Street art tour of east London – part 1

Last week I found myself with a spare hour or so while down in London, so armed with a bottle of Scotland’s finest hangover cure, and embracing a refreshing but biting morning wind, I took myself on a mini tour of some of Shoreditch’s best street art spots.

Scrutton Street…

Starting and finishing at Scrutton Street, I wandered my way without any real plan and stumbled across some great new (well, new since my last visit in April) pieces from some familiar and less familiar names. Check out the best of my mini tour below, and use the map beneath if you want to retrace my steps the next time you’re in town.

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Invader’s Star Wars mosaic was one I came across online back in May, but it was a real thrill to see it in the flesh (or in the…ceramic), with the sun just beginning to rise. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Flash Invaders street art collector app installed which I reviewed a month or so ago, if I did that would have been the perfect opportunity to open my account. Regardless, I really like this 8-bit take on a classic piece of movie history, and it’s a considerable size for a mosaic piece when compared to his smaller original alien artworks.



Holywell Lane…

Along Holywell Lane I made a point of stopping by the Village Underground showcase wall. Some seriously impressive murals have covered this staple of the London scene over the last few years. Martin Ron, and Nick Kuszyk most recently making the most of the sizable canvas.

This piece by Ian Stevenson is characteristic of his satirical illustrations, and was created with support from sworn enemy of the Fox network, Russell Brand. The revolution will not be televised…but it may well be photographed.


Bethnal Green Road…

Strolling on along Bethnal Green Road, and with the hangover beginning to subside, I couldn’t miss this colourful creation from Barcelona’s El Pez. His signature fish are simple but effective and stood out among some of the other pieces that fill the walls of this part of town.


Sclater Street…

I moved on along Sclater Street and began walking down graffiti mecca, Brick Lane. Too early, but only just, for a curry I settled for a bagel and stumbled across a two-legged piece of toast within this vibrant potion from Artista*, in the doorway of an empty shop.


Bacon Street…

As I began to move further down Brick Lane, I remembered about the spaces on Bacon Street round from the Sclater Street car park. This short stretch always seems to have some of the finest work on it, so I swung round for an unplanned, but essential, detour. Roa has left his mark here, and in the past the likes of Dscreet have also painted the walls too. This new work from Alexis Diaz ensured that reputation remained untarnished, with such staggering detail I got up closer for a few zoomed in snaps.




Spin round 180 degrees and you’ll be greeted by a piece of aboriginal inspired art from Aussie Matt Adnate. The subject of this painting is Djalu Gurruwiwi who is arguably the most important Australian musician alive today.

According to the project Dscreet was working on when we last spoke, “Baywara: The Film” that documented the life of Djalu, “he is a spiritual custodian of Australia’s most iconic instrument, the Didgeridoo. He carries with him ancient songlines that have documented our planet’s history for the past 60,000 years. Though Djalu is highly respected by those familiar with his music, he has yet to receive the wider recognition that he deserves.”

This almost photo-real piece mirrors the importance of Djalu  Gurruwiwi with it’s intense level of detail.


Over on the east side of Brick Lane, Bacon street continues, and holds this hidden gem from one of my favourite stencil artists, C215 aka Christian Guemy. This portrait is the perfect example of his style, not usually in your face (although he has worked on a number of larger scale projects recently) but hidden away, which makes it all the more satisfying to stumble upon.

Beneath it lies a piece from Paul ‘Don’ Smith whose similar work will crop up in part 2 of this blog (to be posted shortly) as the tour continued from Brick Lane onto Hanbury St, looping back round over Shoreditch High St and onto where it started back on Scrutton St.





UKB Guest Mix #23 – ZeitlupenUwe [UKB023]

Let’s slow things down…

Part of Marcel Knopf’s Clap Your Hands house label, and head of the popular OpenAir To Go events held in Berlin parkland, ZeitlupenUwe‘s recent mixes are always among my favourite.

Spinning a blend of downtempo house and slowmo techno, this mix is no different, recorded live at Friedrichshain’s ‘Kosmonaut’.

