Get Familiar: Writers on Wax
Ruyzdael’s Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti is a series of vinyl records showcasing the development around the phenomenon of graffiti, with graffiti writers producing music under their alter ego. The fact that graffiti writers also produce music is a development that is underexposed in the ever-growing (commercial) interest in graffiti. With Writers on Wax, Ruyzdael provides these creators with a platform: a tangible product for their musical talent, expression and experimentation. They give music a right to exist. Not to help the makers with their 'careers' but to prevent it from remaining unheard¸ and to show a new perspective on the development of graffiti. The project and also the makers are young at heart. Spontaneous. Disinterested. Graffiti is freedom.
An interview with Ferry van Zijderveld, co-founder of Ruyzdael, an Amsterdam-based, multidisciplinary label that expresses culture by mixing music, events, publications and streetwear, and founding father of Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti.
Subscription photo: CEMOS is featured on Ruyzdael’s Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti Volume 2. This photo is captured in the album sleeve, which is a booklet as a package for a vinyl record; a book by itself.
How did Writers on Wax get started?
Ruyzdael's project Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti started when I got the insight that music is an under-exposed art form in the development of post graffiti, wherein it is more common to experience visual arts. I realized that lots of writers are into music, as in an inspiring art form (putting quotes/lyrics) next to their graffiti and as producers. This was a very specific moment in late 2018 when I witnessed two friends fucking around with equipment in a studio. I started making a list of people who were into graffiti and music I knew about, and the list kept on getting bigger... a plan was born.
And you are now two editions in, what can we expect from this latest edition?
Actually, it is the third release, first an album, then an EP and now the third release; another album with eight tracks. Even more diverse than the first album. Diverse regarding the generation and musical genre. The album is a rational concept with individual musical emotions. It goes from 70’s funk by New York graffiti legend BLADE to experimental electronic music by local hero DELTA.
It's overwhelming how many graffiti writers are also into music, why do you think this is?
I believe, as I mentioned earlier, that writers have a drive to create. As any other artist. Maybe the urge ‘to get up’ is a little bigger. Also maybe it is just ‘framing the niche within the niche’.
Graffiti comes from one of the four pillars of hip-hop despite its existence before, what is it that tied it so firmly to hip-hop and how do you feel that it is now expanding into other genres such as jazz, techno, electro, and funk?
Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti proves that graffiti and hip-hop are not as connected as how some try to let us believe. Graffiti is an older form of expression than hip-hop/rap is. I believe that this whole concept of the four elements is made up of marketing perspectives and doesn't reflect is it really was and is. Films such as Style Wars, Wild Style, and Beat street actually made the world believe it is intertwined. The Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti series has published 19 tracks now of which only one is a hip-hop track.
Subscription photo: CHAZE is also featured on Ruyzdael’s Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti Volume 2, including this photo in the album sleeve.
How does graffiti and music find a common space in your world?
Tough one. Creativity. Energy. Inspirational.
Who have you worked with on this year's edition of Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti Volume 2?
BLADE (US), DELTA a.k.a. BORIS TELLEGEN (NL), CEMOS (NL), DUDES a.k.a. EARGOGGLE (SE), CREDIT00 a.k.a. THE FOO (DE), COCA82 - SOUL ARTISTS (US), CHAZE (FR), KAPI ONE (ES). And without the sponsorship of Montana Colors, Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti Volume 2 would not have been possible.
You have been invited to exhibit in the Museum of Graffiti, how did this connection come to be?
We have been invited to participate in the Museum of Graffiti to do an album release and an exposition with exclusive art works by the artists featured on the Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti series during Miami Art Week 2022. We talked to Alan Ket, the museum's founder, for a while to see how to collaborate on this project. Then I decided to go to Miami with Dimitri Madimin (partner in Ruyzdael) to meet with Alan in person. After a couple of minutes already we agreed to work together and since then I haven’t slept anymore. We will build an exhibition, do a showcase on the Writers on Wax project and do a musical Take Over of the Museum on 1 December. It isn’t easy to ‘show’ Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti, since putting music in a museum is not common.
Subscription photo: BLADE, a true 'graffiti titan', is also featured on Ruyzdael’s Writers on Wax: The Sound of Graffiti Volume 2, including this photo in the album sleeve.
The impermanence of graffiti is one of the alluring features of the medium, how can this be related to music?
Personally music can make me drift away or inspire to create new work. I can imagine it works the other way around too; while writing or creating graffiti one might have a song in the back of his/her head or relate to a track in a more spheric vibe. I think it is not necessary that the two mediums are related, it is the individual that binds or bridges them. In his/her own way. Maybe the music is another way to express, and by publishing in a tangible format it gives it reason to (legally) exist.