Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Amie Nguyen and Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au
Introduce yourselves to our readers.
Torpedo: My name is B-boy Torpedo. I have been dancing for about 13 – 14 years. Originally from Quebec City, I now represent Fresh Format in Montreal. I would say that my main tricks are power moves and acrobatics. Monsta: Hello, my name is Monsta Pop. I am from Montreal and have been dancing for most of my life, which means 10 – 15 years. I represent Fresh Format, Area 51, and Stairway, and that’s what it is. Zig: Ye, ye, ye, B-boy Zig, represent Montreal, Fresh Format, Flava Squad, and FlowRock. I have been dancing for around 17 years now. Sancho: I am B-boy Sancho. I am originally from Berlin, Germany, and I have been dancing since 1992. I represent Full Force Crew from Las Vegas and Fresh Format in Montreal. I love to dance. Lost Child: I am B-boy Lost Child and I have been dancing for more than 10 years now. I represent Fresh Format in Montreal. System: What up, this is B-boy System, the Original G. I represent Victoria B.C., Fresh Format, Original Roots, Flava Squad, and Smokin Fools.
Tell us about the formation and origins of Fresh Format.
System: The original idea started in 2005 and I’m going to pass this on to my boy Lost who’s going to explain the rest. (System walks away coolly. Everyone Laughs) Lost Child: The idea was first thought of in 2005. Zig thought of it and had the vision. He approached me and we got together with a bunch of other people who had the same vision. At first, it was myself, Zig, 4everfresh, Kamikazi, and then System came along in 2007 and that was the main crew. What it was about was a bunch of people who had the same vision about breaking. We were all about style, flavour, and originality. Basically, it was just the essence of hip-hop in b-boying, and we pushed it to create a name for ourselves. We quickly expanded to a national and international scene. Our crew started getting bigger – Sancho came along, Monsta Pop, and A-Plus, who is from the West Coast and also from Original Roots. From there, we did more battles and shows. We travelled a lot and just repped ourselves a lot.
How did you get the name “Fresh Format”? Is there a definition behind the name?
Lost Child: The name came about from one of Zig’s students, B-girl Venus. She came up with the name and we pretty much used it. The meaning that we gave Fresh Format was that we had a unique approach to the dance but we kept it traditional still. We had the foundations and all the traditional b-boy elements, but we had our own twist to it. We gave it our own identity and everyone who is in Fresh Format is always coming up with something different and something that would be influential and would leave a mark on the b-boy world to create a saga. We don’t only have b-boys in the crew – Monsta Pop is in the crew and he’s a popper. He came from a different background. He evolved his own style and pushed him out of the tendencies that lie with popping. With Fresh Format, we try to be trend setters rather than trend followers. Monsta Pop: Under the popping side of things, I am influenced by many things and I’m trying to be as real with it as I can. I am always trying to get to the source and trying to train it. System: Getting to the source is deep shit! Think about Fresh Format as a family, a movement, and the dance – it’s all about doing what we love to do and expressing ourselves. Everyone in the crew has been dancing for over 10 years. It’s everything to us. We came together from all over Canada and we made it happen. We’re all about the future and we’re all about the youth and love and fucking unity! Torpedo: Everyone in the crew is a positive person. We bring positive vibes into the crew and to hip-hop – that’s what Fresh Format is all about. It’s positive vibrations and doing our stuff and taking it to the next level.
Tell us about the breaking scene in Montreal.
Zig: There’s a big scene here in Montreal. There are a lot of good and big crews. We had the chance to see the pioneers from the 1980’s still staying here. The scene is very good and why it is so good for b-boying is because we got a strong funk scene – we call it Funktreal. This town here, it’s really funky and every style that we have is all very close to each other. We are all about funk, baby.
Why is it important for crews, such as yourselves, to represent the essence of b-boying?
System: The thing about hip-hop is that within this element, many people only represent breaking. The thing is, this can actually push away from actual hip-hop. Hip-hop is more than one element – it’s emceeing, it’s graffiti-ing, it’s DJ-ing, and it’s b-boying. It’s representing this whole entire package. Each one of us has partaken in each of the elements of hip-hop throughout our lives so we take this to the end. We don’t just dance and learn how to break just to exploit it for our own means. This is for the love of a culture and we don’t want to take away from it in any way. We just keep hip-hop going and keep the positivity to influence people.
What advice do you have for upcoming dancers on how to stay focused and how to keep the essence of hip-hop?
