RYUGI INTERVIEWS EPISODE 4
BBOY NICK POWER
Q. Please introduce yourself
My name is Nick Power aka B*Boy Rely. Born in the 70’s in the Queensland town of Toowoomba. Now living Sydneyside.
Q. What do you do for a living?
I always consider myself first and foremost a B*boy. I have managed to carve out a living as a hip hop artist for most of my adult life - teaching, performing, running events and creating shows. Over the last few years I have focussed my energy into choreography. This work takes me across the country and around the world and I get to work with dope dancers in interesting places.
Q. When did you start breaking? And how did you get into it?
I started breaking in the early 90’s in Toowoomba, renting video tapes like Beat Street, learning the moves by watching them in slow mo and then testing my mettle at the school socials or local blue light disco. I soon found that hip hop gave me other avenues to connect with communities and broaden my skills, I started a late night hardcore hip hop radio show through the University channel and was very active as a graff artist. I felt I was doing something creative and important, contributing to the culture and the community. When the time was right I moved to brisbane and started training with the B*boy Allstar - led by B*Boy Busk. I connected with B*Boy Versastyle, we started a crew together - Cyber Force - and travelled to Sydney to rock a show at Urban Expressions Festival. I remember at the Globe nightclub during the festival battling these old school legends such as Sereck (Def Wish Cast) and Exit (Rapid Fire), B*Boys who i’d only ever seen on video and being able to hold my own against them. It was this moment where a new generation of Aus B*Boys were emerging, inspired by these giants of our scene who had been holding the torch for many years. We had a new flavour and energy to offer, as we moved forward the previous generation were there to keep pushing, training and supprting us. It can’t be understated what crews such as Rapid Fire and B*Boy Allstars did to put Austalia on the international map in the 80’s and 90’s. Still to this day when I travel overseas people ask about them. There was a time when Australia led the world in power moves, no-one could touch us. Australia were the “Korea” of the early 90’s. I hope that younger generations understand this history. These were the B*boys and crews that inspired me to start and who taught and encouraged me. I never could touch their level of powermoves but I diversified with a combination of freezes, footwork and power that I found more playful and creative then the rigorously focussed powermove training of my mentors. By the late 90’s the global trend had swung more towards a mix of style, power and charactor with the emergence of crews such as Style Elements onto the international stage.
Q. Please tell us about your crew.
I have been in many crews - Cyber Force, Rapid Fire and B*Boy Allstars - I would say that my involvement with RF and Allstars was part of a second generation for these crews. The crew I contributed the most to was Gravity Warriors. I founded the crew alongside B*Boy Busk and we had around 10 members. We would travel around Australia, battling and connecting with other crews. We did lots of shows at clubs and festivals and also toured around with funk band Resin Dogs collaborating as part of their stage show. The big national battle at that time was X-games. We won the Qld division a few years running and did pretty well nationally, never taking it out but shooting at the pointy end. The great thing about being in a crew is the commeraderie, friendship, common philosophy and values that this entity holds. The in-jokes, fun, absolute stupidity and friendly rivalry all pushing into new realms of creativity. It is an important cornerstone of hip hop culture. In recent years I have been noticing crew culture erode as battles start to veer away from representing the crew as a whole and more towards 1 on 1 comps. This shift in culture, guided by promotors and energy drink corporations is something to be weary of in my opinion. Like all things it’ll probably come full circle, perhaps it is also a reflection of societies shift away from the collective and onto the individual.
Q. Which battle was the most favorite for you?
There’s so many! One that springs to mind was a local Brisbane battle called “Down and Out” run by Versastyle at the Valley PCYC in Brisbane. I remember there being this great vibe in the room, the whole Qld scene was there, the battles were heated but still fun. The battle came down to a tie breaker in the final - we were up against a cheeky young crew from the Gold Coast called “Statistics”. We ended up taking it out - B*boy Wicket (Renegades) was judging. Perhaps I remember this as it was one of the last battles we did as a crew. Statistics went on to become Skill at Will. Gravity Warriors are still connected and most members are still active in the scene.
Q. Please tell us about Australia breaking scene from your era and what do you think about the difference of the breaking scene between now and your era?
I feel like it was a really interesting and experimental time in Breaking - the years of the late 90’s, early 2000’s. It was just before the internet totally took hold. We were still watching video tapes of battle of the year or UK b*boy champs. We were pushing into a new frontier of power moves with air tracks coming on the scene as well as all the crazy bendy handstand freezes and combos. It was ok to try new moves in a battle and crash - you would still get props for trying because everyone knew we were discovering this new territory. It was wide open, a little raw and unpolished, it wasn’t about a perfectly executed set but rather how you were innovating, pushing the form forward. Battles weren’t such a mathematical equation, it had more of a logic to it, a call and response, a feeling of a genuine conversation between two crews. Don’t get me wrong, I think where the dance is at and where it’s been taken is incredible but I do believe that those seeds of innovation were planted in the emergence out of the “classic” era - ground power, traditional footwork & freezes into the technical era - air power & freezes, tech footwork / floor work / transitions. While that shift was happenning was a super exciting time for Breaking.
Q. Platform Festival was the one of your events back in the day. How did you start it and how did you think about the series?
I aproached Carriageworks about running the festival. At that moment the elements of hip hop were starting to drift apart. My vision was to bring all the elements back together under one roof. Not necesarily to say “this is how it should be” but more of a reminder that these are all pieces of the same puzzle. I wanted to showcase our community, create an inclusive environment that highlighted the skills and energy of grass roots Australian hip hop. Besides the Graff, Breaking, Popping and Locking battles I also ran big music events including an all Indigenous line up at The Block in Redfern as part of the Festival. We did a film night with local and international hip hop film makers, a hip hop community workers forum with people from all over the country coming to speak about their practice in this area and connect with other artists. By the fifth and final year we had over 5000 people attend on opening weekend, it was enormous! The best thing about it is that I created something I felt the community was proud of, people still talk to me about their experiences at the festival and ask me to bring it back.
Q. As you have been travelling around the worlds a lot. Which country is your favorite city? Please tell us some stories if there are any.
I have spent alot of time in Paris over the past few years, I just came back from there last week. Hip Hop capital of the world! So many good times, friends and fun there.
Q. What is your next project?
A show called “Two Crews”. Featuring Riddim Nation (Syd) and Lady Rocks (Paris). I have been developing it quite intensely this year both in Sydney and Paris, we premiere in Sydney early 2020, keep an ear out!!
Q. What are your hobbies?
I live by the beach so enjoy swimming, hanging with my family and riding my 80’s dirtbike
Q. Message to new gen bboys and bgirls?