By Jordan Yeager
VANCOUVER – Every grade-schooler dreams of starting a band. Most of the time, it doesn’t pan out. Such was not the case for Craig Frank Edes and Travis Hebert. The two met in Houston, BC, when they were in grades two and four respectively, and their chemistry was instantaneous. Both Travis and Craig grew up surrounded by musical families, and they picked up on instruments like guitar and drums quickly. Almost two decades later, the pair hasn’t slowed down. Now, they go by Mob Bounce and tour the country, performing at festivals and hosting youth outreach workshops.
“You don’t realize how small the Native music community is until you’re a part of it,” says Hebert. “Growing up and listening to these artists, it always seemed so far away and unattainable. But now we’re in it.”
For Mob Bounce, it’s a source of pride to represent a small community in the interior. The fact that they’ve achieved critical acclaim nationwide speaks to their talent, of course, but that’s not what they’re proudest of. Having reached audiences across the country allows them to inspire others to keep putting themselves out there against all odds. This selflessness underscores the entirety of Mob Bounce’s quintessence. They don’t create for themselves – they create to serve others. Several times throughout our conversation, they emphasize that no one picks up a hobby and is good at it right away. Usually, you’ll be pretty bad at it for a while. They were no exception.
“When we were in elementary school, I had a Windows computer and would just loop sounds together,” says Edes. “Then we’d lay down vocals using karaoke microphones we found around the house. That was a long time before we called ourselves Mob Bounce.”
Eventually, Edes moved to Vancouver to study at Capilano University, while Hebert stayed in the interior. They traded lyrics and song concepts over social media and soon decided this was something worth pursuing. Mob Bounce officially got its name in 2010, but despite operating under the same moniker, their message hadn’t yet been honed.
“The difference is like night and day from where we started to where we are now,” says Hebert. “I think the main thing is that there wasn’t that intention to our songs yet.”
“I was studying acting for stage and screen, so my lyrics were super specific, obscure references,” Edes continues, laughing. “If you were in my class and knew this one scene from a play we’d read, you’d understand a line I wrote. Now, we write with a lot more intent.”
Intent is a concept they come back to frequently. A large degree of their intention lies within youth outreach. The duo spreads their message not only through lyricism, but also through workshops with youth varying in age from five- and six-year-olds to high school seniors. They cater their message to suit each group, but the underlying principles remain the same.
“Often when we book a festival, we’ll do two three-hour-long workshops and two 45-minute performances,” explains Edes. “We teach them about lyrical structure – hip hop typically has 16 bars per verse, but that sounds daunting, so we talk about it like writing a stanza. And you can play with that structure, too, once you know it. An analogy I like to use is that Shakespeare was the OG and set this standard, and now we’re messing it up.”
The name of Mob Bounce’s workshop, Hip Hop and the Sacred Space, is revealing. Often, kids who attend the workshop are facing discrimination and bullying in school. When you’re in school, the world you experience is a miniaturized one, but it seems all-encompassing. Bullying can have dire consequences, and the pervasiveness of social media can make it hard to get away from, even at home – often, substance use and suicide can start to seem like feasible options. Travis and Craig use their years of shared experience to foster safe spaces for youth to acknowledge what’s going on within themselves and then to comfortably put those feelings to paper and performance.
“Each group of kids is super different,” Edes says. “Sometimes they’re shy and quiet and not ready to write a song about something they’re experiencing. There’s something called the raspberry theory. If you pick a raspberry too soon, before it’s ready, it won’t work out very well for you. But once they are ready, they’ll have the tools to talk about it. It’s about healing your inner space. Then other times they come with questions completely unrelated to music. One time I was wearing skinny jeans, and a kid asked me how I got into my pants. I’ll even answer questions like that. Because by the end of the workshop, he was ready to write.”
Substance abuse and suicide are, ultimately, preventable epidemics. Above all, Hebert and Edes want to remind youth facing discrimination that bullies’ words don’t reflect on you. The concept of inner vs. outer space is something the duo focusses much of their energy on. In order to realize your full potential, your spirit – your inner space – requires love, tenderness, and understanding.
“When something happens to you, it can either spill over into inner space or outer space,” explains Edes. “A lot of the time, it gets bottled up in inner space. Bullies have a poison within their inner space that makes them act a certain way – as long as you nurture yourself, as long as you’re true to yourself, that’s when your message is going to resonate with others.”
Their workshops work both ways, feeding the souls not only of the children they teach, but also of Edes and Hebert themselves. Often, after getting through to a particularly introverted group, they’re inspired to sit, reflect, and write about them.
“We’re excited for our next EP to come out in the new year, because I think a lot of the youth we’ve worked with will recognize themselves in the songs,” says Edes fondly. “They’ll know we’re talking to them.”
Mob Bounce perform February 3 as part of PuSh Festival’s closing night, a showcase of various artists represented by RPM Records.hip hop, Mob Bounce, PuSh Festival