Rebecca Dawn: The Elevated Etiquette experience [Interview]
Calgary, AB – Originally published Sept. 21, 2013 – Very few walk this earth celebrating all aspects of life like Rebecca Dawn. This femcee is socially contagious. She’s able to elevate her etiquette wherever her path takes her. After co-founding the Freestylimpics, Rebecca Dawn recently established a new YYC event with Cam The Human of the local Jazzlib Collective crew. The event is called Elevated Etiquette. It brings the heads together to collectively jazz out to new ideas in a unique, beautiful environment.
Elevated Etiquette goes down on the last Friday of each month at Koi (1011 – 1 St. SW), beginning at 8 p.m. Not only does this event rep the true beauty of hip-hop culture, but it also strives to give others a foundation to search for their hip-hop identities. This week, HipHopCanada’s own Stefan Lewis caught up with Ms. Dawn to find out more about Elevated Etiquette. Check it before you wreck it, after the jump.
“If we see each other in the street or [in a] public place, we’ll grab someone who can beatbox and we’ll throw down a cypher.” – Rebecca Dawn
Rebecca Dawn: Q&A
Interview conducted by Stefan Lewis for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Where did you and Cam get the idea to create Elevated Etiquette?
Rebecca Dawn: Cam and I got the idea for Elevated Etiquette last March when we came up with the idea for the Freestylimpics. We wanted to develop a kind of MC competition that included battling. A lot of MCs get intimidated away from freestyling because they equate freestyling with battling. And they don’t realize it’s two different things. So we wanted to show the full set of MC skills— which is to be able to improvise, rock the crowd, put out a party vibe, to work with your DJ on the fly, and to show the adaptive elements of being on stage.
We designed a different kind of competition where there were one-on-one battles. But we also have the creativity jam, where people could just pick random topics from the crowd and rock a freestyle based on that. It was still competitive, in the sense that you were competing. But it was battling in the sense that you weren’t just a competitor. We were trying to make it more open and inclusive for everyone to jump in and try out. ContraVerse and Jazzlibs come from cypher culture. If we see each other in the street or [in a] public place, we’ll grab someone who can beatbox and we’ll throw down a cypher.
So then we came up with the idea of Elevated Etiquette (which is a training ground for the Freestylimpics), which is to be really welcoming, with a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Anyone could come in and step up to the open mic, and bring in pieces of their own music that they want to share and perform. They could try freestyling for the first time. Or they could just watch the other artists and get inspired. And to keep the calibre up, we also have a featured performer for the month (which is someone more established in the scene who can show you what’s possible if you put in the work). Phareke – who won the battle round and creativity jam of the Freestylimpics—is our featured performer on Sept. 27.
HipHopCanada: What is the importance of getting people together to create new ideas?
Rebecca Dawn: We are all going to have a different perspective, so it’s just that many colours on your pallet. The other cool thing is that we’re getting more graffiti writers out. We threw a block party a couple weeks ago, and we had graffiti writers painting and doing live art at the same time [the] MCs [were] rapping and b-boys [were] dancing. So we had all the elements. And at the end we auctioned off all the artwork to raise more money for flood relief. It’s a cool thing because now we have graffiti writers coming out to Elevated Etiquette.
There’s another event [at Koi called] BYOB (Bring Your Own Vinyl). This opens up for the DJs. So the DJs can come practice their freestyle skill and dig out their records. I know Jay (from Contraverse) gets so frustrated because everything is digital now, and everything is fast with the Internet. He misses the days of diggin’ through crates, finding gems and sharing one-on-ones with your friends, and having a connection with the music instead of just spamming the Internet. Even graffiti writers will bring in records. And we’re all sampling and chasing each other’s art forms.
HipHopCanada: Compared to [events like] The Jam and 10 at 10, do you feel [Elevated Etiquette] provides something special to hip-hop heads in the city?
Rebecca Dawn: You go to The Jam or you go to 10 at 10 and they’re really more high profile events, with really well-established people who are very talented coming out. Maybe some people could get intimidated if they want to jump on the mic. And maybe it’s not the best idea if it’s your first time [performing]. But then if you want to come practice…just come practice with us. You can ask the artists at Elevated Etiquette any questions about your craft or technique. We can show you how to hold the mic, or how to rock the crowd. We can give you basic info so you can build yourself up. So when you are ready, then you can jump in at those other big events.
HipHopCanada: What about those who are not hip-hop heads?
Rebecca Dawn: They can expect a really eclectic mixture. We had a guy playing a ukulele and [singing] love songs. We had a Satanist-anarchist-grimecore rapper. We had a conscious young lady doing spoken word poetry. It’s going to be all over the map. And there’s obviously the Jazzlibs freestyling or beat boxing. ContraVerse is going to be at the next one so you are going to see us in full effect.
It’s going to be a completely spontaneous and unpredictable assortment of talent. But the thing that’s been impressing me is that it keeps getting better and better, and there’s more variety. Basically anybody of any age can come. It’s all ages. There’s no cover. [Koi is] a restaurant [so] they serve drinks. You can drink if you want. Its kind of meant to be a pre-game location where you can come, have some dinner, have some drinks, have a coffee with your friends and then you can carry one with your party. It’s meant to be an earlier thing. [It’s for] anybody from all walks of life – all ages, all genders, all sexual orientations – everybody in the city. It’s very, very welcoming. I think if you come in, you are going to feel very at-home. You can strike up a conversation with anyone in the room and it’s all good vibes.
Article and photography by Stefan Lewis for HipHopCanada
Stefan Lewis hosts the Knotted Roots show on CJSW 90.9 FM in Calgary. Tune in on Sundays at 3 p.m. MDT to catch all of your favourite reggae, hip-hop, soul, funk and more.