Often one of the four elements is a gateway to the rest â€“ especially in the case of the stepchildren of hip-hop, b-boying and graffiti. For Rough/Remi, a schoolmateâ€™s Electro 4 record was the beginning â€“ â€œBreak dancing and popping shortly followed,â€ says Remi, â€œand about two months later, I was witness to my first piece of graffiti on another record sleeve.â€
After seeing seminal Cooper/Chalfant book, Subway Art, â€œmy life was never the same,â€ says Remi. He drew his biggest influence from Futura, â€œmainly in attitude, not really style,â€ he says. â€œI just loved the way he broke the rules., but then I suppose there arenâ€™t really any rules anyway?â€
Perhaps â€“ but Remi did break one cardinal rule early on â€“ donâ€™t get caught. He and two friends had just painted their first wall ever in South-east London. â€œWeâ€™d finished it in the daytime and walked back to my friendâ€™s house,â€ says Remi. Problem was, his buddy couldnâ€™t get his key in the door â€“ just as the po-po were rolling around the corner. â€œSuffice to say, the next thing was three 13 year-old boy sitting in a police station office waiting for our parents to come and give us hell,â€ he remembers. â€œSurprising that I carried on after that, really!â€
Remi also recently had the opportunity to work with a Subway Art contemporary featured in the companion film, Style Wars â€“ Mare 139. â€œHe and I totally clicked on the whole architectural thing,â€ says Remi â€“ who counts architecture and design as his biggest influences. â€œSo much so [that] weâ€™re planning an architecture-based show for next year together.â€ Remi also recommends the work of Zaha Hadid and Antoni GaudÃ â€“ â€œthose guys have pure style,â€ he says.
In 2000, Remi traveled to Perth, Australia with Juice 126 and System to paint a massive 33-metre long wall and do an exhibition alongside his good friend Stormie ADS. While painting a huge subway wall, Remi noticed debris falling from tiny drainage holes at the top. Stormie warned him to watch for redback spiders â€“ they sometimes fall out of these drainage holes â€“ and their bite can be fatal if not treated at a hospital in 30 minutes. â€œThen he told me, â€˜By the way, weâ€™re about an hour from the nearest hospital, so please try not to get bit!â€™â€ says Remi.
While crashing at Stormieâ€™s, Remi and System were about to hit the hay one night when System spotted something big and black moving very quickly across the floor. â€œWe turned on the light and went to war with the biggest cockroach Iâ€™ve ever seen in my life!â€ says Remi. â€œSystem smashed it with his shoe and it practically exploded.â€ After sourcing a dustpan and brush to dispose of the corpse, when they returned the insect was gone. â€œHow it managed to escape in its mangled condition is pure lunacy!â€
Eager to sample the beaches, Stormie gave Remi this warning: if you can see dolphins about 60 to 100 metres away, youâ€™ll be fine. â€œWhen I asked what he meant by this he told me that the sharks are scared of dolphins â€“ so they wonâ€™t hang around if there are dolphins about,â€ says Remi. â€œAll in all, Australia is an amazing country: beautiful beaches, hot sunny weather, millions of stars at night and cool, cool peopleâ€¦â€ he says. â€œBut what the adverts donâ€™t tell you is that thereâ€™s a host of insects and animals there just waiting for any golden opportunity to kill you!â€
Nonetheless, Remiâ€™s next exhibition is in Melbourne, Australia, at the Autopsy Gallery. He also has custom shoes being produced for J-Shoes and his book of black-book sketches, Rough Sketches, will be released later this year â€“ peep a sneak-preview at www.myspace.com/remski.