Improvisation. Telepathy. Imagination. Beat Boxing. One Album. One Hour..
Interview by Dan Prince
Beardyman has made a name for himself for being one of the most multitalented musicians on the face of the planet. One minute he’s winning the UK Beatbox competition, twice, next he’s winning best MC at Breakspoll, and then he’s playing a sold-out run of solo comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. As if he didn’t already have enough strings to his bow, Beardyman outgrew the restrictions of the human mouth and stepped into the world of live looping using his signature Kaoss pads to take his music into the world of live production. His most recent live setup consists of the Beardytron 5000 a custom built rig that combines multiple ipads and devices loaded with FX and loopers. Now, Beardyman will be performing live at Electric Brixton on April 2nd recording an improvised live album with his ‘Dream Team’ inspired by the audience’s dreamt up song titles under the banner…Improvisation. Telepathy. Imagination. Beat Boxing. One Album. One Hour…
Darren a big welcome back to DMCWORLD dude. Where are we catching you today?
I’m in my house Dan. My cat is currently pissing blood into my sink. I’m gonna take her to the vet. This is extremely unhygienic and a bit worrying.
Oh shit. Maybe not the best time to ask you what the best piece of music you have heard today then?
Maybe not but it was Knower ‘What’s In Your Heart’. Not for everyone, but it’s many new people’s favourite band. They’re jazz trained superpop lunatics and I have no idea why I love it so much. Also I’ve been re-listening to Oasis for some reason. Again, no idea why.
Well…massive news for us all with your announcement of your new show in April at Electric in Brixton…The Dream Team Sessions – where you are going to create a new album live with some incredible guests. Before we get into the Dream Team on the album, tell us about the project…
This is something of a long time dream coming to fruition. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best freestyle lyricists and musicians in the world, and the guys in this band are not a random selection, they are a carefully chosen group of some of the best improvisers in the country. Last year I focused on touring my One Album Per Hour show which was a solo project, essentially making a new album every night. There’s evidence of this on my website you can check out. But I’ve experimented over the years with various ensembles. I improvised with the Heritage Orchestra, my own ensembles, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, ran a freestyle cypher which I performed with, have been part of various different collaborations and I’ve learned from every single one. This dream team I’ve assembled really is that.
Please give us a few words on why these dudes were a must on your list…
Bel is a one time beatbox World Champion, a jazz trained Bassist and a phenomenal musician.
Diz is one of the most talented Freestyle MC’s vocalists and all round musicians I’ve ever worked with. He is an incredible and compelling front man and controls a crowd with a natural presence and has a way with words, emotions and melodies that is just spellbinding.
Has produced for Adelle, written for Sia and drummed for Michael Jackson. Together we’ve created a live drum-section-production mechanism which enables him to produce his drum part as he would in the studio while he plays, so he’ll be making drum tracks live rather than just simply drumming. He is, by the way, an unbelievable jazz monster who can drum in 16/7 if required. he’s unbelievicredible.
3x UK DMC Champion. Need I say more…
Cellist of high repute and skilled improviser, I’ve known Rob for years and he’s smashed it every time I’ve got him involved in a project. Except this time he’s tooled up with some of the most incredible effects money could buy which can turn his cello into other worldly space-instruments from a forgotten future.
There is no way to adequately describe just how fucking amazing LeeN is at freestyle lyricism. You simply do not understand. You can’t understand, no-one does. It should not be possible to freestyle as well as LeeN does…it makes no sense. Go to my website and you’ll see…I’m not making this stuff up. He is a mind-blowing genius of unequalled skill and intelligence. I’m genuinely scared of him. I think he might be a witch.
Unbelievably good violinist and saxophonist. He is so good it will make you fall over ands cry and crawl into a corner and vomit. Also, we’ve been developing a next level effects board for him to create any sonic texture he desires, out of this world sound-colours and electronic aural worlds. You dunno!
Are you all planning rehearsals for the night, you meeting up on the run up?
Yeah, we’ll be streaming a live concert from the dress rehearsal on the 11th of March.
Other than yourself and if you were a betting man, who do you think is gonna be the star of the show?
No one’s a winner unless everyone’s a winner. (Brice Springstone)
You posted this on Facebook a while back…“Yo, any London based flautists or saxophonists who improvise and use fx wannabe involved in a project I’m doing in April? Come on be honest with DMC – did you hear back from any weird musicians?
No…I actually heard from some amazing people Dan, but Ben became available so he was my first choice.
Are you a film buff? Wondered what you thought of Chris Rock’s intro at the Oscars last night?
Actually I’ve only seen Louis CK’s bit which I thought was hilarious as ever, besides my kid was super ill so the hollow glitz trough of the Oscars took a backseat in my consciousness.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?
Taking my eyes of my cat just now…I swear she’s pissed in the sink again…I have a vet appointment in like 5 mins…
Oh shit. Okay – 5 big tunes that are in your box for the weekend…
“Dead Man’s Tetris feat. Captain Murphy and Snoop Dog” from ‘You’re Dead’ by Flying Lotus – because he’s a genius and nothing else comes close.
Everything by Thundercat – because if you don’t know, get to know. He is the answer to a question your soul has asked a thousand times but not let you know that it was asking.
Ex Machina by Howling – because it’s a fucking tune and you can have it on loop for 3 hours and still love it.
“Nite Flights” by Scott Walker. Bowie covered this in the early 90’s…he did an amazing job….but it’s a work of soulful, dark disco coked-out brilliance.
“Sue” by David Bowie. The single version, not the one on Blackstarr…it’s just the most amazing thing ever. It’s a scene from an unwritten opera that I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t turn out he’d written it and only made this one song from it. It’s an adaptation of a 17th century play by John Ford called ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore’. My god I miss Bowie. I’ve basically spent the last couple of months crying.
Which famous person would you most like to see play you in a film?
Looking back…was 2015 a good year for music?
Yes. It was the year the Weeknd became a superstar and in my opinion that’s good. He divides people, it’s weird…I love him…many don’t. But I do. So there.
February 1st in Hong Kong. What did you choose from the menu – the assorted fungus or the sea whelk soup?
Ha. Yeah. I tweeted a picture of the menu in a high-end gourmet restaurant in Hong Kong cos it grossed me out… “Double boiled ladie’s soup?”. Still…what we had sounded gross but was fucking delicious. If you get the chance to try pepper beef tendon balls. Do it…
You are originally from Stanmore in North London…were you living there long enough to enjoy the luxury of going down the pub with the glorious knowledge that it didn’t matter how pissed you’d get and fall asleep on the tube as Stanmore is the final stop on the Jubilee Line?
Ha. Now I come to think of it that was definitely an advantage cos I did that all the time…Ha…
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your life and how did you overcome it?
There are no mistakes. Only lessons. We all err. You cannot change the past, but you CAN change the future. You and you alone can assassinate Donald Trump.
Other than the gang that makes up your Dream Team, who else are you giving the thumbs up to musically at the moment?
The Weeknd, Art Tatum, Tame Impala, Mac De Marco, Snarky Puppy and your mum.
She’ll be pleased. An album in your collection we’d be surprised to find…
Passenger of Shit. It’s the worst music of all time. But I love it. I’m actually doing a podcast with DJ Yoda called “The Wrong Show” featuring the worst music we can possibly find. We don’t know if anyone’s going to listen to it but we’re gonna do it anyway.
I’ll buy it. Love weird shit to freak people out to at silly o’clock. And finally, what is next on the agenda for Beardyman and his wonderful world of creativity?
I’m of focusing all my energies on this band at the moment… You wait till you hear it….the world is not ready for this level of awesomeness…