justDANCE! Now Or Never

Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Amie Nguyen
Photography by Patrick Giang and Jenkin Au

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The justalilhype! Crew got the chance to catch up with the Now Or Never crew, easily one of the top b-boy crews in Vancouver. With members like B-boy Twist, G, and Eloquence, the experience of this crew is intense. In addition, Now Or Never also holds some international names such as B-boy Taiyo from Korea. Joining us for an interview, Now Or Never talks to us about some of their views on the west coast breaking scene, as well as some of their ideologies revolving around break dance. Each of the crew members tell us about their bboy names and how they received those names. Read on for more about this crew.

Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Savage Rock: Go ahead, man, you’re the oldest!

(Everyone laughs)

Twist: Alright, alright. I’m B-boy Twist and as I said in the other interview, I got my name from Nelly Rock. I got into breaking from watching a movie called Breaking and Beat Street. I’ve been with the crew since 2006.

Payday: My name is Payday and I got my name from a Sunday school teacher and I liked the name and stuck with it. I got into b-boying when a dude by the name of James was ripping it down. He had his own section of the school and no one could touch him. People would walk by and they would know that was his area – I felt his flow and felt his style and I knew that I had to have it. I’m pretty new to the crew and joined just this year around January or February.

Eloquence: I’m B-boy Eloquence. I got my name way back – we had this crew called Eternal B-boys even before Dead Reckoning and it was this high school thing and my friends named me that.

Trickey: I’m B-boy Trickey, which is actually my last name. I started with Take Flight but a lot of my friends said I should just use my last name so I decided to. There are a few people that use the name Tricks so I stayed away from that. I’ve been with Now Or Never since 2004 and I started by watching videos when I was 12 or 13.

Savage Rock: My name is Savage, or Savage Rock. I got my name from this crew called Surrey Savages because I am from Surrey and they were the legends going around. In my generation, those guys already quit and they kind of left a torch for someone to take. I always heard about them and hung out with them – they inspired me a lot in the beginning. I was like, “Yo, OK, I’m going to call myself Savage, just to rep them.” It actually was by coincidence that it kind of fit my style and my crew liked it so it stuck. I’ve been with N.O.N. since 2006 and I got into the crew pretty much recruitment style.

B Minus: I am B-boy B Minus and how I got my name is that my first name’s initial is ‘B’ and I always have a hyphen behind it. When you see it on forms, people are like, “Who’s B Minus?” It kind of stuck and that was about three or three and a half years ago. I’ve been with Now Or Never for two and a half to three years now and it was around Battle of the Year 2008 that we came together.

Taiyo: Hi, my name is B-Boy Taiyo and I am from Korea. I came here to study English six months ago. I am from Last For One in Korea but since I moved here, I joined Now Or Never. I have been b-boying for 13 years. Taiyo means sun in Japanese and one of my friends, she gave me the name. I miss her.

(Everyone laughs)

Savage Rock: Did you get laid by her?

Taiyo: Yeah…

(Everyone laughs)

Muggy Mug: Yo, what’s up? My name is B-boy Muggy Mug and how I got into it was I saw it at a school dance and I wanted to learn. The guys told me I would never learn how to do it so I went down to California and learned from guys who were better than them. I came back and smoked them about six months later in front of their girlfriends. I got my name Mug first because no one could say my last name – it’s Mugisha and it’s an African name and no one can say it. After that, people called me Mean Mug because I was aggressive. Then my boy Twixx from Massive Monkees called me Muggy Mug because I started getting funky with it and having character. He called me Muggy Mug and it just stuck. I’ve been with Now Or Never since 2005 on December 4th.

Jax: My real name is Jacky Shiu and I came from Taiwan. I moved to Canada when I was nine years old. My b-boy name is Jax Fermada. Jax is from my name and people called me that while I was growing up. How I got Fermada is from a music note called fernada and I switched it with an M. I first heard about the note through music and reading music. The symbol means to prolong a sound so when I dance and I feel it, I prolong the move and my soul so I keep going. I got into b-boying after I got inspired by the Korean community from 2002 – Expression, Maximum Crew, T.I.P, and Rivers – they basically brought me up. The main guy, Moon, he’s my mentor. I’m the third generation with Now Or Never so I’ve been with it for five years and b-boying for three.

G: My name is Jay and my b-boy name is G. I immigrated here and I am F.O.B..

(Everyone laughs)

G: I’ve been with N.O.N. now for about nine years. I got into b-boying by watching Michael Jackson and H.O.T. – I don’t know if you guys know it.

Why is it G for your b-boy name?

G: You know, in Chinese, there is the Chicken year, the Monkey year and my year was the Chicken year. In Chinese, the pronunciation sounds like G so that’s how I got it.

Tell us a little more about how N.O.N. started and how this crew got its name.

