Relatable Music, Unbreakable Spirit: Artist Earthchild Makes Murals and Music

“I wouldn't like to define myself as just a rapper or this… I'm an artist, a creative and I'm kind of just all over the place that way too. So it's hard to define me, I guess,” explains Travis Hebert, also known as Earthchild. His name reflects a desire to create music anyone can relate to and he was born in Prince George, BC. He’s a producer, visual artist, and MC, and in 2011, he was in a hip hop duo called Mod Bounce. 

The group split after nine years to raise their families. Since then, he’s been following his music production dreams. As a busy parent, it wasn’t something he pursued intensely. “It was just all about falling back in love with the process of creating music,” he explains. Too preoccupied to be active on social media, he’s found time to carve out his sound and create. 

The pandemic revealed the things he needed to heal and grow from. “It was ultimately the time to take care of things that I maybe didn't have time to take care of before,” he recalls. In the past, he was on the road a lot and not able to spend as much time with his kids but that’s changed. 

When it comes to producing, Earthchild is self-taught, dabbling in high school with a demo version of the software now called FL Studio. He has been a drummer and was in the concert and jazz band in school. As part of Mod Bounce, he was putting himself out there more than ever. “We were going out of our comfort zone, speaking up and using our platform and our music as a way to talk about certain things in the world, like the environment and rediscovering our culture,” he remembers. 

Growing up, Earthchild was disconnected from culture but he has strengthened his identity and explored it through music. He studied Indigenous studies at the University of Alberta for a year, learning the Cree language, anthropology, and other topics that opened his eyes. “That's when the red rage stepped in, where I felt angry and full of this energy to be like, ‘I’ve got to do something, say something’, and I became more proud of who I was at that time,” he reflects. 

Struggling with poverty growing up and other challenges was a source of pain and he put his creative energy into music. “I needed to funnel it into something that was more positive,” he says. Feeling disconnected from community at times and worrying that his age, being a parent, not being good enough would keep him from his dreams, he continued to persevere knowing his music has an impact. He reconnected with friends, colleagues, other MCs and producers to find validation. Between his recent tour and the International Indigenous Hiphop Awards, he has had opportunities to be in community once more. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

“Seeing our people in our environment, and how strong we are as artists and people, and knowing that it's only getting stronger, being able to win an award and in that space, I felt ultra connected, like this is where I'm meant to be,” he beams, thinking about his years of feeling like a lone wolf. He didn’t expect to win Producer of the Year either time but the voting process signaled people recognize his talent, validating him and driving him to do more. 

He craves connection with established and aspiring artists and to contribute to community. In the past, he’s felt connections he’s made fall away and he’s learned from those experiences to create more genuine connections. Growing up, he moved around a lot, making it difficult to form strong bonds. 

On an average day, Earthchild works with youth at an on reserve high school, teaching media art, music, photography, videography, digital design, visual arts and painting. He did murals with the kids and he’s working on one outside of his youth work. After work, he spends time with his kids. 

He started doing youth work in 2011 at a youth centre out of a friendship centre and stepped away as his music became popular. When the pandemic hit he was welcomed to teach at a new high school, helping him weather difficult times. Passionate about creativity, he likes to teach introductory skills to youth even if he’s not the most talented in a given genre.

To maintain his craft, he waits until his family goes to bed, sacrificing sleep and energy to make music. “Sometimes I'm burnt out and not at my best during the day but I have to try to honor and make this balance,” he explains. To find inspiration, he soaks up everything he can online To access creativity, he grounds himself. At times, he has urges to create immediately, spending hours working on beats. Time with friends and his kids inspires him and he’s written about his family more since the pandemic started. 

Earthchild’s music is on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and other streaming services. While he hasn’t been consistently putting out music, he collaborated with his friend CJ Grizz, given neither of them have been doing a lot. Working together motivated and inspired them. Sitting on hundreds of beats, sounds, lyric ideas on his hard drive, he’s now driven to put them out, finally having the space for more creative ventures. 

He gets annoyed with himself about past decisions but he’s looking towards the future. “Now's the time for me to really establish myself and show everybody what I have,” he exclaims. Not one to promote himself aggressively on social media, he is trying to put himself out there more. 

"If you are passionate about something, you just have to keep doing it."

To inspire Indigenous youth, Earthchild says, “If you are passionate about something, you just have to keep doing it. There's times where you'll fail and you won't feel like it's going anywhere, but you just have to dig deep and keep believing in yourself and say those words of affirmation. You really have to be your own motivation.” He’s had to dig deep in recent years and he’s been tempted to give up to focus on providing for his family. “Just keep doing it and you'll keep opening doors and other opportunities will come,” he continues.  

Hard to define, artist and creative Earthchild is all over the place but right where he wants to be, making music and loving his family. Working with youth to inspire the artists of tomorrow, he’s enjoying the life he’s created today. After a pandemic pause, he’s digging deep and expanding his reach with new beats, creating music everyone can relate to.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
    British Columbia
  • Date
    April 2, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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