A Short Interview with KERM UVA
KERM is part of the up and coming generation of graffiti writers in the nation’s capital. One of the main faces of the UVA crew, KERM is making a name for himself through his work in the streets. As well as seeing him up in D.C., you might also see some of his stuff on doors up in New York City, or on the streets of Philly. Enjoy this quick little interview with the man KERM.
First off, introduce yourself for all those who don’t know.
Well for those who don’t know me, I’m a pretty nice person. I grew up in Baltimore city by the shipyards, and although I was surrounded by graffiti I wasn’t really into it but it was always somewhat a part of my life, then moved here in my mid teens. I have a pretty solidly working class background, I speak German and Arabic, been writing for about three years, I’m definitely not a cat person, and I really like piecing.
Tell me a little about the UVA crew and how that all came about.
Us Vs. Authority or United Vandals Anonymous just came about as a result of me and my friend who writes MARK just trying to start up a crew of our own to be a part of and grow. It also came about as a result of just wanting something official to belong to, and not have to kiss a bunch of ass to belong to. Everyones gotta start somewhere and all the best people form their own anyways.
How did you get into writing?
I got into writing because I got one of those “Sticker Bomb” books as a gift from someone one year and really liked how people were combining creativity and illegality if that’s a word haha, and just put the stickers everywhere. I got into making my own, but then sort of realized that street art is cool and all but graffiti is much more easy access and nobody really takes you too seriously unless you have some type of degree and can pull off pretty high profile shit. So I started writing my initials on shit, then tried a bunch of different cheesy names. Sometimes I would bring nail polish remover and a rag with me after doing a shitty tag on a sign just to wipe it off because I hated how it looked. Within a few months of that time in my life though I started exploring in the city solo hugging the train lines and finding surfaces to hit up with my little silver sharpies and Do Em Dirty mops. I had a remedial English class with this kid who writes TURK now, he used to write STONER. We both sucked at writing at the time but he introduced me to walking the tracks and getting up along the way so that was pretty cool. Then I guess over time I just changed my name again and again and met up with other writers who put me onto better spots like the redline, warehouses, etc…
Who would you say are some of your influences?
My main influence I’d have to say is PEAR, above anything else. The cool sort of retro funk he brings to his pieces really inspire me. My friends up in Philly inspire me. Half of the UVA crew is there basically. OATS, AMY, and CASUAL are some pretty cool people whose styles I really appreciate. My friends down here inspire me as well, like My homies BROKS and TURK. They hold it down. We’ve been through some crazy shit together and they’re better than me in some certain aspects so I like that I can learn from them too. NSF as well is a major influence for me as well. All the heads I saw growing up in Baltimore catch crazy spots but never met like SHAKEN, ELI, and CEDA, those guys are pretty sick.
What are your thoughts on the current graffiti scene in Washington D.C.?
The current scene here is alright. I feel like it’s always been sort of a dead split between bombers and piecers with the few who like doing both somewhere in the middle, a lot of the styles are the same, there’s a rich history and I love that, it’s mainly like… Residential? Here? So the spots aren’t as cool as they are in more industrial cities like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but they’re here. There’s a lot of over inflated egos down here in the district as well but I guess that just goes for anyone in this game, everyone is a loser to a certain degree here so they either get too much self-gratification out of how much they get up, or don’t care. I’ve been writing for a few years now and there are kids who’ve only been around for about one demanding respect like they’ve been doing it for twenty and are a staple of the city, it’s just funny to me though, but respect to them for doing their own thing however because we’re both part of the new generation of writers popping up. There are some funky styles down here in the DMV like the MTC crew. They’re dope, always burning shit. N4N is cool, so are 2DK and ATB, The scene here wouldn’t be what it is without those crews. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the short time I’ve been here, but I guess that’s how it is anywhere. Longevity is my goal I suppose, there’s plenty of people who go hard for a year or two then drop off the face of the earth, kinda like hits on the radio. There’s a lot of out of towners who come to the city and go harder than the locals do in a few weeks, even in a few nights. It’s pretty weird, but I like that. The smaller scenes in the counties surrounding DC are pretty cool too.
Any plans for the future?
Plans for the future? Travel, Paint, Travel, Paint, and Travel some more, not saying where but you’ll see before too long. Settle down somewhere, connect with people and maintain relevancy, stay close with my crew. Improve at graffiti, rack more. Mind my own business.
Any final words or shoutouts you want to give?
Shout out to my family in Ethiopia much love. Shout out to my lil cousins writing out in Addis Ababa. Shouts to AMY, CASUAL, OATS, TURK, BROKS, ZAP, NUGS, to those who keep it 8 more than 92 with me and don’t get caught up in all the shit talking that goes on. Real recognizes real. Shout out to the people who hate me and try to go over me yet I have never spoken a word to them and don’t have any legit reason to have an issue with me I hope you get over yourselves. Respect to those who keep open minds, and my thanks to you for this little interview.