As 2017 was coming to an end, two graffiti writers from London stayed in Zion Hostel. In just a couple of days they managed to make a couple of writings on walls and participate in Arts Council Azerbaijan Barrel Graffiti Exhibition.
Cruel Graffiti artist from London ZION Хостел в Баку Hostel in Baku city
— Hola! Introduce yourself and your crew. What do you write and when did you start?
- My name is Drax, I live in London. North London to be exact. I started graffiti writing in London in 1985. I was interested in it before but I began actually doing things in the mid 1985 and I've been writing since then.
Cruel 103:
- We are working and traveling in crew. I've been writing since the mid early 80's, 1985. In 1988 I printed my first trail.

— You'r using a lot of energy for doing this contemporary art, so why are graffiti writers making the same signs? What's the idea of this culture?
- I think when I was a kid, maybe when I was younger, I didn't have a lot of confidence, and like many youngsters I was looking for something that would give me some identity. I was interested in the identity of the authors of names I had seen written on my local streets dating back to the early 1980's and eventually I started doing graffiti and it gave me a new identity, some confidence. It was some kind of a builder of identity for myself as a young boy, maybe I was achieving it at that time and it gave me something, changed my life. For years I was addicted to doing it for, maybe,10 years, so then I was addicted but I still love it, and I still awe it. I feel graffiti gave me so much that I awe. I love doing it. My identity and my tag is a mix of that so I don't stop doing it.

Cruel 103:
- Yes, there is an idea. The idea is to pass the message of graffiti on so it lives forever, to keep it in how it was when we came. We kept it just like a founder.
I don't choose only one name. I remember to have 5 names. When I'm in Germany I don't use "Mass" - I use other names, when nobody knows. When I'm in England I use other names, in my home city. Traveling I use "Cruel" into my spaces.The reason why I don't use the same name is because it's very easy to find out information about me on the Internet after writing for like 30 years.
— Internet changed a lot in the last 10-15 years, and you had seen the art then and now. How has the digital reality affected this culture?
- I hate graffiti on the Internet. I really hate it. You can't change anything because it happened. If I go back to the invention of the Internet, the good thing about the Internet is that it helps to make contacts and stay in touch with friends in other countries. As for the other stuff, it makes everything else GMO-nic. Everything becomes the same…It's like you travel to one city, and McDonald's and KFC in every city has the same, the same message. It lost its mystic, its incredibility. If you don't even try to give anything extra, you just take from the culture where you're born. You don't put anything from yourself into it, you just pick a little from Instagram or Facebook or Flickr… why? What's the point of it? In the 80's, in the early 90's you could tell which city the writer is from just by looking at the style of graffiti. Now it's like all the same… not all the same but a lot the same.

- If the internet affects this culture, I think, it's the same as it has affected the most cultures. What is down by making it exclusive to the masses, so it loses its mistake, it loses its aura, it loses its pale, it loses its rawness, it loses its sleekness, in fact, every thing about it can be found out. Of course, new things get dismayed. What makes the graffiti special has being sold, pinned on the internet. It's not the Internet's problem, but the internet produces culture where people take everything and just do that I won't do. Many of these different things came from London street cultures. It doesn't exist any more in my eyes. Hip-hop came from New York. Graffiti has a large connection to that culture. Many people in England discovered graffiti from the hip-hop culture.
The Internet was supposed to make everything better, but that is not so. It cheapened the legacy, the history of the things that came before. I hate all these aspects but I understand that the Internet is technology. I hope that my friends don't think that I wish the Internet wasn't invented. That also goes for a mobile phone - the other form of communication. You know, graffiti writing is pre-mobile phone. Mobile phone came approximately in 1991-92 to England. You know, mobile phone, smartphone culture, Internet culture, all this makes secret cultures, secret societies accessible. This spoils and ruins a part of them. It's great if you are outside but if you sometimes come inside. But, if you are already a part of it, it cheapens it and makes it less special.
— You are traveling for writing or traveling and writing? or u got some mission, doing this?
- I never went anywhere in the world in my life in order to do graffiti. I've been traveling since I was about 15. When I was a senior, I was in Turkey. Since then I was traveling all over the world to different places and of course, I've done graffiti in a lot of them but I've never been anywhere that I only went to do graffiti. For example, in Baku I did graffiti but I was far more interested in seeing the Caspian Sea, mainly the Azerbaijan people, looking at the Flame Towers or something, just to see the place. But, of course, I'm not only a graffiti writer, I'm also a food person. I would say I've never been in any place in the world to eat nice food but also everywhere in the world you would have a goal. You would eat nice food. That's what I do.
I do graffiti. The most places I went in the world when it was possible when I was in a good company I did graffiti but it was never a reason I went there.

Cruel 103:
- Traveling to paint graffiti is, probably, the best thing in my life. This is why I keep on doing it because it keeps me interested in meeting people, I've been going to some cities for 10 years. I've seen there not only the beginning of their evolution but also the rise of the city I've never been imagining. Traveling is the greatest thing in life.

— Any suggestion to the future g-writers which is going to visit this city in future.

Cruel 103:
- Just keep doing it, don't stop. Just keep painting, trying to grow, stay true. You know, we are the origins of graffiti. Just have to keep it fun, because if there's no fun in it, why do it? Graffiti has become a job for a lot of people, like on TV, if they love graffiti they just want to make money with it. In my opinion it's not good for the scene, for the global scene.

- Travel in small, find your seeing and never go on the Internet.
We'll be back in some time to see the city. We'll come here again...
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