Q&A with Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers of One the Bear

Hot Chicks with Big Brains are incredibly excited to be partnering with La Boîte Theatre Company for the duration of their 2017 season. This year’s performances promise to be as engaging as they are diverse, with a whole bunch of incredible women helping to ensure their success.

Ahead of Black Honey Company‘s One the Bear, which runs from the 10th to the 21st of October, we caught up with sound designer, Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers.

Image via La Boite Theatre Company

Please can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

I’m Busty Beatz. I’m a killer Musical Director, Composer, Beatz Producer, Sound Designer, and DJ.

How did you first get into sound design and composing?

I started playing music when I was really young. I was in my first band when I was 16, and we pretty much toured everywhere in Australia and went onto release EPs and albums in Germany and New York. It was a natural progression to make music for theatre, dance, circus, visual arts… Everything I could.

I was really drawn to cross-disciplinary work that defies labels and changes the molecules of the artists and audiences.

Candy B got me my first ever theatre composition gig at Belvoir St in Sydney for Suzan-Lori Park’s play In the Blood.

What’s given you the greatest sense of achievement throughout your career to date?

There are so many! Working as MD for the internationally-renowned ‘Briefs’ has been one. Being a Co – AD of Black Honey Company, working the most talented and next level Artists of Colour. Performing with Bikini Kill back in the day. Working with the extraordinary Director/Designer/Choreographer Lisa Fa’alafi and the phenomenal cast of Hot Brown Honey.

Yeah, we won the UK’s Total Theatre Award for Innovation, a Green Room Award, and a Helpmann, because you can’t ignore brilliance, you know? Everyday is pretty much a success for me. Just still being here and breathing is a success.

By all means I shouldn’t be in the position I am in—it is the sweetest. Creating with phenomenal women, making our own opportunities and pathways to be centre stage is hard work, but it really feels like a massive achievement to date.

Image via The Music

Candy has told us “the music is the heart of [One the Bear]”. Can you tell us about your process and what inspired it?

The music of One the Bear goes into the depths of looking at how sound is political. Through using the forms of Hip Hop and pop with the influence of South African flavours, the music in the show is informed by the evolution of beats production as an art form.

I looked at organic sounds of bears in different emotional states (which is pretty full on), and transformed them into beat box rhythms, as well as 80s old school beats to trap and the roots of this form—where it came from, how, and why it evolved.

I also looked at Pop and how the nature of commercialism is attached to particular sounds—over-produced music sits in higher frequencies and has an overall ‘sugar coated’ effect.

The design of the sound is the heartbeat, which moves with the flow and the poetry of the story telling.

What does One the Bear mean to you?

What I have found is that, if there is anyway that people can be engaged with the decolonisation process, it is through live performance.

One the Bear is a really necessary, cautionary tale which looks directly at how white supremacy and capitalism affects our lives, even when you are fighting those systems.

It shows how even the most stanch can easily be swallowed up by values which are dominant to the status quo. One the Bear is a critique on tropes and realities, especially within the music ‘industry’. The show riffs on concepts are so universally known such as  ‘there can only be one’, which is so prevalent in the Arts—I’ve seen it consistently. At what point do you become assimilated?

This work delves into appropriation; of culture, of self, as well as where the lines of identity, politics, and commercialism blur or become hyper-visible in the age of technology and celebrity.

Who are some of the women making music that inspire you most?

I have so many amazing influences. Missy Elliott on all fronts—she composes, writes, and produces, and has created a sound that is completely original. Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex has been a huge influence musically, as well as the way she smashed stereotypes for Afro-British artists. Dr Lou Bennett (Tiddas/co-creators & Musical Director of the Black Arm Band) and Dr Romaine Moreton (Poet, Writer, Filmaker), Directors of Binung Boorigan who have designed the model for Sovereign storytelling—an absolutely vital, wise practice. This model should be embedded into every creative process, everywhere, all the time.

What’s next for you?

Making an album with the breathtaking artist Ancestress. Conspiring to do creative takeovers of major arts institutions. Going on tour with Hot Brown Honey—we go to Manchester, UK and then onto Canada and London. Looking forward to world pollination!

Get your tickets to One the Bear here!


Answers by Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers

Images as individually credited

Questions and Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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