Directed by Mark Valino.
Before I got into rapping and making music, graffiti was IT for me. I was at Etobicoke School of the Arts, so as soon as soon as I hit high school, I was surrounded by a visual arts department full of graff geeks. I say geeks, because looking back, that’s pretty much what we would do. We literally used to GEEK, so hard, over different writers’ hand styles, people’s stories, or the sketches we had all just done while we were bored in class. I don’t know what it was about that time, but graffiti just seemed to be at such a high level in Toronto. I’ve talked about this with friends and we all kind of agreed. You had a lot of old vets still getting up, while this new wave of kids had started killing it on a new scale. A couple kids from AU crew (KONER and SENT2- shouts to both) were in my grade. That crew was heavily influential to everyone at school. HFB too. If any of you remember some of the ridiculous rollers they both put up, you’ll understand why…Watching the whole HSA crew piece at 416. Classic throws like REN, TRIK, JENSER…That Bathurst station wall with the freshest blue and white RONIE (shouts) and CAUSR throws…that whole Destruction Tour Canada thing EVICT did…. I could go on and on. Geeks.
After shifting through different tags over a couple of years, I settled on Knows. The moniker came from an ambush that left me with a broken nose and a new and improved outlook on life. Knows. Plus I loved the letters. Eventually, after I shifted from graff more towards music, Kit Knows became the name I worked with. Although music and film is what I spend most time on now, I discovered a lot of Toronto, and my self, through my experience with graffiti. The city is full of views, rooftops, abandoned buildings, old bridges, or just little spaces between all the hustling. That’s where graffiti lives. I can’t deal with a city that doesn’t have any of it. It feels too sterile, like no one lives there. Although Style Wars shows us the 1980′s rise of graff in NYC, let’s not forget people have been painting on walls since we were living in caves. It’s a language I need to have around me.
I wrote this piece on one of those late nights in the summer. My sister had given me a really nice writing book a year ago, and for some reason I decided I needed to leave my old one be, and start a new one. It needed to happen tonight. Something just needed to come out. I sat in the park behind Bathurst station and held a convo with a pen and a flask of Havana Club. This is what came out.
When Mark approached me to do a piece, I had already has this one in mind to convert to a visual. I think he killed it. Shouts to Gilles too. This video is only a fraction. There’s a lot of writers we didn’t get to include in the footage, a lot of stories I could still touch on, and a lot of history layered underneath those painted walls. This is just a glimpse. A view. A window to another part of my city.
Shouts to all the people I came up with. Shouts to those keeping it alive.
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Ever since I started this raw street performance series I had always had Kit in the back on my mind to do a piece for me. He had also helped out a month earlier with a shoot I did with Zaki Ibrahim and I felt that it would be great to connect with him artisticly finally. So when I caught up with him after the “Little Dragon” show at the Hoxton on his birthday I know the time to do it was now. I like how life works like that.
He sent me the piece he was thinking of and as soon as I read it I was amped. The fact that the theme he wrote about was Graffiti and the situation with the city and graf removal was exactly what I was looking for. I’m very conscious of the graffiti scene in my city.
I love finding new pieces every year by my favourite artists in random hidden places. I even dabbled in tagging and graffiti for a while in my youth. I remember having to steal paint cans from Zellers. They were always random colors with regular caps that I produced some real crude pieces with but I loved it. Kit also writes and Giles Monette runs a mean sticker game so the crew was assembled. The shoot started off rough with us arriving at the first location only to get warnings that security was on it’s way and we would get charged for trespassing. This is all part of the game so there was nothing to worry about.
Giles had found a great billboard close to our first location that we could access easily, which would be our first shot of the day. After the somewhat rough start, everything else went smoothly. Most of the video was shot in the Queen St. alleys which I am quite familiar with and have used in many of my videos. I love going through the alleys at least once a year to check out the new pieces and make sure the big epic ones are still in tact. The Toronto mural south of queen just off of Spadina had to be in there. That piece is epic and reps alot of important artists as well at the HSA piece with the mask (Which btw I have footage from during “Style in Progress” where it was being painted by Skam and crew).
I had mentioned to Kit when we met up that I was conseptualizing an idea for the last shot,of a blank wall that we could digitally have Kit reveal a tag or piece of some sort. He really dug that idea and the night before the shoot he scouted a couple places and threw up a tag without me even knowing. I saw it on the day of the shoot and it was perfect. This was a great shoot to be able to reconnect with the writer in me and address the issue of street art.
I shot for 3.5hrs and my edit time was about 4hrs.
Produced by: Giles Monnete
Written & Performed by: Kit Knows
Check out the Timelapse of Kit Knows Shoot:
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