Give a brief introduction of who you are, who you paint with affiliations etc.
I write Rove, my main man is Theory, we are the gruesome twosome, the modern day bonnie and clyde, the dynamic duo. Lately i’ve been painting with some local [Saskatoon] thug who i can’t name due to some shit going on. The crew i’m reppin with full force is the Freightophiles which consists of Theory, Note, Israel, Reset, Kome, Zer, Sae, Here, Resone, Cemz, Soeone, Sorc, Xide, Pen, Asher.
How would you describe your style?
Right now i would say i have two styles on the go. One style is pointy and real sharp which is a throw back to the style i had going a few years ago, and the other style is simple and blocky. I guess i also have a logo type style going. I need variation because of the conditions here. It’s hard to pump out hot complicated pieces some nights when all you have in moon light and the moon decides to play hide and seek with the clouds. Those kind of nights it’s best to do a simple with a light fill and dark outline.
How did you develop your style?
Well at first i used to bite a lot of people, then i realized that it wouldn’t get me very far so i just started developing a style that came from various influences without being a blatant bite. Actually my first real style i remember came from looking at a Yes piece and i used the kick off his Y and put it on my R. It’s funny to think back to those days. After that initial year of piecing i just started drawing lots and funking things out. Sebo was a big influence, probably the biggest at the time. This area never really had a style to be influenced by so my style developed slowly into something i can proudly say is my own.
How did you get the name Rove?
It’s real simple, i looked in a dictionary and came across the word. I liked the letters and the word itself means to wander aimlessly so i thought that it fit for where i was at in my life.
What sparked you interest in writing?
Seeing the local bombers going all city, Crum, Nave, Roam, Shrmp, Cee..the TAU boys had the city on lock.
How and when did you get started?
I started tagging my real name around the city with tic tac when i was 12 or 13. I don’t know why we did it but it just seemed fun. A year later i met Theory, we were wearing the same fifa soccer shirts and both had our hair dyed. We started hanging out and both noticed the graffiti around the city and starting noticing pieces on trains. Theory took me to see this piece on a train downtown and it was a Take5 piece we thought said Takes. I remember being amazed that somebody could do that on a train and i wondered where it came from. I know Theory was always drawing and i had too since i was little so it seemed like a natural progression. We didn’t start with pieces though, we started with getting drunk and bombing around the city.
What is your approach to starting a piece?
I always scope the area out first. I’ll check the line of trains and choose the one with the nicest panel or check if there is a rare train car that i haven’t hit before. I’ll space my piece out according to the size of the panel and work with or tape over the numbers on the train. The it’s on, i’m pretty fast and focused when i paint, but not too focussed that i don’t have my ears perked up and my eyes rolling around every few seconds.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced as a writer?
The biggest obstacle has been finding a spot to paint that is consistently stocked with trains. I’ve had one too many nights driving around and finding out that there is no where to paint. That’s real disappointing. Another obstacle is the balance between being known by people but not being known by the cops. When you’ve been painting for a while it’s natural that other kids that like graffiti start asking questions about who’s who and who’s doing what. It’s not like any other hip hop element where you can get instant gratification for something you’ve done. You have to be real careful. I guess i’ve been lucky enough to have friends that enjoy what i do so showing them my work and having them appreciate it is enough for me.
What do you know now that you wished you would have known when you got started?
I wish I knew that painting trains means leaving your mark for years and years. I might have spent more time perfecting my art instead of hurrying up to get up with half assed pieces. Kids today take this for granted. If they have a chill layup they go there and tag the trains with markers and/or write stupid shit. I’ve crossed out so much crap this year it’s ridiculous.
Is graffiti a part of hip hop?
Graffiti is a huge part of hip-hop.
Do you have to be a hip hopper in order to paint?
Not at all. It seems to me that the only people wearing baggy pants, sideways hats, graffiti label clothing, rocking a FEF (fifth element face), are graffiti groupies and TOYS. I have yet to meet a writer that is all about hip hop. That doesn’t mean that their aren’t writers like that, but it’s just been my experience that most writers don’t fit this stereotype. In Cincinnati this year i remember Daze signing this kids blackbook and this kid was talking to him about hip hop and Daze was like “fuck hip hop, I listen to megadeath, slayer… anything to do with the devil.” Sigh was pumping some country music while he was painting. Graffiti is a part of hip-hop because it was adopted by hip hoppers, but the two don’t have to correlate.
Is the hip hop graffiti connection still relevant or are the two separate entities?
It seems to only be relevant in the context that it has a history with hip hop. I think that graffiti has transcended the confines that hip hop puts on it. Graffiti doesn’t have to be a backdrop anymore. It’s everywhere because all sorts of people are doing it for different reasons.
What do you personally get out of painting?
For me it’s about being out at night and creating. My favorite times painting are walking to and back from the freights with Theory and talking about life, laying in ditches, jumping fences, being scared, watching the northern lights, smelling railroad ties on a hot summer day. The trains yard is a second home because it offers and escape from the real world. Graffiti has become a sort of modern day fairy tale. Stories get told about writers, myths are told and retold. It’s a fantasy world of sorts where people with funny names like Kaput and Worm become heroes because of the way they apply paint to a giant metal surface. It’s quite comical but at the same time it feels good to be a part of this subculture.
