by Addy P
Addy_P interviews a legend in the making...
A question that always has to be asked; how did you first get into beatboxing?
I've been making noises since I was a child. I started drumming aged 8 and I guess it was originally just an extension of that: whenever there was no kit around I'd be clicking my teeth or tapping out a rhythm. It was never about sound effects or even making specific sounds, it was pure rhythm. Then when I reached the age of 16 or so someone played me a tape of a beatbox show. I'm still not sure who the boxer was but I guess it was Rahzel, and I couldn't get over how realistic the sounds were. It was from that point that I was first into beatboxing. Speaking to other enthusiasts through beatboxing.co.uk and eventually meeting up with them at King of the Jam was the real finisher. Once all that had happened there was no looking back!
You are an experienced jazz drummer as well as a beatboxer. How does this area of expertise shape your individual style?
I think performing a beatbox show requires a combination of skills. Technical ability is the obvious requirement, but without a sense of musicality and rhythm it is meaningless. Being into music and rhythm from an early age helps to develop the part of the brain which you need to be a strong perfomer. I wouldn't say that the jazz drumming has an instant reflection in my beats, I see them as very different skills and I don't necessarily beatbox the same rhythms I would play behind the kit. However it has developed aspects of my style to levels I otherwise could never reach: improvisation, the ability to be creative in front of an audience, and of course the drive and love of music.
How did you first become involved with Drool Skool and Foreign Beggars, and what impact have they had on your career?
Drool Skool, thats easy. Myself and A-Plus had been working together since day one, ie the first King of the Jam. He had been talking about forming a beatbox crew since way back then, and I had always been up for it. Drool Skool was the eventual shape it took, but it never really had the chance to fulfil its potential. I had to leave the group shortly after its most triumphant moment (appearing on Eastenders) because my solo career was becoming too demanding.
My involvment with Foreign Beggars is a whole different story. I had just arrived in Leeds and was overawed by the city's musical scene. I was out raving at some drum 'n' bass rave, and remember seeing this one MC who really stood out from the others. Nobody knew who this short Asian guy was! He was taking on Shabba D back-to-back and really showing him up. Anyway the night finishes and I'm outside in a cypher furiously spitting my most violent DnB beats, when all the MCs file out of the backstage door. None of them take any notice of the cypher except for the guy who we had seen onstage a minute earlier. The guy stops and spits a rhyme, asks if I can do hip hop aswell. Of course I can! He tells me I'm sick and takes my number. Turns out this dude was Pavan, AKA Orifice Vulgatron, founder of Dented Records and the whole Foreign Beggars movement. It was a really fortunate time to meet as they were about to put out their first record, and start doing live shows. I came down for the first show, which was Kung Fu in London, and after that I became a full time member.
Being part of Foreign Beggars has had a huge effect on my career. They are a truly talented lot and I have 100% confidence in the success of their music. Its not just about the group, it's an entire mentality which is consistent among the entire Dented Records family, which spans across several acts. Everyone I've met in those circles is totally positive and confident, making music for the love and without pretension or competition. Also the Beggars have taken me all over the country, got me on the telly, taken my skills into Europe, and on the album exposed my beats to listeners worldwide. Hold tight for '05, we are doing a 17 date tour promoting the new EP, entitled 'Crypt Drawl' released March 2005. And also there is a second album looming somewhere so stay tuned!
You are known for your ‘dance music' beatboxing. Do you you think that beatboxing has a role to play in the future of dance music? Also, what is the current state of dance music in beatboxing?
I'm afraid I don't really know a lot about the dance music scene. I first started doing my trancebox routine for 2 reasons: 1) I suddenly worked out I could do it! 2) almost all the styles I'd heard people beatbox back then were hip hop. A bit of drum 'n' bass, couple of other things, but almost everyone was sticking to the hip hop style. At the time I didn't really know much about hip hop, didn't realy listen to it. So I wanted to come up with something totally new for the stage show. Then there's The Prodigy, its classic and everybody knows it. Nowadays I think a lot more people beatbox in a bigger variety of styles, and dance beats are relatively common in a beatbox set. However I don't think beatboxing is going to play a major role in dance music.
So far in your career you have made two major TV appearances, one with Drool Skool in the UK soap Eastenders, and another in front of 4.5 billion people at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. How have these appearances influenced your beatboxing, and are there any further TV appearances on the cards?
It's just cool to be recognised. Until that point people may have heard of me, but unless they had seen me play they didn't have a face to put with the sounds. Once you're on the box people know you. I still find it hard to comprehend that 4.5 billion viewers heard my beats. Thats roughly 2/3 of the world population! Future TV appearances, I did some work for the BBC for their advert for 1xtra, I think thats going out on all BBC channels. Also I'm in a couple of documentaries coming out in '05, stay tuned.
You’ve been a member and moderator of humanbeatbox.com since pretty much the beginning. In what ways is beatboxing becoming more well known, and how has humanbeatbox.com contributed to the beatboxing scene?
Beatboxing is blowing up! When I started out it was rare to meet someone who was into it. Now almost everywhere I play I get handed demos from up-and-coming boxers. I'm sure Humanbeatbox.com has played a huge role in the explosion of beatboxing worldwide. Having an open forum where novices can chat with experienced boxers from all over the world is such a positive thing, plus having a decent set of tutorials has helped a lot of people take their first steps. The Convention was the catalyst to get the world scene buzzing. A lot of important characters from respective nations worldwide met each other on the day of the first convention, and continue to collaborate. Now we are entering a new period for humanbeatbox.com and the world scene, with a major new boost of energy into the site and its content. This added momentum, when combined with the other major organisations (Beatbox Battle Networks, Beatboxer Entertainment, Beatboxing.com, Vowel Movement) means big things for beatboxers worldwide. And I'm really glad to be a part of it.
Of all the major artists that you have beatboxed for (including Wu-Tang, Public Enemy, Bjork, and many more), which of them did you prefer working with and why?
It has to be Björk. She deserves so much respect as an artist purely because every single element of her music comes directly from her. Nobody else has reached an international audience at that kind of level who is solely in charge of how the music sounds. She is on an independent label, which means there is no record boss looking over her shoulder the whole time telling her to make the music more marketable. Which meant that during the collaboration I had freedom to work how I wanted.
Do you have any EP or album plans at the moment, and if so, any news on them?
Yep, the Crypt Drawl EP is out in March and a second Foreign Beggars album is likely to come out late 2005. As for some solo Shlomo work, I think that will be a longer time coming, and I don't think its going to feature much beatboxing.
You are now heading up 'Hype Dark' as well as being in charge of UK events for humanbeatbox.com. Where do you hope to take those projects, and what events are you currently planning?
2005 is all about the beatbox events! After the storming success of the last two Hype Dark battles in Leeds, we are planning to move the format into different cities. I think Manchester is the next on the list. These regional heats are leading up to a national UK final, where we will be crowning the Humanbeatbox.com UK Champion, and that boxer will then go through to the International Finals in Germany hosted by Bee Low's Beatbox Battle Networks. Big tings for 2005. If you're on board, nows the time to get involved.
And finally, a question which is largely neglected in interviews these days; what is your favourite cheese?
Now that is a really tough one. I've been getting into Old Dutch Master over the festive season, but I'm gonna have to stick to my old favourite which is Stilton. Has to be creamy though, not crumbly seen?