RYUGI INTERVIEWS EPISODE 5
Q. Please introduce yourself
My Name is Versastyle, Founder of Skill@Will and also member of Wickid Force Breakers. My fascination & introduction to Hip Hop and breaking began at a very young age after seeing Beat Street & Rocksteady on Count Down’s National Breaking battles. It wasn’t until about 1993-94 where I began to start taking more of a serious interest in Breaking over Graffiti and then shortly after got involved in Australia’s world renowned “Hype Magazine” a Graffiti & Hip Hop magazine putting together the breaking pages.
Q. How did you meet breaking? How did you get into it?
My First introduction to breaking was when it erupted as a worldwide trend in the early 80’s with films such as, Beat Street & Breakin, It felt like everyone at the time was dancing at my primary school and circles would happen at lunch time. As a kid who loved martial arts films and the athleticism etc back then it was something I naturally gravitated towards. It’s funny to look back on as we would all try Break , Pop, & Lock in a set. It wasn’t until myself & PJ aka DJ Skyway saw The Bboy Allstars shows on Star Search in 1990 where I really started to take notice and how much more advanced breaking had become. Seiz from The Bboy Allstars / Rapid Fire’s Girlfriend use to work at the shopping centre I would go after school to catch the bus home. Knowing who the twins were from star search and also Hype magazine, I asked if she would introduce me which she did, that was 1992. In between this time my mum had convinced me to go check out this dance studio after seeing all their guys in the paper rocking overalls that were Graff’d up by the recognisable Twins artwork. In 1993 I organised the twins to come and start teaching at the studio & that’s where the journey restarted, but for the first time seriously.
Q. Please tell us about your crew /crews
My crew’s are Skill@Will est.2002 primarily based out of Brisbane/Gold Coast & Wickid Force Breakers est.1988 which is based out of Melbourne. The significance of how Skill@Will started was because of not always being able to travel to Melbourne as often as I wanted to compete/Perform with Wickid Force. I would travel to Melbourne roughly 5 times in a year and stay for at a few weeks at a time.
I originally started S@W in 2002 with Sonny-Boi who was from Brisbane and also a member of WF. After WF had won X-Games and BOTY 2002, there was some pressure from our Sponsor at the time (Ecko), asking why we were looking to still compete at BOTY after we had already won it & to them we had already proved a point. So after BOTY Aus 2003, the crew took on more of a professional role concentrating on teaching and performing & running a few events. At that BOTY Aus, Wickid Force and also Illusions (QLD) shared the same dressing room and Illusions won their battle for 3rd place and we won 1st place against Systematic from Perth, so the dressing room was hyped and so much energy. I had already been teaching most of the guys from Illusions at this time and we practiced often together back in QLD. I was still super keen to battle and compete but also didn’t want to risk the ongoing sponsorship & support for WF. A few months after we came back from BOTY World Finals I wanted to expand Skill@Will with guys I could battle with but also teach the professional side with shows etc, so I invited guys like Yogi, Wongo Coby & Fongo to a special practice session & tested them & pushed them hard. After the session I asked them if they wanted to get down. A little later other guys like Ben-jammin Heath & Gaz got down, That’s how the full crew ended up starting to come together. Now the crew closing in on it’s 20th Anniversary is National & International with a very diverse background with members Like, Jedi (Adelaide), Hiroshi, Tepo, Taichi & Miku (Japan), MaMoose & Olish (New Caledonia), Devil (Czech republic), Riot & Nasty Nige (Sri Lanka), & Steez (New Zealand), Bucho Benny, Jackson (Columbian), Erik (Switzerland), Yogi, Jarryd aka Revere & Bgirl Killa-K.
Q. What is your achievement?
This is a little bit of hard one because it depends on which stage of my Breaking career I look at and see as a personal achievement. I’ll try to mention a few of the bigger things that personally stand out from memory.
