All City Jam - Dublin, 2009 c/o Gwame
Amoeblog: How did the concept for your store come about and what is the history of it, for those who may know nothing of All City here in the heart of Dublin, Ireland's capital?O.B: It just stems from the four elements thing really. It may seem a little dated, played out or even irrelevant to some now -- and perhaps it is -- but there was a time when hip-hop was more than rap, it was a cultural thing and the ethos of hip hop is still very important to us here. Ireland is a small country and we're kind of behind the times! So I guess we are still living in the 80s and what with the recession and doom and gloom, plus the revival of 80s electro, boogie, funk, not to mention fashion sense, it certainly seems like the 80s are back!!
Amoeblog: Having hip-hop records/CDs + graffiti supplies in the same place is the perfect match -- yet there are no others in Ireland who do it, correct? Are there other stores like yours overseas that you know of?
O.B: Right, well we cover Ireland. Like I say, it's a small country. It's not easy for us to stay afloat, so in all reality there wouldn't be much room for competition. Anyone who sets up a record shop now is insane. Overseas there is a great place in LA -- 33Third, which is a carbon copy of us (though we have been around longer!!). Me and Splyce [All City co-owner] were there in 2006 -- it was quite surreal walking into the place. We got a wierd deja vu vibe.
Amoeblog: I would imagine that specializing in vinyl with music and art supplies -- both of which can't be digitally duplicated for free -- must have ensured your longevity as a business. Has it?
O.B: Mmm, it's tough to say. We started out in a pre broadband world. Don't forget, this downloading business is hella new! Taken in context it is a millisecond -- under a decade. If you take that in a historical context, 10 years is nothing, so no one knows how this will pan out. The internet is like the Wild West at the moment but I have no doubt that that will be curtailed. One thing it has hit is CDs -- mixtapes and such -- and magazines, which kids now just don't see the point of buying. In under 5 years we have gone from selling tons of mags and mix CDs to almost none. If you talk to distributors they will tell you that is the same everywhere.
Amoeblog: Can you give a brief history/description of All City Records -- the label? Do you find that all of your graf customers are also hip-hop record buying heads too or are they two divergent sets of folks?
O.B: Not so much anymore. Graffiti in Ireland is by and large a young pursuit -- you get older heads too, but people tend to grow out of it. Their loss really, as it is such a fantastic hobby and such a great thing for kids to do. Records, on the other hand, are almost exclusively for older heads! Kids are so spoilt with free music they look at you like you have 10 heads when you suggest that 9 Euros for a 12" with a great cover
and instrumentals and accapellas is a good purchase -- "but I already have 10,000 songs on my computer" -- how do you argue with that!?
irish Graffiti Jam 2009
Amoeblog: With graffiti an outlawed art, do you ever get visited by the Guards [Irish police force] or is there an age restriction for selling spray paint?
O.B: Yeah -- they come in a bit, but as we always say to them, there are bigger problems than some kids spraying down a laneway. We kind of run a self policing system in here. We know everyone's tag and if we think someone is going to wreck someone's house or do some silly sh*t, we don't serve them. We always give people a second chance but we need to be responsible, as boring as it may sound. I think graffiti is a
great, great thing for kids to do. I've seen a number of kids here over the years whose lives have been saved by graff. it may sound cheesy but it doesn't make it any less true, so we always stress that to the police and in fairness they know themselves it's by and large a harmless hobby. It's a crime against property rather than the person so you can really see someone's morals if they have a problem with graff and ignore the mindless violence in Dublin's streets every weekend.
Amoeblog: With an ingrained history in graf culture of "boosting" (stealing) spray cans, do you have to lock up supplies at store?
O.B: We've been lucky, touch wood! We have not increased our prices in 8 years -- in fact, both records and cans are CHEAPER now than they were when we opened! What other shop can you say that about? We treat our customers with respect and it's a two way process -- by doing that we earn their respect.
