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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Polite Conversations w/ KNOX

Give me a "Hi, I am KNOX [fill in the blanks].
Hi, I'm KNOX and I make movies.

I've been documenting the art movement since 2002, when I threw my first art parties in Los Angeles. Back then I was working with ICU gallery and Jointz magazine, bringing together live art and live music during monthly events at the Derby. Looking back now, those shows were so much fun and most of the artists who came through to paint, Man One, Mear, Nerv, Kofie were big then, but are real legends now.

When I moved to New York a year later it was on some get out of town in the middle of the night tip, I lost every tape of footage I collected up to that point. That sucked, I would love to see some of those tapes again.

The Lyfe was a documentary about graffiti throughout the U.S. What was the best and worst part about filming this full length video?
Making The Lyfe was a real adventure, Faro introduced me to the guys from Day in the Lyfe in a bar in NYC. It was real funny because they were looking for a filmmaker to make a movie and I was looking for a magazine to distribute my upcoming movie. A few weeks later, me and Space are traveling across the country in his pick up.

The best parts about making a movie are the actual filming of it and then when it's finished. Especially since we were on the road for over a month filming with artists I'd never met before but really admired like Dr. Sex, Jaber, Branded.

The worst part by far is the editing process. Everyone is always like when's the movie gonna be done? What's taking so long? For the most part it's just me sitting in my little lab day in and day out for about 8 months agonizing over every minor detail.

What about graffiti do you like most?
After documenting the street art phenomenon with Open Air (, I wanted to get away from what I saw
as an increasingly collector and critic driven artform and reconnect with the streets.

What I like about graffiti is it's not corporate controlled art, many of the artists are self taught. It's not always about how good you are, people like PK and KID do real simply throwies but get respect for shear numbers and degree of difficulty. Then again, you've got guys like RIME and NACE, where you just stand back and look at their pieces with amazement.

You know, it's all about getting your name out there for people to see, everyone's got their own style and everyone that really writes is completely addicted to it, those are some of the things I really like about it.

What direction were you trying to present in the film?
I try to do everything myself, in terms of shooting and editing, so you are getting my vision. I love to watch artists at work, so what I hoped to do was capture writers hitting all the different surfaces you find illegal graffiti on. From daytime autorack train yards in Louisville with Dark to San Francisco streets at night with Dr. Sex, I was trying capture the writers in their natural environments. I used the interviews and the artists own words from conversations to narrate the movie. For music I was lucky enought to have Japanther, MeloX and I mean, I'm not inventing a new genre here, but I just wanted to say okay, its 2008, this is my year for my movie.

If you were to make any changes in the movie, what would it be?

I regret not linking up with Grunts/907 crew (Sadu, Oze, Gen II, Muk, UFO) for the movie. It was on the table so many times, I don't know what happened in the end, but it was my fault for not being on top of things.

I was reading your Vimeo bio and you mentioned you worked on a video for MTV. What was it?
Yeah, I did do a video for Mickey Factz featuring the Cool Kids called "Rockin and Rollin." It was directed by my friend Sweet Cheeba, and shot by Wesley Clouden, I did the edit for the video, and created an effect we affectionately call the bump. When we were editing, Cheeba would always be like, "Knox, I love it man, but can we have more of the bump." It was a real milestone to have a video on MTV2 and MTVU, but you don't get any extra money for that, so it's pretty much just an ego boost.

Are you picky with who you work with? What inspires you to do a video?
I used to be real easy going and work with everyone, but now if I'm gonna do a music video, as an artist you need to come correct. That means 1. you need to have all the rights to your song cleared, 2. you have to be serious about promoting your music on that next level, 3. you need to have a budget and 4. I've got to like the track. The next video I'm doing with Cheeba is gonna be NinjaSonik's "Somebody's Gonna Get Pregnant." I've wanted to work with these guys for the past year, so I'm really excited to get back to the States in January and start on that.

In the past I collabo'd with FARO to do fan videos for Madvillain and Horse the Band. Doing those videos was great because they started a long relationship with Horse the Band, I recently did projections for them at their New York City show. Stonesthrow was actually hyping the Madvillain video for awhile, so that was cool. Most importantly, it built the friendship between me and FARO, he's been one of my biggest supporters as well as toughest critics over the years, definitely a great person to have on your side.

What can we expect from you in 2009?

In 2009, I'm looking forward to tackling a feature film for theaters, currently there are two projects on the table. The first one I'm thinking about is a horror movie with elements of suspense to be shot in Haiti. I'm actually in Europe right now trying to raise the money needed to shoot this movie through a French company. I wrote the script and plan on directing it, it's called "King's Point." Hopefully Peru Ana Ana Peru are gonna come down to Haiti and work with me.

The other project on the table is a dark comedy written by my longtime friend Daniel Boneville to be shot on Long Island and star Peter Facinelli (Can't Hardly Wait, Twilight). I'd be producing that flick.

We also got a number of release parties and art shows for The Lyfe that are set for various cities around the country, you can keep an eye on for more information as we get closer to the dates.

Any shoutouts before we end this polite conversation?

Sorry for talking so much. Before I go just want to say what's up to everyone who I didn't mention, Yulz, Sife, Bloke, Venom, Jrep, Zeiht, Naks, Raxy, Rosie, Rita, Anna, Destiny, Eggyolk, Plasma Slugs and Goal.

No Hobo from knox on Vimeo.

"The Lyfe" on sale now at