ZeitlupenUwe’s OpenAir To Go project brings the parks of Berlin to life musically. Invitees are asked to bring radios of varying size, with the DJ transmitting his mix via the ‘free’ frequency which they tune into. A completely DIY surround sound soundsystem! Such a fantastic concept deserves its own fantastic podcast series, it can be found here – Open Air To Go podcast series.

As a popular DJ with Clap Your Hands, a young Berlin based label founded by Marcel Knopf, Uwe’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The label has become a brand for a rough and modern approach to house music demonstrating the label’s diverse outlook without losing the focus on what is really important – the dancefloor.


Will & Held talking ‘Ours’ EP

Last time Will Berridge spoke to UKB, the young DJ and producer based in Leeds had just released his debut EP ‘Make a move’ on Save You Records and was preparing to promote his track ‘We Could’ [Octafiga EP] released on the Sccucci Manucci imprint.

A lot’s changed since then, with a couple of new EPs on the way this time co-produced with Held as well as new solo work, a stack of unreleased gems, and one pretty special remix tied down too. This all feels like a ticking career timebomb.

We got to chatting about the change to his music over the past year, as well as a different approach to production, and details of his latest release.

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Talking about the ‘Ours’ EP, he’s obviously very excited about the release. “It’ll be a double sided 12″ with 3 tracks from Will & Held and also features a remix from Prime Numbers head honcho, boss man, big dog…Trus’me!  It’s being released by Save You Records’ new vinyl-only project ‘Spinning Plates’ . It’s the first of a string of collaborative releases planned for this year.”

The process of working in collaboration with Held is relatively new one which you could say, based on previous experiences, he might not have been particularly looking forward to.

Will explained, “Rich (Held) has worked quite heavily with numerous producers under an old alias but I have previously found the process difficult.  But this new project felt incredibly organic and natural so producing new pieces was never a difficult process.”

“The plan was to combine the texture, depth and weight of dub techno with a stronger grounding in ambience & musicality”

“The collab came from us both working at a sound design company called Samplephonics.  We both figured it could be a good idea given we have mixed musical backgrounds yet both of us have the same admiration for texture and progressive music.”

“The production process was a combination of musical experimentation with numerous ‘jam’ sessions to find our sound. We’ve spent a large amount of time building tracks using analogue synths and random bits of outboard which eventually became integral to the final sound.”

And what is this new sound, I hear you ask…?

“The plan was to combine the texture, depth and weight of dub techno with a stronger grounding in ambience & musicality. Coming from different backgrounds has allowed the music to move in directions neither us of us had previously ventured in. ”

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This is definitely evident, particularly when comparing this new work with Held to his last EP ‘Make a Move’. The former having a wider range of styles, and being more upbeat in many ways. ‘Ours’ has the feel of a maturer production, darker and more complex than what has gone before, blazing a trail for future releases. His appreciation of “that dusty old Detroit sound with flabby kick drums and lazy synths” (best description I’ve heard in a while) continually influences his work.  Of course, that’s not to say one EP is better than the other, but they are definitely very different creatures.

“My individual music is going deeper & dubbier still.  I’m currently sitting on a lot of material waiting to find the right label”

“Yeah I’d agree this project is slightly more consistent than previous releases.  Having not released a solid body of work for 14 months I guess this is the next stage in where I want to be musically.”

“My individual music is going deeper & dubbier still.  I’m currently sitting on a lot of material waiting to find the right label.”

His unmastered track NaCl(aq) that appeared briefly on Soundcloud for a couple of weeks was an exciting glimpse of what’s to come. I got my ears around a couple of those productions he’s been spending time on too, and was really impressed by what I heard.

It’s doubtlessly a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ these will get picked up…

At the time of writing Trus’me was still working on the remix, so it’s hard to comment on the full EP as a piece of work, but what did stand out for me was the final track, ‘Tape’. I wanted to find out a little more about this one and how it had come about – it seemed like the process of creating this track might have been different to the 2 (Buoys & Ours).

