Krazy Kujo Interview
Vasquez: First of all introduce yourself, what crew do You represent, Bboy since?
Kujo: My name is Jacob Lyons. B-boys know me as Krazy Kujo, or just Kujo. I’ve been a b-boy for 20 years now, since 1992. I was one of the founding members of Soul Control Crew in 1996. I’m also a member of ILL-Abilities Crew, an international crew of differently-abled b-boys, and I am almost totally deaf – 100% deaf in my right ear, and mostly deaf in my left ear. I am also the artistic director and choreographer of Lux Aeterna, which is an urban dance/circus arts/theater company.
Vasquez: I’m just curious, because that is huge shock for me now, I didnt know that! So what happened?
Kujo: I was born 100% deaf in my right ear with what is called sensorineural hearing loss – this means that the auditory nerve was already dead before I was actually born, and there is currently no medical way to fix this.
When I was very young – 4 years old – I had a severe ear infection that caused me to lose about half of the hearing in my left ear. This is known as conductive hearing loss. Later in life – when I was a teenager – I suffered many head injuries, mostly minor but some major. One was in high school gym class, when I was hit in the face with a baseball; others were from fights; and the rest were from breaking injuries, mostly from mistakes I made when trying to learn air tracks (or air flares). I had one air track injury which caused me to go blind for a few hours, and I also sprained my neck at the same time. This was 3 days before a big battle, and despite my injuries, we won!
Vasquez: How was Breaking back in 90′s? What was your inspiration to start Breaking?
Kujo: My first inspirations to break were the kids in high school. I started when was 15, in the 10th grade, with local groups like High Society and First Up. Soon, some friends and I started a crew called Floor Control, and these were the guys who gave me the name Kujo. (Floor Control later merged with Soul Swift to form Soul Control.) All we had were VHS tapes of the movies Breakin’, Breakin’ 2, and Beat Street. But my biggest inspirations were Lil Cesar and Wilpower of Air Force Crew, who I met at the Hip Hop Shop on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. They showed me, beyond all doubt, that anything was possible, and I knew then that this was what I wanted to do with my life. After Air Force, my biggest inspirations to be as original as possible were, first, my crew Soul Control, and second, all the Europeans we got to see in videos like Battle of the Year 1995, Let’s Break, etc. Battle Squad stood out the most to us, and we later became good friends with Storm, Swift, Speedy, and Maurizio. Sonny Tee from Hamburg also was a big standout, and he actually joined our crew!
Vasquez: Dope! The history of Your Crew is legend for me and many bboys in Eastern Europe. I’ve always watched VHS including Soul Control and I remember that it was one of the most original crew from USA. What was Your crew’s secret to invent so many moves like: elbow airflare, airflares, crazy ufo’s made by You and many more? I see these moves are recreating nowadays by Top Bboys whos winning biggest competitions around the world. These moves are timeless!
Kujo: First, it’s important to remember that we did not create the air flare (or air track) – the move existed before we learned it, but it was very, very rare in the ’90s. The only variations we had seen were air flare to windmill, and 1 1/2 air flares, landing on the back. We realized quickly that this was going to be the biggest move in the history of breaking, so we decided to master the move as quickly as possible and to learn every combination and variation we could think of.
There was no secret, other than imagination, determination, and blood, sweat and tears. There were many injuries involved, but many variations and combinations that had never been done before.
For me personally, to my knowledge, I was the first to do the following:
- an air track off of one hand only
- halo – air track – halo
- double halo – air flare – double halo
- UFOs – air flare – UFOS and UFOs to 1 1/2 rotation air track
- air track/air flare to planche
There were probably more. Other contributions of my crew members to air flare vocabulary:
Babak: first to do elbow air track
Inferno: first to windmill – elbow air track – windmill repeatedly, and first to do elbow air track – flare
Mega Man: first to do flare – air flare – halo
Charles: first to do flare – air flare – flare, 1990 – air flare, tombstone windmills – air flare – tombstone windmills, tombstone flare – air flare – tombstone flare
And of course Pablo:
- flare – air flare – flare repeatedly
- air flare – headspins
- air flare – 1990
- multiple air flares (first to do 2 in a row)
There were other moves that we did before anybody else, as well. Babak developed the idea of tombstone windmills before anybody else, but he wasn’t able to do them. He gave the idea first to Jose, aka Pilot, who had beautiful tombstones, and then to Inferno and Charles, who developed many combos with them. This was BEFORE we saw Jazzy J from Renegades do them, and also Gumby from Hungary. But we will never get credit for this move, because we have no video footage to prove that we were doing them in 1995.
Vasquez: How many Soul Control members are still in the game?
