Battle of the beat boxers

Published: Dec 11, 2011, 01:06 IST | Sanjiv Nair |

British beatboxing artist Shlomo is in the country to find a vocal percussionist that will form India's first beatbox orchestra. Do you feel the beat?

British beatboxing artist Shlomo is in the country to find a vocal percussionist that will form India's first beatbox orchestra. Do you feel the beat?

When British beatbox artist Simon Kahn aka Shlomo travelled to India last year, his ambition was to lay the seed and spread the word about this radical new sound that had juggernauted its way into the music of some of the world's greatest artists. What he did not expect was the overwhelming response from audiences across the county who embraced beatboxing almost instantaneously.

This year, Shlomo collaborates with the British Council and Zomba to create Voctronica, India's first all vocal beatboxing orchestra. Beatboxing aspirants from across the country have been invited to audition for the band.  The top 10 finalists handpicked by Shlomo himself, will form Voctronica and will be trained in professional beatboxing by some of the best beatboxers in UK and Shlomo himself. We got chatting with Shlomo  to know what the competition sounds like.

India is not the biggest scene on the global beatboxing map. Why here and why now?
At the moment not that many people know about it, but I think it has a lot of scope and potential because of the Indian musical tradition of using your voice to create rhythm. I think that'll enable a lot of musicians in India to learn beatboxing very quickly and to start using it in new ways. In short, I think there is a lot of promise.

Could you tell us about the genesis of Voctronica? The idea for a beatboxing group, the workshop, the auditions -- how did it come together?
I toured India last year. While I was there I was collaborating with different Indian artists and met a lot of beatboxers. At the British Council, I had a conversation about creating a vocal group. That's where the idea was born. I have a vocal group in the UK that I've been working with for nearly five years and this was a great opportunity to expand that idea to India.

An informal manifestation of beatboxing has been a part of Indian Classical music and is especially popular amongst classical percussionists in India. In your trip to the country did you get an opportunity to explore it?
Yeah I'm familiar with baul and Indian vocal percussion tradition. I've learned about it before from working with Indian artistes in the UK.

A member of Lip Factory will be conducting the workshop in India. How exactly will the training be conducted?
It's going to be an intensive course in beatboxing along with group development that they can learn more about. We'll work with the group and find out what the talent in the group is, what skills they have and how to bring them together. It's going to be a really intensive workshop, leaning to beatbox, and then training and developing those skills and also to start creating group music which should be a lot of fun.

What are you looking for in Voctronica's potential band members?
I haven't got to see any of the samples so far, but I'm really looking forward to watching them. We're just looking for vocal power -- range is what's key for us. We need to have people who are comfortable to sing and hopefully beatbox. It doesn't necessarily have to be people that beatbox, they just have to have a powerful voice, a unique voice of their own. We are looking for any kind of vocal talent -- whether they are singers, rappers, beatboxers, yodellers, Indian classical vocalists or any other form of vocal skills. As long as you have the power to move people with your voice, we want to hear from you.

Voctronica tours UK and India in 2012. What happens thereafter?
We're hoping this is the beginning of a beatbox revolution like it's happening in the UK and other parts of the world. I hope that the Indian vocalists that are part of the workshops will go forward and create their own styles and groups, and also that Voctronica will continue to write music and tour.

Do you see beatboxing blending with the existing contemporary styles of music in India (Bollywood etc.)?
Yes, it will find a place, I'm positive.

Applications close by December 16. To apply, upload your audition video of less than 5 minutes onto YouTube and then fill out the registration form here - For any queries, email:

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