Who listens with the eyes blindfolded would never imagine that all these sounds are produced only using the mouth, without any special effects. I am talking about the world of beatboxing, and had an exclusive interview with one of Portugal’s top performers, Rizumik.
Rizumik has shown his multi-vocality in participating in a world championship of this musical genre: the art of creating sounds with the mouth. Inspired by afrobeat, ethnic and world music, and multifaceted artists like Stomp, Cirque du Soleil and Mayumana, we will see how this vocal percussionist lives his beatbox life and how he got started making music with his mouth.
transcript of the interview above, with inclusion of some parts that were edited:
We are here in BestInPortugal.com for an interview with Rizumik. I’d like to ask first of all, where did you get this name from, Rizumik?
Where did I get this name from? This name comes from a Japanese word, rizumikkusouru, which means rhythmic soul. So, I got the first part, just Rizumik, and it sounded really nice to me because it sounded almost like resumé, or riso which is Portuguese for smiling, and mik for microphone, that’s a device that almost every beat boxer and singer uses. So, I felt that there were too many connections, and then I thought it was the perfect name for me.
Meaning that it could just be that word.
It could just be that word.
When did you feel the call of destiny saying “this is what I want to do of my life”. Did your parents agree immediately with your option? Or where they the kind like Michelangelo’s parents saying to him when he was small to stop scribbling on the walls or maybe Peter Gabriel’s parents saying “stop drumming on the table”?
When I started, yes I would go on drumming around the house but I couldn’t do beatboxing because it is difficult to do all these sounds when you’re a kid. With my parents I’ve had quite a few arguments and discussions but I feel that in general, they always supported me in music. When they started to see that this was really the most important thing to me and realized that this was really what I wanted to do, I think they became much more comprehensive and tolerable about it, even though they alerted me that this is a difficult world, that it is hard to make money out of music, and to have some stability. I think they alerted me of all the negative side, but internally, they felt the positive side knowing that this was what I wanted to do.
They were testing you to see if you’re really prepared for this world, really ready to take it on…
Yes, exactly. Because that’s what parents do, right? Its natural. But I think they accept it pretty good nowadays. Well, I don’t talk with them much about my concerts and what I do, but I like to keep them posted.
Do your parents go on Facebook to see your updates?
Not much, and they have only been to one or two concerts of mine, they really enjoyed it, but it’s not like they want to know everything and they want to see and listen to everything. No, they just keep a certain distance.
In one way it’s good because they give you liberty.
Yes, exactly. I wouldn’t like them to be like: “Hey, what are you doing, let me listen to it. Hmm, that’s good, I like that beat, or I don’t like that beat, you better change this. It could be better you know, because of the scratch that should be like…”. I’d have to say “Dad, what are you talking about, you’re an engineer!”.
How do you identify yourself? Are you a beat boxer? A performer? An artist?
Its difficult, I think I’m a little bit of all of those, all of the above. Sometimes I feel like I’m an artist! Yes of course, because I do and practice a form of art. I’m a percussionist as well, but that’s included in being an artist, being a beat boxer as well. I’m also a performer because I perform whenever I’m on stage or whenever I’m improvising something. Basically I’m a performer.
How is it being a beat boxer over here in the world of Fado on one side, and Música Pimba (“Pimba music” is a variety of Portuguese popular folk with rough lyrics) on the other? Are you in the middle?
I’m not in the middle. I’m in a category that is very marginal, very underground. It is something that most people tend not to know about beat boxing, although it’s growing. Well, I like that because one of my main goals is to prove the versatility of beat boxing and to make it grow in Portugal, and I believe that I’m doing it with a reason. I was born in Portugal, so I have to perform my art in Portugal despite being in other places as well, but Portugal is my country, I have to do something here.
Meaning that you have to show your roots…
Exactly. And on one side I feel that it is very difficult because of the country conditions. On the other hand, I also feel that I have a market, because it is something that is not very explored. You don’t see much beat boxing in Portugal, so I think that this might be a great niche. These are the two sides of the coin. Well, I like to explore that.
Which Portuguese bands do you like?
That is one of the most difficult questions, because I like so many things, either Portuguese or International. But in Portugal, I feel that we have lots of really good projects that are becoming visible nowadays, and that are growing as well. I feel really good about that because Portuguese music is having an international projection that is appealing to everyone. I like bands like Deolinda, the modern Fado alternative, Ana Moura, Blasted Mechanism, and World music, in general. I also like this new project called Paus, it’s an intense project, mostly instrumental, they have voice but not lyrics. I also like Ornatos Violeta, I like Tucanas which is the feminine percussion group, I like that a lot. Then there are Uxu Kalhus, Rodrigo Leão, Pedro Carneiro, which is a conductor of the Portuguese chamber orchestra. And of course I like stage projects that I see outside with really good models, like Mayumana, one of my top references. And then we have in Portugal, Os Be-dom which is a group from the north. This is like the Portuguese version of Stomp. They are very influenced by Stomp. I think that’s good. Its good to have a group to be doing that kind of performance on stage in Portugal. We have Tumbala as well, that is a group from a friend of mine, and he has lots of musicians with these weird suits, with instruments and playing things on the street, doing lots of performances. I kind of like that type of material.
