BUBBA 2000 - FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT - REAL IS ALL THE RAGE
Artist: BUBBA 2000
Location: On The Phone
Key Themes from Interview:
Loves to: Finish things, not make them perfect.
Reason for his name: Nickname + Hotmail name suggester (2000). So... Bill Gates.
Seems like: A good man to riff ideas with.
Wants people to connect with: Influences. People you that they love.
"Make sure sober you does stuff that drunk you will appreciate. You know, 'Thank you drunk me, and thank you sober me."
About his art:
"I'm just an artist that occasionally puts some stuff up; Out there, for everyone to enjoy. That's it. For me, street art is back in the day with the chalks. That was what street art was when I was a kid. To classify yourself like that, I think, is a bit pretentious. I'm doing this and I'm getting away with for the time being. I want to try and enjoy it for as long as it lasts. When you start taking yourself and what you do too seriously, the minute you start getting a bit too pretentious about what you're doing… Ah forget it mate. Nah not for me. I just think there's enough pretentious people already. It's like, the critics, as they say, they're always the ones that failed. It's like, if you know so much about it why don't you do it yourself? So, just do it!
About the upcoming show:
"'Persons Of Interest.'In the world we live in with murders, rapes, this n' that, the news reports always finish with 'These are persons of interest'. What I've drawn, and then gone onto paint, they're persons of interest, for various reasons. From Ian Brown, Kurt Cobain, there's Madonna [and more]. They've all got a story behind them and why they're interesting. Like I was saying, they're portraits. It's grown up pop posters."
Hello, mate. I've been having one of those weekends, I drunkenly shattered my shoulder a few years back; tore the ligaments and everything else. When it's cold and damp it's like ERRGGHH. So it's like there's this pain going up my neck. It's just like, 'Oh God!' It's been almost impossible. And this morning it was like oh, yeah. Yeah. The interview, yeah.
Ok, well let’s jump in, so what actually is your full name?
Yeah, like your full name. Do you want this on it on any of your stuff ever?
Look, it's kinda like, well, are you buying into me or are you buying into the art? As I say, I'm a crushing disappointment in the real world. I'm an old man who lives with his cat, drives an old Lambretta scooter, and there's nothing more to know. It's all thoroughly disappointing. Forget one-upmanship on Banksy's Gross Domestic Product, I'm Gross Domestic Disappointing.
Just so you know you're being recorded…
Shit, I've grassed myself up. Police are coming. This will be used against me. For fucks sake, just send me down now, pal.
Haha. Ok, so you know, going to transcribe this interview into a cool little mag. It's called 'Real Is All The Rage' and essentially it's an artist profile that tells people more, and in your case we can get to know a bit about the upcoming show. So I'll start off with a real simple one, which is: where did you grow up?
Haha yeah, I could pick that. So are you Sheffield born and raised? Is that you?
Yeah. I did spend a bit of time in my formative years travelling around, but that's a long personal boring story. I did more of that in my late teens when I was doing the comic book stuff though.
So what was the deal?
My mother was a singer, back in the day, and my Dad was a jazz drummer. So I was always surrounded by music, but because my dad was obsessed with music I never used to see him. I never really spent any time with my father. The only time I did was on a Sunday. But it was really weird because he would just sit and watch films. I would be sat in the same room with him while Mum would be cooking a Sunday dinner, and I was just sat in the room silently watching films with my Dad; a real bonding experience, do you know what I mean? Got an older sister. She's responsible for the name BUBBA,' because she's like three years older than me and she couldn't say 'Baby brother,' she'd say 'Bubba!' So Bubba basically got picked up and it was like a nickname in the family. Then, just to really fucking bore you, then what happened was I was doing a few bits and bobs DJing back in the late '90s, and in the old days everyone was still signing-on so you wouldn't put your real name on the flyer (you didn't wanna grass yourself up.) So everyone had a crazy DJ name. And it was my promoter that said 'well just put DJ BUBBA.' And then when I went to setup a Hotmail account, and they were like, 'DJ BUBBA is already taken, why don't you have BUBBA2000.' I mean fucking hell mate. So that's it. That's my name.
Haha. Lucky it wasn’t city_boy_69 at hotmail.com or something.
