Beatboxing has revolutionised the music scene.
Gone are the days when beatboxers were considered freakish people who’d be called on to the stage to fill in the gaps when the main artist was late.
Here, in UAE, an up and coming beatbox sensation is making some noise too – both literally and figuratively.
Meet Uday Jagda, or BeatBox Ray as he is popularly known. We got up close and personal to pick his brain about the well-known and less established music form:
1. How did you get into beatboxing?
It began around 2008 – out of nowhere. I was jamming with my friend, just spitting stuff and that’s when he pointed out that I was actually beatboxing.
I was curious: What in the world was beatboxing? I began my research – started browsing beatboxing videos and tutorials on YouTube.
Now it’s been 4-5 years and I’m still doing it. I prefer calling it organic music – after all, we’re making music with our organs!
2. Who inspired you to take up this form of music?
Faith SFX, a beatboxer from the UK, was the first beatboxer who inspired me.
When I started out, I wasn’t really serious about it. He inspired me to look at it from a musical perspective.
Otherwise, I would have just been an entertainer, doing solo shows now and then, trying to impress people. But now, I can make music as well.
3. How did you land your first beatboxing gig?
I started beatboxing back in college. My first ever performance was in the college annual show.
I was skeptical at first but, surprisingly, the moment I began beatboxing, people started making a lot of noise and that pumped me up. They seemed to enjoy it.
I’m glad that the response was positive. It was a tipping point where even one ‘BOO’ from the crowd would have demotivated me.
Watch him in action:
4. How do people from the older generations respond?
Well, I have performed in front of older people. I do corporate gigs as well.
My shows are versatile – I adapt my music according to my audience.
For example, when I’m collaborating with someone, such as Jazz musicians, I learn time signatures. If I collaborate with a band, I tend to replace the percussionist. I try to make my set in such a way that it is pure music.
I would like to collaborate with Ours Samplus; he’s a French artist. You can find him on SoundCloud. I’ve been following him for a while. I’d also like to collaborate with beatboxers like Beardy Man and Faith SFX.
5. Though beatboxing finds its roots in hip-hop, do you think it can extend to other genres of music?
Over the years, people have been adopting beatboxing in different genres, like Electronic music.
Some beatboxers in Europe have been trying dubstep, drum and bass, house music. Back then, it was a hip-hop thing where beatboxers were supposed to make the emcee look good. It just survived.
Over the years, it has taken center stage where a beatboxing solo could carry the whole show. A UK beatboxer called Beardy Man plays at big festivals. He makes music with hi-tech gears. I keep creating new stuff too. If there’s a hardcore rave going on, I will do a drum & bass set. Here, we do more of trip-hop stuff. It’s not bound by genre anymore.
7. How would you describe the current beatboxing scene in the UAE?
There aren’t many beatboxers here. We arranged a battle recently and we didn’t have the finances to get an international judge. So I was judging along with a friend who’s also a good beatboxer.
About 10-15 guys showed up, we had fun, that’s about it. Anyway, as more beatboxers come up bringing their own type of music, I’m sure it’ll be exciting.
8. With artists like Diplo and Skrillex taking over the pop music industry by incorporating vocal percussions, do you think beatboxing may become a regular feature in the music industry?
It’s pretty much possible. Beatboxers have certain special sounds. Of course, you can mimic a sound on a computer using software like Ableton.
But there are some sounds that only a beatboxer can make; sounds which are organic. They have their own vibe.
9. What advice do you have for young beatboxing aspirants?
Anyone who’s trying to go into beatboxing must realize that when you’re a beatboxer, you’re a musician. You’re not just some clown.
Let people know that you’re serious about your music. Be open to learning new techniques. Let your passion for music and beatboxing flow freely.
As far as beatboxing is concerned, master the basics and adapt them into the music.