Create your own luck – Inspiring Interview with world renowned DJ/Producer/Musician/Actor and Artist
Do you ever wonder why other people have more luck than you? Maybe it’s because of what they’re doing behind the scenes. Come back stage and learn about luck from a man whose experienced success in music and art. Discover how role models can help you cut through the crap and what to do to create your own luck.
Goldie has worked with David Bowie, Noel Gallagher and KRS1 plus he has his own record label called “Metalheadz” which has released numerous pioneering tracks. He also starred in the James bond film “The World Is Not Enough” and Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch”. As well as being a much sought after graffiti artist whose artwork is coveted by top DJs.
Angel: Hiya Goldie, I’ve read your autobiography “Nine Lives” which I thought was so compelling. The thing that strikes me, is even though many terrible things happened to you as a child, you still managed to turn your life around. You’ve experience success in many different creative industries, how have you done that?
People say to me ‘well your lucky’ and I say ‘listen there’s no such thing as luck’. Luck is chance and circumstance. Taking a chance with that opportunity to create your own luck.
They don’t realize, when they say “your lucky”, that in the past, I’ve stood in New York in the South Bronx freezing my tits off, waiting to meet a guy that can change my fucking life forever. That I sat outside a club, with a dub tape that I’d spent my last thirty quid to record. I put the time in to do those kind of things. And my position in this game is to continue to learn.
Photo by Gus Coral
Angel: You mention music, many people will know you for being a DJ and Producer, however, they may not know that your first love was graffiti. So lets go back to where it all began, how did you initially get into art?
I saw subway art, liked it and wanted to do it. I started drawing alphabets and getting really creative. I hung out with some guys called the “Wild Criminals” and just started drawing everywhere I went. Then I saw a couple of graffiti writers called Brim (Fuentes) and Bio (Wilfredo Feliciano) from the TATS CRU in New York. They’re still an active graffiti crew, one of the best in the world. They got me into the REAL side of graffiti. That’s how I learned, from the BEST.
Angel: How did you develop your skill?
Bio came over, he showed me how to really do letters. He got my sketch books and ripped them up. I literally had to start from fresh. I started to realize the fundamental aspect of graffiti was the letter form. What interested me, was that it grew from a letter form into social commentary very quickly and people began to respect it for its progress.
Photo by Gus Coral
When you look at the construction of the letter form its not dissimilar to technical drawing. If you understand the form that’s 80% of the hard work done. I was driven to be able to do characters, letters, background, the whole thing, which is synonymous with the way I make music. I construct my music as a whole story. The intro, sound, the background, I set the tone. That’s what graffiti always taught me, the whole spherical angle.
It’s also incredible what graffiti has taught the rest of the world in terms of what it can do, for example; Marc Ecko has built a whole empire from employing graffiti techniques. Ecko was to a certain degree a graffiti writer who relied more within his sketch book scenario then everyone else. The hours he put in perfecting his craft have paid off, he’s managed to apply the medium in a way which is now developed into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Angel: Were you thinking about the message of your graffiti, as well as how it looked visually?
I was always writing stuff with a message in mind. I was really inspired by early writers like Dondi and Shy 147 they were really ground breaking. They were going into (railway) yards and getting shot at. These were ultimately guys who were getting into deadly situations because they wanted to paint so fucking badly.
Angel: Did you learn technical skills from the people around you?
Oh totally. Technically you have to put it down to a social dilemma. If you place me in Miami, in a place that makes gold teeth, and you place me with an air brush and you leave me there for a couple of years something’s gonna happen, by default. Any artist in an environment like that is gonna be in the same position.
Going down south to Miami taught me sculpture. When you look at micro cosmos sculpture, its gold teeth. Even dentists get amazed at street culture and how they learned how to do gold and grills. There is an art to it, it’s like a miniature sculpture it’s exactly the same process.
Angel: Have you always been as ambitious and productive as you are today?
