You can sum up this week's Fresh Music Friday feature with one word: Beatboxing. This vocal percussion, which mimics early drum machines, dates back to the 1980s when hip-hop pioneers such as Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie reigned supreme. Some historians say that beatboxing dates further back to the 1880s where black quartet groups sang a capella, using only their harmonized voices to create songs. They typically held long, low notes that resemble what we hear today as bass sounds in modern beatboxing.
Today, we have artists such as Brandon Martinez, aka Box of Beats, who has evolved the genre, keeping it fresh by incorporating sounds of other instruments like trumpets and violins (Watch his cover of John Mayer's "Gravity" to get an idea). He often hosts live shows where he creates songs on the spot. It's quite exciting to see. His latest single, "Old Shoes" was created with the sounds of his very own mouth.
I chatted with the Burbank, CA native to discuss his latest single, found out how he perfected his beatboxing skills, and fueled his desire to be an artist after being labeled a "novelty act."
Musik ID TV: It's quite amazing that you produced "Old Shoes" with only vocal loops! Share your process of creating the track from concept to completed single.
Brandon Martinez: I have been trying to create a new movement with my music, producing it live on stage just as you would hear it in the studio recording. Each individual sound is created one at a time, to really show the listener how authentic and organic the process is. It was originally created as a solo single, but the day after writing and producing the song, I met Veronica. I listened to her voice and couldn't help but think about about how complementary it would be to the track. The next week we were in the studio laying it down. The rest is history.
MIDTV: The video is beautifully shot too and complemented the single. How did you and director Nick Warner decide on the creative direction for the visual?
BM: There was a storyline to run with that I had produced on paper. Once we started actually filming, there was a different vibe. Our intuition was telling us to go with the flow because it seemed more natural. A few scenes were dropped from filming, and Veronica really stepped up since she has an extensive history in acting. She helped guide me through the process and made it easy to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Nick and I had taken ample time prior to discuss the feel we wanted to draw from the listener. Working with him was easy and we were always on the same page.
MIDTV: The video was funded by fans via Kickstarter. Do you mind telling us if you met your goal and what strategy should fellow musicians use when creating a Kickstarter campaign?
BM: Not only did we meet our goal, but we surpassed it by over $1,000 dollars. My best piece of advice, is really be authentic in all you do, as a person overall and work your ass off. I try my hardest to be a good person for all humans around me. I definitely share my gift for people in hopes that it creates a positive impact on their life. When you do that, people will believe in your dreams just as much as you do, they will see your work ethic, and they will do what they can to help you.
MIDTV: It's an art to covering a song well. What makes you pick a particular song to cover and what do you find works for you that stick with your listeners?
BM: I had created a huge following by covering EDM tracks and remixing them, eventually I was told by a record label that if I continue to do that, I would only be looked at as a novelty. A special act. I wanted to be an artist. Hearing that drastically effected me moving forward. I started creating my own sound, and based off that, when I would put a cover out, that cover would be relevant to my original sound.
MIDTV: Don't laugh at this question, but sir, how did you learn to create all those freakin' sounds with your mouth? How did you know you can do all of that?
RN: My answer to this never ceasing question is "Shower Practice'. My parents use to give me a hard time because I would run up the water bill trying to practice new sounds. It goes back to the old saying "practice makes perfect".
MIDTV: Your passion for music bloomed when you were a teenager. What drew you to music?
BM: Long story short, I was very overweight when I was younger. I was always looking for acceptance. One day I saw a video of a "Plus size" Beatboxer's audition on a foreign TV show. He captivated the judges. I immediately thought to myself, "If he could be accepted for his art, rather than his appearance, maybe I could be." I did my best to learn the basics quick, got the hang of it, and the more I did it for people, the more I felt like I found an Identity.
MIDTV: Tell us about your latest EP, The Garden, what can listeners expect?
BM: The Garden is a 5-song EP that tells a love story from start to finish. It highlights the joy of 2 souls connecting, the pain when it comes to an end, and the importance of self focus when moving forward. It's an extremely relevant message, that is bound to strike some emotion.
MIDTV: Do you have projects or collaborations lined up for 2018?
BM: I have some big plans for 2018, My 3 main goals is hit 100K YouTube subscribers by 2019, play the main stage at a major festival, and release a new clothing line.