Do you like painting trains or walls better? Why?
Trains Trains Trains. Trains are a way to get your art seen all over the continent. They have an aura about them that’s hard to describe. I am starting to enjoy walls more and more but i’m not one for legal work and i have no desire to do illegal walls in the city i’m from, it’s too small and the walls have ears.
Have you ever had any close calls with the Law or been caught?
I’ve had a few close calls but have never been caught. Me and Theory are real real careful but the close calls remind us that we aren’t invisible. I don’t want to get too specific but one time we had justed finished painting a nice gondola and a cop car pulled in on us. They were maybe 20 feet behind me, Theory and boner and they flicked their lights on. Theory said he wasn’t going to talk to them and turned around. We all started running and lucky for us the couldn’t drive over the tracks. The cops surrounded the area we were in but we managed to sneak our way out with some macgyver like tactics.
Are legal walls good for graffiti or do they take away from the overall experience?
I don’t think they are good for graffiti at all. They are fun to do once you’ve become established and you want to showcase your talent and I find it fun to paint a legal wall now and then just because i don’t have to look over my back every few seconds and i can push myself more so than if i was doing a freight at 2 in the morning with no light. I guess there are your writers that only do legals and love the fact that they can have their phone numbers on business cards and exploit the art because there are people putting up the real in your face graffiti. I have no interest in making money off graffiti.
Who would you like to paint with?
I would love to paint a wall production with Case, Virus, Dyske, Giant, Alone, Revok. I would love to bomb with Sake, Revok, and Sever. I would love to rock fr8’s with Lewis, Fokis, Vent 26, and any of the midwest writers that influenced me a great deal when i was getting started, Kahn, Spel. Monk, Mber, Nimz, Heat, Sempz, Abuse.
Do you listen to music while you paint?
When i do walls i bring the little blaster but not when i paint trains. You gotta stay on your toes.
Who are you favourite hip hop and other musical artists?
Well this is a loaded question. Let’s start with hip hop, Subtitle, Awol One, Circus, Existereo, Xololanxinco, The League, the whole Shapeshifter collective, Radioinactive, Emanon, CVE, Grouch, Epic, Restiform Bodies, Buck 65, Neila, Erosadis, Jonathon Toth From Hoth, Mr Lif, Anti-Pop Consortium..the list could go on.. i also listen to the classics on a regular basis, Black Sheep, Boogie Down, Wu-Tang, KMD, Tha Dogg Pound, Mobb Deep, Goodie Mobb, Eazy-E. Other music that gets regular rotation is Coldplay, The Shins, Minor Threat, Modest Mouse, Eek-a-mouse, Danzig, Slayer, SNFU, Nirvana, Dayglo Abortions, Leadbelly, Pearl Jam, Misfits, Pantera. Bad Religion.. these are some of my favourites.
Who were some of the writers that you looked up to in your earlier days?
Besides the local guys it was Nace(RIP), Rime, Ces, Per, Virus, then a few years later guys like Cameo, Kaput, Sebo, Fokis.
Do you still look up to other artists or has that worn off as they are you peers?
I have respect for a lot of other artists.. it’s a different kind of respect than i used to have. I appreciate the friendships i have with people i have met through graffiti and once you put a face to these writers your perceptions change, i’ve been lucky enough to meet writers that are grounded and sincere. You realize that you can’t hold some of these so called “kings” to high on a pedestal because you don’t know them. You can appreciate a writers art but at the same time you have to realize that you don’t know him/her and for all you know they could be the hugest asshole and beat their cat while feeding chocolate to their neighbors dog. So i guess it’s appreciation on a different level, i wouldn’t be caught dragging my blackbook around to the local graffiti convention to get Dope1 to tag it up.
What do you hate about graffiti and/or hip hop?
I hate the attitude that comes along with graffiti, but it never seems to be the ones that are good at it with the attitudes. I love hip hop so much i hate to say it. I hate the arrogance that comes along with kids listening to underground hip hop. Kids rocking the FEF face because they discovered living legends on the internet a few years ago is ridiculous. I hate when kids get overprotective of hip hop and complain about commercialism. I hate talking about hip hop to anyone else but my friends. I hate the word hip hop.
Do you have a good story that you have experienced because you paint that you would like to share?
I think the best times are when you realize that graffiti is a whole lot of nothing that means so much to so few. I’ve felt this feeling when i met and painted with Sebo, Kaput, Crum, Acrow, and Kwiz. I’ve felt this watching Reset paint a train while the sun was coming up, and again while spending an afternoon painting a wall with Fatso. It’s an overwhelming feeling that i take for granted sometimes but when i reflect on it i feel extremely lucky to be a part of something big.
In closing, any shout outs you’d like to give?
The infamous missa, the fr8ophiles swim team (we’re taking gold next year!), tic tac, shame, sebo, bethone, afex, crum, beast, phsyk, vohs, pesto, each2 (oh madison), jordan at urban blend magazine, factor, forgetful jones, nolto, chaps, chuck luggage, epic, soso, muneshine(uuuhh), mike c, brando calrizion, leg, jarrett b, adam ruckus, cincy, and last but not least…