B-BOYING DOT COM INTERVIEW REMY (2004)
Who was the founder and what does Spartanic Rockers mean?
Defice was the founder of our crew in 1986 and also the one who came up with its name to express a certain crew thinking: The Spartans were Greek warriors; the hardest, toughest and most brutal ones. They lived a very hard and simple life to focus on the most important thing: the battle. They didn’t like half-hearted things and situations. They did everything with maximum employment. And regardless of what happened they always stuck by and fought for each other. The Spartanic Rockers are working hard to achieve a common purpose. We don’t just come together to hang around but we focus on improving our skills. Nevertheless it’s not only about dancing but mainly also about friendship!
Tell us the members through the years and some crew history.
Defice and Zed belonged to the first generation B-Boys in our country, both started to dance in 1983. Between ’83 and ’86 they were the only Breakers in our town Berne (capital of Switzerland) who practiced seriously day after day. That’s why they joined the legendary Jazzy Rockers which were based in another city called Biel/Bienne next to ours. Soon after the foundation of our crew in 1986 and some initial and minor alternation of members, the core of our crew emerged and kept together more or less the same until these days! Monty started to dance in ’86 and joined the crew the same year whereas myself I started in ’89 and joined the crew in ’92. In the early ’90ies Zed was also a member of the legendary UK crew Second To None. In ’97 we got 3 new members from Tokyo/Japan after we got to know them via WWW one year before, exchanging knowledge, ideas and histories via email, meeting them at the 20th Rock Steady Anniversary in NYC and becoming friends with the same interests, ideas and goals; not only regarding the dance. Takeo was the first we got to know, he owns a dance studio in Tokyo and he is also breaking since the ’80ies. Another member, Hiro Sakuma, is the founder of the legendary Imperial JB’s and in the mid ’80ies he even won a major dance contest in the Apollo Theatre in NYC. Tsuyoshi used to be a student of Takeo and before joining our crew he was a member of Freez, a crew who had quite a few TV shows nationwide back then. To be able to do shows and battles on their own, the Japanese members soon expanded to 5 members. That’s when Jo (former member of Freez. R.I.P.) and Go (member of the Popping crew 3D Connection) joined the Spartanic Rockers. Soon later Go won a big dance contest in Japan (called Dance Delight) and thus got a contract as singer/dancer in the band PaniCrew (several top10 songs) and so he was most of the time too busy to join the other members for shows and battles.
Tell us about your biggest and best battles.
The battle at the UK Champs ’99 against Bag of Trix (Canada) was probably the biggest of our crew where I was involved in as well but I wasn’t really prepared and hadn’t my best day. The best battle of our crew was probably the one against Style Elements (USA) one year before also at the UK Champs ’98 where I wasn’t dancing but watching and feeling it in the audience. But actually I prefer battles happening spontaneously in circles and not a long time announced and organized before. Battles like they used to be back in the days. And there have been several “best” battles.
You have a well respected website. Tell us about it.
I was studying at the University of Bern and there I had the possibility to go online almost from the very beginning. When I checked the web in 1995 there was hardly any info about B-Boying! And when you found something it was like a little sensation. Actually it was the same with media in general back then. So after some weeks and months checking out everything I felt an impulse to build up a page of my own and soon later I found out that it was a quite creative work. And the more info about Breaking I put online the more emails I got with questions about the dance and the scene in Europe and thus I tried to complete the site more and more. As it was almost the only page from Europe for a long time (and also worldwide there were just a few), I got a lot of emails about connections and what’s going on. For about 2 years (1998 until 2000) the official Battle of the Year website was even a subsection of our website. I was and am trying to help out everybody regarding the dance and bringing people together. Unfortunately because of the lack of time the site didn’t get a lot of new stuff during the last months…
Name some big European and American b.boys you like.
