Graffiti writing has always been a criminal activity, looked upon as vandalism. When the Under Pressure Festival was founded in 1996, many people also associated it with gang activity; the desire to alter this misconception is part of what inspired Under Pressure’s creation. As a small, community-funded festival organized by volunteers, Under Pressure’s goal is to emphasize not only the artists, but also to foster a sense of community.
In its first year, the festival hosted 22 graffiti writers from across Canada and drew in around 500 spectators who wanted to see legends like Kwota Crew and TA Crew paint. But Under Pressure has never limited itself to graffiti; it also features DJs, breakdancers, and artists of all kinds who want to showcase their talent. In fact, well-known Montreal DJ A-Trak was just 14 when he performed at the first ever Under Pressure Festival in 1996 – he’s since gone on to collaborate with the likes of Kanye West and Travis Barker.
Writen by Jordie Yeager