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The Revolution Will Be In Stereo

It's the merging of old-school technology and culture. Take 11 speakers, four 16-volt car batteries, a little Trinidadian flare and you've got Future Shock; the Queens, N.Y crew whose custom-made stereobikes are making waves beyond the Caribbean community in which they live.

"Caribbean people like to party," says an unapologetic Nicolas Ragbir, Future Shock's founding member. In his native Trinidad, stereobikes are commonplace. Mobility, however, isn't a factor. It's a competition of sound, of bass, of stereo might.

Nicolas and his friend, Anil Bhimraj, grew up in a surround-sound world, but they wanted to take stereobikes to the next level. That would come in the form of a custom chain ring they designed that could sustain the massive weight of their audio equipment.

Their hard work would be paid in full with the creation of Basszilla, a standard BMX bike they transformed into their first sonic Frankenstein.

More would follow, including Anil's De Notorious One and Electric Avenue, complete with strobe lights and tube fluorescents designed by Jessica Ragbir, Nicolas' younger sister. "People are surprised that I'm the only girl, because mostly girls are not interested in this, but I am," she says proudly.

What began as a hobby between friends led to the crew becoming local celebrities around their neighborhood, Little Guyana. It would be, however, a chance encounter with a reporter from the New York Times, along with a featured article, that would kick everything into high gear.

"He turned around; he turned around right there and was like 'yo,' you know, he never saw something like this." That's the way Nicolas recalls that fateful day he was spotted working on one of the bikes in his garage.

Filmmakers Joe Stevens and Nicolas Randall were also intrigued by the mad scientist ingenuity of Future Shock. "Immediately upon meeting with them, speaking with them, I realized I had to shoot something," said Stevens. What followed was "Made In Queens," a short documentary co-produced by MTV2 Films.

For Nicolas, Anil, Jessica, and the rest of the crew, it's back to business as usual. But they also look forward, anxious to see what's next. Nicolas puts the experience into perspective, "I see it in a way that, you know, is like a bright future for me…I love it…I hope it carries me in someway.

The documentary, along with two of the crew's stereobikes are now being shown at the Queens Museum of Art's Queens International 4, which celebrates the diverse work of 42 local artists from 18 countries. The exhibit runs through April 26th, 2009.

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