Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UK graffiti artist INSA goes "All-Nation"

Earlier this month UK graffiti artist, INSA, made his national TV debut with an film bringing his signature legs and heels and bosoms to the living rooms of Channel 4 viewers.

Insa's directorial debut, "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places," featured as part of the Random Acts series which is a brave new short-form daily arts program which will showcase 260 specially commissioned three-minute films "chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity."

"Looking for..." is the second of five original artworks Channel 4 commissioned from Protein, a creative agency in London. Alongside INSA's images is music by beatmakers, Darkhouse Fam.

In Protein's words: "INSAʼs work, contrary to what some may think at first glance, speaks to an inquisitive and informed viewership. His beautiful women, large bottoms, oiled skin, gold chains, high heels or name brand sneakers serve as modern icons and symbols of our lavish, unsatisfying, and money obsessed lifestyles."  Watch the video and you decide.
"Television as art, rather than about art, Random Acts will enable a diverse supply of both established artists and emerging talent to create their own pieces, unmediated by presenters and unfettered by the conventions of conservative arts television. The short films will disrupt the schedule with content including, but not restricted to, spoken word, dance, animation, video art and music.
To ensure a diverse, surprising and consistently excellent supply of talent, we'll work with a group of creatives including Tate Media; youth media brand, Vice; cutting-edge dance company, Ballet Boyz, FACT, and some of the country's most imaginative production companies to create each and every Random Act." Random Acts, Channel 4

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 27, 2012

None of you are going to Kraftwerk!

When you think of hip hop where do the Germans rank? For the old skool b-boys, "Krautrock" pioneers Kraftwerk come top of mind. And don't forget the world's #1 b-boy event is run by Battle of the Year. Don't front of the Krauts!

Last week, tickets for Kraftwerk's concerts being held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York went on sale. No queuing up at a box office at the break of Black Friday style mayhem. No, this was a more civilized affair. Or so it seemed.

Man Machine overload Instead, tens of thousands of eager fans sat at their PCs at 12pm EST and proceeded to bombard the ShowClix service to get in on the "Kraftwerk-Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8." The result? A total meltdown of the ticket service, agitated fans and much venting on forums like BrooklynVegan about the debacle! Check out Craigslist New York for some funny rants too! (But watch out for the offer to sell tickets in exchange for an Alaskan pipeline.)

What did we miss out on? The Kraftwerk-Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 concert series is so named because Kraftwerk will hold court over eight day span, between April 10-17, and perform a selection of their studio Krautrock albums from "Autobahn" (1974) to "Tour de France Soundtracks" (2003).

Kraftwerk performance (credit: New York Times)

According to the New York Times, the performances will be in MoMA’s main atrium, which holds 450 people. THAT's TINY! The lucky showgoers will get an intimate full stage set, complete with 3-D video musical improvisation. I think only the nerds will notice those edits!
Tuesday, April 10, 8:30 p.m.
1 – Autobahn (1974)
Wednesday, April 11, 8:30 p.m.
2 – Radio-Activity (1975)
Thursday, April 12, 8:30 p.m.
3 – Trans Europe Express (1977)
Friday, April 13, 10:00 p.m.
4 – The Man-Machine (1978)
Saturday April 14, 8:30 p.m.
5 – Computer World (1981)
Sunday, April 15, 8:30 p.m.
6 – Techno Pop (1986)
Monday, April 16, 8:30 p.m.
7 – The Mix (1991)
Tuesday, April 17, 10:00 p.m.
8 – Tour de France (2003) 

What's missing? Their first four studio albums until 1974 are absent from the billing. But, on the seventh night fans are being served "The Mix," Kraftwerk's 1991 remix album, including remixes of Computerlove and Trans Europe Express.

Second Chance bid If you're in New York and weren't lucky enough to get tickets go see the exhibition at MoMA PS1. New York Times reports, "Kraftwerk’s past audio and visual materials — including the robots — and material from the concerts at the museum will be incorporated in a sound and visual installation at the new Performance Dome at MoMA PS1, from April 10 to May 14."

Performance Dome (credit: The L Magazine)

Some of my favorite Kraftwerk tunes and videos:

The Fearless Four hipped me to "Man Machine"

Boogalo Shrimp immortalized "Tour de France" for the b-boys!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pharrell at The Oscars

It's the start of Oscars weekend and it's been remixed by two of the best producers in the business: Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams!