Yeah! I'm just like, 'thank you Mr. whatever-his-name-is Microsoft. You picked my name! It's all your fault.'
I can't decide if that's amazing or terrible.
Tax man, Bill Gates —go and see him, nothing to do with me, pal. He named me. He's in charge.
So you said your mum's a singer? what sort of thing?
Yeah yeah yeah, back in the day there was a TV show called 'opportunity knocks.' It was kind of like the X-Factor / Pop Idol of it's day. She was on that. My Dad and her met on a cruise liner.
And they were only together a short while when he found out he had cancer. I tell you what, this is like, fucking, this will be in a film. It's got Hallmark movie written all over it. So in 1969 he was only given six to twelve months to live, and he could either have treatment in Sheffield or Leicester. Thank fuck he chose Sheffield. So he came here and he didn't die until 2010. Thank you NHS.
Wow, that's incredible. I'm sorry to hear it, but that sort of sounds like an amazing story in itself.
In that case you're born in Sheffield because of him basically choosing his treatment plan. Haha. So what does Sheffield mean to you then?
Easily put, it's the biggest village in the world. The part I live I'm real lucky. So if I get in the bottom of my road and if I'm driving in a straight line five minutes to the left, I'm in the city, I'm in the harbour, I'm in the crowd. If I drive right and I drive five minutes I'm in the peak district. I'm in fox house. A stunning landscape. You can up there two days in a row and it will be completely different entirely. It's just amazing.
Just enjoying the Steel City?
Yeah. Yes it's got its industrial heritage and past, but I was a part of the Big Tree campaign. It's one of the greenest (not like environmentally green) cities in Europe, there's just more trees. It's not just this grim industrial northern steel.
What did you love about it as a kid?
We had the parks, it was a safe environment. You could run around. You could get in trouble. There's also the creativity. There's always been the music. When I was growing up you had the synth - they were petering out. Then in my teenage years, your bands like Pulp, Weightless. Then my pals, they all got into the music side of things. They got interested in bands. The obvious thing was I was going to be the drummer. But I was more interested in doing the comic books and illustration work. There still is that sense of freedom, but with that though, with it being the biggest [as I said,] the biggest village in the world, it can be a bit snipy. That's why I talk myself up as doing my own thing, you know what I mean?
I was surrounded by music, listening to pop stuff. My Dad was listening to Jazz and kind of Funk and all that type of stuff, and my Mum was more into the classical stuff. So I had all that around me. But with regards to personal influences I used to have a real love - and still do have a love of Transformers. They did a cross-over with the Spiderman comic book. I warned you man — this why I keep to myself. LONG ASNWERS. They published a Transformers comic book in the UK, but the American Transformers book was about three months ahead. So you knew what was happening with the story. And I fell in love with comic books from that age, so I think seriously from about ten or eleven I thought, 'I'm going to draw comic books.' And that's what I did. Any kind of waking hour I was watching films and playing with Transformers or I was just drawing comic books. That's it. That was my life. The thing is, even back then, and in the nineties, comic book illustrative work, it wasn't seen as art.
That lead to — it must have been 1996 or 1997 — me first putting stuff up on streets. At that time I had broken into comic books, but there was a thing called the Image Revolution, where all the good artists left Marvel comics to go and start their own company image. So the big publishing houses were looking for people who could basically emulate that style. So you finally make it at 17, 18 or 19 or whatever, and you're doing your dream job, but you're having to emulate other people’s styles. And it just becomes more of a chore. So what happened was I would do stuff in my own style. Then I would go and see pals of mine who worked in offices at lunch time and make photocopies. And then with these photocopies — I went to a couple of places and asked if I could get any extra business. It was always the same, 'That's not proper art.' So it's like, 'Fucks sake!' SO, I would go and I would buy cheap tins of wallpaper paste and I would go out and I would stick them up. But then my pals who would help me make them were like, 'You're gonna get me fired if you keep coming in and keep getting all these photocopies.'
I did try tagging when I was twelve or thirteen and I was like, 'Nah, it's not for me.'
It just felt wrong?
