- Wed, 2008-09-03 13:03
I Like Music likes Beardyman. We like Beardyman a lot. As well as being a super-talented master of the microphone, Beardyman also happens to posses a very intelligent, innovative mind.
After winning the UK Beatboxing championships two years in a row, Beardyman has now become one of the judges, an admirable move indeed. He has played a huge part in pushing the boundaries of beatboxing forward, fusing its relationship with music and allowing it to be recognised by many more as a true artform.
Beardyman has a number of live dates coming up and we highly recommend that you go along and check him out. We caught up with him just before his gig at se:one in London, alongisde the likes of DJ Yoda, Krafty Kuts and Evil Nine at the Bacardi B-Live La Fiesta event.
I Like Music caught up with Beardyman for the second time this year (we just can't get enough!) to find out exactly what we can expect on Thursday, why you should be wary of all bearded men posing as your boss, his exciting collaboration plans with the Editor of ilikemusic and perhaps, most importantly, his incredibly insightful views on the current state of the music industry. Boom boom chicka chicka boom....an I Like Music online beatbox for you there....enjoy :)
"I Like Music because…it is the only thing apart from the moment of orgasm that makes me feel truly happy and at one with the world.” Beardyman
ILM: What can we expect on Thursday night?
Beardyman: I'm doing a full hour set. So I'll be doing the standard beatboxing stuff but also my looping stuff which is kind of equivalent to what a DJ would do, doing covers of songs but recreating it all with beatbox and live looping. Everything is made on the spot. It'll be wicked.
ILM: You've got a lot of dates coming up. Do you have a favourite venue or club to perform at?
Beardyman: One of my favourites, even though it's not one of the biggest, is Cargo because I have such good memories of it. I've won competitions there. I do my night there. I really like the soundsystem, I like the people, I like the crowd.
ILM: Do you vary what you do each night?
Beardyman: It's always slightly different. I will lean in whatever direction I think the crowd want me to lean. There's no point doing something that I think the crowd aren't going to enjoy. I do so many different styles of music. I get booked for loads of really diverse gigs. If I'm doing a set to a predominantly hip-hop crowd then obviously I'll do more hip-hop than I would if I was doing it to an audience of hard-house heads.
ILM: You have a bangface night coming up in Decemeber don't you...
Beardyman: Yeah. So I won't be doing a whole lot of hip-hop that night. That will be sort of IDM, drum 'n' bass, gabba sort of stuff. On Thursday it will be predominantly breaks, a bit of techno, some hip-hop, a bit of deep house, but all done with my cheeky take on it all.
ILM: What music are you into at the moment?
Beardyman: I recently downloaded the entire Aphex Twin back catalogue. I've been listening to loads of King Crimson and I've been listening to lots of Squarepusher. I just eat up music. There is so much music out there. I was having this debate with Norman Jay the other day about whether or not dubstep is girl friendly. He thinks it's fundamentally techy. It's not as uplifting as a lot of stuff. I don't know....I suppose it depends...
ILM: What are your thoughts on the illegal download debate?
Beardyman: Personally I think music is a market like any other. The interesting thing that distinguishes it, is that these days, for the first time since music was in it's uncomplicated, primal form, we've got it to the stage where it's been taken back to the people. The means of production is now owned by the people and not a series of oligarchical nob-ends.
I think there is going to be a levelling out. A complete market re-adjustment that is going to need to happen. I think record companies are trying to prevent it from happening, but at the end of the day it is technology that changes the world. Because we are able to make music without having to rent out a massive studio, and we're able to distribute music without having to go through these really expensive marketing and distribution channels, that actually means that these massive record companies that dictate taste exist purely for their own purposes.
On the flip side you've got to think about the starving record producers who did have a career but now don't. On the other side you've got the fact that I would not have been able to download King Crimson's back catalogue if I had to pay for the whole thing. The thing is, they're not on an independent label, their on a huge label, so I don't feel quite so bad doing that.
I don't know. I really think people do want to pay for music. There are things like blogs and forums which people maintain for every reason other than money. Radiohead showed that it was possible, obviously Radiohead are a band with a massive following. But, at the same time, I know a fair few people that make their money from busking. If you are prepared to live frugally then you can get by on a buskers wage, you know? I mean, does Justin Timberlake really need all that money? No, he doesn't. I'd like to switch it so that it does go by talent. Justin Timberlake probably would get a fair bit of money because he is quite entertaining, but would he have as much money as he has?
People that have talent that go busking on the streets probably would get a fair, larger portion of money. The thing is, that is what the market is adjusting to at the moment. It will just take a fair few more tries at alternative market models before we find one which the market is happy to use. It is about finding that balance.
ILM: Bridging the gap between those at one end with a lot of money and those at the other with hardly anything, when often both sides have an equal amount of talent...
