Archive: An Interview with Mike from UNITY

This is an effort for me to catalogue some writing from when I was an intern writing blogs and doing PR for a music studio after I graduated way back in 2010. I’ve managed to recover some old blog posts via the Wayback Machine. I’ve done some light formatting and editing because the typos are embarrassing.

I don’t remember why I was called Companaro Jack.


Companero Jack, the interview guy, again. It seems that these interviews are going to turn into a regular podcast, which is fine by me. For this one, they had me sit down with Mike Prosserman, founder of UNITY, and beat-boxing prodigy Johh Rouchotas, who had just wrapped up his first session in the studio. Be sure to mosey over to the post on the Euphonic Sound site by Emma.

jacksclevername · Mike Prosserman Interview

How was the first recording session, John?
John: It was pretty good, it was fun. Different. I’ve never really been in the studio so I had a lot of fun. It sounds really compared to what I have back home.

So Mike, I’ll get you to explain and describe UNITY.
Mike: Sure, UNITY started as a high school project back in grade 11. I guess it just started with me just dancing and expressing myself and relieving my stress through my art form, and I wanted to share that with other people through other art forms. So e opened and started UNITY as I went through high school, then I registered it as a non-profit and a charity in university and now I’m pretty much doing it full time. We went into 20 schools last year, we went to Halifax, yesterday I just got back from Calgary, doing workshops in Nunavut, just all over the place. We don’t just do b-boying or breaking, we do beatboxing, graffiti, spoken word poetry…

I saw a video on the UNITY website, that was a behind-the-scenes look at a competition you guys did, as well as footage of the event, can you talk about that?
Mike: Sure, we basically ran a high school beatbox and rap competition and kids came out from all over the city to compete. John was the finalist; he won the beatboxing competition.

John: It was fun, for sure.

Mike: He killed it.

John: I was competing against my best friend though, dammit.

Mike: Yeah, sorry about that… Must’ve been a hard one to judge, eh? And then in the rapping competition, a guy named Roshawn won that and he’s coming in next week to record some rap.

Any recent or upcoming events, promotions or news?
Mike: Well, for this whole competition, another prize for the winners is that these students will go perform at Dundas Square at our kickoff concert on July 24th. So that’s something that people don’t want to miss.

What sort of recognition has UNITY been able to get? I know you had the Top 20 Under 20 a few years ago.
Mike: More recently we’ve gotten some great funding and support from the government. We got the Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant, Toronto Community Foundation, Toronto Public Health, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, all in the last eight months. It’s unreal to go from an idea to my career basically.

Do you have any other programs or affiliate programs with UNITY?
Mike: We do tons of partnerships, I mean, the thing I told you about in Nunavut we do with an organization called Blueprint for Life, they’re really the group that’s running that program and we just bring on some of our artists. We’re facilitators and this other guy Budda (that’s his breakdancing name), it’s his larger vision. We’re doing partner workshops at Second Base Youth Shelter. We’re doing all sorts of partnerships all over the city. It’s kind of like an ongoing challenge to link up with as many community organizations as we can as we can provide this outlet for more young people.

How did the two of you guys get into hip-hop?
John: I have two older brothers, and one brother would insist that whenever I was in the car he would basically just bump Jay-Z the whole drive. So I must have memorized probably all of the Black Album and I love the Blueprint. And then after that, I just started listening to internet broadcasts or podcasts or whatever, and then someone I know had one and he featured someone from the United States, from New York, whose name was Smoothie. So by hearing that guy beatbox, I was like “Yo, that’s cool, right?” So I YouTubed it and found the French guy that everyone sees the first time and basically, that’s how I started. Then after a few connections, I met Scott who works with UNITY and then a couple other people and got into it.

Mike: When I was 13 I saw people breakdancing at a Bar Mitzva and sure enough, that’s actually one of the best crews to this day. They’re not as much connected as they were before but there’s new members called Boogie Brats, and they’ve been throwing down since back in the day and they’ve got a really innovative style that stood out, not only in Toronto, but it spread across all over the world. But anyways, they inspired me just by seeing it and I knew that it was something that I wanted to do ‘cause I was just this crazy little kid with a lot of energy and I didn’t know what to do with it. So it was perfect. I went to this class that I found out about downtown that no longer exists, but this guy Benzo from Bag of Tricks, he was teaching and I took his class for 2-3 years, and when he stopped teaching I joined a crew called MEC, and I guess the rest is history from there.

I was asked to find out where the two of you got your names from (HeAT and Piecez, respectively).
John: Ok, so ‘Ryth3m’ came from Kevin and I basically being bored on Streamcast, and he said, ‘Yo, drop a rhythm!” After that, I went on stage at a beatbox tournament held by Gary Gudini and he said ‘Johnny Heat’ as I came on stage. I’m excited for yours [Mike], how’d you get ‘Piecez?’

Mike: It’s actually not that exciting. There’s this guy named Crumbs from a crew called Style Elements in California. He’s a guy that inspires me a lot; he does a lot of power moves and stacking, when you’re on your hands, pretty much in a handstand, and you push up into freezes. So that’s his style, and as a 13-year-old kid, for some weird reason, that was my style as well. And this guy Biggles, who was the one that recruited me to my crew, was like “Oh, you look like Crumbs!” I’m like, “I don’t know who that is…  Where do we want to go from here?” And he said, “I’ll call you either Piecez or Chunks.” “I think I’ll take Pieces.”

As with the last interview with TroNic, I got John to do a freestyle beatbox, which immediately made me decide to never tell anyone that I can beatbox ever again. He is absolutely ridiculous.

You can find more about UNITY at, as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can track down more from John’s on YouTube.