Amoeblog: You always have an impressive array of graff books and magazines too. What are some of the most popular ones over the years?
O.B: As I said earlier, magazines and books are hurting. You might not read about it as much as records, but that industry has been torn apart by the net. We've had some great mags -- music and graff -- over the years: Graphotism, Stylefile and Xplicit would be the strong graff ones. Wax Poetics and Big Daddy / Grand Slam (RIP!) are the great music ones. Those titles all still sell well, but we don't carry too many of the second string things anymore. Such a shame, cos I spent many a Saturday in Tower Records leafing through magazines of all sorts. Nothing like a good mag!! As for books, again, you have your classics -- Subway Art, Spraycan Art. We've had great books like Hip Hop Files, T Kids' book, Wax Poetics Anthologies. If you're looking for one at the minute, graff wise I recommend the excellent Mascots & Mugs. Music wise, Born in the Bronx. Both are fantastic -- NY in the 70/80s was such a special time!
Amoeblog: For graf supplies what do you sell and what are some of the most popular sales (black books or paint or other)?
O.B: Black and chrome! We sell it all -- blackbooks, paint pens, canvases, sketch pens.
Amoeblog: Do you hold any/many art shows? What were the themes of some of them?
O.B: Yeh, we do some shows. So far we are trying to showcase graffiti rather than anything else, as too often graff shows get patronised when they go to mainstream galleries, so the shows are for the people who come here are in to the scene. Trendies are welcome too -- we definitely want your money!!
Amoeblog: What about classes in art-- do you organize some?
O.B: Yep, classes for kids, adolescents and adults! We do them in the summer and the adult ones are proving really popular!
Amoeblog: Location, location, location: just how important is that old adage in the case of graff stores -- do people usually travel to wherever supplies are, no matter how far?O.B: Well with the net now you don't need to leave your front room. In the past if you had a specialist hobby, whether it was collecting stamps or whatever, you were limited by your location, but that is not the case anymore. So we do of course get visitors who have scrimped and saved their pennies, but it's not as big a deal anymore, that's for sure.
Amoeblog: What in your opinion is the essential difference between Irish and other Euro and US graff styles?
O.B: Ireland doesn't have the heavy bombing culture of Europe. The Europeans are a bit more militaristic than we are -- conscription and 2 world wars have taught them to be a bit more disciplined. We are definitely a more "manana" people! It's a young scene and it's a friendly one -- there's very little real beef. It's a small number of people involved and everyone knows each other and thankfully there's not too much drama!
Amoeblog: What books, mags, and websites are some of the best places to see Irish graff art?
O.B: 12oz Prophet has an Irish section in the forum, eiresol.com is the definitive Irish site and there is irishstreetart.org for the street artist end of things, plus flickr -- endless amount of stuff there, constantly updated. Every artist has a flickr now.
Amoeblog: Best online destinations to find out more about you and your store online?
O.B: All-cityrecords.com is our site, shop and sporadically updated content site. We have a myspace for the label thats allcitydub
and a bebo for the young 'uns -- bebo.com/allcityrecords.
Amoeblog: Anything to add?
O.B: We do a jam every year -- Easter Saturday. This year we had Terrible T-Kid 170 and Ces from New York. Jano, Solo One, and Love Pusher from the UK, and Kacao77 from Germany. There was a b-boy battle, MCs, DJs -- it's an old template but it's still fresh!
[Check out the video of this All City event at the top of the page. Meanwhile, below are an assortment of videos capturing more Irish graffiti from Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, & Galway to give you a sense of what the graff scene is like over in Ireland.]
Limerick City graffiti June 2009 c/o LapperTheKid2k9
Belfast Graffiti - Meeting of Styles Jam 2008 c/o Lecksell
Cork graffiti legends c/o JoshLed5917
Graffiti in Windmill Lane, Dublin 2007
Galway graffiti 2008 c/o AidO