We caught up with the world record breaking beat boxer SK Shlomo to find ask him some juicy questions before his upcoming show; Shlomo's Beatbox Adventure for Kids'.
When and how did you discover your talent for beatboxing?
Well, when I was 8 years old my parents bought me a drum kit for my birthday. It was my dream come true and was the best 45 minutes of my life until the neighbours started complaining and I got banned from practicing. That’s when I started using my voice to create rhythms. I didn’t know it was called Beatboxing until later on in my teens when I realised it could get me free chips and impress my friends.
What do you love most about beatboxing?
It creates a platform for expression. I grew up not realising I had a disability which is called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which makes it very difficult for people to focus. It can get quite stressful for people with ADHD to process what is happening in the world around them. So for me – I didn’t know this at the time – Beatboxing was a real coping strategy because it gave me a real stable form of expression that I could dive into any time any place. Whenever the world feels overwhelming you’ve got rhythm, you’ve got bass and you’ve got drums in your face. What I didn’t realise was that that was my super power and I love that. So my main thing now about Beatboxing is to show people how it can be a tool for empowerment. A tool to become a more wonderful human than you already are.
How did you come up with the idea for Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids and what can the audience expect from the show?
I came up with the idea when I became a Father and was sick of missing bath time. So I wanted to find a way we could do stuff in the daytime. So we just put on a very small venue and it sold out straight away and I thought that this could be a thing. What I didn’t realise was that years and years later it would still be selling out and going into bigger and bigger venues. In terms of what to expect from the show, you will get to see a world-champion performer giving you a virtuosic talent and relishing the opportunity to be back on stage after the last few years. What people might not realise that they are also going to get is a whole toolkit on becoming an empowered human through exploring your voice. So we end up talking about so much more than just ways to impress your friends with clever tricks. It ends up being quite an emotional journey where I talk to kids and their families about empowerment and how music has helped me to recover from really difficult mental health situations. We talk about identity, racism, gender diversity and disability and amongst other subjects without even realising it. I believe that children and grownups deserve a platform to talk these things in a safe way. They are just going to have a whole load of fun.
The grand finale of the show is the Beatbox Battle (which is my favourite bit) where kids get to battle either each other or their grownups using their newfound Beatboxing skills. The crowd goes crazy to decide who will be crowned their local Beatbox champion. I’m very excited to find out who is going to be the Farnham Beatbox champion of 2022!
You’ve worked with many iconic names from the music industry, who has been your favourite artist to work and perform with?
Working with Bjork absolutely blew my mind as she was the first person to really see what I was doing as more than just a trick. Including myself as at that point I was still only doing it to get free chips and to impress people. So I would be copying famous Hip Hop beats and travelling around doing these bit Hip Hop shows but I didn’t ever think about writing my own music or using Beatboxing as a platform to explore creative arts. Whereas Bjork, who is the Queen of creative arts just saw me as another collaborator and musician and that completely flipped my whole mindset and flipped my whole world on its head. After working with her my solo career really started to blossom so she is probably my favourite artist to work with. Although working with Ed Sheeran was also pretty cool when he came on stage with me at Glastonbury. Also performing with Gorillaz and The Specials (also at Glastonbury) was another pinch myself moment.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to begin their own beatbox adventure?
I would say you can learn the basics by coming to my show (if you can’t come to me show you can find the basics on my YouTube channel). Don’t wait until you feel you are good. Just get started. I feel that a lot of people don’t feel that they are creative at the beginning and don’t give themselves a chance to do it. Every time I hear someone say “I can’t do that. I’m not creative. I can’t sing. I can’t do music.” I’m like “Do you mean I can’t or do you mean that you haven’t yet?” Because quite often that’s what they usually mean. I say “have you even tried?” and they say “Well, no because I can’t” and I’m “Well, why don’t we?”. I show them some basics and within a few minutes they’re having fun. My advice is to get started before you feel you are ready. If you start when you are not good eventually you will become good.
Book Tickets for Shlomos Beatbox Adventure for Kids in the Great Hall on Tue 15 February at 2pm here.