With his broad smile and “Harry Potter looks”, Joel Fishel proved he’s a wiz at beatboxing while auditioning for The X Factor – and it’s a talent he first learnt while spending time at a Jewish summer camp.
Joel Fishel and best friend Jack Remington, both 22, dazzled judges Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne with a mash-up of Ed Sheeran songs during their audition for the ITV talent show, which began at the weekend.
The pair – who met at Oxford University and have been singing together for three years – are now deemed one of the hottest acts to look out for.
Joel, who was born in Leeds and grew up in Finchley, says he has always been musical – his father, Daniel is a trombonist and singer, while his uncle, Dave, is a professional jazz pianist – but it was also his involvement with Noam that encouraged him to pursue his passion.
The talented drummer and bass player says of the Jewish youth movement: “There used to be a Noam talent show and I would do beatboxing, year in, year out. That was my main avenue from where it all developed.
“Noam was also the first place I sang a capella music. One of the leaders was trying to form a barbershop quartet and I somehow got picked for that. So I really have a lot to thank Noam for.”
Joel went on to become a leader himself for two years until starting a maths degree at Oxford, where he first met Jack after joining renowned all-male a capella group, Out Of The Blue.
It was while walking back from a rehearsal one day they came up with the idea for forming their own group.
Joel, who attends New North London Synagogue, recalls: “There was this talent competition at our college and we were both going to enter. I was going to beatbox and Jack was going to sing.
“Obviously realising there could only be one winner we decided to join forces – and we both ended up not winning! But that was the start of it for us as a duo.”
Three years ago, the pair released their first video on their YouTube channel and the response “encouraged us to keep going”.
Since then, they have garnered thousands of subscribers, while a mash-up of UK number 1 singles from 2016 released earlier this year scored well over 2.5million views on Facebook.
Now they have set their sights on bringing their act to the masses on The X Factor.
“We’ve worked really hard with our music and feel lucky that a few of our videos went viral.
“But for us, The X Factor is the big platform, with numbers that can’t compare to anything we’ve seen before.
“We’re excited to work as hard as possible to get as far as we can.”
Of the audition, Joel admits to “feeling really nervous to even watch myself back looking nervous” and that the minutes running up to his meeting with the judges were “traumatising”.
“It was quite a surprise for us, because we’ve been performing together for a while and we thought we’d conquered performance nerves, but this was a different story. It was quite terrifying.”
When asked which in his opinion was worse, his Oxford interview or the audition, Joel barely hesitates. “Definitely The X Factor”, he laughs.
As for Simon Cowell, he reveals that he was the judge that Joel feared the most.
“He was the one I was definitely most intimidated by, because he tends to be the hardest nut to crack.
“It seems to be important to get him on side from your opening audition. But I also think he’s very honest, and so it’s nice that he thinks there’s something unique about us.”
Since his involvement with The X Factor was unveiled at the weekend, Joel says the reaction has been “overwhelmingly lovely”, and both mum, Annie and dad Daniel, are “so, so proud”.
Time will tell if the duo actually make it through to the next round and all the way to the live finals, but Joel assures viewers they can expect “more creative medleys, beatboxing and Jack’s acrobatic singing” from the talented pair.
The X Factor continues Saturday and Sunday, 8pm, ITV1.