What makes your beatboxing unique from that of other beatboxers?
To answer in one word: me! Because beat boxing always depends on your body, on your structure, on your breathing, your inner muscles, and it depends on your creativity, your originality, your fluency, your speed, and your musical influences. So, that makes me different from all the other beat boxers, whether I want that or not. I use to say that if I try to copy that certain sound from another beat boxer, I might do that sound, but not like him, not exactly like him. I could do it very close, it can sound almost the same, but it won’t be the same. Because of the shape of the tongue, the teeth and all of your vocal apparatus.
It really depends on the person’s anatomy…
Exactly, that’s what I think about beat boxing: that its something really unique. It depends on you, on your inner essence, your inner self, because its your body, your mind and your soul that is playing when you do beat boxing. You exercise your left brain with your right brain, everything linking together. So, I don’t know how to describe my style. I think I am different from other beat boxers because of my skills on improvisation mostly. I like to improvise in my rhythmic motion, because, when it comes to technique and sound, I’m not better than most of the other beat boxers.
You told me that you don’t have a practice routine, and that you practice when you feel some “vibes”. Is it that what inspires your creativity? Since you don’t have to structure things, just go with the flow?
Maybe that’s what keeps me far away from the best beat boxers, but on the other hand, that’s what makes my style unique, maybe that’s why people go to see my shows, maybe that’s what they like. But most of the time people don’t realize that. People think that I have a practice routine like any other musician and that I practice lots of hours, but that’s not true.
For someone who is interested in the art of beat boxing, is there an “ABC of beat boxing” or “Beat Boxing for Dummies” ?
There are some tutorials and resources for people to learn. Nowadays if you want to start with beat boxing you have lots and lots of information on the internet, and I can tell you the two best web sites in my opinion. It is www.humanbeatbox.com, they have lots of tutorials and information there about the techniques and about what beat boxing really is, you have the history of beat boxing there. And you have www.beatboxbattle.tv where this is the world’s largest collection of videos of beat boxers all around the world, battles, championships, free styles and jam sessions.
I saw your interview there, it was fantastic
They have really good information there, and if you want to keep updated, these two sites are really good, whether for “dummies” or for professionals.
If you had the opportunity, would you like to join a group like The Voca People, or do you prefer to go solo, sometimes with one performer, and other times with another artist?
I like both. I really really like both ways. I’ve always wanted to become a part of one of those groups since I was younger. The first time I saw Stomp or Mayumana or even The Voca People, I liked it a lot. I always wanted to become part of something like that because I felt it was really good. It is a lot of different art in one show and you get to travel all around the world and meet interesting people and develop your skills, so I always thought that was the best way for me to go.
This is addressed to The Voca People, if maybe they are looking for young talents: “Hey Voca People, if you’re listening…”
Yes, please contact me, I would love to be part of your show !
Do you know there is a Portuguese group called Voicemail, which is like the Portuguese Voca People? You have to check that out. They are really good guys and have two or three beat boxers as well. It’s a group of singers and beat box.
They really have a popular name, Voicemail.
The Voca People and the Voicemail, just as we have Stomp and Be-dom (the Portuguese equivalent). I think its good, its really good to have shows like that, and yes, I would love to be part of one of those important groups, I would like to have that experience in my life. I’d be glad to have an opportunity like that, but it still hasn’t happened.
Maybe it wasn’t the time. You have to be prepared to grab the opportunity when it occurs.
Exactly, and things happen for a reason. But I like the other direction you were talking about – doing different things with different musicians, experimenting different combinations, lots of styles, that’s what I really like about beat boxing. For instance, a musician with a very strange instrument just comes by. He says that he plays such and such instrument and he shows it to me. Then I say: “OK,, can I beat box with you?” It happens just like that. I find something and I say: “Can I match beat boxing with your music?”
You want him to interact with you?
Interact with me, exactly. I really like that. My videos on Facebook and my blog are about improvisations and jam sessions like that. I mean, I find people, I get to know them, and then we do stuff together, and then each follows his way. It’s just those moments: most of them haven’t been rehearsed, most of them haven’t been planned. Its just pure improvisation.
Yes, just flowing. I also have the notion that in order to live out of music and to have a certain amount of stability you need to be visible and differentiated. You have to appear on TV, on shows and people have to know you. People have to know your name and you have to keep appearing doing stuff. If I feel pressure in doing something I tend to not answer as naturally as in other ways, but I have to do it sooner or later. So, really slowly I’m trying to build a brand. Well, the brand is already there, but I’m trying to build…
I’d prefer to say “I am building a brand”!
Yes, I am building a brand! That’s correct.
To finish, could you do a small performance for Best in Portugal?
I don’t have water now, but I’m going to a water-less improvisation. (end of interview)
As additional information about Rizumik, check his interview for the 2009 edition of Beatbox Battle World Championship in Berlin: