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Sib Cybulski: Captain Of The Boat.

May 29, 2012

Ryan Temple talks to Ryan ‘Sib’ Cybulski about his new project, Rowboat Casino. The former frontman for the live hip-hop rock band Spanish Blue, Sib takes his new jawn into a more underground and roots direction. Image by Silvertower Photography.

Rowboat Casino is an unusual name for a hip-hop project. What’s the meaning behind it?

You mean besides it conveniently sharing the same initials as my birth name?  On the surface, you have a Rowboat which is a vessel completely capable of being operated by one person, but with room for passengers who are always at the mercy of the man with the paddles.  Coming from such a large band (Spanish Blue), where each and every decision had to be accepted by 4 or 5 other band mates, I always longed for that sole responsibility.  Either I get you safely up or downstream to your destination, or I take you over the falls and we both drown.  There’s no one to blame or praise for any failures or successes except the captain of the boat.  On the other hand,  the Casino represents not necessarily the risk involved in venturing out on your own, but the potential that lies within that decision.  Win, lose, or break even, sometimes the odds are in your favor, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes luck is on your side, and sometimes it’s not.  There are deeper meanings as well, some very apocalyptic in nature, where the name represents a kind of Noah’s Ark, preserving the species and culture for a rebirth after the next Great Flood.  It is impending by the way. Hahaha.  But you’re gonna have to listen to the music if you wanna get with me on those levels.

Tell me about your home studio. What are you using?

An empty bedroom, a used Mac tower, LogicPro, an interface and mic salvaged from the Spanish Blue fire sale, and a bunch of old comforters draped from the ceiling to act as a vocal box.  At this point it’s raw with a bunch of potential and some great ideas that need to be implemented, and I like it that way for now.  It kind of mirrors the whole concept of Rowboat Casino.  It will evolve with the project…. I hope.

Spanish Blue was a full band endeavor -how has working almost exclusively with various local artists and producers affected your writing style?

It hasn’t affected it much at all.  Either I write in waves or sudden bursts of inspiration, always have.  I can go weeks at a time without opening my notebook once, then fill a third of it in just a couple of days.  Most of the verses I wrote for Spanish Blue were actually first written over hip-hop instrumentals, like the Alchemist or the Snowgoons.  I would basically use our jam sessions at rehearsal to come up with the concept and hook, and maybe experiment with the cadence a bit, but most of the writing was, and still is, done in the wee hours of the night with some headphones, a jar of kush, and case of beer – and then just applied to whatever suits it best.

Who are some of the Philly artists that you’ve yet to work with but would like to?

Well, I’ve recently had the honor of linking up with the legendary DJ Too Tuff from Philly’s own Tuff Crew through my long time friend, and fellow hip hop artist, Bad News Bars.  To me that’s crazy considering we use to play his Philly anthem ‘My Part of Town’ when we were like 11-12 years old until the cassette would break. It was literally one of the classics that made me fall in love with the whole culture of hip hop.  Then Spanish Blue covered the song at live shows and it became a fan favorite.  And now, Too Tuff will be on the 1s and 2s for my next Rowboat show.  Life has a inspiring way of coming full circle.  As for artists I would love to work with now, I’d have to say anyone from the entire Army of the Pharaohs camp.  I’m not sure if my style is hardcore enough for the likes of Vinny Paz (JMT) and Reef the Lost Cauze, but those are the artists that I listen to the most, and who inspire me to make in your face music that comes right from the heart, while preserving the purity of what has become a diluted movement and culture.  I want to make the kind of music I heard growing up in the 90s, just with new flavor.  And that’s exactly what those local artists (AOTP) have always done, so it would be a blessing and honor to link with the likes of them in the future.

Last time RC played the Grape, I brought my old Spanish Blue band mate, Dave Schimpf, and members from his new project Burnswitch to back me and the result was an overwhelming success.  This time, on June 16, I’ve got DJ Too Tuff, with Puffy and Dar from Da Rezarekt holding down the drums and bass, and the results will be equally maddening.

Rowboat Casino will play The Grape Room on June 16 with A Cool Stick, Crackers Rogers Gang and Mike Weyrauch. See here for details.

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