I was hanging out at an arcade, Lynx Leisure, they had the first Street Fighter arcade and shit, so I'd hang out there, and then one of my pals, this dude called Fiadh, his elder brother Angel was quite high up in one of the crews. So what we used to do was we would be look outs for them when they would do big throw ups. There was a couple of times we'd get chased by 'old bill.' I liked the big throw ups. Back in the day they were all doing kind of Vaughn Bode Cheech Wizard, And they were all doing the characters. But the characters interested me more than the typography, if that makes sense? So that was why I was driven more to the imagery. So when florists do arrangements they have black, white, gold and silver, this oasis spray paint that they sprayed the leaves. That was when, like late 90's when I started making these basic stencils. I started with a little Felix The Cat, because I thought it was funny. My favourite comic book artist, his name was Todd McFarlane, and he would hide these little Felix The Cat dolls in the comic book pages of Spider-man. there's a tribute to a pal of his back in Vancouver. So this was kind of my little nod to him in my teenage years. Haha.
That leads to one of my questions — what is the first piece that you really loved that you created? That you went, 'Wow, that is awesome.'
Look, I can finish an illustration, and I can be like, 'That's fucking great, you've done it there.' And then I can look at it two hours later and I want to change it. That's why I've got no tattoos. I can look at a sketch, or something that I did a week ago, and I'm like, 'Ahh!' A big mentor of mine, an artist called Dan Fraga, he said to me, 'It's not perfect, it's finished.'
Yeah I like that
So you've done it. It's set. Like these canvasses, I'm now thinking, 'Now right, I've learnt this technique from doing this canvas, I want to move onto the next one, so I can get bigger and bigger.' So it's evolving all the time.
Yeah yeah, so my background, I'm a copywriter — which means I've got a creative flair but I've sold my soul to the devil...
Haha, being an illustrator is the same thing... It's like, 'Well, I like to eat. I can use my talent to exchange for goods and services.'
I'm a slave to capital. In fact, I'm a part of the machine that helps propel it, really. But that said, I define myself as — I don't say I'm an artist, I say I'm arty. That's about as far as I'm willing to go.
No look, anyone who does anything creative, to me, is an artist.
Yeah, Ok. That would be a nice aspiration, but I'm happy to say, 'Hey look, I'm arty.' So, I create lots of stuff, and I really identify with what you were saying before — I make something and I like it, then turn around and seem to hate it the next day. I change my stuff regularly. I am never ever completely satisfied with it. I can change it, then change it back, then change it back, then change it back. It's horrible.
See that was why in the old days when you think about painters slavishly working on something for like months at a time, I am like, 'Not for me!' I like the spontaneity. I don't like calling it street art, or all that type of thing.
What would you call your art?
Ummm.. I'm just an artist that occasionally puts some stuff up; Out there, for everyone to enjoy. That's it. For me, street art is back in the day with the chalks. That was what street art was when I was a kid. To classify yourself like that, I think, is a bit pretentious. I'm doing this and I'm getting away with for the time being. I want to try and enjoy it for as long as it lasts. When you start taking yourself and what you do too seriously, the minute you start getting a bit too pretentious about what you're doing… Ah forget it mate. Nah not for me. I just think there's enough pretentious people already. It's like, the critics, as they say, they're always the ones that failed. It's like, if you know so much about it why don't you do it yourself? So, just do it!
On that pretentious note, what was the first piece you sold?
The first piece of art you sold.
Ummm.. Oh! right. See, with the comic book stuff, it was a pinup. It was a pinup you'd get in the end pages and I was sixteen. You get the buzz of selling it, and then you have a second buzz when you see this thing in print. The art I sent in had been shrunk down, and it had lost a lot of the detail, but that was still a buzz! And I was thinking that there was people out there buying the comic book all around the world. That was back when comics would sell in the thousands. And it was a nice feeling knowing that thousands of people would be looking at that.
What was the name of the comic?
Black Flag. That was 'image comics'
Do you have any pictures of it? Swing me a picture.
Yeah man, and like I said, I was sixteen. I was so tickled.
Alright, moving on, I genuinely know very little about you, and it's difficult to find much online... Is there an actual Banksy tie in somewhere?
All I'll say is I've learnt a lot from Banksy. But in the same respect, I think a lot of other people have. There are parallels. He does what he does, I do what I do. You know, I kind of want to leave it there.