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“Tape for us re-enforces everything we’d learnt from the previous two compositions.”

“Many of the sounds that we attempted to add to the piece began to take away from the emotion and notes hence the piece was left predominantly bare.  It was quite a swift process but took a lot of restraint to not just keep adding sounds for the sake of it.”

“The ability to recognise when something is or isn’t done has been crucial throughout the project”

“The project caught us both at the same point in our musical progression so the compositions were never a case of compromise for either producer.  The biggest thing that we’ve both learnt is patience.  Attempting to implement so many different ideas into each tracks but still trying to ensure some form of continuity has forced us to be very appreciative of each other’s work.

“The ability to recognise when something is or isn’t done has been crucial throughout the project.  We’ve been implementing this ethos ever since.”

It was great to catch up with Will again this year and find out what’s been happening. The release of this latest EP and more solo and collaborative work with Held means the next 12 months will be very interesting. The tracks are also garnering support from the likes of Mounter & Ste Roberts on their recent Rinse FM show (below, 50 mins in), who labelled the track ‘Buoys’ as “something a bit special” and “one of the best records of the last 10 years”.

Hopefully next time we hook up we can bring a UKB x Will x Held collaboration of our own, fingers crossed that’s something we can deliver…


Getting into Dubl Trubl with Dscreet

Dub TrublThis week I caught up with London based artist Dscreet for an interview to find out about the work he’s been putting out lately, as well as collaborating with other artists to curate the highly anticipated Dubl Tubl show, launching later this week at Urban Spree in Berlin. The show brings together a staggering 80 street artists to collaborate in pairs, with some very interesting combinations.

Although perhaps more commonly known among street art fans as the man behind the ‘electrified owls’ that perch around parts of east London, he’s worked with a range other media – film, interactive design, painting, sculpture and installation.


Dscreet first experienced graffiti, as many do, through friends who painted. “We used to tag all the spots we skated and at some point drawing and piecing became more important to me than skating”. He later moved onto his trademark character, “the owl is a really loaded image, it means different things to me and the more I learn about owl symbology around the world the more I realise how diverse the interpretations are.” [Interview with Street Art London, 2012]

In between filming in Australia for “Baywara: The Film” and setting up at Revaler Str., he took some time to shoot the breeze with UKB.

UKB: You mention you got into street art now via skating, painting & tagging etc, but how did you come to settle on the character you have now?

D: I was doing letter throwups but I grew up drawing cartoons and just wanted to incorporate that character style into a quick iconic throwie.

Owls are my favourite animals and they already look like caricatures of a bird, so they fit the bill. I love painting those dudes.

UKB: Have you ever felt like changing style completely and starting over? DJs/Producers start to release stuff under different aliases, can a street artist do the same?

D: Yea I already did. I used to do really technical wildstyles, detailed characters and experimental abstract pieces, played with 3D rendering and all that good stuff, but it got boring and so I reinvented my style and went back to basics, a lot more fun. People who used to dig my shit dubl hate it now, I think that’s the sign of a good move.

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UKB: Where would people be most likely to find you/your work in London just now? Any favourite parts of the city to paint at the moment?

D: Mostly East, a bit played out but I still like it there.

UKB: As a tagger back in the day, what are your thoughts on the so called ‘internet-age’ of street art and graffiti? Good or bad? A natural progression? Does the internet /street art blogs take away some of the appeal of street art?

D: Its all good, the internet’s cool, I often use it. You can also walk the street and kick cans in the gutter on your way to the internet caf.

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UKB: In an interview with Street Art London blog a few years back you mentioned that you thought “graffiti legends will be taught about in school”. How much closer do you think that is to becoming a reality given the number of street art based shows/exhibitions art auctions there are now?

D: It’s already happening, I get so many uni students writing and asking to do interviews for their latest art thesis and I’m not even a “Grafffiti Legend” so I know they are studying the big guns at school or at least incorporating those artists into their research.