Basically everybody that has flow, soul, power, unexpected tricks and is feeling the music is an inspiration and nice to watch. Unfortunately nowadays it’s rare that you watch somebody and you have the “wow, what was that?!” – feeling like it used to be. Of course the tricks got really crazy the last few years but the B-Boy flava got lost. Some dancers that really inspired me: everybody of Actuel Force (France), Maurizio aka the Next One (Italy), Ken Swift (USA), Ivan (USA), Wicket (USA) and some old school guys from the UK like King B and Powerful Perves.
How’s the culture in your country and where you live?
Switzerland is a small country. But the Hip Hop culture is and was always relatively quite big. Of course there are ups and downs but eg. Breaking was always strong in our country and there was always a scene. It never stopped like in a lot of other countries. Back in the days the whole culture was of course much more underground and the elements were combined because most tried to do all and also because of common interests and the lack of info and events. There was one spot called “Coupole” in Biel/Bienne where the best jams were held in the late ’80ies early ’90ies. It got more and more also international with heads from Germany, France, Italy and the UK. Then from around ’92 MTV got aired and everything changed. But it’s the same everywhere probably. The media used our culture more and more to sell their products and didn’t care about spreading wrong images. The sad thing is that nowadays Hip Hop is what the media was telling everybody the last 10 years and not what it really is. The mass doesn’t see the positive aspects the culture actually has but just the negative misconceptions the media is and was telling them. Of course there is still a core or artists in all elements but the elements are seperated and the young generation doesn’t dig for knowledge as the media already gave them all they have and want to know about it. Thus nowadays it is basically all about who releases the next cd and next video clip. It’s all about products.
Why did you start with breaking and how was the scene back then? Who or what inspired you?
I think it is the same for almost everybody. You see some Breaking (TV, event, ..) and you think you wanna do this as well. Of course you are impressed by the acrobatic moves and you just start to try out how the hell it works. Back then it was a really local thing and you got involved with and inspired by what happened around you. The more you practiced the better you got and thus the more people you got to know which was again important for the knowledge and learning. The most inspiration back then I got from the other crew members.
What do you think of the new generation b.boys/b.girls?
Unfortunately all over the world everybody tries to do more or less the same stuff. Hardly any individuality. It’s more about imitate than innovate. That’s really a pity!
Do you think breaking is presented in the right way to the people?
I think the media will always show just the spectacular stuff to their customers. Within the scene fortunately there is still an evolution going on and speaking about dancing it was actually also already even worse some years ago. But people forget fast nowadays and I really hope that the roots and foundations of the dance don’t get forgotten within the evolution because that’s what it’s all about. Without it is not b-boying anymore. You gotta have the whole package. And the B-boy flava on top of that.
What do you think of the new “look I can bend my back 90 degrees”-style that’s spreading like a plague?
Go and apply you for a artiste in a circus. But probably they will laugh at you because every real artiste can hold the poses cleaner, longer and better. Of course you can tell them that you are not a circus artiste but a dancer, so then you can try to apply for a dancer in a theater but they will probably laugh at you even more.
What do you think about the big contests?
The only possibility to bring people together from a lot of different countries and thus you can meet and see a lot. Of course it depends strongly on how the dancers and the scene are involved with and supported by the event. To enjoy myself dancing I rather prefer a nice vibed circle with other fresh dancers and not masses that just want to be entertained. But I’m glad that I could attend several big contests as participant, judge or what ever in the past and thereby had the chance to meet people with the same love for the dance from all over.
Do you practice any other element in Hip Hop?
I haven’t the time and thus also not the skills to do so. I prefer to put all energy into the dance and concentrate on that. I’m collecting records and I used to mix a lil’ bit some years ago though. If you are a dancer you also have to know and understand the music. Because it is the basis! Later when I won’t be able to b-boy anymore I wanna concentrate again more on collecting (maybe even making) music. But for now and the next years it’s all about b-boying!
How’s your life besides breaking and Hip Hop?