After Miami, I returned to the UK via London and I ended up staying with Gus Coral who was kinda like my mentor. He was like my dad and really looked out for me. I didn’t have the rent to pay, so I would paint and do canvases. I’d be doing air brush compressors, I’d be casting gold, making rings and jewelery. This is all in a fucking council flat.
I was in London and was trying to pitch artwork to people. That’s how I really got started. I was pitching artwork to Island Records they were signing different Hip-Hop bands. There was this group called the 11:59. They wanted some designs for an album sleeve and so I put all this artwork together for them.
Artwork by Goldie for 11:59, image courtesy of Gus Coral
I learned a lot along the way. Before I even went to New York I was working in a screen printing factory. I was printing t-shirts and learning how to do screen separations and all that stuff. So I’d kinda done a lot of everything before I was twenty two.
Angel: Is that where you got your confidence from learning all these different techniques and skills?
It was more lucrative than wanting to be a drug dealer. I was always socially driven and I was more scared of ending up being stationary. Not doing anything with my life, that scared me more than anything else. I wanted to chase the dream, I had to achieve that.
Once I’d mastered how to make jewelery for instance I stop doing it. The same with airbrush t-shirts. I wanted to learn the craft fully and then move on with something else.
Photo by Gus Coral
Angel: What’s been the biggest barriers that you’ve had to overcome in your career?
I don’t know, if I put barriers psychologically in my head then they will be there. But they don’t really exist, what exists is people’s acceptance.
I’m all giving man if you guys accept me. That’s all it is. This is from a kid that struggled to fit in. So that’s reflected in my work. I always felt I was the outside child because I was an orphan for many years. I didn’t feel the same as everyone else so to get people to see my work was a challenge for me.
Many years ago we used to do shows in Levi’s in Oxford Street with all my paintings. But back then you couldn’t even give them away. That was twenty years ago. Now I see my work selling for a lot of money. They even chase us around the country for this stuff. They’re desperate to buy it!
Photo by Gus Coral
Angel: So what motivated you to carry on after being rejected in the early days, what got you through those difficult times?
The one thing I do have is the capacity to love. Ultimately I love life and I love work. I remember playing in Copenhagen for four hours, and seeing all these kids loosing it to music it was amazing and I really love the fact that I can create that magic in whatever form.
Angel: How did you go from doing graffiti and break dancing to then becoming a DJ and producer?
It’s exactly the same thing. It was just my roots having my finger on that pulse of what’s going on at the time.
Artwork by Robert Tirado
Angel: So what is your job description these days?
If I were to give myself a job title I would say alchemist. Alchemy is one of those crafts that people don’t practice much anymore. What I do is applicable to any medium. If I want to go and do a wall now, just give me the paint and the time. I can stand there do an outline and complete a piece. If you give me a kiln with some alginate and some gold, I can change the form of something that is solid, into something that is fluid and back into a solid again. The one thing that I think you have to appreciate in this life, is we have the opportunity as humans to be able to change the form of things.
Angel: Can you come up with good ideas at will and how conceptual is your thinking?
Graffiti is one of those things that can be completely conceptual all the time. You think up letters you put them together. You can create all these characters no matter how fantastical they may be or how far fetched.
I think graffiti writers were like the very first version of apple macs. In their head they had a certain amount of hard drive and they had a certain amount of memory. They just had to apply those files to what they were doing.
Artwork by Robert Tirado
Art schools try to teach you to be conceptual inside and graffiti writers have a natural inner ability for this. All art is imitation. So what you do is you take the idea and you then bend the style which is very creative. It’s very difficult to teach someone that externally. It’s an internal process and I think that all college and university does, is allow you to have the patience to sit with yourself so you can learn that type of thing.
People who go into the studio for the sake of just making money aren’t really conceptual. They just want to rip everyone else and use the same formula. I wouldn’t have been able to make something as conceptual as “Mother” for example, if I hadn’t have been a graffiti writer. Because I wouldn’t have known how to arrange, to build, to process, to have patience with the actual piece of work.
