photos: Travis 'Heebz the Earthchild' and Craig 'The Northwest Kid' make up hip-hop duo Mob Bounce. Photo by Dale Cutler.

Ushering in a new wave

Arts Profile: Indigenous hip-hop duo Mob Bounce is positioned to be heard nation-wide as they gear up for a breakout year

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Mob Bounce weave their experience and heritage into all aspects of their music; Travis 'Heebz the Earthchild' is of Cree/ Metis descent and Craig 'The Northwest Kid' is mainly of Gitxsan heritage. Not only do their songs share their message of social change, spirituality, and healing, but Travis and Craig are also leaders in their community. They host workshops for young aboriginal musicians and lend their voices to various social and environmental protests and causes.

Through powerful lyrics, dynamic production and a desire for growth and change, their voices not only cut through a changing musical landscape, but will also help establish a platform for young aboriginal musicians for generations to come. Regardless of one’s musical affiliation, Mob Bounce's ‘music as medicine’ philosophy is sure to inspire and instigate change.

Mob Bounce is set to release its first studio album in 2017 after recently signing to RPM Records. Be sure to be on the lookout for this group on the rise. Mob Bounce wrote to Megaphone from their homes in Telkwa and Houston, B.C.

Megaphone: How did you first meet and make music together?

Mob Bounce: We were both introduced to music at a young age. We met in Houston, B.C. in elementary school, and our lives were very similar at home.

M: How does your musical collaborative process work?

MB: We like to talk about certain systems and ideas just as friends first, and I think that helps us achieve this parallel thought, so even if we are apart when we write, we still have this cohesiveness to it all.

M: How do you translate these ideas into your music and what are the main messages you hope to convey?

MB: That we need to be tender to ourselves and others by creating sacred spaces, and that music is a powerful tool that can speed up our personal development. I suppose we just want people to experience connection through [our] music.

M: You’ve mentioned in interviews that ‘music is your medicine’. How do you keep your vision and message grounded after dealing with personal and community hardships?

MB: We tend to use these personal and community hardships as fuel and inspiration. In our writing process, it’s about creating a lyric/song that can transcend the challenges that our communities and we face, even if it’s just an affirmation and positive reinforcement in the lyrics. In our music, we share lots about indigenous issues, personal issues, but always end on a hopeful or more uplifting message. That’s the medicine.

It’s important for us to be vulnerable and allow ourselves to open up our wounds to be able to sprinkle that medicine in.

M: You are both very involved in the mentorship and development of young aboriginal artists. What advice do you give them?

MB: I'd let them know that it's okay to be honest. The more truthful you are to how you are feeling, the better. Music is our sacred space, and when we perform these songs, you can affirm negative or positive things. If you try to sound like the stuff you hear on the radio, that's cool, but just grow, and don't peak there.

Turn negatives into positives and make music medicine, so it connects with many people. That's what I've done with music and it has done wonders for my life.

M: Why do you run ‘Hip-Hop and a Sacred Space’ workshops and what do you hope to achieve through them?

MB: We are very passionate about the youth. We have influenced many young people on our journey in a short amount of time. We have youth from our community and surrounding communities who look up to us and have also told us personally how we have brought change to their lives.

That is huge. With that, we cannot stop and we will only continue to strengthen our workshop so that it has the potential to impact more youth on a grander scale.

M: What do you want people to know about the Canadian aboriginal music scene in 2017, its changing landscape, and your feelings on the growing mainstream presence of aboriginal music in Canada? (Tanya Tagaq, Tribe Called Red)

MB: The Canadian aboriginal music scene has been on a steady rise. Our voices are being heard and we are not slowing. This is definitely a big year for Mob Bounce and the whole indigenous scene. We are a community and support one another. We have met many artists and musicians on our travels and it has been nothing but love.

That’s where it stands out from other scenes, because it seems other scenes are always competing. For the other artists we have befriended, we just continue to hold each other up and keep encouraging the journey.

The indigenous scene has a narrative that is very important to this country. It is being more accepted and supported and it has the potential to bring many changes outside of music as well. The mainstream success of other indigenous artists is inspiring [as] it shows us that it is all possible. Before the success of Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red, the Native community didn't have too much to reference from. There is so much talent just waiting to burst on to the scene.

M: What do you hope for the next generation of aboriginal youth and musicians? What do you see for them?

MB: With the success and presence of the indigenous music scene now, youth and musicians have a lot to aspire for and we have witnessed first hand some of the young talent coming up. It’s not just the talent that is present, it’s also the strength and values some of the youth possess as well.

We have some leaders in the making.

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