Correct Flow 3: Color Codes is a graffiti event put on by emcee, writer, bboy and occasional turntablist Asphate Woodhavet. One third of the Des Moines hip-hop group Maxilla Blue, Asphate lives and breathes hip-hop and all its elements. We caught up with the multifaceted, renaissance man to learn more about the event which will take place on July 11-12 in downtown Des Moines.
AXS: What is Correct Flow, since it appears that Color Codes is the third installment of the series?
Asphate Woodhavet: Some years ago, Des Moines passed a law requiring anyone under 21 to leave venues by 9 p.m. This murdered the ‘underage’ support of a lot of local shows, and I noticed that several of the shows which did permit minors were way overpriced, considering acts who couldn’t even rhyme without getting drowned out by their own CD’s back-up lyrics. Too many promoters are looking to chop heads and come up off shows without really providing high quality performers. By high, quality, I don’t mean mainstream notoriety, I mean skilled practitioners, who provide good examples of how to flex in their particular craft.
There was already a disconnect between the older and younger generation of artists, but these circumstances don’t help. With this sort of conditioning, it’s no wonder that Iowa has a bit of a “little d*ck” complex, in that we’re so used to being the butt of the rest of the country’s jokes, that we don’t’ even take ourselves and our own potential seriously, and assume that we’re not quite good enough to be measured on the same scale as other areas.
We hear people from here downgrade their hometown all the time with the assumption that if anything good is going to happen here, it has to be initiated, resourced and supported by some external entity, because basically, “Iowa just doesn’t know how to do it right.” This general assumption is not only inaccurate, but detrimental to the development of our scene, and too many of us buy into this mindset or criticize it without attempting to address it.
So, Correct Flow began as an event with the intent of using local resources and contacts that my crews and circles have cultivated through our own endeavors to create a short run of modest events here in Des Moines, featuring skilled practitioners. I knew that we wanted the events to be all ages, and I never wanted the public to get the impression that their admission payment was more important than them being able to recognize that whoever on stage was good at what they do. So the aim was to keep costs minimal for the public. The events would place focus on a particular element of hip hop, rotating which element carried the most focus at each event. So, from those experiences, we all know that “Flow,” is an integral aspect of progressing in any one of those art forms. So, Correct Flow became the overarching general theme and name of the series.
AXS: Putting together a large scale graffiti event requires a lot of legwork, who else is on the production team?
AW: The Des Moines Social Club… I’ve taken a conscious break from touring and album plans this year to make sure this event happens, and I began saving up and planning in 2013, so much of the coordination, funding, planning, strategizing, I've been channeling personally, with input from those around me, but there are a few other individuals and entities who are absolutely necessary to ny potential success of this event. The DMSC has not only been fighting for an opportunity of this sort with me and others for over five years, but they’ve also provided the venue, will assist in the construction of some of the artificial walls, they’ve granted their own approval of some walls on their own property, assisting with sound and stage production…really anything I could’ve asked for, they’ve tried to make it happen, and even surprised me in some areas by going an extra mile or two. Beyond them, Elev8 Apparel, Greenwich Vintage, B-Team Glass, Fluxx Gallery, my crew Scarce Elementz and Maxilla Blue, G4 have also contributed to the cause in some way. Momentum Art Tech (Chicago) will be on set selling cans of DOPE from Poland, with the man Keath Sodapop (CMK). A lot of good energy and support is coming from a few different angles.
AXS: Color Codes is focused on the writer, and thrown by you, a writer, besides having a musical backdrop (rather than foreground) how else are you planning to have the art properly showcased?
AW: I really think this will take care of itself. The best thing about Des Moines is the people, and the people, in general, are pretty open to creativity. Because it doesn't happen here often, you can post up and paint a box truck in an alley and mad people of various backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, etc., stop and build or chat with you, and are genuinely intrigued or inspired by the experience. Now take that same positive exchange of energy and dialogue and multiply by 25+ and you start to unravel the potential that Color Codes has to be a mind blowing experience for many of the city's pedestrians, come July 11 & 12. Not to mention, the physical setup of the DMSC courtyard is such that all of the artwork is contained in a centralized area, so the bboying, the stage show and the majority of writers painting will all be within 100 yards of each other. That's power in a bottle. Day 1 will primarily be DJs and Beats on MPCs, so people can vibe while they observe the art, but not be fully distracted by performances. We also wanted this to be writer's writer's event. So the majority of acts performing have either had a can in their hand at some point along the way or been affiliated with writing in some form. We were able to cover paint for half the writers, help with travel expenses for out of towners, and everything is set up to cater to the writers as opposed to catering to drunk girls in skimpy clothing. They'll just get in the way with what our focus is for the weekend, to be frank.
