by Yasmine Shemesh
Craig Frank Edes, one half of the Indigenous hip-hop duo Mob Bounce, has spent his morning basking in the joys of newfound fatherhood. His daughter, K’san, which means “river” in Gitxsan, is six months old and teething.
“One thing it’s taught me is redirecting when you’re getting mad,” Edes says about the impact his new role has made on him. “Babies have their own way of communicating, too. It’s a big part of my transformation, just feeling like there’s a lot more meaning in my life.”
Fatherhood is just one evolution that Edes has gone through in the last four years, leading up to Mob Bounce’s aptly-named new EP and first studio release, Transformation. Physically completing the album itself was a journey in itself — experiencing what often felt like signs that things just weren’t going to work out, Edes and Mob Bounce counterpart Travis Hebert had to re-record it four times due multiple computer crashes that wiped out their tracks. The project fizzled out and came back, then fizzled out and came back again.
“There’s lots of determination,” Edes says. “I’ve been doing music full time since 2015, so it’s kind of an odd time in my life where I felt like all of my eggs were in one basket. I don’t feel that way as much, but you have your moments, especially when you’re starting to become a father. ‘I better start working harder.’”
Perhaps the most significant transformation, though, has been the Mob Bounce’s increased commitment to youth work. Working with young people in a therapeutic capacity has always been an important part of Mob Bounce’s mission. The urgency to give back stems from personal experience. For Edes, he faced racial discrimination while growing up in Houston, BC, but found comfort in his school’s music program and an inspiring teacher who believed in his students’ potential. As Edes and Hebert have participated in more community work, Edes felt his world come full circle. Now, he has completed formal training with Next UP, a leadership program for young people dedicated to social change, and also with Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma (IFOT).
“It’s a really complicated time for a lot of young people now. Having that outlet for them, the same way that I had that outlet, is pretty important,” Edes says. “Trying to teach the young people the things I wished I knew, instead of the things I wished I had. There’s definitely value in giving a gift and hopefully adding some confidence to someone’s life, but the real value is the in-depth conversations where you can help people articulate the problems that they’re facing in life.”
Many of the songs on Transformation are directly related to the kids that Edes and Hebert work with. The uplifting synth-clapper “Gather Your Feathers” is a perfect example. “It really made its completion as a song when we did some youth work in Haida Gwaii,” Edes says. “There was lots of people going for walks around the beautiful land, finding eagle feathers and things like that. Just the meaning behind those types of things.”
“Keys to the Forest,” a beautiful track with a stomping beat and chanting, is another stand-out. There’s a line that calls it “protest music” to the “newer generation” — but Mob Bounce is not making traditional protest music. Edes firmly maintains that they’re not rooted in any kind of rebellion. He was raised as a healer, not a rebel. As such, the music’s intention, much like group’s youth work, is an imparting of wisdom and the sharing of knowledge, finding hope, encouragement, and strength within those things.
“Art lends itself to education,” Edes says.
Love plays an integral part in all of this, too. Edes believes love is rooted in tenderness. “To bring that home is pretty important,” he says. “Tenderness is a huge part in bridging those gaps and understanding that we have problems with ideas, not people. We can’t just have the act of opposition and the active allies. ‘You’re the bad guy, no, you’re the bad guy. You’re wrong.’ All that type of stuff. It lacks understanding and it lacks tenderness. It’s a space where love doesn’t live.”
Mob Bounce performs on Sunday, August 25 at Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver)
Fortune Sound Club, Mob Bounce, Vancouver