Squirt chats to the 2003 Austrian Beatbox Champion
How long have you been beatboxing?
Since June of 2001.
What got you into it?
I've always been aware of makin' noises with your mouth to make music, but I just wasn't aware that it was called "beatboxing" and that folks actually did it seriously. At least not until junior high school, when I saw Rahzel on MTV's Hip-Hop Week. He was featured on some segments, rockin' freestyle sessions with Slick Rick, his video "All I Know" was being played, etc. But what really caught my attention was when Rahzel just ripped it on the commercials advertising Hip-Hop Week. I remember him explaining how he couldn't afford turntables as a kid, so he just improvised with his voice. That was the first time I heard some decent vocal scratching. So Rahzel was really the FIRST to expose me to beatboxing as an art, and not just as a party trick. From then, I made some noise here and there, but I wasn't really serious about it. But I was definitely interested in beatboxing (i.e. downloading massive amounts of beatboxing mp3s at a time).
Fast forward a few years to June of 2001. I was at a Filipino Fiesta with my girlfriend, Angel, when she introduced me to her friend, Kevin Discipulo, a beatboxer. She knew I was interested in the art, so she asked him to kick a beat for me. I still remember... he did a cover of "Moments in Love," Rahzel-style. Up 'til that point, I never heard anyone kick beats AND hum a melody simultaneously. I thought that only the pros I heard on my mp3 collection like Rahzel and Kenny Muhammad could do crazy stuff like that. I was inspired at that moment hearing Kevin do his thing. We're still friends, and we even rocked the stage together as "The Vocalistix" at one time. But anyway, from that day on, I started takin' beatboxing pretty seriously.
You won the Austria Beatbox Championship in Vienna in August '03. What made you enter?
Funny story, actually. Originally, I was supposed to be one of the judges of the championship. The coordinator, Michael "Fii" Krappel, asked me on Humanbeatbox.com if I was interested in coming through to Vienna to attend the event, all expenses paid. Of course, at first I thought he was just a creepy internet guy, but we continued to talk about it, and I talked it over with my parents, and they talked about it, etc etc. He eventually gained our trust and I decided to do it. Fii told me that he wanted one more beatboxer from the U.S. to come through (besides Otha Major, who was already scheduled to go). At the time, I was 16 years-old, so my young age really caught Fii's attention. Then some changes in plans happened. A sponsor backed out of the Championship, so they weren't able to pay for my flight anymore. But having such dope friends at home (shoutout to PYC Sacramento!), they threw a fundraiser event for me to help raise enough money to get myself (and my mother) to Vienna. At the same time, I recorded a very bootleg, home-recorded CD called "The Parmesan Man," which I sold at performances to also help raise money. Make the long story short, Fii decided that I should instead compete in the championship, rather than to judge. To my surprise, I won.
Did you think you would win?
Not at all! I just decided to take advantage of the opportunity of being in Austria, and doing what I love. I'm not even a battle-type person. I'm not competitive at all (except maybe when playing board games). For three rounds, I just went up and had fun rockin' the mic in front of the beautiful, lively Austrian crowd, not even thinking of winning, just enjoying myself. Then on the final round, when I was face-to-face with awesome Slovakian beatboxer, Rytmus, it was no different. Just had fun, rockin' it. I don't even think he was very competitive about it. Yeah, it was a battle scenario, but in between our turns, we gave each other a lot of love--hand shakes, hugs, compliments. He was a real cool guy, and I really thought he was gonna win. But alas, they announced his name for second place. You should hear my mom's screams of joy in the video footage! =P
Any advice to noobs?
Well, to anyone that is interested in beatboxing, but don't know where to start, just go for it! Don't worry about all the little technicalities and don't worry about sounding foolish. The best thing to do is to just make some noise, regardless of what it sounds like at first. Get comfortable with spittin' in rhythm and you'll automatically improve. The best way to learn beatboxing is simply by starting.
To those that are already beatboxing, but still call themselves "noobs," try to find your own style! Man.. my first performances were totally ripped from other beatboxers. And it was hard to shake it off and eventually create my own sets and routines. Now that I'm original, though, when I hear other beatboxers rip MY stuff, it hurts! It's like.. I put my time and effort into creating something new and original. To hear someone else just take it, do it, and get credit for it sucks. But I don't get mad about it. I just see it as motivation to continue making up new stuff. So again, be original! It's alright to imitate at first, because you gotta learn somewhere, but once you've acquired enough skill and experience, you'll never be taken seriously as a beatboxer if all you do is bite. Trust me. It will haunt you. I STILL get flack for my audio and video clips of OLD performances, when I'm still rippin' other people's beatbox sets.
Do you have an original sound? If so, how did you discover it?
You know, that's one thing that I'm always kinda embarrassed about. I don't really have any signature sounds. I guess I'm still lookin' for it. The only original sounds I can think of, that I created myself, is my vocal bass scratch. It's created entirely from the throat, but the sound is emitted nasally. It's hard to explain in words--it's easier understood when you hear it. It's not even a very difficult sound to do, but people tell me it sounds cool when it's amplified. How I discovered it is a funny story. Jay-Z used to say this thing before every song... it was like, "uh-huh-uh... JIGGAAAA!" I used to think that "uh-huh-uh" was funny, so I'd imitate it. All I did was close my mouth and make it really deep and bassy, and I got "mm-hmm-mm." When repeated over and over, it sounds like a bass scratch: "mm-hmm-mm-hmm-mm-hmm..." You get the point. Try it. It's easy.
How did you discover Humanbeatbox.com?
Aww, man. I came across this awesome frickin' website back when it was still called Beatboxing.co.uk! I just did a google search on "beatbox," and it was one of the first sites that came up. I was amazed at the skill of so many common folk like myself. And TyTe's tutorials were awesome! I signed up, and started sharing my stuff (back when I was still a "noob"), and I eventually got addicted to it. I'm still a proud member to this day! Hollurrr at Humanbeatbox.com! Yay!
WHO ARE YOUR IDOLS?
I can't name them all! There are so many fresh beatboxers--Killa Kela, Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, Scratch, D.O.A., Click tha Supah Latin, Yuri Lane, Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Buffy--that I don't even wanna start (even though I kinda just did). Seriously, I can't name them all. I mean, the folks I just named are all pretty well-known beatboxers, but there's also super-fresh beatboxers that just haven't blown up yet--Shlomo, Faith SFX, Generik, Poizunus, Jam One, Zeero, Tim Barsky, Kid Beyond, Each, Felonious. I know I'll forget someone. Just know that if you're fresh, and you're original, and I like you, then you're my idol. I wish I could name everyone... sorry if I forgot you! But just to mention two in particular, Kevin Discipulo; how could I not mention the man that started it all for me? And also, Mr. Otha Major, one of the sickest beatboxers my human ears have ever heard. This man is super-human, if not non-human. He taught me a lot in Vienna, about music in general, about EQ, how to do lip-rolls. Otha's the man. And when he came to Sacramento, I gave up my bed for him. I had a frickin' legend sleepin' in my bed! (Get your head out the gutter, ya sickos.)
WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO JAM WITH?
Anyone that wants to jam with me! I love jammin', not even just with beatboxers. I once jammed with three Tuvan throat singers and a didgeridoo player. Another time, I jammed with a guitar player, a flute player, and a violinist. I love how versatile beatboxing is. So if you wanna jam, come see me! =)
Big hug for Humanbeatbox.com! Y'all helped me grow so much as a beatboxer (and as a forum-chatting computer nerd!). And to think that now you guys are interviewing me... I'm honored. Thanks for everything, everyone!