Savage Rock: OK, Trickey and I are going to bring this about. The crew started by a different name which was N.O.N. which stood for another name and is a secret – we can’t tell anyone. It started with Lawrence and a few guys from Richmond. They recruited G and How2 and the group fell apart. G decided to bring it back in 2002. In 2002, they recruited Jax.

Trickey: Yeah, we were just in the works of bringing the crew together and what sparked the crew was a guy that came here from Korea. He was part of a crew called People’s Crew and he came to learn English, like Taiyo. When he came, his moves were so crazy that he inspired us to learn from him and keep dancing. We all just attracted and practiced and he helped form the bond between all of us. After that, we started battling and then took it more serious.

With the name Now Or Never, is there a meaning behind it for you guys?

Savage Rock: Now Or Never originated from N.O.N. which originated from…a different meaning.

Trickey: It started more as a joke but now, especially in the past couple of years, we treat that as our lifestyle and the way we b-boy. It’s how we do things and it’s how we live. It’s just a good saying, Now Or Never.

Savage Rock: It is definitely our motto. Before we head into a show or a battle or any problems as a family, we go into it now or never.

With such a large variety of different backgrounds, please tell us about your views of the b-boy scene in Vancouver.

Twist: When I first started, there were only a handful of crews – actually, it was less than five. I’m still one of the oldest b-boys around, kicking it. I’m not really sure who the other crews were back then – there was only one crew that stuck out to me and that was Contents Under Pressure. Other kids that I taught and had influences on started their own crews. I had influences in Surrey and I taught at a school called Fleetwood. Part of the Surrey Savages were there and it helped influence those kids. That’s the connection there.

Savage Rock: That’s why you’re my…

Twist: That’s why you’re my son. Now, the situation in Vancouver has grown. It’s still not as big as I like it to be but it’s better than before.

Eloquence: It’s definitely bigger. I started in ’99 so I’ve been through a lot. There were just a handful of crews back then and now I don’t even know half the crews out there. The scene is getting bigger and as far as competition wise, it’s not as big as the States, mainly because there are more people and thus, more jams and battles. There are only a few of us that throw our own.

Savage: I think I started b-boying when it started blowing up really big in Vancouver. Fortunately for me, I got a sick crew and the dance and b-boy scene has a lack of knowledge and truth. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the older generation are not schooling the kids and the younger generation are not seeking out the knowledge, which prohibits growth in the b-boy scene. Besides that, the kids out there are doing pretty good and they seem like they have a lot of hunger. There are a lot of elements missing. The b-boy scene doesn’t really seem like a hip-hop scene and it’s something else now. We don’t have the real hip-hop jams… If you go to a jam in the States and if these kids are going to go to New York, they’re going to come back with a lot of knowledge and wisdom and know that it’s really nothing out here.

We completely agree. When we went out east, we saw crews that fully embraced the whole hip-hop culture, not just one aspect of it.

Savage: Yeah! That is really important. Being able to do all parts of the b-boy element is one thing, but walking around with the whole idea of hip-hop culture in you just gives off a different vibe and presence. Trickey is going to say something next and he’s a huge graff writer and his work on trains is amazing.

Trickey: I definitely think it’s important to know at least a bit of history about the different elements of hip-hop and have the idea of what it’s like to meet other people involved in hip-hop. It’s really similar in many ways – I always tell my crew that there are so many things that I do in graffiti that I would do in dance. I think it’s really important because a lot of people as b-boys don’t really know the music, the history, the pioneers and they don’t know about graffiti and a little bit about each element.

Also more prevalent out east are the use of hand signs and handshakes for the crew that connects them as a whole. What are some of the things that connect this crew together?

Twist: We practice together and we do stuff outside of b-boying. We travel together outside of the country and we do try to make our name not just in Canada but worldwide as well. We also try to make a name for ourselves individually even if we’re not together.

Savage Rock: I think what connects our crew is our passion and desire for the hip-hop culture. We’re just a bunch of guys who agreed on the one idea of, “You know what? You don’t have to go to school for four years and then two more years for your masters and then go work for someone for another 10 years. You probably won’t be the boss of anything.” We’re basically guys that have no regrets in the future. Everyone who is down to represent and make memories and say, “Yo, we’re working hard now and barely scraping by, but no regrets for sure.”

As N.O.N. travels outside of Vancouver, how does N.O.N. rep its identity and that Vancouver identity?

Savage Rock: Well, first of all, we all represent our shirts and clothes and that makes a statement. For every b-boy and b-girl, everyone understands the culture of the cipher. If you can picture that cipher and we’re all representing that shirt and raiding the circle round after round, that makes a huge statement. We are not just Canadians with a stereotypical demeanour. We will not be eaten up easily. We are a Canadian crew and we can kick your ass, basically, and we’ve proved that. I think what’s so hard for Canadian b-boys is that we don’t have a scene that can help us and we don’t have the struggles like the States does to push us. We have an easy and comfortable life and we have only ourselves to push. When we come to the States, they think that we’re the Canadians and they don’t even try to see how dope we are. I think that’s what we’re trying to convey out there – just how good Canadians are.