Becoming a member of the Legendary Bboy Allstars (1996)
Rapid Fire / Bboy Allstars, vs Wickid Force (Twice) Televised on Channel V ( 97-98)
Winning Raw Styles - New Zealand 2000, With Blackout Crew & making the final of the 1 v 1’s, with the bonus of making the play of the day (NZ TV sports), All on 3-4hrs sleep after surviving an electrical storm flight from hell with Clint (Blackout), I owe you for trying to keep us calm bro, big time.
Rapid Fire - Being the first Australian crew invited to represent at BOTY World Finals in Hannover, Germany 2000.
Dark Dawgs – Winning Furious Styles Crew Anniversary, Arizona USA 2000
Wickid Force - Winning X-Games 2001
Freestyle Session World Finals - Japan 2002, The first Australian to enter (Style Vale Tudo)
Wickid Force - Winning BOTY Australia back to back 2002 – 2003 & was very fortunate enough to win best Bboy.
Wickid Force - Placed equal 5th with Barcelona Addictos - BOTY World Finals 2003
Team Australia: Australia vs New Zealand, Trans-Tasman Battle 2004
Skill@Will - Winning the UK Champs Aus qualifier 2005
SKill@Will - Winning Buzz Monkey Nationals, Canberra 2007.
Skill@Will – Repping Aus at Evolution 5, New York USA 2010
Teaching at Bboy Katsu-1’s Junior high school in Japan (Together with Pepito)
Judging “Pacific Break Event” – New Caledonia
Somehow surviving, living in the Unitd Styles Studio (Melbourne) with 3 of us (Including Benni-Benz, Systematic) sleeping on a tiny stage and rehearsing and practicing about 11 hours a day for for 3 weeks straight training for BOTY World Finals. Creating a shower from the taps and sinks, A few 2am Bboy sessions, to be woken early by elderly people learning English at 6am - 7am & starring at us like we were homeless haha. That was an experience in itself.
Having a rivalry with Fresh Sox that spanned the best part of a decade which being a part of it at the time didn’t feel like it was so significant, however looking back & hearing many people comment to how significant it was, realise now will go down as major part in Australian breaking history.
Running events for the past 20yrs & bringing out internationals creating qualifiers to give Australians the opportunity to battle internationally and help raise the level of our scene.
Q. What is your unforgettable battle?
I’ve definitely been fortunate enough to have had many dope battles, but I think hands down the most unforgettable experience was when I got to battle with and against some of my inspirations at the “Furious Styles Crew - Anniversary” in Arizona USA. It was a 2 day event which we drove 6 hours to get to from Las Vegas & We “Dark Dawgs”(Name came from a can of energy drink) Which consisted of Bboy Wicket (Renegades), Quali-D and Artson (Style Elements), Myself & Awan (Wickid Force), We Battled Bboy Ivan, Stuntman, Midas, & Rawbzilla in the final.
After we won all our battles on day 1, we eventually went back to some random house to stay the night, As we were walking towards the house I looked down to see the guy in front of me carrying an AK47 with extended clip magazine by his leg. I looked at Awan with a look to say “Do you see that” and was thinking “man what have we got ourselves in to here” I could see the same was running through his head. Wicket & Quali-D looked relaxed enough so we just went with it. We get inside and these guys were big boys all tattooed up and intimidating looking but were super nice and gave up their rooms (which they had knocked joining walls down to make bigger) so we all had somewhere to sleep. When we asked where they would sleep, they just said we won’t be sleeping tonight we’re partying. When we woke up, they proceeded to explain that there was a East vs West Arizona thing and show us their semi-automatic assault rifles & Glock 9mm’s and also show us their team’s football jersey the “Warriors” and the logo was the infamous Wu-Tang W. Not what you would expect your typical morning to be like before heading to the finals haha.
