Where: London, UK
Website: Bones Magazine
It started with a…On some level, I’m a conceptual designer. I’m an artist who does lots of experimental stuff. It all started at school in the east end – I got really bored with schoolwork and started painting graffiti. That’s where it all kind of began. Graffiti got me into everything I’m into now. I remember seeing two people painting on a wall in east London. I was with my mum and remember asking her, ‘Can I do that?’ Then I thought to myself, ‘That’s what I’m going to do when I grow up.’
I used to go to Green Street Library and found a book on graff, with no pictures, just stories called Getting Up by Craig Castleman. There was a story about a writer called Lee who painted the first one-man whole car and took three days to paint it. It was an amazing story to read as a kid, almost like a fairy tale. It just made me want to paint. It was like reading Harry Potter and then wanting to ride on a broomstick.
Getting it wrong…When I was at secondary school (Lister Community School) I was a bit of a chief. I used to cause a lot of problems for myself and for a lot of other people. I wasn’t interested in school (that's probably why I can't count!). I got really bored with it. It didn’t make any sense to me, except for my art class. The art teacher would buy me books and tell me to go to different places. She’d let me bunk off school so I could go to art galleries. She’d say that I was with her while I’d go to galleries. I was 14 or 15 and I used to bunk off school and go to this hall of fame in Plaistow, where I met all these writers and started writing. Before that I’d paint in a burnt down cinema and get it all wrong. I got it so wrong the first time, it was the worst thing ever. I found a picture of something I did a few years ago, but then lost it again. I was kind of glad I lost it because it was horrendous. I painted the outline first and then tried to fill it in like painting a colouring-in book on the wall.
At the minute…I work at Fallon and it’s amazing! I do lots of different things. I work in a design studio and actually get to do what I really want to do with my life, which is just to kind of mess around with stuff until something good happens. Now I get paid for doing that! It’s been an education. In the year and a bit that I’ve been there, I’ve learnt a lot about a lot of things, including four fingers short cuts. They’re amazing! I couldn’t do them before. People took the piss out of me for taking so long to do things.
Proudly presents…The first project I got to work on was amazing – making trailers for CBBC. It was surreal. We wrote a script that we couldn’t believe was actually made. Walking over the top of a hill on a golf course and seeing kids half buried in a golf bunker. I definitely broke a new boundary and someone was giving me money for it. Awesome!
Rock Corp’s a charity run by Orange that gives out free tickets to gigs in return for help they receive with community projects. If you do stuff in your community you get a free ticket. Simple. We’ve been working on the artwork for their new print ads. I was going to be painting this huge billboard that was two bendy buses long and a double decker bus high. It was massive but it got pulled a few days before it was meant to happen. I worked on a video guide on how they should do their visuals.
I also worked on a VJ project for Sony in Berlin. We made eight films about different products. It was an artistic representation of each product’s selling point. I got to work with some of my long time heroes, Hexstatic and Michael Faulkner from D-Fuse. Mike’s a legend. He goes all out. We were was sitting in a hotel room at six in the morning and he was still rendering. At that point, I was so tired I’d fallen asleep and was about to fall off my chair.
Learning curve…All the things I’ve learnt in my spare time have been a result of sitting in front of a computer and trying to work things out. At college, I was trying to push ideas, I’d try not to think about the limitations of an idea – I’d just keep going. Whether it was working in InDesign, on a computer, outside or on the radio station (which you'll find out about in a few minutes), I tried to just experiment. I’ve learnt from everyone I’ve met too.
Spare time…I generally sit at home on my computer. I’m really interested in human communication so I’ve been doing lots of weird stuff with video, sound and a digital magazine that I do called Bones. I’m trying to develop that and take it to the next stage. I’m basically trying to take it back to the world of analogue and see what happens. Bones as an idea that came from a magazine I used to do with Pete called Three for Free. I was interested in the human communication aspect of the project – us being able to share our ideas with people around the world. Bones was a result of what I learned from Three for Free and a university project called Filth, which came from the concept of using lots of different mediums to communicate an idea. It was gallery, a radio station and it was hodgepodge of different ideas. Bones became a way of delivering a magazine across the world for free and grew out of that experimental ethos.
More Filth…I like doing lots of different projects using as many mediums as possible – just trying to learn as much as possible. Filth was my final project at university. It started off as an idea to do a gallery to show what was then called post-graffiti, which has since become street art. It was amazing because it was a natural evolution. First, it started off with people writing tags and stickers and it became this big thing. There were a lot of people I knew that were doing post-graffiti so I wanted to do an exhibition that still represented art, which belonged to the street in its natural environment.
I found this place that was full of old bust up mobiles. You had to squeeze through a gap in the fence just to get inside. Then I set up a PO Box address and got people from all over the world to send me work and I put it up as it arrived. It was a way for people to work together who wouldn’t normally have the option to do so. People from the States working with people from Italy – it doesn’t sound that far apart but realistically at the time before the internet really took off it wasn’t going to happen under normal circumstances. That project snowballed into a few other ideas. One of the other ideas was an experimental pirate radio station. It was almost like a precursor to user generated content. I sent emails out to people from around the world saying, ‘I’m doing this project and it would be wicked if you could take part’.
