Beatboxing grandmaster Shlomo sounds off to Suzanne Baum about his obsession for music and how his son thinks beatboxing is what all parents do for a living
For someone who makes a career out of fast-talking I am worried I may not be able to keep up with Shlomo during our interview. However, not only does he politely text to apologise he is running two minutes late for our interview but he is so smooth-talking, I am instantly charmed.
In an industry that is incredibly tough-particularly for such a unique art form as beatboxing-charm is a bonus but it is talent-which Shlomo has heaps of-that has turned the performer into a global name.
“Making a living out of music is difficult so I always knew I needed so much discipline, creativity and hard work to develop my craft if I wanted to get anywhere,” explains Shlomo, whose real name is Simon “Shlomo” Kahn.
So how did the 31-year-old Jewish boy from Buckinghamshire discover he could beatbox?
“My parents bought me a drum kit for my eighth birthday but I had to be quiet so as not to annoy the neighbours with the noise and instead took to drumming on my legs.
“I would replicate the beats and rhythms of the latest Top of the Pops number one and realised that I could make some cool noises.”
It wasn’t until his teens that Shlomo realised his talent for beatboxing, which involves producing drum beats, rhythms and musical sounds using only the mouth. After joining the award-winning hip hop group Foreign Beggars, he toured with them across the UK, Europe and Canada.
It was then his lucky break came, after Icelandic singer Björk invited him to beatbox on her all-vocal album Medulla.
“So much happened after that,” recalled Shlomo. “The work led me to collaborate with artists such as Martha Wainwright and Teddy Thompson and finally my obsession with music started to pay off.”
Now a father of two sons aged four and seven months, Shlomo has tried to stop travelling as much, instead preferring to spend as much time as possible with his family.
“My older son thinks my job is normal, that it is something all dads do,” laughed Shlomo. “Every time he has a playdate the kids end up mucking around my studio.”
As well as a huge following of older fans, Shlomo loves to play to a younger audience and regularly teaches beatbox classes, demonstrating how using his mouth you can create noise. Surely, I ask, after a while it must hurt his facial muscles?
“No but one day I should get around to getting my face insured,” he jokes.
Interview over I’m looking forward to seeing Shlomo perform in person at his kids show on the Southbank on 25 may… I’m sure it will be music to my ears.
For more details, visit shlomobeatbox.co.uk