Delivery specialist Bradley Royce delivers fresh vegan salads by bike courier by day, picks up and drops off kids for the Saint James Music Academy after-school program in the afternoons, and works on cultivating his yoga practice and designing art from found wood in his spare time. Everything he does is infused with creativity. His studio is at the China Cloud and it will soon be filled with whales of various shapes and sizes depending on the wood available in allies across the city, which will all come together at his Re-Porpoised art show in early February. He’s also the recipient of one of the Downtown Eastside artist grants to teach The Way of The Wood workshop about what he does, finding and bringing out images in knots and grain, and producing a show from a sheet of found wood.
BeatRoute: How did you get into the bus driver job at SJMA?
Royce: Saint James found me, I don’t know if I dreamed this job or it dreamed me. A friend of a friend was going there, I volunteered, then they needed a driver this fall so now I’m on the school year cycle again.
BeatRoute: Do you get to know the kids?
Royce: Yeah, I get to know their names. Being the bus driver is trying to keep all these kids alive but you also get to hang out and listen to music with them, turn them on to stuff, I’m like ‘you need to hear this song, then we can listen to 94.5.’
Royce: These kids are going to be professionally trained. Way ahead of the game. The Vancouver Orchestra just came in and worked with them. It’s a special, weird, cool, awesome thing. It’s been around for about six years, so some kids have been there for all six years and they are playing all kinds of different instruments. There’s a director, Cathy, she has six kids and she’s badass. Her kids have been there the longest. They do projects with local singer-songwriters like Dan Mangan and Hey Ocean!, they learn the song, orchestrate it, practice it and video it around the hall and church. It’s really high standards.
BeatRoute: What’s the best part of the job?
Royce: With the kids it’s collaborating and drawing with them. I might only get them for 30 minutes, so we do drawing games and Pictionary. It’s like, ‘Okay Bradley, go over there and be seven [years old]‘ and I teach them a few things I could teach myself at [age] seven. It’s magic to them, if I draw something that I know from memory. I even brought in some wood and they coloured it, they’re stoked on it. I’ll bring a piece I’m working on and show it to them, and they get it. They see the knots, that’s where it starts Then it turns into a finished piece and by then its hard to even see the knots, they usually become eyes.
BeatRoute: When do you do your art?
Royce: It happens in spurts. Usually when a deadline is coming up. I’ve usually got something on the go. Wood is my anti-anxiety pill. It gives me something to do, puts me at ease, I get to work with my hands.
BeatRoute: How did you start working with found wood?
Royce: It found me. I found a piece of wood and saw a face in it. I used to do this graffiti pill with wings called Dr. Meds and I met this guy who’s like, ‘You’re Dr. Meds! Can you do some art for me?’ He cut hair in a salon in Portland. He had no idea what I was going to do but I gave him my first 15 original pieces of wood, he sold them for 15 or 20 bucks in his salon and they were gone in a week and he told me to make some more.
Royce: The title ‘Re-porpoised’ came to me first. It’s funny, it’s a show, and it’s what I do – re-purpose wood.
Saint James Music Academy is a non-profit after school music education program for kids. A special 2-disc album, The Circle Project, is currently available to raise funds for the program, featuring 18 original recordings from Vancouver artists.
By Jessica Brodeur