RPM Dance Crew

We are thrilled to announce that R.P.M. Dance Crew is coming to NIU!. We asked this up-and-coming K-pop cover dance group a few questions and they had this to say: 1. How did you guys meet?
R.P.M met through the University of Toronto, as most of us are students, and through mutual friends.

2. How did you guys get started with dancing (and K-pop)?
Some of our members have dance training, but many of us started simply. Most of us are self-taught dancers, learning off of online videos and fuelled by our passion for k-pop. As we're exposed to more opportunities, we learn more about the logistics of dancing in a group. We've also helped each other grow as dancers, just by dancing together.

3. RPM has over 420,000 YouTube subscribers and almost 30 million views. Can you describe your first big break?
Our YouTube channel is mainly geared towards dance tutorials - to help others learn the same k-pop dances that we perform and enjoy. Our first big hit was the tutorial for BTS' song, Dope, which was a difficult dance to learn, so many viewers came looking for a tutorial. It was the first of our videos to hit 1 million views, and is still the most viewed video on our page. Since then, many of our other tutorials have been hits as well (most BTS songs), and we are lucky to have a steady viewership. Our subscribers request tutorials to popular songs, and we try to release tutorial videos every few weeks for the most requested songs.

4. RPM recently featured at Kpop Con 2017. How was that experience like?
We also performed at the first Toronto K-Pop Con, back in 2015, and it was nice to perform again on the same stage with many other familiar teams, but also some new teams. It was also a new experience for a number of our members, performing at such a large-scale event. We performed a total of 4 sets, and were happy with what we showed the audience. We're looking forward to Toronto K-Pop Con 2018!

5. The #1 piece of advice for novice K-pop dancers?
Like everything that takes time to learn: practice, practice, practice. For K-pop though, many people are driven by their favourite idol group, a song, or a dance which is the best way to get started or get better in dancing. Having such motivation and energy to get started puts new dancers in a positive mindset to do something they enjoy, so in other words, pick a dance/song you really love and enjoy then find a section of the choreography to learn. Practice, practice, practice... then repeat!

Find their work at youtube.com/user/RPMDanceCrew and don’t miss R.P.M. who will be set to take the stage Friday night (10:30pm – 10:40pm)!


JESS LEUNG

Recently, NIU! had a chance to learn more about Richmond Hill’s Jess Leung, who will be returning as one of NIU!’s most anticipated performers of the weekend. 1. You've performed at NIU! on multiple occasions now. What's your favourite part of performing at NIU!?

I love performing for everyone who comes to NIU! I always used to come to the night market with my high school friends, so performing brings back many wonderful memories. The Markham community is also very supportive, so my band and I always have a great time performing for the excited crowd.

2. Can you briefly describe your songwriting process?
I write songs about personal experiences in my life in a way that the listeners can hopefully relate to. I usually come up with a cool melody when I'm on the subway, in the car, or waiting for someone, and I can hear the groove and soundscape in my mind. Then the music inspires me to write about a certain topic, usually based on my personal life. Next, I figure out the lyrics that best fit the melody. At every stage of the songwriting process, I'm always trying to make sure that the impact of the song is still as effective as when I first heard it in my head. It's so satisfying when a song that I got so excited about in my mind is still exciting when it's all written!

3. What are your fondest musical memories?
Some of my fondest musical memories are from elementary school. Our school had the best musical productions, and I will always remember the magical moments when I saw the curtains rise at the start of every show. I'm so lucky to have participated in such an amazing band program at the school. It's where I learned to play the flute, and also where I got inspired to learn more classical music. It's my band teacher who inspired me to continue my flute and band studies through high school and university. I am and always will be a band kid at heart!

4. Are you more singer or songwriter?
I'm both! But I really love creating my own music, as it is so satisfying and fulfilling to be able to perform my own music. Songwriting has definitely become a form of therapy for me, because it allows me to feel deeply and reflect on all aspects of my life. If I'm struggling with something in my life, I usually feel like I've solved the problem after writing a song. So I'd say that I really enjoy being a songwriter, though I also have the desire to express my emotions as a singer. I love the feeling of sharing music and connecting with the audience. That in itself can be a very spiritual and uplifting experience. That's a long-winded answer for saying that I am both a singer and songwriter!

5. What are you working on these days?
I'm recording my first EP this month! I am very excited to finally record some more original music. I can't wait to share it with everyone once it's done!

Find more of Jess’ work at www.soundcloud.com/jessleungmusic and watch her perform at NIU! on Friday (9:15pm-9:50pm) and Saturday (7:55pm-8:30pm)!


SPIRE

There will be familiar faces in this year’s program, as 2017 will mark Spire’s seventh appearance at NIU!. Our NIU! stage team was curious to learn more about this unique fusion band…

1. How did you guys meet?
We were all friends back when we formed Spire. Amely Zhou and I (Wendy Zhou) were the co-founders of Spire and we got the inspiration to create a fusion band made up of Eastern and Western instruments. At the time, both of us were also involved in various other musical organizations. Through our connection, we were able to establish the first few members. As Spire has evolved throughout last seven years, we [continue to] hold auditions for replacements.

2. You guys have been performing at our event since 2011. What's your favourite part of performing at NIU!?
We love the atmosphere of Night It Up!. It is awesome to be on stage and be a part of the Markham community while showcasing our unique combination to the crowd. Each year, Spire brings their most popular repertoire to wow the audiences. It is also our hope that while everyone is enjoying the delicious food, awesome music and great atmosphere of NIU each year, they could also take note of the Chinese instruments onstage and become interested in Asian culture through Spire.

3. Where did the inspiration to fuse Western and Asian elements come from?
Amely and I, we both have a background in Chinese and Western music. We simply took what defined us as rising musicians in greater Toronto area, and applied it to a group setting. In our experiences, music is a common language; through Spire, we want to demonstrate the possibilities and open the door of imagination to other creative individuals that may be in the crowd.

4. What advice would you give to beginners who get nervous before a performance?
Everyone's taste in art and music is different. Night It Up gives you the perfect opportunity to share with everyone YOUR creativity. Just be your best self on stage and don't worry about mistakes.

5. How has your music evolved since you guys first started playing together?
All of spire's music repertoire are either original pieces or special arrangements due to our uniqueness. At the beginning, we mostly had rearrangments of popular pieces and received enthusiastic feedback from our fans. Recently, we are exploring other ways to musically express ourselves through original compositions, contemporary compositions while keeping up with our attention-grabbing pop medleys. Spire's recent focus also shifted towards recording our popular pieces and filming music videos.

Find more of Spire’s work at www.spirefusion.com and catch Spire on Sunday (6:55pm – 7:10pm)