Eloquence: We just know the formula and the b-boy formula. A lot of b-boy crews are not fully well rounded, but we know it and we add our own originality to it. We stand out as a Canadian crew.

Many crews neglect the business aspect of their pursuit in the passion of their life. The business aspect is a crucial part of the overall situation – has this aspect been a problem for this crew?

Savage: Yes it has. It has been and it has helped us in a lot of ways. We have gone through a lot of problems and struggles because of business, mainly because we need to work with businesses in order to make funds to travel and represent you and yours. Thankfully, people like Twist and Eloquence and G, because they’ve climbed the ropes for so long, they are able to help us on the business side to provide us with the funds. We had to draw a really fine line between business and hip-hop. We never let the business and money come between the friendships and if there was a situation where we had to lose money because of friendship, we would do it, just because. This crew is rooted from friendship – it started with Lawrence and his friends, and then G and his friends. That’s what makes us so strong. Hey G, what do you have to say about business with b-boying?

G: The business side of things for us has been really strong – it’s been climbing up and been fairly consistent. What we have a business for is for us to break longer. Everyone is getting older and we have to pay this and that. The business side of things is here and we want to maintain and grow. We also want to provide the best entertainment everywhere we go – that’s still our slogan. We want every b-boy to know this and we want to keep it real. More people will become influenced and more dancers will come up, increasing the community.

Twist: As a crew, we’ve been pretty lucky to be a battle crew and a show crew. Not a lot of crews can do both. A lot of crews will stick to battle and just battle but we’ve been lucky enough to be smart about it and see the potential in making money with what we do. A lot of crews frown upon that and a lot of crews hate making money off what they love to do. I know a lot of people think that it’s not being real but we are real because when you step into a circle, we’ll smash you.

B Minus: One more thing on top of that is that everyone knows that shows gives us an excuse to always get together all the time. It allows us to be together and practice together so if there wasn’t the business aspect, we would have missed out on hundreds upon hundreds of practices.

Twist: It’s also part of our training. When we do shows, we know exactly our points: when to go in and out and when we apply it to our battles, we no longer have to talk to each other – we just look at each other and we’re on point.

Savage Rock: You know what? I see a lot of crews out there and they are tight and all, but they don’t look like a crew. That’s not a diss – I’m just saying as positive criticism. A lot crews look like a bunch of kids that were just put together to make a super crew.  For me, when I look at our crew and a lot of the crews that inspired us like Massive Monkees and Skill Methods – they all look like crews. Why? Because they all do shows and that builds crew chemistry. We know and can call each other’s moves and know when someone is about to mess up. We know how to recover it and how to have each other’s backs. I’m really glad we’re doing it and if anyone has a problem with it and they’re saying it’s not hip-hop, I’m sorry. I want to make money and be happy.

Branching off the performance aspect, keeping your own vibe and style is very important. Was there a time when you bumped heads because what they were trying to get you to do wasn’t what you guys were?

Twist: One of them was performing for the closing ceremonies at the Olympics (Vancouver 2010). We had corporate people trying to come into the urban b-boying scene now knowing how we are as b-boys. They were trying to get us to go again and again without giving us a break. They don’t understand that when b-boys go full out for the whole run, we get tired. They wanted us to do it again and again so no, we had to rest.

Savage Rock: The mix wasn’t even done a month before the show, guy! What is that?

Twist: The music wasn’t done and it was very unorganized because we couldn’t choreograph to it without music. They expected us to have a routine but we couldn’t have it without the music. They were giving us music every other week that would change it and we would have something set. To change it wasn’t so easy. When corporate people get into the dance side of things, they don’t understand the routines of making things so they think that they can produce a product and then ship it out. It was a very good experience for us, though.

What other collective goals does this crew have and how do you plan on building upon the legacy you’ve built?

Savage Rock: First of all, we are very humble to have this kind of reputation across Canada. We are just normal guys that are lucky enough to have these opportunities. We work hard but we are just having fun with it. We are lucky to have people that support us and we don’t think that highly of ourselves. On another note, we are in the midst of trying to gain a little bit of fame in the real b-boy culture. We already have done the biggest gig of our lives – the Olympics. There’s no other show that is going to have the same amount of viewers. What was it? A couple billion? That was a dream come true for a performer. We are definitely on the grind to improve our solo skills, our battle tactics and our routines. We are building our connections overseas and we are letting the b-boy world know that talent from the west coast of Canada is where it’s at. In the b-boy world, when they think of Canadian b-boys, they think of one person – Dyzee and his crew, the Supernaturalz. No doubt, those guys are ill but that was a long time ago. Those guys are still doing well but people don’t know it yet, but we’re on the come up. Remember Bag of Trix? That was ’99 – way too long! We’re repping it 10 years later and it’s too big of a gap. Canada should be on Battle of the Year, every year. There should be a Canadian team for IBE, a Canadian team getting in the finals for R16, Circle Kingz, and so much more. Canadians are where it’s at.

