Today we chat to ST(E)AK, ex-editor of Session Magazine, designer, skater, metal-head and spinner of some pretty cool tracks when he gets behind the decks. We chat to him about the decline of print media, how Bipolar affects his art and his contribution to the Parlotone’s career.


DIY: Stefan Naude, ST(E)AK, Rick De La Ray? Who’s who and which one do you think really describes you? Has/does each name serve a specific purpose or are they more depending on the moment in time where your life was/is at?

ST(E)AK: ST(E)AK, Rick and Stefan are basically just different personas that evolved out of my life through skateboarding, travel, journalism and random chaos. ST(E)AK seems to steer more towards the artistic and social mediums of my life whereas Rick is more of  a commentator through writing and journalism. Stefan has kind of taken a back seat since I left high school but my Mom still loves him…

Half a century ago I probably would have been diagnosed or labelled as an eccentric.

DIY: How do you feel about the decline in print media, especially when it comes to youth and ‘alternative’ culture focused ones? What do you feel is the biggest factor that led to the closing of Blunt and SL? Was their closing inevitable and unavoidable? And do you see any future for print media focusing on the aforementioned in this country? Will it all come full circle?

ST(E)AK: Can I rip a page out of it and stick it on my wall… That’s usually the question that arises in my mind when the subject of the decline of print media pops up. Alternative culture has always been very niche market in this country and it has the ability to change over night without warning. In the case of SL another better publication popped up in the form of One Small Seed while as Blunt magazine maybe underestimated the fact that a lot of their readers grew older and out of the phase they were in which was very popular during the time it was pressed.

Print media will become a lot more collectible and sought after in the future as opposed to something that is only read once and dumped in the bin. Same as a lot of people are collecting LP records again these days. Publishers will spend more time on creating well-executed publications and spend more time on documenting the trends and history of humans then just updating us with mundane sensationalised gossip. Who knows what the effects will be of the exposure to all these different screens we stare at everyday? What if we get cut off from all our online resources one day? I feel it’s very important to keep on collecting any form of printed media.



DIY: You recently had a solo exhibition at The Upstairs, named Rouge Flamme 517. Could you give a bit of info on the meaning behind the title? How would you classify the content and imagery shown? Was the exhibition successful? If not, why do you think it wasn’t?

ST(E)AK: FLAME RED 517, or ROUGE FLAMME 517. It’s the name of the Daler & Rowney ink that I used for my all the illustrations at the exhibition. It was all mostly done with calligraphy pen and brush. I suppose a lot of it was just focussed on everyday objects like scissors, matches, chairs and knives represented in a different way to what the viewer is used to. I like the simplicity of all of it all and if arranged in a certain way it becomes quite a striking image. I kept it quite safe because I do need to pay the rent at the end of the day. The exhibition was a success and I received a very positive reaction out of it. I sold almost the entire body of work including a commission from Cape Town to re create the 1800 matches I did for one of the larger pieces.



DIY: Do you consider and label yourself as an ‘artist’? What weight do you think that label carries today? I mean, do you think it’s become too broad a categorization and therefore is losing its impact and meaning?

ST(E)AK: To me an artist job has always been to reflect on the behavioural patterns within society and its trends and document them in unique ways. To allow future generations a glimpse into our present state of being. There still are very few real artists on this planet in my opinion. I don’t feel you strive to be an artist; you can be taught to draw but not to form an emotional bond with colour and lineage. It’s a huge responsibility and I don’t feel that I have ever really embraced that responsibility. What we seem to often forget is that there are many disciplines of art besides the two dimensional visual form that we refer to most of the time.



DIY: How does your creating of art affect your bipolar? When you are in the middle of a project is it difficult to ensure you don’t have too many late nights or remember to take your medication? Has there ever been a time when you’ve decided to let your ‘beautiful curse’ run it’s course and see what work you create from it?

ST(E)AK: I was reluctant to answer this question at first… it came up in an article about me in the Design Indaba magazine earlier this year when I referred to it as my “beautiful curse”. I would not say that creativity affects my condition it’s more vice versa. “Bipolar” or whatever mood disorder it will be classified as next extremely enlightens your senses and emotions to a point where you get completely overwhelmed by them. Half a century ago I probably would have been diagnosed or labelled as an eccentric. Being creative or artistic seems to be a side effect of it from what I have gathered or experienced.

When I was younger I let it run its course out of pure desperation a few times. Its a very self destructive and crooked path to enlightenment and there were a few incidents where I almost did not make it back. I was fortunate enough to have a very loving and supportive family who never gave up on me. There is a lot of stigma around it and the rate at which patients are diagnosed these days are alarming. After a long struggle I feel I have finally come to point where I am ready to embrace and understand its beauty rather than fight it, because it’s not a short term illness, it’s for life but if I follow certain guidelines it’s easier for me to function within a controlled society. In some ways I consider myself lucky to have experienced all these situations the condition has presented before me and allowed me to view the world from a very unique perspective.



DIY: This next question comes from an inside source: Is it true that its your fault the Parlotones made it to the big time?

ST(E)AK: I know who your inside source is and he will receive a swift kicking the next time I see him at the pub. Ok here is how it goes. The Parlotones were one of the first bands that I saw play live here when I came back from the UK in 2002. They used to play at this bar called Bugsy Malones in Randburg. They were a much different band back then. I was a really big fan of their first EP which they had released independently at the time. Some of their music was used in the first AV Skateboarding film and I did a 4-page interview with them for Session issue 2. They were basically a complete unknown band back then and I was told later on that it helped to get them signed to Sovereign. Kahn has a captivating voice and they wrote solid indie music back then. I always knew they were going to go big… and now they write solid pop music and capturing the imaginations of more than twenty people at a pub. I am also responsible for their first album cover “Episoda” They played the game and they played it well and now they benefit the rewards from it. I’m not sure why a lot of people are hating on them… I have always had a good ear for many different disciplines of music and I’m satisfied with the fact that I was right about predicting their success at such an early stage. My life has allowed me access to many entertainers and individual’s personal spaces…



DIY: A few quick words that sum up your philosophy on life? Something you wish you had known five years ago?

ST(E)AK: “ A lot of people actually look at me and think I am actually creating it. The lot. Everything!
They think that I am actually at the helm of something. They think that whatever I do is followed.
What they don’t realise is that I am following something. To work out how to do it.
I am finding things. I am not creating anything.

I am digging around in bins, dead artists bins trying to find things. I am looking for the world…”

Damian Hirst
“On my way to work”p.173



DIY: Finally, where and what is next for ST(E)AK?

ST(E)AK: At the moment I would like to continue evolving the Rouge Flamme series for a bit… I feel the content matter could have been a bit more thought provoking. I am also keen to return to my acrylic and tipex paintings which was one of the reasons I moved to Durban in the first place. I am also busy curating a show for Unit 11 involving all the photography, posters and creativity that surrounded the place so keep your eyes out for some activity on the Unit’s FB page soon.


3 Responses to “ST(E)AK”
  1. Ozzie says:

    Big fan. What an interesting personality and a true legend!

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