Analogue: Shlomo, you’ve been involved in organising this event, is that right?
Shlomo: Yeah, about three and a half years ago I started an agency called All From The Mouth, which is the only beatbox agency there is. Back then it was just me and a phone but I’ve got some people running it for me now. Then we started organising the Beatbox Championships.
At that point you were living in Leeds but not any more?
Shlomo: I’m still based in Leeds but I’ve got a place down on the south coast – I’m around the place so much…
Analogue: Do you get out of the country much at the moment or are you just UK based?
Shlomo: I’m all over the place! I’m on tour at the moment so I was in Sheffield yesterday, Leeds today, I’m going to Belfast tomorrow, then Madrid, then Monaco, South of France, I’ve got three shows in London in a row.
Analogue: What projects are you into at the moment?
Shlomo: Well, we’ve just organised this amazing event called the World Beatbox Convention at the South Bank Centre. We needed something to close the show that would just blow everyone’s mind so I decided to put together this beatboxing choir and it was so wicked, so much fun. Most fun I’ve ever had on stage.
Analogue: How may people were in that?
Shlomo: I think we had fifteen people. I used two sets of people. The first set was this accapella group called the Swingle Singers, who are legendary in their field. They won, like, five grammy awards… there were four of those and then I added on four amazingly musical beatboxers and created what we call the Vocal Orchestra.
Analogue: Is it hard to find good beatbox talent out there? It seems to me like more people go into DJing or MCing…
Shlomo: I think there’s lots and lots of guys out there who are good at beatboxing but I think the guys who stand out as musical geniuses are quite rare. There’s guys out there who are really technical or who are a bit gimmicky but the guys who are capable of making real music – there’s only a few of them.
Analogue: As with turntablists I guess?
Shlomo: It’s a similar thing. With the dicipline of turntablism, there’s some guys who do it as a musical instrument and some guys who just do it as a kind of a geekfest.
Analogue: Cool. You must get asked this a lot but can you name, say, three beatboxers that you’d really look up to or would inspire you?
Shlomo: Zani, Bellatrix, Spitf’ya*. Bellatrix is eighteen years old and is the best female beatboxer I’ve ever heard by a long way. She’s also an amazing double-bass player and is studying Jazz in London. The other two are just real musical guys – they may not be as famous as Rahzel but in my opinion I’d much rather make music with those guys.
Analogue: People often don’t have the awareness of beatboxing other than a few names – Rahzel, Killa Kela, yourself.
Shlomo: I think it’s just starting to blow up. You see a lot more of it on TV, there’s more talent shows, post-Pop-Idol I think you’re going to see a lot more beatboxers coming through on those kind of competitions.
Analogue: Okay, I think it’s about time to bring Mr Vulgatron into the circle. Vulgatron – anyone who’s reading the site should already be aware that you and Shlomo are part of a crew called Foreign Beggars. How did the link between you lot come about?
Vulgatron: It was about four and a half years ago now. I had messed up my leg ice-skating so I had to turn to bowling. I was in a bowling league with Shlo’s dad and Shlo was in the junior bowling league. When his voice started breaking they kicked him out and because his dad was in the big bowling league they managed to sneak him in. We were in the same team for a while and that’s how we met. We nearly won the world finals but we got beaten by a load of fat American bastards! You know that bowling ball in The Big Lebowski with the chopped hand in it? I’ve got that very bowling ball.
Analogue: Do you think having a beatboxer works well as part of the group? You’ve also got a DJ, a couple of MCs…
Vulgatron: A DJ, a couple of MCs, producer, beatboxer – it all works together because there’s a dynamic there that you can’t mess with. Shlomo can run a killer show on his own, the MCs can do whatever but bringing it all together is really effective. We’re all musicians so it’s beyond just spitting a beat and doing a rap, we all know how to intonate and work with each other and work with the crowd, build things up and work with crescendos and make things happen.
Analogue: And you’re on your second album now is it?
