CHENNAI: Beatboxing. It’s a popular western concept and a familiar sight on TV shows and the Internet, but you won’t find many in the city taking a major interest in this art form. Two among the few are Kshitij Swamy and Kewin Fernando, first-year engineering students, who were found beatboxing to kuththu tunes at the Queer & Allies Art Fest held recently at Spaces, Besant Nagar.
When City Express caught up with the duo, they told us that they were pitted against each other in a competition-of-sorts. “It’s ironic we were set up to beatbox against each other by a mutual friend. But when we realised we complemented each other’s styles, we’ve been exchanging ideas and enjoy beatboxing together,” laughs Kshitij.
Different schools, different colleges, but the love for beatboxing – and well, a mutual friend – brought them together. They have performed together at the Unmaking India event, Open Mic at Crea Shakthi too. “The beatbox scene in Chennai is not very popular as in other states of India but it’s rising slowly. Many colleges are organising separate events for beatboxing and encouraging people like us. Chennaiites appreciate it but only during our performances, and perhaps for a bit later. The next day...most of them won’t even recognise us or what we did,” opines Kewin.
Seven years ago, Kewin saw someone beatbox on TV and was swept away by it while Kshitij got hooked to it when he saw a live performance at a yoga camp in Bengaluru in 2012. “Even though beatboxing isn’t as difficult as it seems, you have to practice a lot. YouTube helps us a lot. You need to understand it, have passion for rhythm and patience to perfect each sound,” explains Kshitij.
The two also rehearse and perform individually. “I’m hoping to take part in all the upcoming beatboxing battles and prove myself here and then pit my skill to international beatbox battles. My ultimate goal is to do music production and teach beatboxing,” says Kewin.
The duo is lucky enough to have a supportive family. “Though my father needed a little convincing, my mother and sister have been very supportive from the beginning; they’re also my favourite audience and toughest critics. When I come up with something new I show it to them first,” smiles Kshitij.
With dreams of teaching, performing, taking beatboxing to carnatic music and accompanying it with other instruments, the duo is determined towards their beatbox goal.
What is Beatboxing?
Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion and the art of mimicking drum machines using one’s mouth, lips and tongue
It was found by Doug E Fresh who was known as the first human beat boxer