Chase 312 interview


By Vincent Morgan |  Published on Monday, December 17, 2012.

Chase312 is a writer from Kyrgyzstan. The TSF crew was in Bishkek for the Basic Colors Graffiti Jam and interviewed him. Let's discover graffiti in Kyrgyzstan!

Before talking with our friend Papy from the french TSF Crew, we didn't know that there was a graffiti scene in Kyrgyzstan. Papy and his crew were invited for the graffiti Jam Basic Colors in Bishkek. Here are some pictures of the walls and an exclusive interview of Chase312, one of most active writer in Bishkek. Who says that graffiti is not a worldwide movement?

Interview by TSF Crew

FatCap : Can you introduce yourself?

Chase : My name is Viktor Tsoy, but in the local graffiti scene I better known as Chase or Chase312. I came in graffiti in the late 90th, but it was just sketching. Can you just imaging at that time we did not have internet and did not have any graffiti-magazines as well. Spray paint was relatively expensive, and I tried to draw on the wall with the chalk and coal, but soon I understood that it is not really proper medium for wall drawing. I did not know other writers in my hometown Bishkek, however I heard that some other guys try to spray as well, 1 year later I met that writers. In 2002 I made my first trip to Germany to do the fieldwork for my senior thesis “Graffiti as social phenomenon in Germany”, this trip influenced me a lot. I got to know works of Daim and Seak, it was real revolution for my mind. I never knew that it is possible to spray such crazy things on the wall. This time I can call the time of the beginning. After returning home I begun to spray properly, it was great time – hip-hop was developing in my town, dudes from my neighborhood tried to flow, others tried to break, and others even tried to scratch on the wheels. At that time some enthusiasts have organized several hip-hop events including breaking, flowing, djing and spraying, that stuff was called “styles tournament”. But there were more of rap and break dance and less of graffiti, I thought, that it would be great to organize special graffiti event. My dream came true after 7 long years.   

FC : In Europe we have never seen graffiti from your country. Can you tell us about the local scene?

C : It is hard to estimate the real number of local writers, because we do not know every writer personally. But I know regularly spraying guys personally, and the number of them is 10-15 persons. Now we have mostly the second generation of writers, they are young bloods at the age of 17-21 years. But my colleagues from the first generation are still alive and still keep spraying. The local graffiti scene is 13 years old, it is just teenager, but it means for us firstly that we still have heights to achieve. I still remember how difficult was for me to develop myself in graffiti having no samples, no cans etc. That’s why now I try to support talented writers. 2008 I have created art initiative BASICOLORS, this is the art collective with the objective to develop graffiti art and to support young street artists. We doing commercial works, making fundraising and working with grants, so we can organize our own art events and projects.

FC : Is it easy to find the material for painting?

C : It is quite easy when it is talked of Chinese car paint. It is not of the best quality, but it is good enough to spray on the wall. It is also not a big palette of the colors, but little by little we get more colors, it’s just demand and supply relation. Now we even have transparent and fluorescent colors. Some writers are getting Montana and 94 cans in a small amount from the neighbor Kazakhstan and Russia. But this trend won't spread in here widely soon because of the price. Just compare – Chinese cans cost on the average 1 Euro, MTN – three or four times more. But let’s see, I hope that graffiti will keep developing in the region and soon we will have graffiti shops and other corresponding stuff.   

FC : We did not see a lot of “vandal graffiti” in Bishkek. What is the relation with police and the population generally?

C : Just because vandal graffiti mostly situated in suburbs and less in the downtown. Relation to the cops and town population is quite different, it depends on that are we talking about. But mostly nobody cares about it properly. We have a lot of experience in this field – you better don’t ask for permission by authorities, because if you do so you will get big headache with hundreds formal procedures and finally you get always the same answer – NO. It is easier to ask for permission by private walls owners, luckily we still have enough grey private walls in the town. But sometimes the local bureaucracy make real shit nonsense. For example the owner of one of the biggest malls in Bishkek gave us permission to spray on the mall walls, but local authorities had forbidden it. Explanation was – graffiti does not fit to the town’s visual environment and moreover could be dangerous. Stupidity. Bad adds are more dangerous for town’s visual environment, but they can cash money with them, with graffiti not.

FC : What is the influence in graffiti for local writers – Russia, USA, Europe?

C : It is always different, some people get inspiration from Russian graffiti scene, some from American, and some from European. It depends on the taste, style etc. But the first generation of graffiti writers here was fully influenced by German style and exactly by Daim.

FC : You make a very big work for this event. Can you tell us how it starts and why do you do it?

C : It was always my dream to organize such event, as I told before at the beginning of the 2000th we had a series of several hip-hop events in my town, but there was to less graffiti. 2009 I won 2 first grants for art events from American and Swiss Donor Organizations and organized the first international graffiti event in Central Asia with 13 participants from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. 2010 we got the second international graffiti festival with 11 participants from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. At the same year we got to publish the first and only graffiti magazine in Central Asia. 2011 I contacted local German embassy and got support from them to invite German writers to our event. This year we got the biggest BASICOLORS festival with 18 participants from Germany, France and Kyrgyzstan. The event came true thanks to local German and French Embassies, and Soros and HIVOS Foundations.

I think that such events bring much more development to the local graffiti scene as videos from internet or graffiti magazines from abroad. Live communication and exchange of experience is the best way to develop ourselves. I can see how young writers inspire after such events. And this is the main thing why I keep doing this stuff. I understand that we can not always stew in our own juice, getting to know other culture and styles you can better understand your own one.    

FC : Have you anything more to say to occidental writers?

C : Graffiti in Europe is nowadays something more as just an art. You have now a real graffiti industry that made graffiti a part of your lifestyle. I hope that someday we will get the same here. I don’t know when it can happen, in 5 years or in 20 years, but I’m sure that such connections via graffiti events will enrich the both parties. I wish to invite more people from Europe to our next festivals, but unfortunately it’s always the money question. I hope always to have good friends who can support our initiative. Taking the opportunity I wanted to thank Papy and Milouz from the TSF and Jayn from Lackspuren for coming and supporting our event this year and also Zone56 and Royal TS for coming and supporting our event last year. You guys really made our events and you always welcome back.

And at the end of the Interview I wanted to say to European writers: Central Asia is relatively far away from Europe, but just knows that there is a small hip-hop island called Bishkek with meeting spot under:, you always welcome here!      

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Where is it?


  • Bishkek
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Asia