This was just after the internet had started to become more of a thing people used so there was the ability to send big files but an mp3 would take a couple of days to download. The mystery behind Filth evolved into an elaborate story about five people who worked at and ran the organisation. The reason that the radio station even happened was a result of me pretending (via email) to be a women. Eloise became my female alter ego. She would talk to these radio nerds on forums so I could get the information and the links telling me how to do things. When I got the transmitters, I still needed help setting them up and figuring out what they did, with compressors and limiters. The radio station ran off a golf car battery and I’d never have found that out on my own.
That little guy…When I was kid, I was always really inquisitive. I used to take toys apart. I didn’t have a lot of toys so smashing them up was a big deal. I used to smash the toys up, take the wires out, take the motors out, link a couple of motors together and just pulls things apart. I was just massively inquisitive. I was really quiet as a kid and then puberty happened and everything went wrong for a little while. I like to say that I came out of my shell at that point. I was really sort of like, I’m going to say, 'bipolar'. There’ve been polar aspects of my life where I’ve really been this way and then really been that way. Now I’m a product of both of those sides of myself. I’m still inquisitive but I can still massively annoy people.
I still have really similar passions now as to what I had when I was a kid. I was really passionate about science and communication. I’m passionate about a lot of things. I’m bloody Kashmiri! I’m fiery and passionate all the time, I get upset about everything. Seriously, I’m an emotional wreck.
Home sweet home…I was born in Forest Gate. I’m an official Cockney. I love my pie and mash! I grew up in Stratford, then moved to Manor Park and then back to Forest Gate again. I’ve done a little tour of the east end of London. By 14-15, I was going round the whole of London, I’d just paint on the weekends and go and see different parts of the city. My family are mental yet lovely. They’re all Kashmiri so are also passionate about everything.
My dad used to work all hours of the day just so he could put food on our table and my mum was a housewife. There was nobody pushing me to do anything with my life but I was given the choice to pretty much do whatever I wanted. As long I tried hard, I could to do it.
My little brother and sister are amazing individuals but they are on a massively different path to me. I have a huge extended family. I’ve got people all round the world! Everywhere I go, there’s family, all from Kashmir, all somehow related and all bloody mental.
When I had to first communicate with the outside world I realised that shouting at people was not the way things happen, shouting is not a way of communicating. If I spend time with my family, I come back and start shouting at people. I’m not being rude. I’m just talking to you, goddamn it! There’s always a lot of burping and a lot of punching the table. I even do that now, when I’m trying to express a point. I’m not being angry or rude. It’s just me going, ‘It’s my turn to talk!’.
Day in his life…I’ve just got into cycling everyday. I cycle into work. Work takes up most of my days and then in the evening, I either read, do my own work or go on more bike rides. Most of this year, I’ve been a really boring person. I don’t go out anymore. I just go round on my bike. I’ve just moved into a really amazing house so I spend a lot of time indoors. It’s a real luxury since moving out of my mum’s. I can even smoke in bed. I don’t have to put towels down under the door and my clothes don’t have to smell of Lynx Africa.
Stepping stones…At school I didn’t get good GCSE’s, not because I’m stupid (except for the not-being-able-to-count thing. I’ll give the GCSE people that one). I really wanted to do a graphic design course and got interested in how it was the way the world communicates. Through graphic design people can communicate a message. And if it’s good you can communicate your message even more effectively.
I went for a couple of interviews at different colleges. The course I really wanted to go to and the one I ended up at was at Newham College. It was unbelievable. The woman that ran it, Francis, is an absolute legend. She changed my life. She’s the one person I can say made a massive impact on everything I do now. She was like, ‘You can do anything. You’ve got 5 GCSE’s. My results came out and the subjects that I tried hard at were the ones I did well at. I got an A* in English and there were a couple of B’s and C’s but the rest where D’s and F’s. Maths was so shit, I don’t even want to tell you what that one was.
Later on, after I started college, Francis told me that the only reason she let me on the course, even though I didn’t have enough GCSE’s, was because when I came to the interview I impressed her. I was really tired on the day and she asked me, ‘What’s the matter with you? You’ve come to an interview but you look absolutely ragged. What’s your problem? Have you been out or something?’ I basically told her that the night before I’d been painting and spent the night hiding under a platform. I fell asleep under that platform and when I woke up I had to climb out when the cleaners came. Then I had to come straight to the interview. She said she realised then that I must really give a shit about what I do so let me on the course.
On the course, my mind went through a massive expansion. I learnt and thought about a lot of new ideas. Francis would say, ‘Read this philosophers work. You’d really like it and understand it.’ The books would blow my mind. There’s a French philosopher called Jean Baudrillard who had this amazing quote that I read ‘Believing in truth is… a weakness of understanding’. It’s my most favourite quote in the world. Francis fostered the part of me that made me who I am today. My last bit of work at college was a room with a weird installation piece that had fishing line all around the piece. It was about a guy who’d been consumed by a single idea. It was really out there. I learnt about narrative then and Francis helped me find myself.
