12 Questions: Low BrosBerlin based artists and Weird crew members, the Low Bro’s are opening “Menace Beach Pt. 2” this Friday, May 2nd at OZM Gallery in Hamburg. One not to be missed for those who are local. The brothers also recently collaborated with Company Projekt on limited edition skate decks. We look forward to seeing what they get up to in 2014. A big thank you to these guys for taking time out to answer some questions amidst preparation for their show.
Why Low Bros?
One reason was that we’re brothers, so we were looking for a name which represents that. In our childhood and youth we loved American comics just like the ones from IMAGE, MARVEL and DC. In the first years of doing graffiti, we often painted characters from those comic books. Also skateboarding always played a big roll in our lives and with it, the legendary designs of Wes Humpston and Jim Philipps for example. This close connection to the Lowbrow art leads us to the decision, to change Lowbrow into Low Bros, to show up were we’re from, no matter were we’re going.
Growing up in Hamburg, were there any writers in particular that influenced you?
Oh yeah, Hamburg has a lot of super good writers! Important for us has been Paco aka AnusOne and the rest of our TPL crew . Heis and Tasek have also been a good inspiration at that time.
How do you compare painting in Germany to anywhere else?
You can’t say that graffiti in Germany is like this or that, cause cities like Hamburg, Berlin and Munich are just too different to reconcile them. Munich has some really good writers in it’s history, but nowadays it seems that there is not that much going on on the streets. Quite boring. A very conservative and clean city (even if it’s looking nice with all the old buildings) with a lot of cops who might stop you and search for any illegal stuff, just because you look a bit different. Berlin is completely different. It’s big and dirty and the streets seem like a playground to everyone.
There are hardly no official hall of fames but it has a lot of abandoned buildings and secret spots to explore. The people usually don’t care that much if you paint somewhere in the streets. Hamburg is like a mixture of both cities, with it’s very clean parts, but with some more alternative corners and options to paint legally, even if it could be much more. It’s the second biggest city in Germany right after Berlin, but the center where everything’s happening is quite small and there are a lot of eyes on everything what’s going on. So you don’t have the same feeling of freedom like in Berlin. A big gain is the “Gängeviertel”, around twelve occupied historic houses in the middle of the city, surrounded by modern buildings. There’s a lot of space for all kinds of subcultures, with a lot of artist studios, exhibitions, concerts, lectures and options to paint outside. Definitely worth to go there if you visit Hamburg!
Any crew shout outs?
The Weird – How did that come to be?
We have been to several events where we always met people of the nowadays Weird crew. In our conversations with the others we found out, that we often met the same painters before. One day Nychos invited most of us to Vienna. Together we painted five walls within five days. That meant we hadn’t had a lot of time to prepare ourselves. After five minutes of making a plan we ran to our estate which was full of cans and hit the wall. We’ve been surprised how good the common working was and how good the different styles matched together, even if the paintings content and look was often super weird. Due to this, we decided to name ourselves The Weird after meeting up with all the other members at another festival.
Any places you have visited that you have loved painting in?
We had some really good experiences in Bangkok. We were given a bigger wall than we usually should get last minute so we had more space to fill in the same amount of time. Because of that we needed to spend about 12 hours a day at the mural with 35°C and bright sunshine on it. In the first days, the people seemed to be very skeptical and couldn’t understand why some whities like us were making these efforts. But later we got in contact with all kinds of interested visitors: students, school girl fans, residents who constantly brought us something to drink and food, eight year old street kids and what most impressed us, an old lady who lived near by. She cooked for us every day, fixed up our mosquito bites and once as our cherry picker broke down in 12 meter hight, she ran over the field, in front of our wall, with an eight meter high bamboo ladder, yelling:”I’ll rescue you”. She let us know that she’s our thai mama and even cried when we left the spot after six days. That was really an amazing experience.
Writers who have your attention right now.
Escif, Momo, TheWeird, Da Mental Vaporz
How has graffiti influenced the other work you create?
