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April 12, 2010

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CUPE custodian chart surfs in the hip hop world

PENTICTON - Zane Gold is a school custodian with big dreams. A CUPE 523 member in Penticton schools since 1999, he has left and returned a few times, but it is likely his future is in the music industry. And he has lots of support from friends and family, including his dad who worked for the Okanagan-Skaha school district for 25 years.

Now in his early 30s, Zane has had a lot of experiences and some pretty big musical wins already. He classifies himself as a hip hop artist with a passion for producing and writing. He won best Urban/Dance album at the BC Interior Music Awards in 2009 for his solo work and his new single ‘Like a Dime,’ featuring Bobby Brillo, has made it onto the Hot 100 Canadian charts.

A native of Penticton where he was born, raised and went to school, Zane left before finishing high school and went to work in the Alberta oil patch. After returning to Penticton in 1999, he began working for the school district and held a regular position on graveyard shift for a few years. He took a leave to enter an electrical apprenticeship program, but his employer got hit by hard economic times, making it tough to complete the certification process.

Music has been part of his life since he was nine years old. Around age 18, Zane bought a computer and learned how to mix and record. While he had been largely a solo artist, Zane joined the aboriginal hip hop band “7th Generation” which opened up a whole new world to him. He does not identify as an aboriginal person, although after hooking up with the band, he discovered some Métis heritage. Zane describes 7th Generation as a culturally conscious group – who performed for many aboriginal communities and incorporated workshops on things like writing music for kids as part of their travels. Zane says that while he was never a “gansta rapper,” the experience with 7th Generation gave him more consciousness about how powerful the music can be.

During his time with the band, they raked in awards including the 2006 and 2007 BC Interior Music Awards "Best Hip Hop Album" and the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards "Best Hip Hop Album" in 2007 and 2008.

Now he is back as a solo artist – and working as a casual for the school district while finishing up a new album. He says that since moving toZane Gold and Bobby BrilloZane Gold and Bobby Brillo day shift at the school – he sometimes creates a bit of a buzz with the students who recognize him. And he has been invited into a few classes to talk about his journey – which is very inspiring to the kids who are intrigued to see someone a lot like them pursuing a dream.

Does the message in his music matter? On ‘Like a Dime’ he says that people have different interpretations. He started with a beat and then worked from there. It was a club song for him, but it was also about exterior beauty not being the only thing that matters. Zane says that people will take their own meaning from his music and that is fine by him.

Zane sees his future in music and hopes to be able to write and produce music and work with new artists. He has done some musical collaboration, including working with DMC from Run DMC. And he has experienced support from many people, including Stu Goldberg whose music is featured on the hit TV show “The Amazing Race.” Goldberg lives in the area and has encouraged Zane.

While he has not been an active member of CUPE 523, he has come to appreciate the benefits of a collective agreement and collective action after more than a decade with the school district. He says that young people don’t have enough of a sense of what a union is. But maybe with artists like Zane who combine experience with their musical drive, there will be some songs that tell some tales of working life.

Zane will also have an opportunity to make an impact on students during an upcoming tour with Bobby Brillo. The two will be touring western Canada on the "Galaxy Tour," performing at venues in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. As part of this, they are doing a performance and offering a creative workshop called "From Thought to Things" at scheduled schools.

“I thought it would be such a great thing to talk to students while I’m on tour,” said Zane. Check out the workshop description here. Information about booking a workshop is available by emailing [email protected].

You can buy his tunes at and check out the latest news and tour dates at



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