UKB: You’re stranger to diverse collaborations having worked with Connor Harrington and Lush among others. What do you think makes a good collaborative piece? Does painting as a duo introduce any fear about screwing it up for your partner?! And, do you have any particular favourites of your own from the past?

D: Good collabs; just being pals who can have a laugh at each other and bounce ideas, it’s best if you bring completely different styles and ideas to the table and embrace the fact that someone else is way better than you at certain things. The duo thing actually frees you from all that anxiety about fucking it up ‘cus you can just blame the other dude, everybody’s happy.

“…the duo thing actually frees you from all that anxiety about fucking it up ‘cus you can just blame the other dude, everybody’s happy…”

Past favourite; the DUBL TRUBL streetfighter collab with Reka (below).

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UKB: Dubl Trubl sounds like it’ll be a blast – why did you decide to host the show in Berlin & Urban Spree? Will it make use of the big outdoor space, or will it be indoor? Or both?

D: Yea it’s gonna be a smash boom banger. Why Urban Spree? Because it’s the best fucking space in the universe and perfect to host the best fucking exhibition ever in the universe. Everything is in imminent danger of being “arted”.

“… [Dubl Trubl is] a bad idea that I fished out of the ether during a transcendental meditation session with David Lynch, the beast put it there….”

UKB: Where did the idea come from? Organising it must have been some serious ball ache?! What’s been the most fun & least fun (apart from answering these questions…) part of the whole experience?

D: Oh yea all these flakey fuckers are aching my balls to the max, it was a bad idea that I fished out of the ether during a transcendental meditation session with David Lynch, the beast put it there. Actually its been relatively painless so far…I know I’m speaking too soon.

I dig it when people tell me they had fun doing their collabs, if they’re having a laugh I know the piece is gonna be sick and loose and not the norm.

Least fun? We don’t speak about that here…

UKB: How did you pick the pairings ? Which of the pairings are you most looking forward to seeing complete a piece?

D: I chose people who despise each other and knew it would be difficult to spend time together with hatred oozing through their fake clenched smiles. I specifically look forward to seeing Timba and Twoone’s collab, because Timba told me it’s the best thing since Arnie immortalized the phrase “get to the chopper!”, he’s basically set himself up for a huge fall…

UKB: Any surprises/plans for the opening night? What should people expect?

D: Uber-long minimal techno sets, currywurst, glowsticks and Peruvian energy drinks, if that doesn’t get you excited then you’re dead inside.

I tend to agree with him there! Sounds like it’ll be a great exhibition and opening. If you’re in Berlin between the 18th of September and 26th October go check out the 40 collaborations of street art’s finest. Names like Reka, Lush, Thierry Noir, Nychos and Dave the Chimp will give you an idea of the standard!

In the meantime, check the video above of Skewville, who while unable to make any work for the upcoming exhibition, found 2 dead rats instead…


UKB Guest Mix #22 – Christian Schiemann [UKB022]

Dresden born Christian Schiemann [Circus Night Records / Kanja Records] steps up for UKB022, with something a little different to his signature tech house / deep tech sound.

Now living in Zürich, the DJ/producer first caught our ears over of the Friede Freude Freitag podcast, and having checked out his first EP ‘Somewhere Else’ on Circus Night Records, I set about securing a mix from him as soon as I could.

Christian describes this as “really trippy and definitely an after hours mix” – it certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Well-known on the Swiss circuit as one half of Hug & Schiemann, he is also part of a group of DJs and producer known as called Les Enfants Terribles Zürich or L.E.T. Zürich who also host their own parties, highly anticipated among Zürich’s in-the-know crowd.

Having collaborated with good friend Phil Cole to record ‘Sometimes’ on Kanja Records to widespread acclaim, the pair have started a new project called Novotek, and released ‘Drunk and Smoke’ on Raw Level Records.

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So what’s coming from Christian?

“At the moment I am working on a lot of things, a remix for Moon Records, a remix for Kathi Busch together with Nicole Hug and my new EP ‘Lora’ is coming very soon on Forward Education, which includes remixes from Kitzt, Rob Pearson and more.”

