The Cypher: Write, Record and Perform program provides high school students and youth in the Lower Mainland with a unique opportunity to be a part of a free seven-day music residency. Participants will work closely with facilitator Rup Sidhu, who is a mainstay in the Vancouver hip-hop, spoken word, and improvisation scenes, to create a professional recording and promo package including headshots.
We asked Rup about his life, his music, and the work he’s doing with Cypher:
First of all, can you introduce yourself & tell us a little about what you do?
My full name is Rupinder Singh Sidhu, most everyone knows me as Rup or Ruby. My life has intersected in the realms of art and social justice for the past 20 years. I am an interdisciplinary performer and educator, driven by process and community.
What is your musical background like, and what drew you specifically to looping?
I didn’t start working with music until i was in my 20’s and then i was like “how come it took me this long to find this?!” and since then I’ve studied a wide tapestry of music. I would say my home is in Hip Hop as an MC, beat boxer and producer but my musical interests are spread across the planet. I began looping before looping pedals existed, working with delay pedals at full blast. As a percussionist, I’m obsessed with time, stretching, bending and tying knots in it. Looping presented a way to break linearity and i’ve been caught in cyclical understandings of time ever since.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Dream collaborators?
Oh Lord! i think i’m still a bigger music fan than a musician. This list could get out of control….
A Tribe Called Quest, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Prince, The Roots, John Zorn, Gurdas Maan, Amalia, The Fugees, Ali Akbar Khan, Zakhir Hussein, Bob Marley, BlackStarr, Abida Parveen, Flying Lotus, Four Tet and this list could really keep going…
Tell us about Cypher! What excites you about it? What do you love about working with and performing with/for youth?
We have a great group of young folx and musical mentors coming through, including Kimmortal, DJ Su Commandante, Ndidi Cascade and Erica Dee.
We’ll be working out of a great space, the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, which i’ve been a part of for 15+ years. We’ll work with the young folk to develop their ideas around song writing, they’ll have the opportunity to record their work and then perform it on July 1st on Granville Island. It’s like an intensive incubator for the imagination. I’m always excited to work with folks’ ideas and create a space where collaboration and inspiration can bounce like a basketball court.
What kind of impact do you hope Cypher will have on its participants?
I hope the young people walk away with some tools that can help them navigate the musical worlds and that they have a sense that they all belong in our musical community here in Vancouver.
What have you been listening to recently?
As of late I’m obsessed with SD Burman and Flying Lotus, also FKA Twigs and Solange.
What other shows are you excited to see at the festival?
Herbie Hancock, Jacob Collier, Elisapie, The Roots, Haram, Russell Wallace, Mili Hong, Irreversible Entanglements, Snotty Noze Rez Kids, Pugs and Crows, and generally whatever goes down at Ironworks.
and of course WU-TANG! WU-TANG! WU-TANG!
What’s next for you?
I’ll be performing alongside the dynamic duo of PIQSIQ as part of Indian Summer Festival on July 6th at the Imperial. Also I’m doing the sound design for All’s Well that End’s Well at Bard on the Beach and I get to go and perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival for the first time later in July. Stay tuned for some music coming out as well, including my Sufi Hip Hop project Jhalaak with a group of Qawaali musicians in Rajasthan. Also Ruby Singh and The Future Ancestors, a blues/soul/ hip hop project with some of my favourite local musicians, will be dropping a couple tunes through the year.
Rup Sidhu is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, producer and composer who uses body percussion and beatboxing to demonstrate and teach how the human form is a musical instrument.
You can see Rup & the Cypher participants perform on July 1 at 12:30pm on Granville Island.