I’m co-owning and working for a company which is specialized in visual entertainment and thus I’m quite busy all the time. Beside of that our crew is organizing Battle of the Year Switzerland for the third time this year with me doing the main work which is also hard as hell. And all of that is actually exactly what I’ve never learned in school and at the university (where i did my doctor in chemistry). But it’s interesting and it makes my overall skills more complete. So in Switzerland life is basically all about working because everything is quite expensive. But it isn’t as bad as it may sound now.. haha..
How’s your style evolved throughout the years?
When I started it was all about powermoves. Of course we did also toprocks and footwork but it was not as serious as it should have been. Then I concentrated more on the dancing, the footwork, own steps, tricks and stuff. And it keeps evolving ’til nowadays…
What do you know and think of Swedish breaking, for example Throw Down?
I haven’t seen that much of the Swedish breaking scene and I think the rest of Europe only realized about them since Spring Jam ’91 or ’92 when Throw Down attended the event as well. Before and most of the time also afterwards most people were thinking the Scandinavian scene was more or less all about Boogaloo and maybe some Locking. But I was impressed of what I saw from Throw Down ’til now.
Don’t you think Europe is a little left out in the worldwide scene?
I don’t think so. Of course it is not like in the mid 90ies when the whole b-boy world was supprised that Europe had still such a strong scene and everybody from the States to Japan was heavily impressed and inspired. Then the European scene got outdated fast again just within two or three years. And nowadays Europe is not the trend-setter but nevertheless there are some really good dancers around that get respect worldwide. I think one problem is maybe that there are hardly any (strong) crews anymore that stay together during several years and really go to events worldwide to represent and win!
Which is the nicest jam you ever been to?
A jam for me is an event with all elements combined (getting rare nowadays) and thus one of the nicest was definitely UK Fresh 97. Not only the event was cool but also the travel and stay with my buddies was real fun, which is most of the time even more memorable and important. Back in the days we used to rent buses and drive to jams in Germany with a lot of people. Most of the time the travel was hella funny and everybody got cramps in the stomach because of laughing. The event afterwards was like the dessert. Nevertheless the Spring Jams happening in Germany in the early 90ies were more than memorable as well. And CH Fresh 89 was my first big Hip Hop jam and thus also unforgettable.
Have you changed as a man during the years as a b.boy?
I can’t answer this question because I’ve been dancing for half of my life now and grew up during that time as well. Of course a lot has changed throughout all the years. But I can definately say if I had never started to b-boy I wouldn’t have seen, learned and experienced a lot of things. A lot!! Because of Hip Hop you gonna explore the world. Back in the days it was maybe other cities and countries next to yours. And nowadays it’s so easy to get connections all over the world. You must be stupid if you don’t catch this possibility.
What are your plans in the near future?
Keep on dancing and having fun! Master some more tricks and create new steps. And hopefully being able to go to Japan soon again.
Finally, give a shout out to the ones that deserve it!
Shout outs to all my crew members from Switzerland and Japan! Thanks for all the nice memories! To Thomas “BOTY president” Hergenroether (Germany), Break DJ Leacy (UK), Wicket (Footwork Fanatix), Gabin & Karim (Actuel Force), Poe One (Style Elements), Ken Swift (Rock Steady Crew), Maurizio “The Next One” (Rock Steady Crew), Kapi & Addictos (Spain), Machine & DJ Tee (Japan), Black Noise (South Africa), Paulo Nunes (NL), Second 2 None (UK), South Side Rockers (Germany), Enemy Squad (Hungary), Battle Squad (Germany), Cros1 & Paulskee (USA), Bag of Trix (Canada), Circle of Fire (USA), Waseda Breakers (Japan), Passo Sul Tempo (Italy), Soul Control (USA/Germany), Maniax (Germany), to all my buddies in Switzerland especially DJ Woodo for the sound and Mykey, Umit and Hannes for practicing together and to everybody I forgot, you know who you are! Peace!