AXS: Tell us a little bit about the Des Moines musical community.
AW: It's small, but growing. It's also underrated, but some of that is our fault, as I mentioned earlier. A lot of us are on some every man/crew for himself-type action, with limited cross promotion and support. But a few of the newer up and coming generation are quite deadly on the mic and beats and also learning a different way to go about doing business, so I'm actually more confident than I've ever in our future. Not in a corny "I believe" way either, but because I'm having dialogue with these heads and hearing the ideas and thoughts coming out of 'em. As far as older heads, there's tons of hidden wisdom in the scene, but the key will be for those with it to share it and stop criticizing the youth for not being around in the golden era and understanding the standards that came from that time. I say "show them" what those standards were all about. That's what Correct Flow is all about and that's why I've focused more so on selecting acts that can deliver than acts that everybody hears about all the time.
AXS: How does the city receive graffiti and this event?
AW: Up until recently, I wouldn't say that the city receives writing well. There's the age-old struggle of the public and media confusing gang-related scrawl with what we do, and there's a 72-hour buff here. I've heard that building owners get fined if they don't handle it within that time frame, and then the city comes, handles it and then charges them, so the conditions are set for the writer to be public enemy, instead of public art contributor. Plus there are only a couple of handfuls of writers so it makes it tougher to do your thing. For this reason, most of the heads I know with skills either have felonies for graff or turned their focus to freight writing....so the street side game here is minimal. On another note, the Public Arts Comm. in conjunction with the city, and through the help of the Des Moines Social Club secured the first external permission wall that I've seen or heard of here in over a decade, this past winter, so progress is definitely upon us! Myself, LETER from my crew Scarce Elementz and DVICE painted the wall at 900 Mulberry where the DMSC is located, and the nearby residents and business owners seem to be in favor of more color in the city. We painted that mural over the course of last year's polar vortex and were stopped by law enforcement on four different occasions due to call-ins, even though it should've been relatively obvious that we weren't on ladders painting a 100ft+ wall in a shroud of deceptive secrecy. In every instance the cops, and their back up, all gave love to the creative works before leaving, and I didn't even get ran for warrants. You can't beat that with a stick, so I have hopes for tomorrow.
AXS: For those coming in from out of state, describe the neighborhood and walls that will be adorned.
AW: The area will be downtown Des Moines, which to me, is a prime location for such an event. River valley flatland good for skating. Event-goers have food options and later, after party and bar options within walking distance of that area. A short walk lands heads in the East Village where they can get their ass whooped in Mortal Kombat, SFII, or any other classic arcade game by me personally at Up-Down, after hours. The Capitol building is around there for those trying to take postcard selfies. Directly on site at Color Codes is a new Nuevo Latin restaurant, MALO, which just opened, along with Capes Cafe, which is a coffee shop and comic book store. Both establishments will have drinks and refreshments on hand for Color Codes. There's also some irony in the fact that downtown Des Moines is typically kept more pristine than most other sections of the city and graff rides shorter there than most places. I'm in a strange spot as the event organizer, because I don't want any unauthorized bombing occurring downtown to tarnish the event and its purpose. At the same time, I understand the culture and am quite fond of well executed work as long as its not on somebody's home, garage, church/mosque/synagogue, etc.
The writer's painting surfaces will vary quite a bit. Not to dodge the question, but checking out the Creative Spaces photos at www.facebook.com/colorcodesmoines is probably the best way to familiarize oneself with the surfaces. They range from 25 foot high walls, to a 40 foot shipping container, to box truck, to rooftop walls, and some will be constructed as well. We're currently working feverishly to have the 100+ft wall that we painted a mural on this winter to be re-approved for the purpose of this event to round out the canvas list.