Day 2, Where I first met Frankie Flave & Ronnie Ruen (They were supposed to enter with us) & still wanted to enter but because they arrived late they were denied from Furious styles members, so the 2 of them ended up calling out all of FSC right before the final went down. Back then I would do a Gainer & take my shirt off mid flip, Quali-D asked me if I could do that against Ivan (Urban Action Figure) because of his flips & throw him off his game. When it was my round I went straight for Ivan and threw my shirt right at him. Ivan screamed out “Was that for me” and got mad haha. The Dj was none other than the now famous Dj Z-Trip who was playing the dopest breaks. The 10 minutes goes by and was supposed to finish, then we here on the Mic “Should we go another 10 mins” So luckily after 20 minutes we were fortunate enough to take the W. After the battle, Ivan asked if he could look at the trophy which I was holding at the time and ran off. I thought he was just joking around until Quali-D said, “You better go get that from him or he’ll keep it”haha. I managed to catch Ivan sitting outside chatting with someone, so I jacked the trophy back and took it back to the crew. After the jam was over we all went back to a hotel & celebrated where the guys said “We want you to have the trophy and take it back to Aus with you, because if we won in a different country we would want to do that too”. So that was probably the craziest experience and most memorable for me.
Q. How has the Sydney Breaking scene changed since when you started?
I first saw the Sydney breaking scene firsthand in 1997. Where we took a bus (21 hours due to it breaking down) to perform at Urban Expression as Cyber Force with Bboy Rely, Denny & Dj Sheep. There were barely any other Bboys or Bgirls we saw at that time. The Twins Seiz & Exit (Rapid Fire, QLD) were living there then also performing, but you had Def Wish and Serek (Def Wish Cast) along with Dj Mathematics & Swiper (Robotech, Newcastle) Morganics (Metabass & Breathe), & Maya Jupiter repping as the only Bgirl.
I moved to Sydney for 6 months in 2002 performing with Def Wish Cast & doing the Planet-X events with Bboys like Willa-Str8, Rely, Two-12, Red, Bgirl Rogue etc. I practiced regularly with Willa-Str8 at Dancekool & Liverpool St but would often head out to Parramatta & Marrickville to practice with SKB, NBD, Zelous & catch up with Mystery. There were much more power movers & blow ups going on at that time, so it was pretty fun, energetic & exciting. At this stage X-Games and Battle Of The Year had become Australia’s premiere events and held in Sydney, so new people & new crews were showing up from all over Australia.
I’ve been lucky enough to compete & judge in Sydney over the years and after seeing so many internationals come through (From the great early work of Scotty Do-Rock – Aus Champs & Redfern Block Parties, Tsuyoshi & Masaki with Dancekool volumes & then to Jo With Destructive Steps) I could see Sydney becoming much more well-rounded to where it is today.
Q. What do you do for a living?
Currently I’m a Quality Assurance Software tester in Geospatial software. Prior to that, I worked at Apple, & in the games industry as Quality Assurance and Cinematics. I’m still teaching breaking weekly & still throwing QLD’s biggest jams like Skill@Will Anniversary, & Bris Asia Dance etc.
Q. What is your next project?
The next events on the horizon will be the Skill@Will Anniversary. I have other’s in the works, but don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. After 20+ years a major piece of Brisbane breaking history will be gone forever in the Valley PCYC, where so many of the QLD scene from the OG’s to internationals have come through like Tuff-Kid, Kujo, Killafornia, BC-One Allstars to name a few, but we will be getting a brand new one in it’s replacement to begin the next chapter for QLD. We will hopefully hold the opening event later this year in 2020. Stay tuned.
Q. Message to new gen bboys and bgirls?
“What can you bring to the dance, instead of what can you take from it?”
Never stop learning. Find mentors that will not only take the time to teach, push, & challenge you with your foundations & think outside the box, but also importantly who can pass on knowledge and history.. Learn respect if you wish to deserve it. Travel as early as you can, because there is a massive world out there with nasty Bboys & Bgirls outside of your city that you may never heard or seen before which will inspire you or check you 😊.