You can say that graffiti is the basis/foundation everything we do, stands on. We grew up with it and it’s rules and even found our style, while breaking with some of them. It influences us a lot in our thinking. It’s interesting to see, that a lot of street/urban artist, which come from another field like illustration, design or art, didn’t go to this “school” and because of that causes a lot of struggle between graffiti writer and street /urban artists. In illustration or design, people are very proud of their clients. The bigger the brand, the better. So they like to show up with whom they worked with and even have no problems to put a brands logo in their painting. That’s for example, a thing we never would do! We see that it’s necessary to cooperate with brands from time to time, because that makes big projects possible or allows you to pay rent for some more month in that you can concentrate on your own projects. But there is a difference, whether a brand spends money to support you in what you’re doing or whether they tell you what they would like to have in “their” painting, which colors you should use, etc.. In the graffiti scene, it would be absolutely considered “selling out”. Although it’s funny to observe that some “real” graffiti heads criticize that point and the next day, they paint vegetables and their style on a greengrocer’s for three cans and a lemonade… That’s almost no better than street/urban artists, who can’t see the beauty of a throw up or don’t have respect for those guys who risk their asses and tell the wall owner that they gonna paint something nicer on it and sometimes even include ideas of the owner to get the spot, that’s a shame!!!
Menace Beach was a fun concept, can you talk a little more about the video and is this something you guys are going to explore more?
We mentioned that something runs wrong in the skateboard scene, while observing solo skater with headphones in the ear, conceited 8 year old kids who jump the queue and teenager stressing you, while asking whether you got sponsored and if not they wanna know how far your sponsor-me tape is!… Back then the little skaters have been asking naively, whether you can do a 900°, nowadays they do a 1080° for real! But kids listen up! Like Consolidated Skateboards already tried to tell you: “Skateboarding is not a sport!”
So in our film project “Menace Beach” we try to revive the “skate spirit”of the good old days, to remind the people that skateboarding is not only about competition and sport shoes. We don’t particularly mean a special time here, cause every decade, whether the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s had their ups and downs. With our characters this eras merge together and so it comes into being something new. Skateboarding always made it out of the sinking, because of skater who hold the scene alive, even if there was no hype and the appropriate money that comes with it. With our paintings we tried to create a “gang” of skater who’s exactly like this. Through the common film project with Editude Pictures and Tobias Wüstefeld we filmed a clip, following the revolutionary Venice beach, named “Menace Beach”. In this film our fictive characters are rollin on oldskool boards which, due to their nature, can’t compete with the modern skateboard tricks. The focus lies therefore not on the level of difficulty of the tricks, but on the feeling of the cruisin and the subsequently skate session.
We definitely want to continue with “Menace Beach” and also bring our “Teen Wolves” to life, but this all might take a while, so stay tuned!
You guys are preparing for an upcoming show in May, can you tell us about this body of work?
The title of our show is “Menace Beach Pt.2”, cause we already made a show with skateboarding as content, last year in Berlin. This time we bring our skateboard gang the Death Sharks to the OZM Galerie in Hamburg. Our relation to skateboarding and the current evolution of the skate market, in that brands like Nike, Addidas and Red Bull investing millions to buy themselves into it and therefore force old settled skateboard brands and structures into the insolvency, which creates a two-class society in that only a hand full of skaters, that need to destroy themselves earns millions, while the rest who doesn’t want to sell themselves to the big players or can’t, needs to survive from peanuts, moved us to deal with this topic. The pressure to perform which is build up nowadays, has nothing to do with real skateboarding, which stands for freedom and self-awareness. In that the pressure, to get to your limit, only comes from yourself, not from a company! People in suit and tie dictate the “new rebells” what they need to consume. You were demonstrated that you need to show performance to be a “real” skater. But the truth is: you can either live from skating or for skating, but not both anymore! …besides your name’s Mike V.!
What else do you guys have on your radar for 2014?
Right after our exhibition in Hamburg we’re going to Munich to paint a mural in frame of the Work’n’Progress project. After that we hit back to Berlin to take part at the Project M at the Urban Nation, curated by Andrew Hosner from thinkspace gallery. Then Hamburg again, to paint the backside of the scoreboard of the Millerntor stadium, for this years Millerntor Gallery, which takes place inside the Stadium. The show is initiated by our good friends from Viva con Agua, a welfare group which supports drinking water projects all around Africa. In August we’ll paint two more murals, one at the Living Walls festival in Atlanta and one in Vancouver. Through the year we’ll also participate in several group shows together with Thinkspace, our gallery in L.A..
Who’s in your playlist right now?
While preparing our exhibition, we got some new favourrites we’re listening to: Gasinmylung from Spark Master Tape andDifferent Type Of Love from Ivry. Some tracks from Bones, Mo Kolours, as well as Lindsay Lowend an artist from Washington DC we’re working with. Also the whole range of songs from our friends Kiko King & creativemaze. You definitely have to watch out for them!
Video: Menace Beach: http://vimeo.com/70395398
Low Bros x Curiot: http://vimeo.com/70553294