Andrew a.k.a hip-hop artist Pep-C
A singer/songwriter, a rapper, a dancer, a teacher; this is just the beginning of a list of things that describe hip-hop artist Andrew “Pep-C” Burrows. In a world where hip-hop is mostly associated with the negative connotations of drugs and violence, Pep-C brings a truly fresh edge to the genre.
With a larger than life personality and seriously infectious energy, most Newcastle locals probably have Pep-C on their radar. This multi-talented man spreads messages of love, embracing life and following your dreams through both his music and hip-hop workshops - the same place he first caught the creative bug when he was just 13.
Teaching kids throughout the week at Pivot Studio, Pep-C passes on his knowledge about MCing, breakdancing, DJing, music production and urban art. As well as hosting extra kids’ workshops during holiday periods, he also travels and takes his classes to schools and youth centres all around Australia, spreading that positive energy.
When he’s not working on music or teaching kids, you might find him MCing around Newcastle and the Central Coast for DJ group The Party Crashers. It was when interviewing these guys that I first met Pep-C; once you meet him, he's one of those guys that will never forget about you and is always keen for a coffee catch-up. I ended up doing the shoot for his album cover and launch party. His larger-than-life personality means there's never a dull moment - he’s also known for his freestyling, or as Pep-C likes to put it, “Off the top, letting it go, free-form, no rules, no boundaries, you can take it wherever you want, on the spot, no prompting…that’s my freestyle.”
As a hip-hop artist, he released his debut album Focused last year after three years of production. Not your average Aussie hip-hop, Pep-C admits he’s simply relieved to finally have his mix of funk-, soul- and jazz-influenced music out into the world. “You get to a point with the music where you need to let it go, so you can transition into that next phase of your life and your career. I love music, so it was really nice to get that album out.”
Working with Port Stephens-based record label Anarchy N Alchemy, the process taught Pep-C a lot about the lesson of progression. “It’s necessary for you to be shit before you can be great; it’s necessary for you to leave room for growth. Today’s artists, especially young artists, are being taught that you make music, go on TV show and then you’re a star - bam, bam, bam - three steps. There’s no teaching about learning what is you, it’s just ‘I just want you to copy and cover everyone else’s music, then once you’ve done that we’ll own you and we’ll give you some stuff to sing about’.”
Helped over the years by his mum, and mentored by DeeJay Mathematics, he has grown up and watched how the world of music, its production and its distribution, have changed over the eras. His resulting music is an interesting mix of the old and new, of current instantaneous society, and a time where computers, iPods and YouTube were non-existent.
“We’re living in this weird, mixed-up world where patience is almost non-existent and people are just slowly, slowly getting more impatient. The appreciation factor drops and people end up wanting things quicker. Music is great right now, but it’s a different style, and I love that, because I get to experience it.”
One of the lucky ones who is able to survive off doing what he loves most, Pep-C is definitely not your sit-in-an-office, day-after-day kinda guy; he embodies the ‘grip life by the balls and run with it’ mentality, and inspires others to do the same. If you were to define cool as being natural and 100% yourself, then this man fits the description perfectly.
by Amy Theodore
How did you find your way into the world of hip-hop?
I started my first element of hip-hop when I was younger, and it was dance. I went to a holiday workshop at the Palais Youth Centre in Newcastle, where I met some pretty incredible dudes and they paved the way for my hip-hop career. Now I’m in that hip-hop life, and it’s all thanks to one little session.
What kind of music influenced you when you were younger?
The music we listened to as breakdancers was kind of mixed in that era. Just coming into high school I was heavily influenced by everything. There was a weird background of stuff like Nirvana and Wreckx-n-Effect, and then you’ve got Will Smith with ‘Shake The Room’ and your classic b-boy tracks like ‘Apache’. There were so many influences and styles, and so much funk and jazz music, we had so much different shit.
"I experience so many families and people around me every single week that tell their kids that they can’t do things. Quit that mentality and start telling your kids they can rule this world, because they will."
What advice would you have for a young person wanting to get into music these days?
I’m not really one to give advice, but to pass more encouragement and lessons of life. I don’t want to be one to give advice to anyone, I just want to be able to support and encourage people. The kids that I come into contact with, I don’t tell them how to do them, I don’t tell them what to do, I just tell them to try to find them.
What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?
The most rewarding thing would be just getting to the end of that song, creating something for you and having that feeling of belief. You’re creating something that you believe in, and if you believe in it, someone else in the world will believe in it too, so maybe you can connect with them and touch them. I get to do that through my art, through my dance, through my movement, through my passion.
What’s next for Pep-C?
The world… I will take over the world! [laughs] No, what’s next for me? I’m just going to continue to grow with my stuff. I’m going to connect, I’m going to infect people, I’m going to give my energy and they’re going to catch it and enjoy it.
"You’re creating something that you believe in, and if you believe in it, someone else in the world will believe in it too, so maybe you can connect with them and touch them."
Who’s the coolest person you know?
The coolest person I know is Mamma P! She’s a 59-year-old lady, she’s a breakdancer, she’s an artist, she’s an inspiration to all, but most of all, she’s my mum. She was the one who told me from the start: no matter what you wanted to do you could do it, no matter what. I experience so many families and people around me every single week that tell their kids that they can’t do things. Quit that mentality and start telling your kids they can rule this world, because they will.
What future plans are in the pipeline?
I’m currently in the process of having digital downloadable products made. I’m obsessed with stationery in its physical form but I want to cater for both the traditional and new age market. I’m also toying with the idea of face-to-face training and personal development. Think confidence building, goal-setting and organisational skills.