MSK?
RISKY: I didn't join MSK I got grandfathered in....LOl!! I was
always down with those guys since they were younger. It's kind of crazy
because I have kicked it on and off with those dudes for ever whether it be at
my BBQ's or Crazy Girls etc. they were always showing me their stuff and I
was like wow shits getting crazy I need to get up again. They always gave me
props and said if it weren't for me they would not be who they are today....but
if it wasn't for where they took the whole scene I never would have got busy
LM: You are also DMS right? How long ago did you get in?
RISKY: I got in DMS about 7 years ago. Danny Diablo is like my
brother. We pretty much do everything at the same time whether were
hanging out together or not. We had our kids the same time, and we did all
kinds of stuff we won't talk about right now.....Lol!!! we always stayed in touch
and our lives mimic each others in a lot of ways.... We've had each others
backs in soo many ways it was just natural for us to be down with each
others crews.....Like I said before its a family thing
LM: You recently had your first solo show at Track16 which
successful, tell us a little about that? Like how it came about? Were
you happy with the results? etc
RISKY: The track !6 show was dope! I was super hyped to get
in a gallery of that stature. I did the show at the worst time of the year in the
worst economy and sold! if you would have told me i would be selling my
pieces for that much and supporting myself and, three kids, with a nice house,
cars studio, toys etc. I would have thought you were crazy! life is a trip, but I
guess if you live and breathe something it will pay off! The show was insane. It
was my first solo show. I did a full body of work, prints installations, pieces
and even some metal work. It was everything I could ever wish for. I
especially want to thank everyone in LA for coming out to show their
support!!!! They show was called 26, because I've been writing 26 years and
their is 26 letters in the alphabet. The main body of work was the alphabet,
because I'm all about letters. With 26 letters you can define the world!
LM: So tell us..What's your choice of paint?
RISKY: I like it all, it all works! currently I am very impressed
with the Montana 94, but the BEST all around paint for me is the new
IRONLAK. I am currently talking with them about getting on the program so all
the stuff you will probably see in the near future will be IRONLAK as well. and
that totally works for me, it reminds me of the old rusto fro some reason,
maybe its the unique smell or how thick it is.
RISKY: My favorite colors are Belton Ces violet, maybe
because its like Icy Grape? my all time is Krylon Hot Raspberry , and
Iceberg, reminds me of a cross between Krylon Pastel Aqua and Turqoise.
LM: Where do you see your art going?
RISKY:I see my art going more 3 deminsional. It will always still
be letters and pieces, non of that Graff is my influence but now I.........shit.
once was, still is, will always be straight Graff.... I do want to get into different
mediums, some sculpture and work with light etc, but still straight risk pieces.
Revok and I also have some plans for some stuff around the city that will be
pretty refreshing and fun....but I can't really talk about that yet.....
LM: What about your graff?
RISKY: My graff will always be there, hitting the river and some
roof tops this week, some stuff coming up with Sever and Abel next week all
good, just keepin it movin....
"Don't call it a comeback I've been here for years" - Risky
LM: How would you rate your comeback or do you even
consider it a comeback?
RISKY: "Don't call it a comeback I've been here for years" LL
LM: I ask that cause a lot of people may assume you stopped
painting because they did not see you for a while, what would you say to that?
RISKY: I never really stopped, I just wasn't getting up on the
streets. I was burnt on the scene, I thought writers were selling themselves
short, not demanding the respect they deserve as artists. I thought, how can
anyone take them serious or treat them with respect if they didn't respect
themselves. A bunch of kids running around trying to get commissioned to do
murals but acting like some school kids happy to paint anything for free paint.
No integrity. No meaning,...I was traveling around the world speaking about
how we are Aerosol artists, not graffiti artists, graffiti is scrawling on the walls
we do art etc etc. But bottom line is I'm a graffiti artist take it or leave it. Some
are better than some, there are bad apples, just like in any scene..... Its not
deeper than that. We can only be responsible for ourselves.
LM: True to that. I remember Third Rail. What happened to
RISKY: I cashed out few years ago. it was going in a different
direction, after 17 years I needed a change. You're going to see it in JC
PENNY shortly. It will say Third Rail by ZOO YORK...It is the lamest shit I can
ever imagine. Everything about it is fake and felonious..... But at least it made
me start a new line. It's called SUPER COMPANY and it will be out next
LM: Dope - I hope I get a few pieces to rock. Who would you
say you have been privileged to paint next to?
RISKY: I am privileged to paint next to my crews. They are all
people I look up to and vice versa, there is no better feeling than that. As far
as being in good company so to speak I'm going to be judging a worldwide
graff competition in Australia next October. I'll be judging with SEEN and
PHASE 2. I think that should be pretty cool.
LM: Is there anyone who you would like to paint next to?
RISKY: I think I've pretty much painted with everyone and or in
the same place at an event etc. If I haven't painted with them I've hung out
and talked shop. I'm pretty full filled in that area. I would have liked to paint or
meet Dondi though....
LM: Often times writers get in to some kind of beef. Have you
had any graff beef?
RISKY: I had all kinds of beef. the best beef I had was SKATE R
.I.P. and PURE R.I.P. both two dudes who I wound up becoming very close
to. Pure actually shot me in the leg at the Woodman yard....We had some
good times that beef was good shit, back and fourth every second day in and
day out it was good old fashioned shit. I fought Skate in the middle of the
street at Sunset and fairfax. He actually wound up squashing my beef with
Pure. Its a long tangled web.... But Pure and I actually ran into each other a
few years later in a limo in Vegas...and we were super tight until he passed
I had beef with Mek, pretty much ran him out of town, and don't even
remember why we had beef.... Think we squashed it and laughed about it
years later......Hit JA over the head with a bottle, we fought three times one
night it was a good one! I actually got into it because he went over Power and
Power actually would up driving him to the hospital..... I don't know tons of
fights and shit....It was all part of it..... Graff is Graff..... Shit Happens.......