Trickey: Just to add to that, I really feel like we’re over looked. Within my travels out in Florida, we were doing really well and had a lot of cats who haven’t heard of us. They heard of Supernaturalz and that stuck in my mind. We’re going to put it on the map because I’m tired of hearing people that aren’t progressing to that level. We want people to think of Canada and think west coast with Now Or Never, and then east coast with F.A.M. and all the crews out there. On the west coast, there aren’t many crews that are actually travelling. We are going to those jams and we are raving those prelims, putting it on the map.

Savage Rock: I know there are the other crews like Filthee Feet who have travelled a lot and for us, we emphasize travelling together, just giving a shout out.

How does being in a crew like this improve your own solo games as a whole?

Savage Rock: I’m going to tell you this right now: our crew is so well rounded. We got a guy, Jheric, who has so much talent. We got Eloquence who has been in the game for so long and has so much knowledge with his style and footwork. Then we got Trickey who is a mad power head. We got G, foot work master and we got Muggy Mug, Charisma, Taiyo all with character and all around. Jax is well rounded and B Minus is well rounded. I’m OK.

Trickey: We don’t look the same! That’s pretty important – most crews look the same and they don’t stand out.

Savage Rock: We stay true to ourselves and we use each others’ energy and wisdom to push each other.

With such a huge variety of different backgrounds, how does this crew go about with the selection process?

G: For example, everyone here is feeling great. We can definitely feel the chemistry hanging out together. Pay Day, how long have you been with us again?

Pay Day: Seven months now?

G: Yeah, and he’s been improving a lot. Whoever you practice with, that’s how good you’re going to get. If we practice with the best guy in the world, we’ll probably reach that level. Of course skill matters but chemistry comes first. We have to be able to communicate with each other and build up that vibe.

Twist: You have to get along. No matter how good you are, if you can’t get along, then you can’t be called a crew.

Trickey: You have to have the same goals.

G: If one guy can do 10 air flares and he’s the only one in the world, but he’s being a dick, then he’s not in.

Throughout the different generations of Now Or Never and as the crew continues to build on, how does the crew build on the ideology of Now Or Never Forever?

G: Everyone was working and going to school. Why did the ideology of Now Or Never come about? We know that memories are only here once. When you pass the age, time doesn’t wait. We do it now or we never do it. We do it all out, all the time or we don’t do it.

Savage Rock: A lot of parents say to their growing kids that they should just go to school and get it done quickly – then you can do breaking after. Sorry, but you can’t learn a headspin as easy as when you were 16. You’re 25 and you’re trying to learn a headspin with a 16 year old? The 16 year old is going to learn faster. B-boying is super athletic and it does a lot of tolls on your body and it costs a lot. A lot of us went past going to school and then breaking. We break and then if we have to, we go to school at the same time.

What is HYPE?

Twist: Now Or Never.

Taiyo: What is HYPE? (Asks for translation)

(Everyone laughs)

G: It’s my family and it’s everyone here.

Taiyo: When we win, we got HYPE.

B Minus: It’s that energy and that inspiration. It’s the feeling of being inspired and the feeling you get when it just clicks and you know, not needing to think.

Trickey: HYPE is when you step into that cipher and you see the energy that’s around the circle before you’ve been in the middle. Then when you kill it so hard that everyone goes wild, that’s HYPE.

Savage Rock: HYPE is two things. One, it’s when I’m smoking you and my whole crew is in the back going, “Yeah.” Second, HYPE is when you’re at a hip-hop joint and the DJ battle, emcee battle, b-boy battle, doing graffiti; it’s that moment when all the heads are nodding in agreement. That’s HYPE.

Eloquence: It is the adrenaline rush from any battle and doing the dopest throwdown of the night. It can apply to anything.

Pay Day: HYPE is that moment in anything you do in hip-hop where that element of hip-hop gives you chills down your back. It gives you that rush in your whole body and it hits you like a baseball bat. You smile and nod your head and have the biggest grin on your face and you know that’s what you want and what you want to feel.

Twist: HYPE is the feeling I get when I battle with these guys.

Muggy Mug: HYPE is anything above normal, man. HYPE is where it’s at – if you’re not HYPE, no one is going to feel you!

Jax: HYPE to me is something that everyone just comes at. Everyone sees it and they get attracted to it – like the bug and the blue light; they see it and they get in, that’s the HYPE. Something moves your soul and you get this tingling feeling – that’s HYPE.