If you like what you hear, be sure to keep track of his upcoming releases via Facebook and his Soundcloud channel.


Jef Aérosol Interview: The Man Behind the Arrow

There are probably not too many 57 year olds who can claim to have been consistently painting in galleries and on streets for the past 30+ years. But there’s at least one out there who most definitely can. Nantes-born – Jef Aérosol.

His stencil art comes predominantly in black, grey and white. Usually accompanied by his trademark strong graphic element – the red arrow – which is both a nod to urban signage and a tool for composition (but he’d rather you drew your own conclusion on its particular meaning), his work is among some of the most notable of the past 3 decades.

Having started painting in this way during the stencil art ‘boom’ of the 1980s, his reputation has grown like those of his contemporaries, Blek le Rat and Speedy Graphito. Drawing inspiration from pop, rock & folk iconography of his youth, his paintings primarily focus on humans, who he believes act as ‘silent witnesses’ once he leaves, communicating with the passers-by.

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“Fisheye”, a self portrait of sorts – Jef Aerosol

 A number of them are self-portraits (he jokes that these have led to accusations of being a “narcissistic megalomaniac!”) allowing for continued dialogue with the city and its inhabitants. Questions and statements are often evoked between the lines, either in French of English, which accompany his art. Though his works are generally poetically, rather than politically, motivated.

With a packed calendar of projects throughout 2014 (including his most recent in Rio de Janeiro) there doesn’t appear to be much letting up from Jef – so I was grateful for him finding the time to share his thoughts on everything from creating art with photocopiers whilst employed as a nightwatchman to painting large scale murals across the globe.

UKB: Before the stencils you’re probably most associated with, your career began through copy-art (using photocopiers to create artworks) which is gloriously retro now. What attracted you to that medium, and has it influenced your stencil work?

JA: Copy-art was the thing in the late 70s and early 80s. Using a tool that wasn’t made for creating art was quite interesting. But, I don’t think it influenced my stencil work, it was something totally different, except for the “speedy” aspect. I have lots of examples, but none are scanned. This is one among the millions of things I have to do before I die!

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Jef Aerosol’s stencils appeared in Rio after his recent exhbition

UKB: So, you cut your first stencil in ’82 in Tours and describe the night you painted them all over as the moment you were ‘hooked’. How does that feeling compare to the feeling you get when painting now, is it still strong, or has it changed?

JA: Feelings do change with age and experience, of course, but I still feel excited every time I paint an image! The attraction to stencil and spraying was essentially because it was all new, at the time, and it was also directly connected to my age (25 years old) and to the period (the early 80s) etc.

But even if the sensations, the ideas, the feelings, the context, the age and period are different, I still enjoy using that technique today even though I also love some other techniques and tools.

 “…I still feel excited every time I paint an image…”

UKB: I’m interested to find out your opinions of the web-based age of street art. You mention that you are trying to find early imagery of your first works – how do you feel about the age of the internet and its relationship with street art? Does the ability to share street art not on the street dilute the art? Do you believe some of the joy in street art that it’s not available to everyone everywhere, and specific to the people of that place and time?

JA: It’s an interesting question (edit: one he’s answered a few times before!) – so it would take a long time to develop. To put it in a nutshell, internet has changed everything! It has its excellent sides but also its drawbacks. I love the idea that everybody can share everything with everybody, but I don’t always like the fact that the web can level things down.

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Jef Aerosol at the In Situ Art Festival in Aubervilliers, France. (Image: Gregory Lacroix)

UKB: Many think of you as one of the pioneers of stencil art alongside the likes of Blek le Rat. Do you feel there is an associated pressure that comes with this, or even an expectation? How do you make sure you’re constantly stimulated and therefore make fresh and exciting work for over 30 years?

JA: There’s no pressure with that title at all, but nothing really “special” either…I don’t really care about the hierarchy, age, fame, etc. As long as you follow your own road and feel you still have to do what you do, there’s no other choice. I don’t think I control everything, Art is a power that is stronger than the rest.

