This interview was conducted in 1995 through email for Art Crimes and was edited by Brett Webb. Big props go to Swatch for taking the time to answer all of the questions and not hold back. Interview © copyright 1996 Brett Webb, Art Crimes. Do not republish without permission.
Art Crimes: When did you start writing and how did you get started?
Swatch: I started writing when I started at a new high school in 1985. I was going to Theodore Roosevelt High School, in the Bronx. I have articles from the newpapers that list it as one of the worst and most dangerous in the city. Being Puerto Rican and Mexican but looking white and coming from a prestigious private school in Manhatten I stuck out like a sore thumb at that school. So I started hanging with these crazy guys who called themselves the Desperados. Originally they wanted to beef to me about talking to some girl, so they called me over by saying, "Hey Swatch." Swatch had a big clothing line in the better days, and I had a few shirts and lots of watches that I lifted for that fivefinger discount. So the name stuck. Back then everyone had a tag or a codename, it was just part of living in the ghetto.
We had some problems with these guys who called themselves the Four Horsemen, you know like of Apocalypse. So we challenged them to a football game on the field outside Yankee Stadium. This was a really big event and maybe about 50 people came to watch. Back then not everything had to be settled in a fight. You could battle on the mic, on the turntables, on the floor (breakdance),or in a football game. If you had to throw hands, it would be the fairest fight you could ever get. Those were the rules back then, because it would be better to fight one on one then jump someone. And to jump in on a fight would mean that your man couldn't handle his own shit. Then what's the point of hanging with him if he can't look out for himself? How can he look out for you? We beat these guys big time. Even dislocated someone's jaw, and we made the crew famous. We all ended up at this pizza shop back home and hung out. We decided to become one crew and consolidate the ranks. We decided on the name The Rebels, but I told them that it was a graff crew and hooked up by Zephyr. So I called it The Rebels Movement, TRM, also The Roosevelt Mob. So we became a high school gang, and not everyone was a real graffiti writer. Since I killed the school with graffiti, TRM became even more infamous.
I really got started when I hung out with writers from outside the school like Kace, Kraze or Tru2. They introduced me to the outside world of the graffiti underground. And from then on I got into the graff scene, and became famous very fast. Back in the days, I was more of a marker and sticker man. The first real writer to hand a spraycan to me was Zone TCT, and he's still a good friend of mine. I mostly took motion tags, and my ventures into the layups and yards weren't impressive enough to warrant a spot in any books. But I know that I killed all the uptown D line stations, and I was one of the rooftop kings of the 4 line.
AC: What crews have you been down with?
SW1: I have been down with all the best crews that have existed in NYC. Writers who list about 25 crews behind their tag have a problem. The best crews I could name are TRM, FLY id, KD (Cope & Co.), TFO (The Fresh Ones, 2&5 line KINGS!!!) TFT (Too Fuckin' Tuff), UMXS(Urban Mechanix), OTB(Out To Bomb), TPT( Braer & co.).
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