Composer Hans Zimmer and hip hop super-producer Pharrell Williams joined forces as music consultants for The Oscars (credit: Los Angeles Times)
"I hadn't seen sheet music in 20 years. When I sat down at a piano and had to sight-read, I felt like I was back in high school," he said in a joint interview with Zimmer in Friday's Calendar section. But he proved a quick study --  "But they let me learn on the job and walk around and ask questions. The only thing I know how to do is feel, and a composer has to know what sound will elicit that feeling."
For the Oscars' commission, which involved composing for interludes and walk-ons and arranging segments of the five nominees for best film score, they had only one real rule — try everything. "We went crazy. We wrote new music for everything," Zimmer said during a lunch break between rehearsals in the Capitol studio. "Some people had told us that the Oscars score is all about repeating everything. But that's just not how we're built."

Zimmer and Williams kept mum on many of the score's specifics, though Zimmer did promise that "you might see some odd faces in the orchestra."

"There will be a few surprises — it's diverse and international in the way that only musicians can be," he added.
  Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams, LA Times
 Zimmer and Williams first worked together on the hit animation film, Despicable Me.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crash presents new subway inspired paintings

Crash has featured in some of the biggest graffiti art shows of our time - Whole in the Wall at Helenbeck and Art in the Streets at MoCA to name two I've been to.

His latest show, entitled Remnant Memories, opens on Friday 24th February and is a more modest affair hosted by Toy Tokyo in New York. But, this solo show will feature new works and a new aesthetic with paintings on aluminum and metal cutouts, watercolors and serigraphs. Expect to see Crash's distinctive comic book styling and bright cheerful color schemes. Go check it out if you're in town!

"This new group of paintings for my series, “Remnant Memories”, comes from my leaning on my early paintings on the subways for inspiration for my paintings on canvas through out my career.

The subways bring a rush of memories to mind, every time I see a photograph of that period and I felt a desire of honoring that time in my life.

The aluminum pieces were built and cutout by my friend, Metal Man Ed for this specific concept. I am also showing a group watercolors and silkscreen as part of the exhibition that are a tribute to my time on the subways…" Crash, John Matos
 Here's a video from a Crash show from France. You don't need a translator - they're saying "Crash is dope!" Mais oui!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Zef to Def: Die Antwood x FIFTY24SF

For one night only - Weds 22nd February - Cape Town's Die Antwoord are at Upper Playground's FIFTY24SF gallery.

Die Antwoord

If you're lucky enough to be in San Francisco then you'll experience a special art installation to promote their new album,TEN$ION, as they kick off their Cali tour dates. If you're a fan you'll also wanna be collecting their collector’s vinyl toy called Evil Boy.

Who is Evil Boy? Is it Ninja's prison-inspired tattoo of a baby with a huge weiner? Yes. And is it the name of the Diplo produced tune? Yes, again! (I hear a few of these toys will be individually customized by Ninja himself.) See below for an excerpt of an interview in GQ (yes, Die Antwoord are mainstream now!?)

