Interview: Federico Chiozzi & Stefano Viola
Text editing & translation: Corrado Piazza & Giacomo Pelizza

Mind is a quite atypical writer: more critical with himself than with the others, low profile lover. In other words, a person that never shouted to emerge... and the facts speak for themselves: active from the early ‘90s, a huge amount of panels on his back and an enviable style knowledge. We thought it was cool offering him the opportunity to show, after a long absence from the medias, his style approach.

Hello Mind, first of all tell us how you discovered graffiti.
My first encounter with graffiti occurred towards the end of the ‘80s, I was fascinated by the pieces that two kids painted in my town. I saw these strange drawings appearing “mysteriously” on the walls and, even though I couldn’t fully understand them, I was very impressed. One day, in 1991, I was with some friends and we decided to rent a movie, one in particular caught our attention: on the cover there were some black people with ghetto-blasters in front of a huge piece: Wild Style! There is not much more to say. Watching that movie was overwhelming and it made me want to give it a go. Can you imagine how fucking lucky it was for a fourteen year old kid living in the province to find “Wild Style” in the town’s small video-store. Living outside the city and being the only one truly interested in graffiti was penalizing and I started painting seriously only in 1994 when I started attending a graphic school in Milan, where I met my future crew members.

Can you describe the atmosphere at that time? Who had the most style and who were the most active writers in your city?
In the early ‘90s one of the coolest things you could do was riding the green line of the subway starting from Gessate to see the over-ground stations painted by Tka, Ckc and Cyb, or going to see the pieces in the Hall of Fames of Via Pontano, Ortica, at the amphitheatre, Via Bazzini… in particular I remember Dose’s piece in Porta Venezia’s underground subway station and Phase 2’s marker tag in Loreto! Different styles were beginning to emerge characterizing different crews: Ckc’s bars and arrows, bubbles and blockbusters done with white paint by Tka, Kayone’s puppets and so on… It is hard to describe such atmosphere, for me it was all so new and fascinating. I think they were the same sensations felt by those who were lucky enough to see all of this in first person. Instead of 1994 I remember well Alpha’s and Furto’s pieces in underground subway stations which left everybody breathless in less than twelve months.

Tell us about the group that originated in Piazza Vetra, if I’m not wrong it was made up by many different and unusual elements. I happen to remember it wasn’t just writers…
Piazza Vetra wasn’t really a peaceful place, we used to hang out there for hours before going to paint, between police raids and fights amongst pushers. Piazza Vetra reinforced our friendship with Robin and Dj Rash from Rns, with crews such as Dcn and Mdf, it saw the birth of the Vds crew and it welcomed a sinister figure named Fritz da Cat!
With time we grew fond of this place and the Lords of Vetra was formed; each member did what he could to push the thing, some with graffiti, others with music. The air was filled with energy and vandalism.
That was the place where either friends or fiends could have found us…at any time!

From an historical point of view Milan lived a transition, if until 1995/1996 the style was that of NY’s pioneers, after that a current which was definitely linked to a North-European attitude developed. Milan was introduced to intensive train-bombing, with simple and legible styles, coming into contrast with the stylistic standards that had dominated so far. It is therefore possible to state that there has been a fracture between the “old conscripts” and the new generation, a fracture which generated quite some controversies and beef. Do you agree with this vision?
Yes, this transition left me with a bitter taste in my mouth because, being a Wild Style lover, I became one of the few ones doing it, at least in those times. I think change in such direction occurred due to a couple of reasons: firstly the encounter with writers from Rome, thanks to whom many of us embraced the “it has to be read even if rolling at 200km/h” philosophy, Dumbo before everybody else. Panda and Hekto painted a lot in Milan and I think that, along with many others, they have influenced the newcomers.
To this you have to add the influence of foreign graffiti magazines, full of pics of trains from Northern Europe, showing very simple styles determined, I think, by the restricted amount of time one had to paint, or maybe… because they liked it that way… who cares!
After years of NY-influenced style, Milan had known it’s first trend. Beef that originates from such situations doesn’t last long and is useless, anyone is free to do whatever he likes and nobody has the right to criticize him.
Doing it is what matters.
Like my friend Rud says: “you don’t need to have a nice style, you’ve got to be a nice person”