LM: What's your take on our L.A. murals being bombed on?
RISKY: Well I'm really not into it, but the city started it long ago.
We were supposed to get commissioned to paint some of those murals and
the city said why don't all of you paint one mural and we'll buy the paint etc.... I
was like, would you have all the other artist paint together? and instead of
giving them 30 - 100k just give them paint.. They said well no but .... And I said
but what ? are we not artist?, were not worthy?, in more books, travelled
around the world, been on T.V. have as much notoriety, have a view , saying
something to our culture etc. etc. I wasn't feeling it! And I was mad at anyone
who wanted to work with them. This was the definition of what I said above
about writers selling themselves shortI remember Slick going out the night
after the meeting and catching throw ups on a bunch of these murals. A lot of
people felt this way....I think it just contributed to a divide of Graff writers and
the city.... The city still pulls bullshit... Like at the meeting of Styles in the LA
river , where writers ad permission and they buffed it a week later because
they had their heads up their asses and didn't even know what they had
approved priorly. Don't get me started ion this on.... City Needs to recognize
that Graff is the most prevalent, socially and culturally important art form of
People need to be responsible for them selves. Think about shit before you do
it. - Risky
LM: As an old school and pioneering writer of L.A. - what
message would you tell these youngsters bombing our murals?
RISKY: I don't think anyone should dog anyones shit. We should
respect all that put in time and work, you might not neccesarily like their shit,
but a lot of people may not like yours either. Art is in the eye of the beholder.
Their are enough walls out their that need help with out destroying another
mural. I think it really sucks when lame dudes that can't even write do shit like
this. People need to be responsible for them selves. Think about shit before
you do it.
LM: Before, when someone did a piece, many would catch the
bus, well you would drive right? (lol), to go check out the piece. Now-a-days
we just Google that stuff? What's your take on that? Do you think that's been
RISKY: Yea, I would catch the bus, just to go all city and see
who was up, to get up , to be able to get super faded and kill shit, it was like a
part of the sport... I used to drive too. I was driving since I was thirteen in New
Orleans. I learned to drive on my grandfathers tractor when I was a little kid.
LM: On that note...What do you think about the internet? has it
to graff or has it been bad?
RISKY: Now a days kids google, myspace, use the internet etc.
I think its cool kids hit me on Myspace all day. I get jobs, sell pieces, and
people from around the world send me flicks of shit I did years ago. it's been
cool for me to get a lot of my old stuff. The internet has taken stuff to a crazy
level I think this is progression. I am all for it, but I also believe that you have
to know where it came from to know where it's at. With saying this, don't call
yourself a graff artist or a writer if you sit home on line and practice writing. If
you haven't put in time or work don't rob our culture. don't call yourself a
writer, just call yourself an artist.
My life is graff. I live sleep and breathe Graff - Risky
LM: How has graffiti over all affected your life?
RISKY: My life is graff. I live sleep and breathe Graff.. I can
relate every major event in my life to graffiti. I.E. my daughters first Birthday, I
remember the piece I did that day. When my grandfather died I remember the
piece I did that day, etc. etc.I started Third Rail because I was anti companies
selling clothes with Graff icons that were fake or not owned by writers.
Everything in my life relates to graff in some way shape or form....
LM: Is there a difference from painting back-in-the-days to
RISKY: Not for me. But yes it is way different for kids now, they
have soo much to look at they come out the gate so much stronger, they
have all the tools, all the knowledge available, soo much to look at! I can't
imagine what it would be like. But I also think they lost a lot of the
fundamentals like simples, and flow. I have flow from doing my shit quick and
or in pitch black. You can't learn that on the computer.
LM: Who are some of your current influences?
RISKY: My current influences are very eclectic. It can be the
patterns in a lowrider or dudes in my crew. My influences change every day!
It can be a good Zeppelin song or the feeling of just rocking another piece! I
don't really think influences are necessarily people.
LM: Word that is true. Who do you think you have influenced
and who do you wish to influence?
RISKY: I don't know as long as I keep it movin it's all good. I
paint to know I'm alive. I am deeply appreciative of the support that everyone
in LA has given me. I am humbled to see the props that some of this city's
best artists have given me. I am truly blessed and can only hope that people
keep finding something to be influenced by from my work.
LM: Alright let's try wrapping this up. So what is next for big
RISKY: Wow thats a huge one I got a lot shit popping...new
clothing line, few shows coming up in Japan, England, and few more in the
works, some nice
walls coming up. Just finished my signature series shoe with OSIRIS, book
coming out next year, finally breaking down and doing a website, finishing up
my new dream studio downtown. lots of stuff I can't talk about right now.... Its
going to be a good year!
LM: Do you have any last words or shout outs?
RISKY:This was a long interview son I'm outta words, Much
love to my Girls Marisa, Bailey, Charley, and Stormey. Peace to my peeps
MSK AWR SEVENTH LETTER, DMS, and the all mighty Mr. Jack Daniels.
AND FOREVER....... FRANKIE, PURE, SKATE, PAULIE B, RIVAL, and
BRYSON, We miss you and love you FOREVER!!!!
LM: hahahah - Right on man...just wanted to get a good insight
on an L.A. Legend. Thanks for the interview Risky and stay up! Peace
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