Vulgatron: Yeah we put our second album out, we put another kind of mixtape album out of B-sides and collaborations out in the middle called "Bukkake Ski Trip". We put out Asylum Speakers, then Bukkake Ski Trip and now Stray Point Agenda. On Stray Point Agenda, we worked with a load of Stone’s Throw artists and DJ Vadim – buy it now! Stray Point Agenda, Dented Records Dot Com!
Analogue: Tell me who’s on Dented Records and who you’re involved with.
Vulgatron: Basically we put it together as a vehicle to put out our own records in the beginning. We just got affiliated with a lot of the artists who were on Asylum Speakers really came through and were ready to put the effort in. Since then, we’ve been working hard with Skrein, Graziella – they used to be in Underground Alliance. Skrein’s really come a long way, he’s doing an album with Graziella and DJ IQ. His mixtape "The Eat-Up" is about to come out. Also Dubbledge, we put Dubbledge’s first wax out – the "Smile" EP.
Analogue: And of course Dubbledge is on LowLife now…
Vulgatron: Yeah, he’s doing his thing there. Basically, we got fucked around by this label called Casual Records who promised a lot of things, wasted a lot of our time. We were ready to put Dubbledge’s album out but they wasted a lot of our time and money so we couldn’t afford to. He went with the next best thing!
Dr Syntax’s album is about to come out. Dr Syntax is the most eloquent rapper in the UK. Dr Syntax, Stig of The Dump and DJ Newborn have also got their own label which is Beer & Rap Records – we work closely with Beer & Rap Records.
There’s a lot of artists who have released bits through Dented Records or contributed in some way but the main artists that we’re working with are Stig Of The Dump, Dr Syntax, Dubbledge, Skrein, Graziella, foreign Beggars. Also, there’s some guys from Leeds called Ghosttown – two of the sickest producers in the country. We’re working them in the UK, the US – all over the world.
Analogue: Foreign Beggars also have a show on BBC Asian Network – do you want to tell us when that’s on?
Saturday 10-12 but you can always check it on the website bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork. The show’s called Mic Check and you can listen again for the whole week. It’s all about Hip-Hop, Grime, just bringing through the illest stuff that’s happening in the UK and all over the world – repping for Asian MCs as well.
Analogue: Was it a conscious decision to go with the Asian Network over, say, 1Xtra?
Vulgatron: The Asian Network actually stepped to us because we covered for Bobby Friction a few times and they just heard our style and decided to offer us our own show. 1Xtra never really stepped to us to offer us a show. We had a show on Itch FM before. Asian Network just came through with the right proposal at the right time.
Analogue: It’s interesting because if you tune into the Asian Network during the day you’ll get maybe a dicussion of Bollywood choreography or a cooking show or some Asian equivalent to the Archers, but then on a Saturday night there’s yourselves.
Vulgatron: It’s a really really diverse station. A couple of years ago it was basically grandmas that used to listen to it – special language programmes and stories. They’ve really flipped up the remit – there’s a lot of controversial documentaries, a lot of up-front stuff dealing with all sorts of issues from an Asian perspective. Asian communities are very quiet and closed about talking about the nitty-gritty in public but it kind of really gets to the core. It’s a real representation and a cross-section of what Asian people are into these days.
Analogue: Anything else you want to talk about before we go?
Vulgatron: Yeah, just keep your eyes and ears peeled for the music! We’re taking it worldwide, we’ve got Frank’N’Dank on some shit, Dudley Perkins, Stig’s on a track with RA the Rugged Man, K-Solo, Canibus.
Analogue: So you think there’s a good prospect for this kind of US-UK link-up?
Vulgatron: Yeah I definitely think so ‘cos UK MCs are burning motherfuckers right now!
We don’t hold back, we’re working with a bunch of Grime cats right now – a guy called Loudmouth, Terror Danjah, a guy called Triple Threat who’s mad mad nice, we wanna do some shit with D.E.Velopment, Devilman, fucking sick MC. Just watch man! We’re going to put some shit out!
*All of whom are members of the Vocal Orchestra – Shlomo neglected to mention this but it’s all good.