BEATBOX BATTLE NETWORKS
Leejay from Sacramento
Contributed by Black Caesar
BBB Mag:"How did you get started in Beatboxing?"
Leejay:"I was at a Filipino Fiesta in Sacramento, CA with my girlfriend, Angel, when she introduced me to a friend of hers named Kevin Discipulo. Angel knew that I was interested in beatboxing at the time, I was messing around with it-and she knew that Kevin was a fresh beatboxer. So to make the long story short, he busted a sample for a me, I was amazed, and it inspired me to try taking beatboxing to a more serious level. I was able to see someone actually kick beats in front of me with my own eyes; up to that point, the only beatboxing I heard was random Rahzel mp3s. So to see just a regular guy do it made me think, "hey.. maybe I can get into this too."
BBB Mag:"Who influenced you to continue to learn the artform?"
Leejay:"Well, ultimately, Kevin was the one that really inspired me to embrace the artform seriously, but in terms of learning, I pretty much taught myself. From listening to clips of other beatboxers, I was able to study their styles, learn from each, and eventually develop my own. Kevin did give me a few pointers while I was learning though. For example, he taught me the very important technique of humming and beatboxing. Other than that, I taught myself for the jost part."
BBB Mag:"What are your feelings towards the U.S Scene at the moment?"
Leejay:"The U.S. Beatbox scene is flooded with talent Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, Scratch, D.O.A, Yuri Lane, Otha Major, the list goes on… I wish I could name everyone, but that would be impossible. There's so many beatboxers in the U.S. right now, a lot that many people overlook or are just unaware of. The majority of the general public only knows about Rahzel. So… I'd say that it makes me really happy to see how big the beatboxing community is in the U.S. There's so many new beatboxers being born everyday. There's hella beatbox organizations and groups like Beatboxer Entertainment, and San Francisco's Vowel Movement. It's all lovely! It's even making its way into the mainstream with folks like Justin Timberlake. Even though he's not the best example of beatboxing in its fullest potential, he's still exposing people to it. It leaves it up to them to go out on their own and find more. If anything, folks like Timberlake are at least bringing beatboxing into the attention of the public eye. This can only mean that beatboxing will continue to grow in the U.S."
BBB Mag:"Do you believe you have influenced the global beatbox scene?"
Leejay:"No. I haven't been in the scene long enough or have had enough experience to have left an influence on the global beatbox scene at large. I'm just another beatboxer that loves to kick beats!"
BBB Mag:"What do you like about the old school beatboxers?"
Leejay:"I've got nothing but mad respect for the oldschool pioneers of beatboxing. This includes Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Buffy, Ready Rock C, and so on. What I find to be jost awesome about these guys is that they started out with nothing and no-one to learn from. They started beatboxing on their own. They didn't have online resources like beatbox tutorials or beatbox MP3's to learn from. They just flipped it on everyone with this new sound-beatboxing. And it was just so plain and simple, feel good, straight up beats. They just brought it so raw, and at the time, they were the best, as there were no other beatboxers to compare them with."
BBB Mag:"What do you like about new school beatboxers?"
Leejay:"I love newschool beatboxers. I'm a new school beatboxer myself! This new generation of beatboxers are bringing some crazy things that go beyond what the oldschoolers did. These beatboxers are seriously expanding the possibilities of sounds to make and things to do with the human mouth. It's amazing to see new schoolers use live looping, play instruments (like harmonicas, flutes, and guitars), and collaborate with other artists in their sets. It's really breaking down the barriers and limitations of beatboxing. It's seriously not just Hip Hop anymore. My only criticism about new schoolers (this pertains more to the newbies) is that there's so much imitation going on now. And I can admit to imitating a lot in the past too! In fact, only recently have I created sets that are 100% original. I used to have other beatboxers' skits and routines in my set. Eventually, I realized that if I am to be respected as a true beatboxer, I've got to be innovative with it."
BBB Mag:"With new school, battling has become a must for a beatboxer. Do you support this form of competition?"
Leejay:"I definitely support it; battling itself is a big part of Hip Hop in the first place. Hip-hop culture is competitive every MC, DJ, Graffitiartist, B-Boy, and Beatboxer wants to prove him/herself to be the best. And battling is a much more positive way to engage in one-on-one combat without any bloodshed, you know? Plus, I've found that many artists skills are shown in their fullest potential during battles, as their under pressure and using the best of their abilities to outdo the other artist. As for myself, I really don't like battling I just love to watch. I'm just a non competitive person to begin with, but I also would much rather enjoy jamming out with other artists than battling them. I prefer joining forces as two beatboxers to make one fresh sound, vibing and learning from each other, rather than a simple competition between two beatboxers. But that's just me! I got nothing wrong with folks who love to battle. Rock on."
BBB Mag:"Beatboxing aside for a moment, Have you ever had any interest in any other Hip Hop elements such as B-Boying or Turntablism?"