Let's talk about style: compared to your crew-mates, recalling Dumbo, Spice and Rayn amongst them, you appear to always have had a “wilder” approach, while they were oriented towards a less complex style. Can you try to explain why and what canons inspired you and, most importantly, how was this approach seen in your crew?
As I said before, I’m a wild-style fanatic, I’ve always considered it writing’s ultimate level and I will keep on believing this. I always admired Dondi’s style, who I consider the creator, who reached the highest level, Seen who has been a master in creating many different styles, from wild to simple block letters, and also T-Kid, Sak, Case2: all people with attitude. I believe that each element and detail that turns a “piece” into a “wild-style” can’t just crop up from nowhere: it must have a definite origin, you can’t put arrows here and there randomly, otherwise the piece won’t withstand.
The Vds Crew managed to enclose amongst it’s components many different styles, the cool thing about this crew was that each one had his own distinctive one, his own identity. Even if a train rolled by at 200 km/h you would have been able to tell who had painted which piece.

Style-wise, how do you consider Milan today?
I’m glad to notice that Milan is returning to it’s old stylistic canons, many writers have followed and developed NY’s style and many others have approached German styles, which I have always appreciated. The crews that I prefer lately are SABO, YEA and ML’S. They paint a lot and they paint well, quality and quantity, obtaining both things is fantastic. It makes you feel good!

Can you tell us about your trips abroad to paint? What did you learn from your Interrail experiences?
The Interrail is an experience that I wish and advise to every writer because it allows to meet new people, see things from different points of view and, at least for us Italians, to put our writing skills to the test. We, who were used to paint trains in yards where we would stay for more than an hour, had to learn quick. Another funny thing about Interrails is that you get to see places that a normal tourist or an endemic citizen will never see in all their lives. Maybe you won’t visit the city’s main attraction, but you walked for half an hour in the darkness of a forest and then you stayed for another half an hour hiding in a bush or in a subway tunnel.
The best thing is that you find people that, even if they have never seen you before, are ready to give you all they have.

What do you think the Italian graffiti scene lacks, compared to the other foreign environments you have come in contact with?
I believe Italy has a very good level of writing and a graffiti scene that has nothing to be jealous of if compared to other international ones. It is true that many foreign writers arrived in Italy almost partying in the yards, as they had so much more time than what they were used to (even though lately it is not the same anymore), but it is also true that many Italian writers have managed to kick ass when abroad, adapting themselves to extreme conditions. I therefore think a sort of balance has been reached.

What is your relationship with media dedicated to Graffiti Writing? How do you judge their presence and their influence over the graffiti scene?
In the past years I began to buy books about NY’s old-schoolers because I believe they are documents that every writer should have. I have never been a fanatic of graffiti magazines, I only bought those with my photos or where there was a special feature I was interested in.
I am such a stranger to the “media tunnel” that you sent me home my last magazines! Apart from this I think it is all very useful, but it depends on the use you make of it. I noticed that as graffiti magazines and free access to the Internet increased, style has uniformed becoming flatter, pieces that stand out are very few and there are many clones. Internet has contributed even further in creating “graffiti-fashion”, but just like in every situation, who really believes in something keeps going on while fuckers sooner or later give up.

You are one of the few, of the Vds Crew, that still paints. What happened to the others? How do you live being a writer today, after all these years of experience? Has your approach to graffiti changed?
The other Vds members are all fine, we sometimes meet up for a beer or to paint. We painted together for so many years that now when we meet up the same old atmosphere is created. Each one found his way, somebody has become a photographer and somebody has become a father!
My approach to writing has remained the same, the only flaw is the lack of time to dedicate to graffiti, as soon as I can I paint, and I always do my best, remaining true to myself and to others.

Shout outs?
I would like to give a shout out to all those people that, for one reason or another, I haven’t seen for so long!
My family Vds, Fia, Fy, Dcn, The, Mg, Vmd, Aod, Jake, Xeno, Mel, Ligisd, Smash 137, Wink, Sherif, Tabo, Leroy, Susoi, Iwan Quentin and Mio.

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