ARTS & CULTURE | Revolutions in the Beat: Circle up, stomp your feet

rup

By Venta Rutkauskas

On October 20, RupLoops is coming to town. Here’s why you want to be there.

When musician and artist Rup Sidhu, aka RupLoops, first started playing music, he knew the expanse of feeling was something he needed to pursue. He’d been writing and performing spoken word, teaching, and performing theatre, but what music offered him was something new. Within that spaciousness, he could extend the rhymes he had been crafting, encircling them with sounds both electronic and organic. He set himself up in the community of East Vancouver, where his musical compatriots taught him what he needed to know. He formed bands and developed projects with other artists and began circulating the sounds in local venues around the neighborhood.

A decade and half later, Rup’s creative impulse reaches out like the branches of a tree. “It’s a many-headed snake, really,” claims Rup, as he is versed in the visual arts, poetry and spoken word, all types of theatre and performance, and of course, composing killer rhymes and beat-box styles. The list of collaborations on his website is extensive, so musically, you know Rup’s got it going on. What’s especially remarkable is his art is irrevocably paired with service, especially to at-risk youth. For as long as he’s been involved in music and the arts, Rup has made a point of opening up the space for others to experience the soul-soothing, power-inducing, expressive arts. He’s been involved with groups such as Power of Hope, Access to Media Education Society (AMES), and is even the co-founder of his own organization, Metaphor, which tours hip hop performances in schools, bringing hip hop, leadership, and life skills training into detention centres, schools, and Aboriginal and rural communities.

The “school” of East Van is a rich landscape that nourished the social justice aspect of Rup’s work as an artist and facilitator. It’s a community where environmental issues merged with the uprising Indigenous rights movement, fused with resistance to globalization, and from it a hybrid grassroots artist was born. Several performance groups Rup was inspired by were tackling social issues creatively, while programs like AMES mentored Rup, offering training for his path as a facilitator. He is currently involved with IndigenEYEZ, an Indigenous-led initiative that empowers Indigenous youth through creative expression and training. He also teaches at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver, an organization that provides musical training to under-served and at-risk populations in Vancouver, Surrey, and Edmonton. Whether it’s working in youth detention centres or rural communities across Canada, Rup has dedicated himself to being in service through his art. His own experience with certain high school teachers who recognized in him a latent creativity and the need to express his inner world was formative. “Having teachers investing in you and seeing the potential is so important,” Rup notes, “so being in service to this world through creativity became a very clear route for me to take.”

As RupLoops, all of these tangents harmonize to produce an exhilarating live performance.  Accompanied by a looping station, RupLoops blends traditional and folk sounds from India, electronic music, and live instruments, and drops uplifting rhyme. The combination is infectious. It’s really impossible not to boogie as positive vibrations swirl all around in a delicious beat. Looping allows Rup, and often members of the audience, to layer the soundscape and play with the idea of linear time as we know it. “Looping re-examines our relationship with time and moves it into a cyclical experience,” he said. Rup’s latest show is called “The Human Radio,” an exploration on how we transmit messages. He delves into the relationship between anatomy, geography, culture, and how sound links with emotion… The biology of the beat!

For several days in October, Rup will be touring classrooms around our region, and is facilitating song-writing workshops for youth at Lake City Secondary. The workshops are a partnership between the Community Arts Council of Williams Lake, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake, and funded in part by The Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake via the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society, to address racism in the community with creativity. It’s been Rup’s experience that when young people have a safe space where they are supported and given an audience, profound change can happen. “The power of song and song-writing allow them to express what they care about and what they want to see changed in their community,” he said.

It all culminates on Thursday, October 20 with a live performance held at Lake City Secondary Williams Lake campus. Circle up! Come stomp your feet! For ticket and venue info, email williamslakearts@gmail.com, or contact Venta at (250) 790-2331. Check out Rup at www.rupsidhu.com and www.ruploops.com

Venta Rutkauskas is the co-ordinator for the Community Arts Council of Williams Lake (CACWL). She is an advocate and lover of the arts, and has taught drama and written plays for young children, helped co-create a gathering called Pollination, written down her dreams, and grown a baby and a garden. She is also passionate about the healing arts.

 

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