Interview with BBOY Focus of the World Famous Flow Mo Crew
BBOY Focus from the world famous Flow Mo crew is a legend. I first met Jussi a.k.a Focus at the first Red Bull Beat Riders dance academy.
Red Bull asked dancers from around the world to submit a video of themselves showcasing why they should be selected to join the academy. I had to put together the video below to apply. Luckily I was good enough to get in because that was the only reason I met Focus.
BBOY Focus and the Flo Mo crew are from Helsinki Finland. Since meeting Focus i’ve had the pleasure of hosting him and the Flow Mo crew at my old place in Brooklyn and spending summers in dancing and having fun. Focus is an extremely talented dancer.
He has a high level of technical dance skill in a genre of dance where big gymnastic style moves usually over shadow dancing to the beat. In my opinion Focus was part of a movement that changed that. Dancing and romancing the music became cool again because Focus made it look effortless. Check out the video below to see an example.
Watch this clip to see what I mean
Focus is famous for a reason but all of his skill and fame has never got to his head. Focus is humble and constantly working on his craft. I got the chance to catch up with my old friend. Focus is now focused on teaching the world how to BBOY. Check out the interview below.
How did you get the name BBOY Focus?
I named myself. I started traveling a little more in the early 2000’s and quickly noticed I couldn’t really go with my given name, that wouldn’t work internationally in the b-boy community.
During the time I was the first one to come and last one to leave the practice every day. I had a strong vision of where I wanted to be with breaking and I worked hard. I focused.
I liked photography back then too. In photography I ran into the term focus point. That’s where all the rays of light come together after the lens and form the picture. I wanted to be the focus point of breaking uniting different elements and aspects to one. So the name stuck from there.
What’s your definition of BBOYing?
B-boying or breaking, whatever you want to call it, is a reaction to the breaks of the record. It’s what music brings out, a mixture of your understanding the foundation and your personal character. It’s a vehicle to express your everyday struggle and joy, the physical graffiti and the original dance of hip hop culture.
Whats the Historical timeline of Flow Mo Crew broken into ten years.
Flow Mo was born April 22nd 2002 when two crews Savage Feet and MidPoint Rockers decided to join forces. Both had less active members than before but the ones left were hungry to start making some serious noise. Starting the crew we had eights members in the beginning.
Over the years we recruited some new members and a few members moved on to other things in life. 16 years later we’re still representing both locally and internationally. You find us teaching the youth, entering battles, organising events for the community, judging and teaching and of course rocking and battling in the circles like we always did.
How did a small crew from Finland get so good?
It was result of determination, hunger, a huge amount of work and learning from everybody we met. When we’d travel we would suck in the inspiration and knowledge and get back home to the lab to process it. We would battle the people we looked up to, get burned and get better battle after battle after battle.
Finland was kind of isolated from central Europe’s power madness. We went straight to the source, traveled to New York to learn from the originators of the dance instead.
Who is your favorite BBOY besides Brisk haha or BGIRl?
I got tons of favorites, anybody from my crew to begin with. My favorites come from the time I was coming up, the people I looked up to from previous generations like Ken Swift for the finesse, Crazy Legs for the flavor, Maurizio for the flow and Storm for the arsenal.
What’s going on with Flow Mo sounds?
Flow Mo Sounds is our dj concept that I run for the past years. It works as a radio show in Finnish national Basso radio station, where I spin music that moves me and share stories from travels. Every now and then we throw Flow Mo Sounds club nights, parties and jams so it’s broader concept revolving around music. I love going digging for records on my travels and love sharing it with people. You can check out the show at mixcloud.com/flowmosounds.
How did you get involved with the BBOY documentary?
Last year the national tv in Finland approached me. Director Simo Sipola had read Hatsolo’s book and was fascinated by the movement and unity of breaking. He wanted to shoot a documentary about it and of course I said yes. They followed me and AT for a year in jams and sessions and finished the film. We got the number one funk band in Finland the Soul Investigators down to do the soundtrack for the film which was an honor. The movie aired on Finnish tv, we also did public screenings in Helsinki and in Cornell University in Ithaca NY.
How did you learn how to break?
I learned by looking at Beat Street and Wild Style on VHS and trying to do what they did, making up room in my bedroom to practice what I saw. I learned by my first teacher Mikko Ahlgren who was an 80’s b-boy who taught me everything he knew. I learned by backspin contests in school between classes and dancing in circles in school parties.
How did you grow your skills in breaking?
Besides just training I always had an open mind to learn more and apply outside of the practice spot as well. I would read interviews and books to find out what was on the mind of the b-boys I looked up to. I would go deep in music to get that feeling in my dance as well. I would work on making beats and learning to dj which helped me with my rhythms. I would study people like Bruce Lee and apply their philosophy in my dance.
Any advice to someone looking to grow their skills in breaking?
No man’s an island, so learn from anybody and everybody! Cross-reference, seek for different sides of the stories, question everything you learn and eventually form your own truth. Take care of yourself as well if you’re in it for the long run. Your body’s your only tool so respect it and give it time to recover.
You have a physical dance school so Why did you start BBOY Dojo online ?
Yes we’ve been running Saiffa – Flow Mo Dance School now for eight years. It’s been a good trip but with a physical studio eventually it’s a local process. We wanted to share our experience with everyone no matter where they lived. The teaching of breaking and hip hop has mostly been verbal but with generations changing the spoken stories and the originators get lost in the process. With b-girl AT we wanted to make a data bank of knowledge that is the go-to place if you want to learn. That’s available for anybody who’s thirsty for knowledge no matter if you live in Africa or Australia.
Here is an example of Focus teaching a dance move.
How do people respond to BBOY Dojo?
The response has been super positive. We’ve had people sign up from all around the world of over 40 countries. The student have started to form a community sparring and inspiring each others as well. I’ve been teaching some of the students with Skype too, I might run a private class to South Africa and Japan on the same day from my home. With three years operating you start to see results on the students as well.
A lot of people use it as a tool for their teaching as well. The foundation is structured there, it has a progressive learning plan and moves a broken down step by step. So based on the feedback it has helped a lot of teachers to stay inspired and get content for their work. The best feedback was when someone got hired to teach after she completed our teachers course.
How can people sign up to BBOY Dojo?
Check out BBOY dojo at this video.
Get involved at our email list at bboydojo.com/signup. We’ll send you a free inspirational article every week, and will let you know the next time the site is open for new students.
Any advice for someone wanting to make a name for themselves in BBOYing?
Stay true to yourself, there’s only one you. Be a master of all fields so rock competitions but also battle in the cyphers. Competition is good and important but it’s not everything. The real respect can still be earned in the circles. Use battling as your main coach, never be afraid to step on that line.