 “…I never speak of my works in terms of pleasure. Creation can be painful…”

UKB: Would you say you create art for yourself, or for others? What do you think makes a good piece of stencil art, and are there any works you have been particularly pleased with, or not?

JA: Art is meant to be shared, but it isn’t ‘for me’ or ‘for others’, it’s much more complex than that! It’s just a way of understanding life, of staying alive. In the same way, I never speak of my works in terms of pleasure. Creation can be painful.

I have never ever been able to say that I was pleased or not with a piece. I never like or dislike my works – they are part of myself, of my life, of my art. It’s hard to explain. Painting is not fun!

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A portrait of Jef Aerosol by stencil artist and fellow Frenchman, C215

UKB: Many others have since used stencil art and achieved fame in the street art world, most notably Banksy, C215…How does it feel to have potentially influenced such artists? Can you say you’ve been influenced in turn by them, or other street artists working just now?

JA: I don’t know if I have influenced anybody. I suppose so, as I get a lot of very touching messages from young and not-so-young stencil artists who tell me how much I have been an influence to them. It sounds a bit surreal. I have been and still am influenced by lots of artists.

Actually, everybody and everything influence me! Some young artists are so damn good, I feel very humble, old and shy when I see their work…

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‘Shhh’ or ‘chuuutt’ at Place Igor Stravinsky, a stone’s throw from the Centre Pompidou

UKB: One of my favourite pieces of yours is the large ‘hush’ or ‘chuut’ piece at the Pompidou (painted as part of a larger team). Does the finished article feel like it isn’t quite as much yours as if you paint it alone?

JA: Size doesn’t matter at all! I don’t feel more satisfied when I paint a mural than when I paint a lifesize stencil on a wall, or a small portrait on a canvas. These are three different things :- muralism – street stencils – gallery and museum works. It’s all mine.

“…when I paint without permission, it’s always with great respect for the context, the people and the places…”

UKB: You mention that you have an appreciation of consistency of style – do you think you will ever move away from stencils? Are there any other media you’d like to work in but haven’t?

JA: I had been painting and drawing, collaging, copyarting, polaroiding, inking, acrylicing, crayoning and oiling etc…. before I started stencilling! I still enjoy all those techniques, but life is short, days are only 24hrs long and weeks have only 7 days. I have stopped playing music on stage and in bands, recording and touring because of time. I have stopped teaching too.

I’d love to be 30 or 40 years old again to have the time and energy to start new things again. I’d love to have several lives so that I could dedicate one to filming and making pictures, one to music, one to travelling, one to painting, one to writing…

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Mural by Jef Aerosol in Bordeaux, France

UKB: Where do you go from here – what are your plans for the rest of 2014? You’re still involved prolifically with many exhibitions both solo and with other contemporary artists – will you ever stop painting outdoors? Do you feel that your artistic status helps you to paint outdoors without permission easier than others, and therefore helps you continue this work?

JA: 2014 and 2015 are now fully booked and several projects are already being planned for 2016. Outdoor or indoor, I enjoy both. The only thing is age, health etc… I still have the energy but the body doesn’t always allow! I know that I should slow down the pace, as my wife, friends and doctors tell me. But, as long as I can paint, wherever that may be, I’ll keep doing so.

When I paint without permission, it’s always with great respect for the context, the people and the places. I have never had problems so far. But, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with my status, in fact.

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Mural painted during his time in Rio recently (Image: Gile Smith)

UKB: How would you say street art scenes varies within France, say from Marseille to Paris to Lille?

JA: I haven’t painted in Lille and Paris for ages, and I haven’t painted much in Marseille either. I don’t know much and don’t really care about the ‘street art scene’, to be honest! The terms “Steet art” and “urban art” are quite recent, they started to appear in 2003 / 2004, I think.

Labels and categories don’t mean much to me. I prefer “muralism” when I paint murals, “contextual art” when I paint my characters on the street, “stencil art” if you want to insist on the technique used… In fact this is just ART and it doesn’t need to be categorized, does it?