Have you met him?
Yes. He's a good guy and I've learnt a lot from him. And I'll say, we look very similar. Or should I say, "Or so I've been told." Haha
It was weird because someone about ten years got these photos of me from MySpace, I was on some blogs out there, and compared us. So that was interesting. There was a lot of teasing and a lot of mockery. I'll see if I can find it somewhere. Someone had taken some photo's, I think it was the Daily Mail, or the Daily Fail, that fucking rag. And it just got kinda messy. That guy just wants to be able to make his stuff. In the old days it used to be about the identity, but now I think it's like, well, do you like the art? Do you like this picture? Yeah? Fantastic, then why are you bothered about who I am and what I have for breakfast? It's sad isn't it. This self-obsessed kind of stuff. It's not important. Don't judge the artist on who they are and what they do, judge them on the art. Be that music, literature, or anything. Even if you're a dick, it's about the art.
So am I a dick for interviewing you now then?
You fuck. We're just having a chat! Like we're sitting around some alcohol.
That said, I'm trying to be a good boy nowadays. No day drinking anymore. Never ends well.
Ahh. Well I've got a thing — write drunk, edit sober. It seems to be the formula that works for me now.
Haha. Yeah make sure sober you does stuff that drunk you will appreciate. You know, 'Thank you drunk me, and thank you sober me.'
Yeah, drunk me has a lot to offer, lots of creative ideas, but sober me should be the gateway of whether those ideas see the light of day or not. Ok, I want to ask you then, what do you want people to feel when they see your art?
Right. There's kind of two levels to what I do. There's the individual pieces. Which I've included a bunch in this show. So, for example, there's a thing I've done called 'Leap of Faith'. Which is a thing I did on the side of a building about twelve years ago. So I call them my personal pieces.
Then I do the portraits. Generally because they're fun to do.
They started, as sick as it sounds, when a celebrity would die and I would do a little sketch. And I would put that up somewhere. You know when someone dies everyone online grabs a picture, chucks it up on facebook, and they're like, 'You were really good.' Haha. 'RIP, you are in our thoughts.' It's like, ‘WHAT?’ Ok. It's just like some fucking throwaway. So it started out of pictures of dead people. And I was like, 'I quite enjoy doing this.' Because, thing is, you go from a photo, but comic books you'd have to come up with something from your head. When you go from a photo you can get something out fairly quickly. Like, the personal stuff I could put my heart and soul into it, going from an illustration into a stencil, etc etc, And people go, 'Yeah, Ok.' But like, Aretha Franklyn, I think that took me about an hour — I put it up online and people thought I had reinvented the wheel. It's like, 'For fucks sakes.' You can slave over something and get a bit of a reaction. But then you can just put something out there and people flip. It's like batting averages; You can swing as much as you like, occasionally you'll hit one and it'll do well. So some people like the thought-provoking stuff, the characters.
The portraits stuff, it's almost like a remix. What I learnt from Banksy, what I learnt in regards to reproduction. To me, it's like a grown up thing:
If you're going to put a painting on your wall you're going to have to look at it twice a day. When you leave the house, when you get back in. So it's gotta be something that sticks with you. And people are so afraid of being judged now on what their friends and family think. So it's kind of like, say you're a fan of Prince… OK. Why don't you have a canvas of Prince? You like Prince. There you go, there's Prince. It's like a grown up version of a pop-poster. This is the thing, I'm not trying to be too clever about it. This is a remix of an image of a person you know. And this is your way, you know, they say that your idols are kind of a projection of who you are, so use this as that. Like if you had an image of Ian Brown on your wall, people would get an idea of what you're into.
I get that. That's kinda cool. I haven't had a poster up in a long time. I'm envious when I see teenagers bedroom and they're allowed to put so much shit up of everything they love. But I can't do that because I'm on a boat and it's really minimalist, and I can't even fit a poster. It would just look terrible.
You can't fit a big poster of a Ferrari up?
Haha. Yeah, nah.
You could still do that! You can still put posters of cars up.
Have cars lost their edge? Maybe they burn too much fuel now to be cool with the younger crowds? Maybe kids just have Toyota Prius' up?
“Ohhh, the economy on that’
In my day it was the Testarossa.