Meet Julius Mitchell. He is without a doubt the best beatboxer in Sri Lanka and some are even suggesting he is probably the best in Asia.
However beatboxing came as something unexpected for 22 year old Julius who from the age of 11 was inspired by his school choir at St. Benedict’s College in Colombo.
He eventually joined the school choir and sang solo at school events which opened the doors for him as a singer.
“There came a time where I wanted to create acapella music and wanted to have a group. And then I wanted the beats in the group to come from the voice. A friend of mine told me, to have the music come from the voice I will need a beatboxer. But at that time I never knew what beatboxing was. We couldn’t find a beatboxer so I went on youtube and researched about beatboxing and tried it out myself and in about 3-4 months I got a hang of things,” Julius said.
Beatboxing is described on the internet as being a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, and the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing today is mostly connected with the hip-hop culture, being one of “the elements”, although it is not limited to hip-hop music.
Julius went professional when he joined the group ‘Voice Print’ where he both sang and was a beatboxer for the ensemble.
“I knew I could sing but not beatbox. At one time I stopped beatboxing but went back to it. I do a lot of research on youtube to learn new techniques in beatboxing. Online tutorials have helped me a lot,” he said.
Julius is also a member of the Merry An singers and he says both singing and beatboxing go hand in hand and both complement each other.
“Beatboxing helps my lungs so that helps me when I sing. I do a lot of vocal exercises. At the beginning beatboxing hurt by throat but eventually by voice got used to it,” he said.
Julius has performed at several events and concerts in Sri Lanka and overseas including at the Electric Peacock festival held at the Water’s Edge in Battaramulla this year.
During the latter part of this year he is scheduled to perform at some international events including events in New York and Britain.
As a beatboxer Julius looks up to people like Eklips, Reeps One and Alem while as a singer he is inspired by people in the caliber of Brian Mcknight, Stevie Wonder, Take 6 and Boyz 11 Men.
Julius believes in helping others learn his skills and so he teaches beatboxing at DAPA and singing at Mystical Rose, which happens to be the only registered performing arts academy in South Asia affiliated with ED Exel in the UK.
Report by Easwaran Rutnam