Kujo: It’s actually hard to say how many of us there are right now. Some of the older members still rep Soul Control, but are doing very different things with their lives and careers. Most of us are in our 30s, and several of us own and run companies. I have Lux Aeterna, Barmak has Scifen, Babak has Hemaka (web programming), and Mega Man has FFTEC Motorsports, which soups up cars for high performance. Charles also runs the SCMX Dance Academy in Fresno, training kids (and a new generation of Soul Control) in breaking and gymnastics.
Vasquez: Detours DVD is one of the most inpirational DVD I’ve ever seen. Tell us something about this project? And of course, when we can expect Detours 2 on DVD?
Kujo: Detours was initiated by David “Elsewhere” Bernal, and he was actually inspired by my solo video, “Kujo: Flying Water Buffalo.” I released the KFWB video in 2000 as a compilation of everything I’d done between 1993-1999, and it was done a very creative, artistic way. Elsewhere wanted to make his own video along these lines, and I offered to help. We brought in Rawbzilla and Midus to round out the project, and it was completed in 2002, followed by a DVD version in 2004.
Everybody has since moved on with their lives, and unfortunately, there will likely never be a part 2. But others have picked up where left off, and you can see the influence of Detours almost everywhere: in the way people dance worldwide, and in the way people shoot and edit their videos.
And also, you can see many variations on the “Parallels” mini-documentary section of Detours. Many people have taken the exact same idea, and used the exact same footage, to make something very similar to what we made first, in 2002.
Vasquez: Yep, I saw bonus dvd for Detours also FWB as well Both are amazing art work in video editing and of course breaking. Let’s travel to present time. Do You still enter bboy battles as a competitor or more often as a judge?
Kujo: I’ve lost interest in competing. I don’t have that fire anymore, at least not in that particular way. I’m always happy to judge and teach, however, and maybe once in a while, you’ll see me in an exhibition battle. My creative energy is largely directed at other things, however, such as the circus arts and my choreography with Lux Aeterna. In both of these arenas, I’ve only been successful because of the skills I’ve developed through 20 years of breaking.
Vasquez: So after this long way of battling on the jam’s I can say You developed as a true bboy in a very creative meaning of that word. When You decided to change your direction more to an art/choreography/circus than stay only in Bboying?
Kujo: I’ve been interested in circus and modern dance since about 2000, when I saw Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” show. It very much made me want to evolve as an artist: to have the ability to do things that were much more difficult than what we were already doing as b-boys, to be able to perform on other surfaces besides the floor (air, poles, etc.), and to have the ability to move more gracefully.
Since then I began studying modern dance and ballet, both in college while I was studying for my degree in Dance Kinesiology (which I completed in 2009). With these new movement influences, I began to develop a new way of moving, which I taught to several of my friends who were also skilled in breaking, modern, and ballet, and we started a company, Lux Aeterna. The choreography I’ve created with Lux Aeterna has won many awards, and has allowed us to travel to India, Costa Rica, Panama soon, and hopefully much more.
Lux Aeterna began to work with a company that was similar to Cirque du Soleil, and this is where I began to receive real, on-the-job training in the circus arts. I specialized in aerial straps and Chinese poles, because these came very easily to me – after all the years building up my arms strength, it was relatively easy for me to learn two of the most difficult circus arts there are.
I’m good enough at these two circus disciplines now to work on shows or do solo/duo acts. While it is much harder to begin learning these disciplines than it was to learn breaking, it is actually much easier to perform these disciplines for 5 minutes straight than, say, a 5-minute b-boy battle.
This is why I laugh when circus artists try to make fun of me for breaking. They might say, “you’re still doing that?” But the truth is, I learned what they do in a couple of years and can compete with some of their best, but the majority of them would never be able to become successful, competitive b-boys or b-girls in such a short time.
Vasquez: Nowadays, Bboying has moved to another level (in some kind). Do You still follow bboy community – hittin jams, watching battles online. If Yes, what can You say about present situation in breaking? Is everything developed as supposed to or the other way around?
Many people say that there is too many alhletes in bboy game and they reach to the top by winning competitions.
Kujo: I actually don’t have a very strong opinion on this. I’m just happy that so many b-boys are able to be so successful, and to be able to make a living doing what they love.
My only criticisms are these: first, that because everybody is so amazing, now the problem is that nobody is amazing anymore.
And second, because everybody watches the same videos online, everybody ends up looking very similar. The differences between individual b-boys, between crews, between cities/states/countries/continents, have largely disappeared.
It used to be that you could tell what city a b-boy was from by the way he danced. Not anymore. But I’ve been saying these things for almost a decade, and most people don’t listen, but continue watching the same videos and dancing the same way. It’s what I call the “international style,” or the “Youtube style.”
