Richard Sen

Richard Sen was born in London in 1968 and spent his youth growing up in Wembley. Heavily influenced by the emerging hip hop culture of the mid ‘80s, he and his brother decided to visit relatives in New York during the Summer of 1985. Witnessing the NYC subway graffiti movement at its peak, he spent his holiday watching trains and burners and started bombing the E and F lines near to where he was staying.

Inspired by his Big Apple experiences, the films ‘Wildstyle’ and ‘Style Wars’ and the book ‘Subway Art’, Richard began to look to London as a graffiti artist and, as “Coma”, quickly became one of the most prolific and known writers on the London scene during the mid ‘80s. He concentrated most of his painting and bombing on the Harrow section of the Metropolitan line and would regularly visit Rickmansworth and Wembley Park yards with fellow writers Tilt, Reme and Cast. Coma and Tilt were among the first to paint a whole car top-to-bottom in London, on the Jubilee line in 1986, and were the first UK writers to be sent to prison for graffiti. Angrier and more determined following this spell inside, Sen continued bombing the Met and became accepted on the Hammersmith and City line, known as the Little Met. Alongside Ladbroke Grove writers Hate, Foam, Cazbee, Cade and Skam, he went on to explore Gloucester Road, Moorgate and New Cross yards.

Richard was chosen to take part in the Metal To Canvas exhibition at the Tabernacle gallery in London in 1987 and also exhibited work at Riverside Studios alongside New York artist Tim Rollins in 1988. Richard and his crew The Mad Ethnics (featuring Hate, Foam, Seize and Skam) were then invited to appear in the BBC television documentary ‘Bad Meaning Good’, part of the Open Space series broadcast on BBC2 in 1987. Presented by Tim Westwood, this was a definitive programme on UK hip hop culture and brought Sen nationwide attention, sealing his status as one of the pioneering UK train writers. His writing style developed from simple New York-influenced letters to semi-wildstyle multi-coloured burners. After painting his final train piece in 1988, Sen was caught and endured another spell in prison in 1989. He subsequently retired from illegal graffiti and began concentrating on his other great passion – music.

Sen began DJ-ing in earnest in 1989, landing a residency at the legendary Crazy Club at London’s Astoria. From then on, he was immersed in early house music culture during the heady years of Ecstacy and Acid House, making frequent trips to New York to visit his heroes at Nu Groove and Strictly Rhythm and to search for Chicago obscurities.

Since then, Sen has explored the various aspects of his music through his DJ work and his production projects. Alongside Paul Eve, Bronx Dogs expertly updated hip hop breaks through a series of B-Boy classics including ‘Mixed Blood’, ‘Tribute To Jazzy Jay’ and ‘Enviro’ from 1997 to 2002. Sen then began recording with partner Neil Beatnik under the name Padded Cell, releasing their debut album ‘Night Must Fall’ in May 2008 on cult label DC Recordings. Their ‘Signal Failure’ single was also chosen by Francois Kevorkian to be used in the biggest selling video game of all time, ‘Grand Theft Auto 4’. Sen’s reputation as a producer has spawned varied remix work for respected artists and labels such as Bryan Ferry, LCD Soundsystem, Saint Etienne, Jungle Brothers, Sugarhill Gang, The Glimmers, Cosmo Vitelli, Black Devil Disco Club, Get Physical, Tirk and Wall of Sound. Some of his favourite DJs have also supported and played his music including David Mancuso, DJ Harvey and Andrew Weatherall.

Alongside his music projects, Sen has also contributed artwork to a number of projects including various club visuals and covers for Sabres Of Paradise singles ‘Smokebelch’ and ‘Theme’.

As a DJ and compiler, highlights of Sen’s career include the excellent ‘Powercuts’ compilation for BMG and the new ‘This Ain’t Chicago’ collection of early UK house classics and rarities for Strut. His club highlights include a residency at Heavenly Social between 1998 and 2000, ‘DJ Of The Month’ in The Face magazine in 1998, and a nominee for ‘Best New DJ’ at the Muzik Awards in 1998. He has featured in many style/music magazines including Sleaze Nation, Jockey Slut, DJ, IDJ, NME and The Wire.

In keeping with the reactionary attitude of his graffiti background, Richard’s DJ style is totally original. He has played big room house and techno sets and is as adept at wide, eclectic selections including psyched-out rock, leftfield funk and disco, new wave oddities and obscurities. He has played all over the world during the past 20 years and still remains as passionate as ever with an insatiable hunger for quality music. He remains one of the UK’s most respected underground DJs.