Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Watch the Billboard Music Award
Since Banksy became a street artist in the early 2000s, one of the most intriguing aspects of the Bristol-based painter has been his identity. Over the years, various people have been linked to the nickname, among them Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett, a comic book illustrator who also co-created Tank girl, and Massive Attack co-founder Robert Del Naja, on the basis that both are from Bristol and that Del Naja has also dabbled in graffiti.
Now, a BBC recording from 2003 appears to confirm that Banksy is indeed Robert, but not Del Naja.
In an interview between the up-and-coming street artist and former BBC arts correspondent Nigel Screw ahead of the Banksy show Turf War show in East London in the summer of 2003, Screw asked if he could use Banksy’s real name in the interview, citing that The independent had already used it. Screw then asks if his name is “Robert Banks” and the artist replies: “It’s Robbie”.
An edited version of the recording was recently used as part of the BBC podcast series. Banksy’s story, released in July. Screw, after listening to the podcast series, wanted to revisit the complete original recording and discovered crucial information about the artist that was never used.
In the newly published interview, a younger Banks also questions whether the graffiti should be considered vandalism. “If done correctly, it’s illegal!” But I had a good reaction, I think most people responded to my work. You know, I’ve even had police officers in the past say they like certain things about it, but… I just think it’s my right to go and paint it,” he says.
“And it’s also someone else’s right to go and paint on it if they don’t like it, you know? It actually doesn’t take much time with a bucket of white paint to paint over it. I think it’s better if you treat the city like a big playground, you know? It’s there to mess around, you know?
The lost audio part can now be heard on Banksy’s story bonus episode, released on November 21 and available on BBC Sounds.