Beardyman: Yeah exactly. Looking at freedom of distribution, it has had so many different effects. The fact that people are into more kinds of music. They can make more intelligent descisions about what they want to listen to. It broadens their music tastes. This is all bad news for the established music industry because it has been built on the fact that distribution of music has been restricted to whatever works on a mass market scale. Music is a mass market product. A terrifying prospect and one that we have had to live through for the last seventy years. But that is changing. Now the music at the other end of the bell curve, which is more niche, can be heard by more people, so it is more viral as a product. I think it can only be a good thing.
I think that as a way to monetise the music industry for producers, donations aren't such a stupid way of doing it. People want to pay for music that they've heard when they know that the people who make it need money to survive. That is why when you walk past a busker and they've brightened your day, you may just give them some money, rather than someone who just sits there holding out their hand. I don't have the answers, but I do suspect that peoples good nature would lead them towards this busking thing. I don't know if that's a solution. I just think it's one of the several options that can be monetised. But then again you know, it's like any intellectual property law that is based on something ineffable. It is very hard to police. You could say that it is counter-intuitive trying to police the distribution of something that doesn't take any physical exursion to actually do, of any kind. Why should you necessarily have to pay for that? It doesn't make any sense. But it is the good nature of people anyway that ensures it. But then it's being enforced by law and donation of music is supposed to be fun....who knows man?
ILM: Talking about the ever changing music industry, you play a major part in pushing its boundaries. In terms of what people expect when they see beatboxing you've solidified its relationship with music and its representation as an artform. Are you working on anything particularly innovative at the moment that you can share with us?
Beardyman: I've been working on an EP at the moment of tunes that people will know, but I've done them in really weird ways that people won't expect. It's quite....it's all...um...I don't really know how to describe it...but that should be coming out soon. I just finished it the other day. We've mastered it and we're going to try and get some videos shot as well.
ILM: Awesome. Have you got plans for the videos?
Beardyman: Yeah, it's all top secret! It will be really cool. I can guarantee that people will really like them. Anyone who knows me already will really like them and anyone that hasn't heard of me will too. I've tried to make sure that it's more than just a beatboxer making music. There's a point to it all.
ILM: If you were interviewing Beardyman, what one question would you ask?
Beardyman: What are you playing at?
ILM: Beardyman, what on earth are you playing at?
Beardyman: I dunno.
ILM: You don't know?
ILM: What inspires you to keep on making music?
Beardyman: I don't know, it's awesome. Way better than a job.
ILM: What is your typical day?
Beardyman: I don't really have a typical day. It's a random combination of any four to five different things, which are like recording stuff. Practicing for live shows and developing my new live set up, which at the moment I've only used for production, but it's studio quality live production which I can bring out. A couple of tracks I've done have used this thing. It's taken a long time to develop. A lot of time goes into that. A lot of time goes into producing stuff. A lot of time goes into gigs. I've done a lot of really weird gigs. I'm always flying about all over the place.
ILM: What's the strangest gig you've done recently?
Beardyman: I do loads of weird corporate ones. I did a corporate one the other day where I pretended to be Max Bower of the Bower Group, who has just taken over Kiss FM. I went in there as a speaker. They thought I was their new boss, I told them all they were going to be fired. They didn't believe me and thought I was joking, and I was like Yes, yes I'm joking as I showed them another slide, and then just said But we are going to lay off all the producers and they started laughing and I was like No. Seriously we are. Then I started beatboxing and I had a chaos pad behind the podium. I moved into it really gradually, the graphs I was showing to them got sillier and sillier and then I started beatboxing with the chaos pad and just did some mash-ups and covers. I did a gig for google the other day too.
ILM: Did you? What was that like?
Beardyman: It was at ten in the morning in the Royal Opera House in this giant glass atrium to a bunch of google big wigs. They showed my kitchen-cooking-beatboxing clip and then I came out and started beatboxing and got them all involved. They all stood up and danced and stuff. It was really fun. It was a good laugh.
ILM: On a lighter note, on the grounds that you have some collaborations coming up I wondered whether you would be interested in another? I've been working on an act entitled 'Moustache Girl' It involves myself, a bubble pipe and an un-naturally large collection of fake moustaches all rolled into an elaborate mime act. I thought it might work as an exciting side piece to your wonderful routine?
Beardyman: Wicked. Yeah. Let's do it. Let's get a rehearsal room and some dance moves sorted.
ILM: I can't really dance. It's a mime act.
Beardyman: Oh. It's mime.
ILM: Every big artist surely needs a side-kick?
Beardyman: Especially anyone whose name ends with the suffix 'man'. That would suggest some sort of super-hero. Which would mean I would definitely need Moustache Girl. We'll get that sorted.
ILM: OK. Well I'll see you on Thursday?
Beardyman: Cool. I'll write up a contract. I'll make you a star.
ILM: I'll speak to my seamstress and organise us a cape fitting?
Beardyman: Hahaha. Wicked. We can save the world man. We can do it.
Guest Edit #26: Beardyman Take a look here