Music interview: Reeps One
Reeps One is a multi-faceted, London-based artist using his voice to create music inspired by dubstep, garage, grime and deep-house, as well as creating live visuals solely with the tones of his voice. He has had over 20 million view on Youtube and has won the UK beatbox championships two years in a row. In November he hits the UK for a tour culminating in a headline show at the Jazz Cafe. Somethingyousaid.coms’s 25ThC caught up with him in advance of the show:
When did you first realise you had this amazing ability and what was the reaction when you first performed in front of a crowd?
It’s a common misconception that I found this skill one day. It’s been the same process as any musician, a slow one. I fell in love with being able to compose all the time, it was a couple of years before I stepped in front of a crowd, I can remember it really clearly and it’s a great menu. I’ve actually just realised that was about 10 years ago.
You are renowned for your ability to vocalise bass music. How do you go about producing such low end frequencies with just your voice?
This is something I will never really know, I’ve always been drawn to powerful music so I think low resonance and power have always been a goal when developing my sounds. For some reason I’m just freakishly loud.
Some of your routines go on for several minutes. Do you need to train specifically or practice breathing techniques in preparation for gigs?
Ha ha, a few mins, I wish! My solo show is an hour and has gone up to an hour-and-a-half a few times this summer. It’s really physical and has taken a lot of training. Stamina, technique, fitness – it takes quite a lot to sound like a human machine for that so long so I need to always work at it.
In addition to sound you are now producing audio visual shows using the science of Cymatics. This is pretty mindblowing and extremely original. Can you tell us more about it and how you integrate it into your shows?
It’s an exciting project. My producer and engineer Linden Jay and visual tech Zach Walker worked on ‘Organic Electronic’ (the idea of making visuals without programming) for about a year and a half. There’s a few ways we do it but the Cymatics has been the most developed. We’ve found a way of using the vibration of my voice to musically control water colour and geometry and we project this huge…. It’s looks like insane CGI bits all happening live in the venue
You have just announced a UK tour including a headline show at the Jazz Cafe in Camden on the 28th November, which I am looking forward to. What do you have planned for the shows and is there a lot of improvisation and variation at each show you perform?
Jazz cafe is going to be huge. Ill be bringing my full AV show and we have a number of collabs from my Music Face series. As for me, after writing, practicing 16 festivals this summer, I’m in the best form I’ve ever been. I have new tracks on the way I’ll be showcasing as well as spontaneous creations and story telling. Someone described this show as a cross between a feel good rave and a TED talk which I think fits pretty well.
You have blown up over the past few years after winning the UK Beatbox championship in 2009 and 2010 and performing alongside some amazing artists such as Prodigy, Damon Albarn and DJ QBert amongst others. How have you dealt with your rise in fame and statue and has it produced many new opportunities?
I eat less pizza now. More sushi. The reaction over the last year has been humbling. It’s allowed me to work with some amazing people, I now have a great team.
You have done a number of collaborations with Foreign Beggars, The Skints etc. Who have you most enjoyed working with and why? Can you tell us about your workflow when collaborating with other artists?
Different people for different reasons. When I was on the Africa Express I was thrown in to all kinds of spontaneous collaborations, including John Paul jones from Led Zeppelin joining me on stage. But I enjoy working with Linden Jay most when it comes to really developing an idea.
You were recently invited by neurologists at UCL to have your brain scanned. What did you learn about your brain?
It was part of a larger study about what happens in the mind when you improve. I was told I beatboxed so much it told my brain I needed to do it to survive, thus making my brain require itself so I can be more fluent in my skill.
You have had over 20 million views on Youtube, so I hope they are paying you! Is videos and youtube views a way for artists today to make some sort of income faced with current state of the music industry of downloading and streaming music?
I’m actually against putting adverts on my videos, if someone wants to hear my music I want them to do so how I intended. It’s definitely a good way for creatives to make extra revenue if they don’t mind being used.
What advice do you have for any budding beat boxer/vocalists out there?
Create, don’t just replicate. Be inspired by music not technique. Believe in your ability.
Reeps One tours throughout the UK this November & December with a headline show at London’s Jazz Cafe on 28th November and dates in Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff & Sunderland. He also hosts the Soundcrash NYE shindig in London. Follow Reeps one on Facebook for updates on everything he’s got going on.
Interview by 25ThC