Goldie In The Bronx, New York 1986

Drum ’n’ bass icon Goldie recounts his time painting and hanging out with graffiti legend Tracy 168 in New York...

Paul Nichols headshot
  • By Paul Nichols
  • 6 Oct 2014
  • min read
I was living in Wolverhampton at the time. Can you believe it? Straight out of Wolverhampton to the Bronx. That trip lasted for three months. Then I went back and spent a couple of years there, before moving to Miami. I just loved it. ‘Wolverhampton, New York, Miami, London’ - it would make a great t-shirt.

The photo was a piss take. I’d hooked up with Tracy 168 [famous graffiti writer and originator of the ‘Wildstyle’ graffiti style] who had most of the New York policemen in his pocket. This guy was posing as one of them. We thought it’d be a funny thing to do as seeing a policeman standing next to someone doing graffiti was unheard of back then. It was Tracy’s cousin – he came round the corner while we were painting and was like, ‘Wooahhh I’m gonna arrest you motherfuckers!’

It reminds me of great times. I see that picture and I can fucking smell [spray paint] Krylon. It’s like remembering smoking your first cigarette round the back of the bike shed at school. I can smell New York when I look at that picture.

At the time, the Bronx was edgy, so edgy. You’d be walking over rubble as tenement yards had been levelled. Don’t forget, we came there after the blue collar workers from Puerto Rico and Cuba had built all this shit. Then there was an economic explosion and it all collapsed.

Out of the rubble rose a phoenix. Hip-hop, block parties and Afrika Bambaataa. I think that society can be at its most creative and willing to change when it gets really bad. It just kind of works itself out. I spoke to Afrika Bambaataa about it. He was one of my massive heroes and influences and still is. He was part of these savage fucking schools. He decided to put on parties and play music; let’s dance about it. That’s what happens.

The same can be said of Dudamel and the El Sistema Orchestra coming out of Venezuela. It’s known for gang killings, then they start giving kids violas. We’re heading the same way in this country. We had Arthur Scargill and the miners’ riots in the eighties. Things are going to start changing again and at these times we always turn to music.

Goldie is a producer and DJ best known as one of the originators of drum ’n’ bass. His current projects include reimagining his seminal album Timeless with the Heritage Orchestra 20 years after its original release. He’s also recently released his contribution to the Masterpiece series, a three CD mix showing off his influences and inspirations.

Read our previous interview with Goldie on his recent explorations into classical music and love for Emerson, Lake and Palmer.