June 23, 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Online here
Since going live on YouTube June 8, The Bixi Anthem, Da Gryptions’ ode to Montreal’s bike-share program, has garnered more than 10,000 hits and is being heralded by some as the city’s “song of the summer.”
“Not,” says lead rapper Patrick Guay, aka Dark Science, “that Bixi needs the help being cool.”
The program, which celebrated its first anniversary in May, has nearly 5,000 bikes at 400 stations around the city. For $5 for 24 hours, $28 a month or $78 a year, Montrealers can borrow a bike for up to 30 minutes (longer rides accrue additional fees). Riders seem to be on board with it – by the end of October, 10,000 people had signed up for the program, and made more than 1,000,000 trips.
With that kind of following, Guay isn’t surprised at the popularity of The Bixi Anthem video. “We knew from the beginning that we had something,” he says. “People reacted to it.”
Although the group, which features Evan Cranley (Apso Habibi), Stephen Ramsay (Ripples) and Trevor Barnes (Future Shark), does use Bixi, “we’re more infatuated with the whole thing, rather than everyday users,” Guay says.
A trip to Paris last year gave him a chance to compare that city’s bike-share program, Vélib, with Bixi. “It’s not even close,” he says. “Bixi is definitely something to be proud of.”
The song itself came out of a sound check at a show the group played in February. The bar owner liked the freestyle rap so much that the group performed it three times that night.
The video came in May, at the prompting of a filmmaker friend who loved the song. It was done organically, Guay says, with no planning – and with the guys having to return the Bixis every 30 minutes as they filmed.
Like the song, the group is “something we did for fun,” Guay says, noting that they don’t practice, and “can’t really rap.” (They do have musical ties, however: Guay does online marketing for indie-rock label Arts & Crafts; Cranley is a member of the Stars; Ramsay is the leader of Young Galaxy; while Barnes runs a local bar.)
The idea was to make all the songs about Montreal – poutine and the Expos have also been featured – but, “People reacted to Bixi more than anything.”
Bixi’s head honchos have also expressed their appreciation of the song, inviting the group to a meeting next week.
“It will be interesting to see what their take on it is,” Guay says, joking about being flown to cities around the world to sell the Bixi program. “We’ll see where it goes.”