Monsta Pop: I would say the best thing for anyone coming up in dance is love, respect, and humility. The greatest things and creations in this world have been created out of love. When you respect everything around you, they will respect you too. With humility, you will always be learning. If you have these three elements while coming up and having it always around you, it will give back to you or you will elevate through it. Torpedo: For me, when I teach, I always say to my kids that you have to work hard. You don’t become a pro out of one year of practicing. It’s important to tell them to work hard. If you want to become good, you don’t become good after a couple of weeks. You have to dedicate yourself to it and stay focused. Even when you don’t want to go to practice, you just go and you go hard. One day, you will get what you deserve out of this. Zig: For everyone, dance is just dance, but don’t forget the foundations. It’s the same thing for humans – don’t start running when you don’t know how to run and don’t forget how to walk after you run. It’s important to respect the pioneers – you need to listen not just because they are the pioneers, but because of their minds.
Fresh Format has won many different battles. What separates Fresh Format from all the other crews?
Lost Child: I’d say what separates us from other crews would be the same thing that separates other crews from us – we just have an entity and we accept it. We are just us. I would say that having confidence in what we’re doing and putting ourselves out there, without doing it in a disrespectful way, people feel the energy we give out. They know that we are being honest to ourselves and to them and nobody can hate on that. System: The thing about our crew that can be recognized is that our crew is very raw. We don’t do any moves or any shit for anyone – we do them for ourselves. We do what feels good and we listen to the music and we listen to our hearts. That’s it, peace in the middle east. (System walks away. Everyone laughs) Torpedo: Another thing is that we are not another crew that simply has other members. Individually, we all have different styles. Each one of us has something unique to approach the dance and we have a lot of diversity. We all are individuals with different styles and energy. The blend of this makes the crew much stronger.
How do losing battles make you grow as a crew?
System: Well, it makes us feel like shit. System. Representing Victoria, 250, to the death, yo. (Everyone laughs) System: The thing about winning and losing … fuck man, we just do it for the love. We do it for the experience, to rep our crew, and for the love. We don’t really care about what other people think. This keeps us sane and keeps us who we are. This goes back to hip-hop. When we lose and we don’t represent the way we want to, we just go back to the lab and we train as hard as we can. We don’t try to push negative vibes on anything and we just keep it fucking real. Lost Child: To add to that, like System was saying, winning and losing is always a learning experience. I think what keeps us together is that we always have each other’s backs. We are always telling each other honest things. If you make a mistake, we say it and if you do good, we say it. We are always being honest so in that sense, we keep it real with each other and it keeps us together. We always push forward. Torpedo: When I go into battle, I do not see my opponent as my enemy – I see them as someone who can help me improve. No matter if I win or lose, I just learn and improve myself. If you want to win, you have to accept loss.
Over the past years, as you continue to inspire younger dancers, what is down the line for the crew? Is there a collective goal that you all have?
Lost Child: I would say for us, our goal is to keep inspiring and be inspired. We want to push the name more, travel more, see more scenes, and share with different scenes. For myself, I would say to learn more street dances and evolve on that note. I want to keep pushing my spiritual state and do better. Sancho: One thing that hasn’t been said, and it’s rare for a crew, is that most of the members of Fresh Format make a living off of breaking. We all don’t have regular jobs and we try to make money with what we do best. I think one goal for all of us is to make it easier for ourselves to make a living with what we do. It goes down to sponsoring our battles and to have that support, making it easier for us to achieve things. It’s a goal for us to not have to always hustle. Where do I get money from? That’s something that we don’t want to worry about. Lost Child: I would say that a lot of us in the crew are older and we have families and kids. That’s another thing that’s a challenge–for us to keep dancing and take care of our families is a hard thing to do. Dealing with injuries, age, and motivation are all things we need to consider. Sancho: We know that there are friends around us and they share the same love and passion with the same things – I think everyone needs this and can’t just stay on our own feet all the time. You need friends on the same page. Zig: I want to say big thanks to our sponsors, Nike Canada and Two Angle.
What is HYPE?
Torpedo: HYPE to me is a feeling – something that comes at you from inside. For example, when you go to a battle and you get excited and you get this feeling from inside of you. It is an inspiration, an energy, and it is HYPE. Monsta Pop: HYPE is a buzz – it just comes and hits you and you don’t even know when it does. When it does hit you, though, you just go, “Man, this is HYPE.” Zig: HYPE is like me, you know? That’s my life – I am HYPE about everything and everywhere. I am too high to just … Yeah! In French, “Je suis l’allumer.” HYPE to me is the second breath – each time you do something and you are tired, the moment where you explode and you’re back on the next level, that is HYPE. It is the second breath and you feel like you’ve just touched God. Sancho: I am HYPE too. HYPE to me is up there – it is high on the scale and it is very supporting too. Lost Child: HYPE to me is a rush of adrenalin. It is a feeling of heightened-ness. System: For me, HYPE is an energy. Pretty much, it is being inspired and in-one with all your movements. It is a certain energy in your body that is released when you are ready to kill shit.