GQ: They were really cute—you had a giraffe, a little bat, a panda...and now you're making this toy you call Evil Boy, who has really huge dong. What happened? Ninja: [laughs] All that stuff we did before Die Antwoord was experimental. It was cool, but you're a human and then you make this art, and people have a relationship with the art. And all the other stuff I did before was like, Oh that's cool, and then I'd get bored of it in two seconds, and then I didn't have a connection with anything. I think that's why we called it Die Antwoord—The Answer—because this is the hottest thing; we want to do this forever, I love this. And that's the difference. Everything else kind of died away. So Evil boy's our first mascot. He our first toy, and I'm proud of it. It's from a prison tattoo that I saw on someone, drawn a little more retarded than this.
Yo-landi: It was drawn like shit.
Ninja: It was drawn like fucking shit. This toy's really fucking cute. It took a long time to get it like this [picks up toy and waves its penis around] Like, "Hey, what's up!" It's friendly. We're really working with this fine-tuned, Japanese company called Good Smile. They make toys that take two years to come out, because they're so psycho... They're really good sculptors. Evil Boy's our mascot forever. 
GQ: What makes Evil Boy evil?
Ninja: I don't know, he's got a secret... This one [points to a white prototype of the toy] glows in the dark. When you switch off the light at night, he looks after you while you go to sleep to have a nice dream.
GQ: What got you interested in toys in the first place? Yo-landi: 'Cuz they're cool!
Ninja: We were into toys full-force. Funnily enough, I think Ninja and Yo-landi almost came out as toys in our mind. We wanted to make super versions of ourselves. This guy Dave Choe, he connected us with the toy company, and he was like, "Yeah, they're going to fucking love you guys. You look like toys anyway."
GQ: Right, previously you've said you thought of Ninja and Yo-landi as manga characters who have all these imaginary adventures. Ninja: It's not really imagined, it's just our lives. South Africa's all there, like a gold mine in a funny way—all the stuff I'm telling you is totally normal. [South Africa's] just badly presented. America's got amazing presentation, especially New York—the most potent, strongest, concentrated, amazing presentation. The gangster culture in South Africa—Sexy Boys, Playboys, Fancy Boys, Nice Time Kids, and one of the biggest is called the Americans—base their style on American gangster movies, like, full-on, because the presentation's so juicy. So with us, we've been very influenced by American presentation, but we've got a fucking gold mine of fucking tweaked-out, freak-mode shit that occurred. I feel we're really good at the presentation of our lives. There's no imagined adventures we need to have. These fucking real life things are more of a kick." GQ Magazine

Die Antwoord is no stranger to artistic collaborations. Fashion designer, Alexander Wang, is continuing his guerrilla-style marketing to promote his 2012 T-shirt , but it's not your usual fashion video. See for yourself below.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ice Cube schools us on mid-Century design

Pacific Standard Time is a multi-faceted series of art events funded by The Getty Foundation. It's hard to explain as it's not just one thing and its events and exhibitions run across Los Angeles for seven months until April 2012. Visitors are invited to engage in everything from galleries and screenings to discussions and art inspired food truck events. So LA!

One unexpected collaborator is Ice Cube, infamous for his gangster rap tales as part of N.W.A (Niggaz with Attitude.) Although, he's not lost his edginess in the video below the topic of his lyrics are an adoration of the husband and wife mid-Century design duo, Charles and Ray Eames, instead of AK-47s! In the video, directed by Dave Meyers, Cube tours the Eames House, Case Study #8, in Pacific Palisades.


The Eames House or Case Study House No. 8, by Charles and Ray Eames Los Angeles, California - Images by Quintin Lake

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hip hop represents at the 54th Grammy's

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 04, 2012

West coast hip hop heroes...Michael Miller's new book

Tonight, Over the Edge Books is holding its launch party for Michael Miller's new book entitled, "West Coast Hip Hop: A History In Pictures" at the Known Gallery, Fairfax district, Los Angeles.

What's it about?! It says it right there - but what hip hop era are we talking about? When I think of west coast hip hop it takes me to Ice T, Colors, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Digital Underground, Tupac, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E., Dr. Dre and the World Class Wreckin' Crew, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, oh and yes, M.C. Hammer, amongst others! Not sure if all these guys are in here, but you're going to see the real hip hop! And check out the videos below if you want a behind-the-scenes look. (Thanks Eric, Freshjive).

Freshjive Moving Pictures - An Interview With Mike Miller from Freshjive on Vimeo.

"Michael Miller was the man at the right time when the west coast hip hop movement was exploding. Besides shooting all the major players in the game he also hung out with the artists and became a part of the culture. Shooting important figures like Cypress Hill, NWA, Tupac, Ice Cube, Snoop, House Of Pain, etc, etc His photo’s are an amazing archive of a magical time in music and his crazy but true stories about the shoots are mind blowing!" Over the Edge Books

Buy it here Check out more photos on the Over the Edge Books blog where you can also place an order. Buy it here instead of Amazon as everyone gets more money this way!

Behind the scenes
If you're wondering how this project got (partly) funded, check out the power of the web. The Kickstarter funding website collected more than double the $3,000 goal with 99 supporters in 2011, including five backers who pledged $500+ each! That's love for hip hop. In exchange folks got an ebook early release of the book, a signed limited edition photo, a copy of the hardback book when it is finally released. And invites the gallery launch parties. So if you go to Known Gallery tonight, say "Yo!" to the backers. They made it happen!

Location, Location, Location
Invite only party at
Known Gallery
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036 

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,