Leaf & Wood - Does cannabis play a role in your creative process, before, during, after?
Dredlife - In the beginning I enjoyed it but wasn’t a big deal for me, for the most part it was just around. I remember as I started learning how to film and edit junior year at Art and Design, editing became my first hurdle to jump. In the back of my mind, in my mental rolodex, there’s this interview with RZA. He talked about how he learned to produce music and how to work the boards in the studio over a weekend. He went into the studio with a pound of weed and came out of it knowing how to do what he had to do. I followed in those foot steps. Ever since then its been more ingrained in my daily life.
Leaf & Wood - It’s clear you have a passion for film/photography. What’s the origin of that passion?
Dredlife - I wrote my name on a fence way before I knew what was what, and when my pops taught me how to 3D letters, at that moment it was a wrap. For the most part, I knew that art was my future. I def thought I was gonna draw my ass off. Then I got into AnD ( Art and Design H.S. ). And I sat next to a kid, shout out to Nerick, who could really draw his ass off... and I had to rethink my strategy. I’ve always had a solid eye and innate understanding of composition. So I decided I would skip drawing and make skate videos for the rest of high school, which would have been an easy out. Instead it became an easy in, into what would become a central pillar in my art house. I’ll forever be a story teller, the medium is just the tool to tell the story.
Leaf & Wood - I know you have a close friendship with 2ESAE, can you speak on that?
Dredlife - Man that dude is literally up there as one of my oldest friends. Like all of us who went to Art and Design, there are friendships and bonds from that school that will never be replaced. 2 and I knew of each other back then but actually linked up several years later. One of the handful of people in my life that I had an instant connection with. Very much a kindred spirit. He has one of the most free and wildest spirits I have ever met. His will to manifest and make shit happen out of thin air and thought, is bar none that I have ever encountered in life. Also a man who has seen and gone through more than most. I’ve been humbled to have inspiring friends who push me to always be better.
Leaf & Wood - Back when I was in high school we had “schwag,” ” mids” and “dank”. Now there are thousands of strain names out there. You have any personal favorites over the past few years?
Dredlife - Yo haze and diesel was all I ever remember from those days. Beyond that, it was all Reggie Miller. I remember once we did the only cross borough mission for some white widow. We had talked about that shit for years and when some one uptown had it, we trekked it. These days I ain’t that guy, I’m solid with some sativa if I have choices. But I could care less as long as it’s not reggs... straight up.
Leaf & Wood - What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Dredlife - Unaccountability. Plain and simple. I can’t deal with egos and humans who are not self aware.
Nothing worse than some one who is not accountable for their actions. Forever excuses... always defensive and honestly usually an ass face kinda human inside.
We’re all flawed, I can deal with a mistake but I will not deal with some one who can’t look you in the eye and admit to their own actions. I’m from New York, stab me in the front not the back.
Leaf & Wood - NYC and the NYPD has a bad history with being lenient with cannabis users in public, you have any runs ins of that nature with them?
Dredlife - I would like for my mom dukes to be able to read this interview. So I’m def gonna keep it vague. Most def been in the tombs for the weekend, no one I knew had parents that let them smoke. So we were always outside. The homies had a small tango once with ATF, but there were no weapons in the whip at the time sooooo ... got cleaned out of our weed but everyone walked away. Just gotta keep your head on a swivel. But I will say for the most part, that wasnt d’evil that took anyone I knew down. So blessings, ya know.
And anyone caught up in that system needs to have reparations right now, cause now it’s profitable on the backs of how many... but you know that’s a rant for another interview.
Leaf & Wood - What do you find more rewarding? The finished piece or the process of creating?
Dredlife - In painting I like the process, I find the challenge and getting back to that child like nature inside of learning and discovering what I’m painting. Also for it being a solo art form even when painting with someone, it’s just you and what you’re creating. There’s something freeing about that experience.
When it comes to video or film, I very much prefer the finished piece. The amount of people and different energies you need to wrangle to make a video happen is beyond stressful. And I find no calm in that storm, it’s like being at war for me. I’m only at peace with that art form after it’s done and I’m editing it with my joint in hand. But I’m more surprised than not by the end of the video and always feel at one and good with the process.
Leaf & Wood - What is your idea of Happiness?
Dredlife - Family and art. I was the only child in New York with an entire gigantic family back in Brasil. I grew up with that reality, that’s why I’m so hung up on loyalty. The friends I made in NY are my family, at one point it was two handfuls, these days it’s a solid grip in one hand. But I’ll take those 5 over the rest of the sheep out there. I’m very about having kids and family of my own. When the universe deams it to be time, it knows where to find me. But I have to create. It’s tough. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. I have too much love to give and I’m too insufferable when I’m not being artistic or creating... I was given too much ambition as a child. I need to tell stories... I need to share with the world….
Leaf & Wood - You create a lot of finished work on canvas and other hangable mediums, you also clearly put a lot of thought in placement and location of the work you do out side. Is there a difference in the feeling of accomplishment between the two?
Dredlife - My art work at the core of it is an emotion, it’s a feeling. When you look at it, you automatically connect to the emotion through your own experience. With hangable art I’m at the studio expressing how I feel that day. If I’m angry, DANY’s angry. There have been moments that I’ve burst into tears and I’ll paint the saddest monkey I have in me. So that work ends up being very much more personal to the moment when it’s being created.
When I paint outside I try not to be as entangled in my own self, but more open to the emotion of the environment. I don’t care to paint angry or sad emotions in parks. Kids have to live with that. I want to always uplift or inspire. There’s inherent responsibility with public space. But that’s not to say sometimes being honest isn’t the answer to the question or solution that is needed. There’s a quote by Bertolt Brecht that I love and very much live by.
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
Leaf & Wood - Can you talk on the feelings and motivation behind the piece you did last summer with the "be anti-racist" writing near it?
Dredlife - After the initial riots in soho, there was a wave of lenience to the city. All the stores where boarded up and manhattan looked the craziest it’s looked in decades. People where coming out and painting boards. And no one was really fucking with you as long as as you weren’t wilding.
When there is blood in the water… sharks will eat. When there are walls to be painted… we will paint. So def jumped out, knew a handful of cats that were already just out there. Werds MOK my man VEW was early on it and their energy honestly brought it out of me. “Be anti-racist” was already written on the wall. I spoke to someone on the block and he told me that the landlord called the cops on the kids prior who wrote that message. For whatever it was worth, it was unfinished in the way it was left, so I said fuck it let’s finish the job. I’ve believed in that message since I was a kid. I’ve never been a quiet kid, always spoke out against something or other, always defending someone. I’ve known since young what it’s like to stick out, I’m def a New Yorker but without a doubt the son of immigrants, raised in an immigrant household. It’s bigger than me.