Uncapped: Beneath the Paint with the Legendary AUDIE U5
This latest installment of Uncapped is more than a year in the making, and we are stoked to have Audie U5 join us.
BOWERY BOOGIE: Audie U5. Welcome to the series. Instead of the cherished and/or default “what do you write?” how about, why do you write “Audie?”
Audie U5: Always Undeniably Dope In Everything! Nah, my tag is based on my nickname. I picked the spelling of what I write based on letters that I felt were challenging and rewarding to create as graffiti-piecing letters. I especially enjoyed rocking, or designing pieces with the letters A, I, and E.
BB: Your real name is something similar? Not many writers stay so close to home, if you will. I’ve noticed writers simply choose letters they like more than there being an actual meaning. Would you agree?
Audie: Some writers might choose letters they like, but I don’t think I agree about the rest, though. In my case, it just happened that way. Many writers pick initials, or longer tags that mean something to them, sometimes based on a nickname they already have. Or they simply like the way the tag sounds. But when I’ve had these types of conversations with some writers, regarding the origins of their tags, most went through a personal vetting process before settling on the ONE.
BB: Once upon a time I was “Lady Know.” After a while, that didn’t seem fitting being more of a tomboy…Rebel fell right into place.
But I digress…Some say you went into hiding for a while. What prompted that?
Audie: I don’t hide unless it’s in plain site. I float through my environment as I always have. Many of my activities do not revolve around graffiti, therefore I’m often not within the graff scene. I’m not much of a public figure regardless.
I have never stopped looking at graffiti, its trends, the writers that come and go, and especially the variations in piecing styles. The passion I have for this art form has never left me and as it changes i simply observe and study it, I find it interesting.
BB: No offense on the “into hiding.” I simply meant that people don’t notice you around as often. It’s nice to see you doing well for yourself outside of this world. That said, graff is its own community and world. How did you come up in it?
Audie: When I stumbled upon NYC graffiti as a subculture, it was truly underground. I was drawn to it because I leaned creative; I was always drawing because I enjoyed it and it came naturally. Graffiti became my main artistic outlet, readily available to me at the time.
It was so interesting to me as a child. There were the personalities who were bombing at the time, my perception of them definitely made them more intriguing in my mind. And yet the adults in my life ignored all this calligraphy around them, the murals on the walls and thus in our daily lives went mostly ignored by most of them. And yet when I pointed out this art to them, they paused and acknowledged its creativity. My mind worked in reverse and I paid attention to the things ignored, I took note of all this creativity and it excited me, it was thrilling.
BB: You see that image above? This dude painted the wires! Audie, you painted the wires!
Audie: Why wouldn’t I?
BB: Because a lot of people would leave them, move them or find another spot. That is dope. Graffiti is very much calligraphy in its own way. I like the way you put that. For those who may now know, Audie, you are a train writer. What train lines did you hit?
Audie: I began hitting the L line in Halsey layup, but quickly moved on to the M yard, all the J line layups, Grant layup and Pitkin yard on the A and C lines. I randomly hit other layups like City Hall, Bowery and many forgotten others I’m sure.
BB: Tell us a story about hitting the Bowery layup.
Audie: There was one time that Devise and I cut school and went to the Bowery in the morning. We ran into Show, Lec, Sept, None and one or two other writers from MSD. All of a sudden we had a clique, we began scoping out the layup. Out of nowhere GTF and HOT crews roll up on us, I noticed the situation was tense, but I didn’t know that there was a big beef going on. A few MSD members had burners on them so no one was shook, and GTF/ HOT crews had a serious reputation. They talked for several minutes, Devise and I glanced at each other and were geared to rumble. The interaction was normal, when the Broad St train pulled up we said “peace” got on the train and bounced. I only found out afterwards about what was going on at the time; I was pretty oblivious to the details.
BB: ‘Ye olde innocence is bliss. What made you stop doing graffiti and, in a way, get your life together with a corporate job and staying off the radar?
Audie: I bombed consecutively for almost a decade. The graffiti and street lifestyle that I led became deeply intertwined, it was leading me to an unproductive lifestyle. In order to grow, I began to pursue other things.
I tried to continue painting, and then life and career crowded out my graffiti creative outlet. I tried to keep piecing but wasn’t able to figure out how or when to do it. I think it was a mistake for sure to let it go, and the rust settled in.
I’ve had other creative outlets since, so I still felt that energy exercised somewhat, but graffiti was first, and is still the most unique form of art that I produce. Because graffiti was a sort of gateway to creating, to designing something. It holds a unique place for me and I intend to keep exploring it and producing work.