Shlomo and Hobbit: 'The quickest way to teach beatboxing is to make a sound and get people to imitate it'
- Kelly Apter
- 8 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Meet the beatboxers teaching kids how to weave magic with just their mouths and a microphone
With a shiny new drum kit to play, Shlomo (aka Simon Kahn) got ready to make some noise. But, as is often the case in childhood, his parents had other ideas. 'They asked me not to practise it too much because it would annoy the neighbours,' he recalls. 'So I started using my voice to practise rhythm instead. I didn't realise other people did that until I hit my teens and saw beatboxers and thought "oh, that's kind of what I do".' From there, Shlomo says he 'caught the bug' and started doing shows.
Meanwhile, with two musicians for parents, Hobbit (aka Jack Hobbs) was surrounded by instruments – but his journey to beatboxing was much the same. 'I always had music around me growing up, and really loved rhythm,' he says. 'My mum says I used to bang my head on my cot along with the beat, which is slightly concerning, but I'm OK now.
'When I was at school I started playing drums, and then somebody showed me a clip of a guy beatboxing and I thought "oh, I kind of do that when I'm imitating a drum beat". So I found out more about it, and became addicted to it.'
Both Shlomo and Hobbit have carved out impressive careers on the beatbox circuit, playing gigs and festivals and winning awards. Back when they both started out, there were no online resources to gather tips and ideas from – they had to learn the hard way. So now they're keen to inspire the next generation of beatboxers, with both men bringing shows for families to this year's Fringe.
'In the Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show we do a lot of interaction,' says Hobbit, of his two-hander with comedian Jarred Christmas. 'And there's one section where I teach the audience how to beatbox, which as a dictionary definition is about imitating drums, percussion, instruments and other stuff using just your mouth, throat and vocal chords. You don't need anything else, just a microphone so that you're louder than the audience. And the quickest way to teach beatboxing is to make a sound and get people to imitate it as they see fit.'
Shlomo's Beatbox Adventure For Kids also introduces the crowd to beatboxing techniques – and despite the title, everyone's invited to get involved. 'I started doing kids shows because my audience had grown up with me,' explains Shlomo, 'and a lot of them have got children and can't necessarily come out to my nighttime shows. So this is a kids show, but the parents get to have a lot of fun, too.
'Beatboxing is much simpler than it looks, it's about breaking it down into safe and easy chunks. So part of my show is getting everybody expressing rhythms with their voice using letters from the alphabet. And what I say to the kids is that beatboxing is 10% technique and 90% swagger – it's about delivering it with style and like you really mean it.'
Jarred Christmas and Hobbit: The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show, Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug (not 12), 3.50pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Shlomo's Beatbox Adventure For Kids, Underbelly Bristo Square, until 18 Aug, 3.35pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).