Beardyman: “If you insult a genre, you insult the culture that goes with it”

UK Beatbox Champion turned Drum & Bass musical comedian talks the art of offending and latest tour One Album Per Hour with

Beardyman 740×450 For your act you use quite a unique set up – how it develop?

I have been working on this thing for years and it’s been an engrossing passion of mine since I started; to make myself into a cyborg. I wanted to see just how much I could make myself into a machine and become a kind of robo-cop beatboxer. For a short time I was winning beatbox records – I won the UK championship twice, I thought ‘this is great, but I’ve kind of done that now, where can I go from there?’. I’d been using technology up to that point but never really making a big deal of it. I just kind of fell into storing technology to augment, mould, twist and modulate what I’m doing into something different; to see how much closer I could get the things I was making to the things I was making in my head.

You tend to jump around genres a lot, are there any you find yourself sticking to?

It depends on my mood. I was a Drum & Base kid growing up, so that’s a place of great comfort and joy for me. I think every genre has its place and I would never do down a genre. Apart from Gabba, because Gabba’s shit. But Gabba has a lot of… I don’t know Gabba’s unique because it’s so bad. But then again there are some great Gabba tunes. I say great – I mean scary and terrifying, like the tune ‘Gabba up your arse’: the only words in it are ‘Gabba up your arse’ and then it goes ‘bang bang bang bang bang’. A couple of minutes of Gabba I find really funny, and then it’s enough. But the same with Drum & Base – I love it but I’m 33 now so I can probably handle about twenty minutes.

When it comes to the songs themselves, sometimes they will be funny or have funny parts, but sometimes it will just be good music

At one point I remember Indie was all that was on the radio. And it was kind of a misnomer because there was nothing independent about indie. But I would never now do down a genre because I feel like it’s a bit icky; if you insult a genre then you insult the whole culture that goes with it. So I won’t openly ridicule an entire genre anymore. I tend to do faithful homages rather than spiteful characters now. I like to be a bit more respectful to performers.

For the One Album Per Hour tour you take audience suggestions – are there any that stand out as particularly successful?

They’re all mental. The ones that are funniest tend to be the worst ones because they are the least applicable to music. There are always ones like ‘purple three headed donkeys’. That’s a lovely weird Calpol dream but it’s not very good for song writing. But some that bear real fruit are ones like ‘these shoes were meant for walking on water’. So I ended up doing a kind of Nu Garage, sort of Nu RnB, song about theology pertaining to Jesus’ original message or something like that. It sounds dryer than it was. The song itself is not funny but you find these nice little moments where everything kind of comes together. You get a really nice moment out of nowhere – someone’s inspiration turns into something which no one would have expected.

maxresdefault Your current act sits between being a comic act and a musical act – where do you see yourself in that balance?

It’s funny because I’ve spent quite a bit of time experimenting with more raw stand up sort of stuff and also with more surrealist stuff and also with just plain raves, which is very different from a show where you are just saying weird stuff. I like to think that this show that I’m doing takes from both of those in that the music itself is sometimes funny, but more often than not it’s the scratching around trying to find suggestions that are worth taking and bantering with the audience and the concepts they are coming up with.

When it comes to the songs themselves, sometimes they will be funny or have funny parts, but sometimes it will just be good music. That’s what the show is, and I try and make sure that the songs themselves are actually good music, because if it was entirely comedic then you are verging into musical comedy, which has its place. But I don’t feel like you should need to think ‘I have to put a gag in here, it has to be funny’. If you look at a Hollywood movie it’ll make you laugh, cry, whatever; even the comedy will sometimes have real moments of pathos and emotion. I wouldn’t necessarily call what I do strictly comedy at all. But it’s definitely funny.

Beardyman’s One Album per Hour tour starts in Harrogate on the 14th October and visits York’s Duchess on the 16th October.

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