Mistery Returns To Cape Town: Interview
“Mistery” is an OG Australian graffiti artist who has been active for more than 3 decades now. He has gained global fame for his dedication and progression through the years. He has helped write legislation on street art in AUS, done official can collaboration with MTN and gotten up in countries all over the world.
He travelled to South Africa in 1995 at a time before the internet or instagram made everything more accessible. Deep research on missions was near impossible, and graffiti was by no means the pop-culture phenomenon it became in the decades after. All these factors led to him creating one of the most memorable trackside pieces for SA, something that became the stuff of legend. He recently returned to CPT to recreate the piece in the CBD! We hooked him up some MTN cans and got to catch up with the man behind the name.
Check out what he had to say below.
When was the first time you visited Cape Town?
I initially came over in ’95. I’d met Sky189 at a graff battle in Perth and then he came and hung out with me in Sydney. I was planning a trip round the world and I thought ‘Where do I know people?’ Cape Town seemed like a good idea.
It must have been a TRIP coming out here before social media, or much internet access. Were you nervous? What was going through your mind?
To be honest I didn’t know that much about South Africa per se, and yeah the internet didn’t exist. Most of our info was shared through writing ‘actual’ letters (with photos and videos etc) or HipHop mags, so I did know that there was a healthy HipHop scene here because I’d seen some articles about it in Hype Magazine. Also Sky hipped me to what was going on here.
How was your experience here back then, did anything stand out?
Everyone was very welcoming, hence why I keep coming back. And I loved the fact that the HipHop scene was similar to Australia at the time, as it was about all the elements working together.
How did Cape Town differ from Australia at the time?
Like I mentioned the HipHop scenes were very similar, but obviously South Africa has a different history and ethnic mix to Australia. Also Australia has areas of ‘hood’ but not as many as South Africa. I grew up in a reasonably rough area in Sydney, but it was nothing like the scale of what you’ve got going on here.
You created one of the most iconic trackside pieces of graffiti in our history and something that really stood out at the time, so why the Simba character?
I wanted to do something local as a little tribute, but also it’s a dope character. This time I thought I’d revisit it again 25 years later with a different take, as my style has changed over the years. I wanted to add a bit of my own flavour this time… pun intended (*sorry, I’m a dad, so dad jokes are unavoidable.)
Since you came back to Cape Town this time, what’s changed for you since then?
Well this time I’m back as a married man with my 2 young sons. Also I’m far more mature and handsome ;)
What have you noticed in the graffiti scene?
A lot has changed each time I’ve been here. The first time I came I met around a dozen writers, all were coloured guys and they were usually HipHop heads in general, and most of the graff was on walls. The next time I can back, there were heaps more writers in general, but this time a lot of the new ones were white dudes. Also at that time a lot of trains were getting done and running.
The third trip things were pretty similar. This time however there don’t seem to be as many trains running, and it looks like there’s been a big street buff with far less tags or pieces on the street. Similar to what has happened in a lot of places it seems like the public call for street art has replaced the spaces that graff used to take. It’s good to be back though and connect with some of my old mates like Falko and Wheels, and also jam with some new homies now too.