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Exclusive Interview with Piratheeban | Beatbox is an addiction

Exclusive interview: Piratheeban | Beatbox is an addiction

Piratheeban discusses with about his love life and his addiction for beatbox.

Piratheeban is a Singaporean beatboxer who was crowned 2016 Asia Beatbox Champion and 2016 Singaporean Beatbox Champion. In this exclusive interview, Pira tells us his journey leading up to the championships and shares an intimate story on how beatboxing has changed his life.

So where did it all start?

I don’t remember - I’m actually a bit confused haha! I remember watching this wild card by Esalaah. It was by complete chance - you know how we are on YouTube. I didn’t watch anything but this video for 3 months. This sounded kind of like animal abuse, because of his animal sounds but I loved it. I kept playing it while playing my games on the computer. That’s how it all started.

So what got you into competing? What motivated you to start?

So the Singapore community organized a battle in 2012. I wasn’t serious and went for fun. I was last in the elimination and was so pissed off at myself. I was 12 back then. I was so pissed. I didn’t beatbox for very long - and after the battle I didn’t even beatbox. It was really weird.

Three years later, they hosted a battle again. I knew Dharni was going to be there, so I took it seriously. 2015, last year, the year I learned the K snare. I did random things. I sucked so bad went up to 2nd place somehow. That’s when I took it seriously.

I started really late. I’ve known beatbox for 6 or 7 years and only recently became a professional beatboxer.

What defines a professional beatboxer to you?

A professional beatboxer in my mind is someone who takes beatboxing as a passion and fully dedicates their life to it. Their life MUST revolve around beatbox. A lot of beatboxers are old school and not the best, but devote their lives to beatbox. You don’t have to be “good” to be a professional, because there are plenty of great beatboxers who don’t give a crap about beatboxing.

Not a lot of people considered you a  favorite to win the Asia champs. How did you pull it off?

This is funny. I was really scared doing Asian Champs. Super duper scared. I was pacing up and down. Ettoman told me “mothaf*cka chill.” Everyone told me to frickin chill. My eliminations - I was so pressured. I didn’t do so well. Hiram was a great beatboxer - he was really well known in Hong Kong and Taiwan - dominating Asia.

This is where it got really tricky. In the semi-finals against Bataco, the biggest reason I won was Tiffany (Madibeats). She was the reason I wanted to go to the Asia champs in the first place. I met her in Singapore and she hated me because I was annoying, but we eventually started going out. Because she lives in the Philippines, we didn’t get to see each other often so the Asia champs was perfect.

Piratheeban and Tiffany Madibeats

Piratheeban and Tiffany (Madibeats) pose for Swissbeatbox

So she calmed you down huh?

I was shivering and walking up down, left right. Everywhere. I told Tiffany, “yo can you come to the side of the stage.” I kept complaining and told her I was scared. I was the most tense person out there. She kissed me on the cheek and told me that I got it. It was really chill after that.

She told me, “against Bataco, don’t focus on trying to be fundamentally strong, just try to overpower him. Not flow, structure, points - just more powerful. Don’t look down at the stage and look at the crowd.” I just nodded and said ok.

I won that battle and we were all so happy. Then out of nowhere, Chuan destroyed everyone. She held my hand, and kept me calm throughout the night. When the final came, she surprised kissed me. It was our first kiss - like straight out of an Indian movie.

She’s like your girlfriend and coach!

It’s crazy when your girlfriend is a better beatboxer than you. I’m so grateful for having Tiffany as a part of my life.

My dad also played a huge part in my success. When we arrived, he said, “there are so many beatboxers who are better than you, but I have a feeling you will win.”

He always believed in me.

Tell me more about your dad. Has he always been supportive?

When I first started, no one understood what I was doing. I irritated my mom and dad a lot. My mom kept asking me “why are you spitting around the house??” I remember after my first legitimate performance, they came around and began to understand.

My dad was always there for me. When I was young and until now. He is the only person who supported me since the start - he’s definitely my biggest fan and he’s my biggest inspiration.

I have ADHD. I always have been hyperactive. He saved money and helped me pay for travel and helped me believe in my passion. People asked him “why are you supporting your son?” and he would brush it off. He was pressured, he got problems. It really hurts me. Super duper hurts. Until now - I stand strong with my dad.

How did your friends take it?

In school, kids thought I was annoying. A lot of people hated me for beatboxing. They were irritated and because of beatbox, they were irritated by everything that I did. Everybody in class started to hate me. I got bullied and they their jokes didn’t have a limit. I knew half of them could whip my ass at any minute and I can’t do anything else about it.

I also hate my studies, so the teachers hated me too. When I do something wrong, I’m not going to get any sympathy from the teachers. They were never going to be on my side. Even in Singapore, I don’t have a lot of friends. I’m lonely when I’m home. It really fu**ing sucks. I had a problem. Beatboxing caused lots of problems.

Piratheeban and Ettoman

Ettoman is tired of Piratheeban's shenanigans

But beatbox also opened lots of opportunities?

Yes. I wouldn’t have had my girlfriend without beatbox. Beatboxing has been there for me no matter what. I will not have gotten friends if it wasn’t for beatbox. The thing about most beatboxers is that they don’t judge you for who you are. I literally annoyed Ettoman and Bataco and they didn’t get pissed off at me. It’s so meaningful to me and I’m grateful.

I remember reading an Instagram post about you practicing until you started bleeding? What was that about?

My throat is very vulnerable. I bleed a lot if I over exceed my throat. My school doctor is good. When I saw him, he told me that I have to rest and maybe stop before I can get it back. I sometime cough up blood, but I continue because I want to build my throat strength even when it hurts.

I’m trying hyperinward bass rolls while adding side whistles - but when I try to open my throat, it starts to bleed again. Why do it? I don’t know - I might be crazy.

So do you see beatboxing as a career?

I don’t know if people will agree or not, but I don’t see beatbox as a full career - just a passion that I want to do my whole life. Like being a soccer player, it’s hard to make a living. I do want to make money and go judge, but I don’t see it happening. At 17, this was a hard realization. But I want to obtain a degree in political science. I love politics. I want to beat Donald Trump’s ass.

I also want to teach free workshops and help the new community because they look up to me. Teach them what it means to be professional and invest time in helping them succeed.

Dreams come true , I am still speechless . After tons of hardwork , I can offically say I am Asia's best beatboxer 💕

A photo posted by Kernabalan Piratheeban (@piratheeb) on

What is some advice you have for new school beatboxers?

Don’t ever go for motivation - be addicted. Winning a battle doesn’t mean everything - it’s more about the effort and the dedication you put in to win.

Is there anyone you would like to shout out? Perhaps a few people who inspired you?

Everybody has something significant in them. Inertia has one of the best inward bass. Alem has impacted my beatboxing greatly because of his stage presence and power. SelFX’s drags too.

But I’d like to give a shout out to Tiffany, my father G Kernabalan, Dharni, Artsy, OneDrain, NaPoM, the teamspeak family, and my other dad BBK. Thanks for the interview!

Definitely! Thanks for interviewing with us!

You can follow Piratheeban and his journey to beating Donald Trump’s on Instagram: @piratheeb

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