It was good for me to get out of London. It made me realise that Bradford and Bingley weren't two guys and Halifax wasn’t just a bank. And I met Yorkshire people, fucking hell, the best people in the world! I absolutely love Yorkshire people! When I came back down to London after three years, I’d developed a hardcore accent. It took a little while to disappear. I still can’t say ‘do you want anything from the shop?’. It’s ‘do you want owt?’ I still like to slip in ‘nowt’ and ‘owt’ every now and again.
It could be better…I dislike not being able to do more stuff, not being clever enough… There’s a lot of stuff that I’d still like to do. What I like about what I do is that I consistently see things that blow my mind – digital creativity is really expanding at the minute, in such away that it’s moving faster than people can use each one of the concepts to its full potential.
Life's hurdles…The biggest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome is my laziness. And growing up in the part of London that I did, where there are not a lot of opportunities for you to discover your ambition.
Lessons…It going to sound like such a cliché but you literally can do whatever you want to do. You need absolute, 100% confidence in what you are doing. It’s not about being arrogantly confident, it’s just about having confidence. You musn’t think, ‘I can’t do that because I don’t know how to.’
Places of inspiration…My favourite places are all the canals around Old Ford. It’s really nice to walk around there – really, really quiet. Drummond in Norway, where the mountains are pretty beautiful and the mountains in Kashmir are pretty awesome as well. And more than anything, I really enjoy being in cities, where there’s loud noise. I really like that. I really like being in London. It chills me out.
Reading list…I read lots and lots and lots of magazines: o32c magazine (an amazing German magazine), Fantastic Man (another great new magazine), New Scientist, Economist, Monocle and Wired (they’ve just brought out their new UK edition). I read more magazines than anything else. Because of Bones, I have to read lots of other magazines to see what everyone else is doing.
I’ve just got a stack of new books. I get lots of new books about a certain subject and then try to read them all in a certain amount of time. I’ve just finished Iliad, which was amazing. I’ve got a lot of new books on rhetoric, about learning how to argue with people instead of just shouting and punching the table. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, The Instruction Manual to Native Instruments Machine, Persuading People: An Introduction to Rhetoric by Robert Cockcroft and Susan Cockcroft, which is a really shit title – I don’t want to persuade people I just want the introduction to rhetoric! There's also Psychopathia Sexualis by Kraft-Ebbing, which is a mental book by the way, and I keep coming back to In Search of Schrodinger's Cat by John Gribbin. It’s an introduction to quantum mechanics. It’s fucking great! At the moment, I’m really getting into Belgium New Beat for the next issue of Bones. I’m trying to get an interview with this guy called Frank De Wulf.
I’ve been getting my head around Ableton Live. I’ve just moved from using Renoise, which is a tracker that looks like a spreadsheet. Once you get into it, it’s really good but everyone has been going on about Ableton Live for ages. I’m just starting to get my head around it. You can also control visuals with it now so I’ll be able to make music and run video stuff at the same time. Amazing!
Moving image…I’ve also being getting into using Quark Composer, which is a free application that comes with Mac OS X. What I’m trying to do is bring together all the different things I’m experimenting with – the videos, the music, the interactive stuff. Quark Composer now let’s my Wii remote talk to my video stuff, do sound reactive visuals really quickly and do all these amazing new things – anything you can think of. It’s really easy to create them instantly and make all of these different things talk to each other.
A lot of the things that I’ve learnt have been from online tutorials. It’s an unbelievably amazing phenomenon – what’s happening with the internet. I can’t think of anything that you would want to do that you can’t go online and find a tutorial about. I haven’t made any tutorials yet, the only one I can think of doing is a tutorial on how to find other people’s tutorials.
Different paths…If I had to do the first thing that I really wanted to do, I would be in space right now or I’d be really rich because I’d have told everyone how to go faster than the speed of light. When I was kid I used to draw pictures of my ideas. I actually found one the other day and I’d drawn a nuclear weapon. It was insane. I shouldn’t even be talking about this type of stuff. It’s going to come back and bite me on the arse!
Websites…I go on lots of sites (digg, Make: Online, Synthopia, MIT Media, TED, reddit, dataisnature, My Modern Metropolis, ILoveBadThings, Current News, Stockholm Beat Connection, WEDOITRIGHT) but the best one is where someone's put up the Frasier episodes. I watch Frasier all the time. The other day I was watching TV and saw a Frasier show that I hadn’t seen before. I was the most excited I'd been all year!
Next on Planet Bones…It’s going to be a complete change from the last ones. It’s time to start something new. The new issue is going to be printed on one side of an A2 piece of paper. It’ going to be interesting to see what I can do with the format, what kind of artwork we can put in there. The best thing about it is that it’s going to be fly posted around different cities and different parts of this city. You will also be able to download it as usual. The video and music work are still going to happen. It’s all about trying to make it a more amorphous. If more music comes in from contributors, I’ll put more music out too and just let it grow.
Do like he do…Learn! Learn a lot of stuff. Just go out there and do it. There’s nothing else. Apply the graff philosophy to everything – the more you do, the more famous you become. Any time you’re in doubt, just think ‘graff’. If you just keep doing stuff, something will happen. That is the graff mentality.