AXS: What's the entire roster of writers?
AW: DENZ (KD/TAC)
DERSK ONE (L.A)
GAPE ONE (RK) (Chicago)
MAX S (RK) (Chicago)
LETER (Scarce Elementz)
CAUSE ONE (NTC)
RAS ONE (LORDS/CBS/ARSK)
GASP (Des Moines)
ASPHATE (Scarce Elementz)
MODE (Viral Visionz)
GAGE (Des Moines)
ZOMB (Des Moines)
SAROE (Des Moines)
DVICE (Des Moines)
SONE (Des Moines)
LIM1 (Mason City, IA)
ZEN (7th Letter)
LIVER ( DVC)
QUBE (Des Moines)
ACRES (Des Moines)
Check out the Class of 2014 for more insight from the writers themselves. RAS ONE (CBS/ARSK/LORDS) has a recorded audio interview set to post on there with straight gems in it and there are other interviews as well from heads like DERSK, DENZ and local Iowa heads.
AXS: How did you select the colors (teal and orange) that artists are required to use?
AW: I just wanted an ill color combo that I knew a lot of people could flex with. My mind instantly jumps to the proliferation of an idea when a concept is formed, so in thinking of future year's combos, I just felt teal and orange would be a nice starting point for this year, leaving room for some more obscure choices later. Plus, the range of tones within that broad description is deep.
AXS: What was the purpose of selecting colors, for uniformity, a challenge or simply to adhere to the theme of the event or something else?
AW: All of the above. I wanted to bring some uniformity to the event, but also, remember "FLOW," is the focus of the events. In giving everybody a similar color scheme to work with, I felt like each person's individual style would shine a bit more and the true individuality of each writer's skill set, including color pairing, would be visibly apparent. Plus, I've met and know 90% of the writers on this roster personally, and I knew that this wouldn't be a challenge any of 'em couldn't handle. Again, we want to show the youth something. In this case, the message is...adapt and create. Not one of these writers responded to their invite whining about how they didn't want to or couldn't be confined to the Coded Color scheme.
AXS: You haven't announced the full schedule yet, but can you do a brief walk through of what the day might look like?
AW: Graffiti. It'll look like that. Honestly, if someone were to come up to me after the event and say, "there weren't enough vocal performers," I'd say "sounds perfect." I really want this to be almost like a "jam." Just music all day, good vibes and beautiful colors. We don't want people yelling on mics all day while heads are creating. No writer wants to be at an event where the background music is such that they are forced to keep headphones in. Again, the focus is on the writers at this particular Correct Flow, so if heads aren't feelin' that, it might not be the event for them.
Day one, is short, only 5-10 p.m., so while all the writers who have made it into town are laying their sketches, we'll primarily have beats and DJs playing funk, soul, true school hip hop, with 1-2 other acts for the evening.
Day two will be more of the same, but most writers will officially return to their walls at 2 p.m.
Workshops will be conducted on Day 2 from 12:30-2, so coming early on that day may get aspiring artists the chance to learn a thing or two from LETER and LIVER. The workshop is included with the cost of admission.
On this day, we will also delve into the vocal acts and keep things fresh and rotating from the beats and vinyl, as the heat will force the need for variety on us, no doubt.
Some of our favorite DJs and beatmakers like BumRap affiliates, will take the stage on this day as well as some outta town killers, He.llsent, Stay Tuned, Max & Pore, JamOne on the beatbox tip, and of course the live debut of Plate Tek, featuring myself and Qwel of Typical Cats performing joints from our upcoming release on Galapagos4.
By the way, kids under 10 get in free on both days, and the workshop conducted by LIVER will be ages 4-18, brush work, while LETER's will focus on can work and characters.
AXS: Is there anything else you want potential attendees to know?
AW: Make sure to like and check back with www.facebook.com/colocodesmoines. Check www.phatescrate.com for more details. We will be posting finished spreads from the weekend at both sites afterward. Even if you have to travel... show up.
Learn more about Color Codes which will take place on July 11-12 in Des Moines, IA here.