Leejay:"Yeah, I've had a taste of each, but I never got to level of fully embracing another element. For example, I never had turntables, but I used to make record-and-pause "tapedeck mixtapes." They called me DJ Stop N Go. I could never learn how to do any serious breaking, but I did some Hip Hop group routine dancing with some friends in the past. I could never get a nice graff piece going, but to this day, I still love to doodle and letter. You could say I make my own fonts and such. Stuff like that. I never really did any of the other elements, but I got close to it. Just the tip of the iceberg. But I definitely have a great interest in all the elements. Total support."
BBB Mag:"As you first got into live performing, did you ever get nervous or stage fright before a show?"
Leejay:"Very much so. I remember my first performances being me smack dab in the middle of the stage, hands cupped on the mic, eyes toward the floor, legs shaking. I didn't even move. I just stood there like a rock and kicked beats. I didn't even look at the crowd, I was so nervous. But as with anything, the more experience I got, the more comfortable and confident I got."
BBB Mag:"Do you think vocal percussion is experienced the best when it's performed live?"
Leejay:"Vocal percussion can only be fully experienced live! It's the thrill of hearing so many sounds come out of one person and a microphone, no room for cheating. It's the "Oh my gosh, is that all him?" factor. When you hear pre-recorded beatboxing, as dope as it is, it will never live up to how it would sound if it were done live. This is a big reason why beatbox albums don't really make a lot of noise (Make the Music 2000, Embodiment of Instrumentation, Permanent Marker, etc.). Plus, the general ear doesn't really appreciate beatboxing unless it's live. To the general ear, pre-recorded beatboxing might be mistaken for real drums or instruments."
BBB Mag:What is performing like at your local scene?"
Leejay:"In the Sacramento music scene, people love watching me perform because I'm the only real beatboxer making noise out here. It's not a matter of skill (because I'm not the best beatboxer), but it's a matter of exposure. I don't know of any other serious performing beatboxers out here in Sactown, so anytime I perform, crowds are usually not used to beatboxing some of them have never heard of it before. So it feels good being the one to expose a lot of people to the artform. Sacto itself digs a lot of Hip Hop, so I fit right in."
BBB Mag:"Do you sense anything different when you tour away from your local area?"
Leejay:"Definitely. Different crowds have different reactions. Some crowds know certain songs in my set, while others don't. Some crowds are more into hip-hop, some are more into rock, some are more into pop. Some crowds are older, some crowds are younger. There's really no specific pattern, it's just all different. But so far, the livest crowd has been the Austrian crowd. Those folks just love music altogether, and any performance will be appreciated. So when I go up there, and their all dancing and having a good time, feeling my performance, then I feed off of their energy and I get hyped myself. Austria is awesome."
BBB Mag:"Do you think that leejaybeats.com has helped you gain more global exposure?"
Leejay:"It's been the biggest part of getting global exposure. In addition to doing the Austrian Championship and being signed up to humanbeatbox.com, the Worldwide Beatbox Community, it allows my work to be seen and heard by folks from all over. I really didn't even expect it to get me as much exposure as I have. I only started up the website to help me get local gigs and to share my work online. But by networking to so many worldwide beatboxers through humanbeatbox.com, and having my friends tell their friends tell their friends about my website, it's really helped me a great deal in getting exposure for myself, and also for giving other people exposure to beatboxing itself."
BBB Mag:"I know you are a student at UC Davis, What are you studying?"
Leejay:"I'm undeclared right now, but I'm considering in majoring in Technocultural Studies, a new program at Davis focused on art, media, and technology. The intro classes I've taken are really interesting, but it's new, so there's not a lot of classes available yet. The goal of the program is to put out students that are efficient in every aspect of digital art and media, such as audio, video, photo, etc. Along with that, I plan to double major in Asian American studies."
BBB Mag:"Do you think you can incorporate your studies to help the Global Beatboxing Community?"
Leejay:"Technocultural Studies seems to fit so well with beatboxing. It's all about media and art and technology. Music is dealt with a lot. Plus new school beatboxing has a very digital and technological aspect of it now. live looping, layering, editing. I think the skills that I will hopefully learn with Technocultural Studies will help me incorporate some new ideas and techniques into my beatboxing, which might inspire a breakthrough in the possibilities of beatboxing who knows."
BBB Mag:"How important is music to you as a translation of every day life?"
Leejay:"Music is my life. I always have it playing. It inspires me, moves me, motivates me. My iPod is my friend."
BBB Mag:"From everything you have accomplished both in the industry and personal gain, is there any goal you have still not reached?"
Leejay:"I never really had a goal to begin with when I started beatboxing seriously, yet by embracing the art form, the results have only been positive, as I've accomplished so much more than I ever thought I would. So I guess I still don't have any real set goals to achieve, but I'll just continue the journey with an open mind."
BBB Mag:"Do you have any last words for youngsters that have a growing interest in Vocal Percussion?"
Leejay:Don't feel foolish! Make as much noise as you can shamelessly. Don't be worried about how your sounds sound, if they sound clean, or anything. Just keep making some kind of noise in rhythm, and you'll automatically improve as time goes on. Your sounds will crispen, your timing will perfect, and your confidence in performing will increase. Don't let people tell you you sound silly or foolish! Keep making noise and kicking beats, no matter how it sounds now. You only get better by doing it."
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