Artwork by Robert Tirado
Angel: When you put a piece of work out there what do you think about? Do you worry if people don’t get it?
Your not suppose to get it! Art is never the answer it really still always remains the question. If that didn’t reign supreme in my own thought process I would already be over. Because I have to keep asking questions, “what if I put this sound into that thing there, what if I loop this, what if I get a channel player to play my vocals, but sing it backwards and play it note for note, it’s still a question.” If I thought I had the answer then I would become egotistical.
Angel: Is health and fitness important to you?
I do take it easy. I go swimming and do 30 lengths every morning. That and five elements acupuncture are the two things that I do which are really good for me. I don’t eat just rabbit food. If I have steak its got to be organic and I have good quality fish. One of my friends just died from drugs and he was younger than me, things like that really affect me.
Angel: What does success mean to you?
If we really wanna question our existence, to me its “what has this person done what have they really achieved”. Not financially. I’d like to think that you could put all my work together and go “fuckin hell, we really underestimated what this guy does because he’s done a lot of great creative work”.
When I think about things like leaving this planet, I just wanna know if I’ve done enough work. Can I leave enough stuff on this planet so I won’t be forgotten straight away.
Photo by Guillaume Kayacan
Angel: What are your thoughts on fear does it hinder you or drive you?
I don’t fear anything really. But then fear for me, was the fact that at a young age I was getting abused by Uncle Johnny. When someone is taking advantage of you and making you do terrible things that’s fucking fear!
Angel: The fears you had to face at a young age then were rational fears, so do they help you put irrational fears into perspective?
Yeah exactly. I think humans have fear by default because it’s one of the survival emotions. It’s an emotion that in the past kept us alive and has done for centuries.
I say to my daughter ‘What are the three most important things in life?’ and she says “Love, time and memory”. Because if you don’t remember these times you may as well have been dreaming. That’s what’s really important to me, if I put those three things juxtaposed with each other it kinda keeps me going and there’s no fear in that sense. Because fear for me is in the past.
Artwork by Goldie
Angel: Tell me what are the biggest benefits you get out of leading a successful life?
I get out of it that my daughter can read all this stuff after I’m gone and go ‘my dad was a great man’. That’s my ultimate goal. I just want to be remembered for the things I’ve achieved. What I get out of it is something I never got out of school and ultimately beyond me there is something far greater.
Angel: So tell me more about your career choice?
I go through the process of healing my own heart. Working out who I am in a very slow meticulous way. It’s always through the arts that I try and find out more about myself. That’s kinda been the story of my life for a very long time
The one fundamental thing I’ve realized as an artist is I’ve had to learn to just let go. Art is a thing that you have to let go of it. It’s part of the process. Because you can’t make anything new, unless the mould is completely empty.
“Teddy & Hammer” artwork by Goldie
Angel: Has the way you work changed over the years?
When I’m painting now and doing all these large images of women, printing and rendering them, I’ve got the formula it’s relatively easy. I’ve done the hard bit. I’ve done my time on the street doing graffiti, learning how to put colors together. I’ve sort of done my University. So whatever I do now is like having fun.
I’ve learned all of these different things and I believe it’s to help other people understand them or talk openly about them. To give some kid a bit of inspiration. I’m fucking 43 years old, I think the only thing that has kept me young and kept me sane is art and music. I’m very youthful even my old mates say you don’t look your age. That’s because I’ve been doing this shit for years. Art and music does really keep you on your toes.
I mean mentally, yes it’s frustrating and I have to slay more demons than everyone else, but there are more angels at the end of it.
“Apocalypse Angel” Artwork by Goldie
Over to you
Goldie’s work has always inspired me and I’m sure it’s given you lots of things you can start putting into practice right now. Like connecting with the best people within your industry, reach out to at least three people today, introduce yourself and see how you can help them and start building a relationship, and in return they will may support you back.
Check out more of Goldie’s artwork and news about his creative projects here http://www.goldie.co.uk/
A special thanks goes out to