It’s too focused on following the rules of the competition: if a b-boy or crew knows what elements or movements the judges are looking for, then he/they will steer their training in that direction. They’ll train what they think they need to train, as opposed to what they want to train.
So the cruel irony is that b-boys who have no intention of ever looking like gymnasts, actually begin to behave like gymnasts. They’re just meeting the judges’ requirements rather than honestly expressing themselves through their artform.
And the creativity which was once ubiquitous worldwide gets diluted by ambition. Everybody is amazing, so nobody is amazing. Everybody is “creative” using variations of the same moves, so nobody is really all that creative. And then, when somebody really is creative and innovative and original, he’s actually too different, and not allowed to call himself a b-boy.
Vasquez: About judging what You said above, did you hear about “O.U.R. Judging System” made by Dyzee from Supernaturalz? It was tested at R-16 Event in Korea for the first time last year. Judges have strictly categories and points are displaying on the big screen during the battle so both crews can see actually results on real-time mode. Do you think is it good for Bboying?
Kujo: I actually helped create the guidelines for the Originality and Difficulty categories. I’m very interested in the system, but it’s not perfect – no system will ever be perfect. There will always be controversy. But the various attempts at developing and testing systems are all very important, in terms of the future and integrity of the dance as a competitive artform.
Vasquez: Can you say any andvices to young bboys around the world?
My best advice is for b-boys around the world to never forget where they’ve come from.
Polish b-boys are from Poland, not from the US, and definitely not from the internet! Therefore, Polish b-boys need to remember their Polish roots as they create their dance. There should never have been any such thing as an “internet style.” Their should be a form of national sovereignty amongst b-boys, just as their is a clear concept of national sovereignty amongst nations. All are equal because they are different, and trying to impose a form of “sameness” causes inequality amongst nations. It’s the same with b-boys.
This concept has been forgotten as the richest economies in the world have tried to impose globalization on the poorer economies of the world. The same is true in the b-boy world: as we become more globalized, we lose our individual, national, and cultural identities.
It’s something I’ve been observing for years, and when I comment on it, I get yelled at for “hating.”
Vasquez: About other things, not quite from bboying world…Do you follow world news and what is going on in global crisis, uprising of islamic countries, etc.? Do you have any knowledge in New World Order (conspiracy theories, Illuminati, 9/11 Inside Job etc.). Many people worldwide woke up in the last months creating movements like “Occupy …” . Do You think this is the new beginning of our world?
Kujo: Yes, I follow international affairs very closely. This doesn’t necessarily mean news, and I have little interest in conspiracy theories. I’m less interested in these things and more interested in the bigger picture and the overall direction of things, not the daily details.
For example, Iran and Syria. Attacking Iran is not an end-goal for the US/UK/Israel, nor is regime change in Syria. If you pay close attention to what’s happening behind the scenes, and if you’ve paid attention to history over the last century, then you will see clearly that the true targets of military aggression by the rich western countries are Russia and China. They are economic and industrial giants, who are calmly and firmly defending their national sovereignty and their right to develop their countries. This is seen as a major threat by the US and UK. Rather than confront China and Russia directly, they would rather deal them hundreds of small blows, like a slow death by a thousand razors.
If/when the rich western countries do confront China and Russia militarily, you have thermonuclear war amongst 3-4 countries who all have nuclear arms. This will result in World War 3, and will be much worse than anything the human race has ever seen.
As you can imagine, things are much more complicated than the news media would like for us to believe. There are no good guys versus bad guys. It’s completely false and misleading to claim that things are so simple – that Obama is “good” and Assad is “bad.”
Vasquez: Ok last 3 quick questions:
a. Your favourite motto?
Kujo: This is a quote that I live by – it’s an example of how NOT to live my life or create my art.
“The ‘refined,’ the ‘rich, the professional do nothing,’ the ‘distiller of quintessence’ desire only the peculiar, and sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous is today’s art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my head. The less they understood, the more they admired me! … Today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand meaning of the word. … I am only a public clown, a mountebank. I have understood my time and exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But, at least, and at last, it does have the merit of being honest.”
~ Pablo Picasso
2. Book you could recommend?
Kujo: Books: None in particular. I do recommend studying anything and everything interests you, inside and outside the b-boy world. I also recommend getting (and finishing) an education, both in university and in the real world.
3. Music album You like to listen?
Kujo: Music: you wouldn’t believe the music I listen to every day. Mostly artists in classical or neoclassical music. And to this day, I still believe that 1991 was the best year for hip hop music. It’s gone downhill ever since.
Vasquez: Ok, Jacob! Thats it! I would like to thank You very much for this cool intreview!
Kujo: You’re very welcome. Thanks for the opportunity to say these things!