Efestivals chats to beatboxer Simon 'Shlomo' Kahn before his Quarry set at this summer's Y-Not Festival.
What festivals have you done, are doing this Summer?
Left this Summer I have Camp Bestival, Wilderness, Festival No.6, Liverpool International Music Festival and I think that's it!
Do you have a favourite festival memory?
Erm, all my favourites are at Glastonbury I think. I was asked if I wanted to take part in this event called Africa Express which was apparently organised by Damon Albarn. He had invited lots of people to collaborate with lots of African artists. I got there and I was a bit shy and didn't know anyone. I saw Damon and went up to him and I said "My names Shlomo, I'm a beatboxer". He said "Aw wicked, do you know "The Specials?" and I said "Yeah" and he said "Do you like a song called 'A Message To You Rudy'?" and I said "Yeah, it's one of my favourite songs ever" He's like "Do you want to perform it with me and The Specials in about thirty seconds?" I was like "Yeah, great!" [laughs]. So yeah, that was pretty epic.
Are there any festivals you want to play that you haven't yet?
I'd love to play Secret Garden Party, that would be pretty cool, and I'd like to do a few more foreign ones. I stopped doing international touring when I became a Dad, so I've not done much foreign stuff for a while so I'd like to get out there and do Sonar and stuff like that.
Due to your slot with Bjork at the Athens 2004 Olympics you are the most heard beatboxers in the world. Is it more nerve racking playing live to people or knowing there are more watching you live?
I always forget about the broadcast... when you're in a live show it's the people in the room and you connect with them directly. When you're broadcasting it's a one way thing; they can't kinda feedback to you, so you end up going with the people who are there. I feel like if you put on a good show for the people that are then then hopefully that will broadcast as well and come across in the broadcast. You've gotta make it a show for the people that are there.
What made you learn the drums at the age of eight, and do you still play them?
I do still play them, and I was just born to do that really. My parents said to me I was always banging pots and pans and very fidgety. I love drums.
How is the Beatbox Academy at Battersea Arts Centre going?
Yeah it's really good man. It's been going for about six or seven years, some of those kids who first started out are now big men who like teach the younger kids, it's lovely.
Are there any more in the UK, or would you expand the idea to other cities?
I would love to, yeah, it's been hard. I've had a few opportunities to do it but it's never really worked out, cos London is the place it lives.
Do you/would you do beatboxing sessions at festivals?
Yeah, I quite often do stuff with kids at festivals. I was supposed to be doing one here today but it got cancelled. Tomorrow I'm going to Camp Bestival and I'm gonna do like a kids show in the afternoon and slightly more dancefloor orientated show later on.
You regularly release music for free or at a lower price on your website, for example 'The Lip Factory EP'. Was that your intention when you started out in music?
I never really saw what I do as like a recorded thing, cos beatboxing's better live, you have to witness it. By the time I plucked up the guts to release something it was after the recording industry had collapsed and I was like there's no point trying to make any money out of it so I said just name your price, you can get it for free; if you wanna donate you can. Some people pay a lot more to support you, some people who can't afford it pay what they can, it works well.
Are you going to enter the World Loop Station Championships again, after your win in 2011?
I'd really like to, they didn't do one last year and I was really angry cos I wanted to go and enter it. If they hold I'm gonna be straight on the list!
The 'Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra' was a very interesting concept that really worked...How did you get into that?
I have a position as an artist and resident at Southbank Centre and they had four resident orchestras, and I really wanted to do something with them on a really big scale. I went to them and said I wanted to do something with the whole orchestra. They were like "Great, let's do it!" so we did.
Any plan to tour The Vocal Orchestra around festivals again?
Yeah, I'd really like to do that again. It was difficult because it's financially hard with so many people in the orchestra, we do occasionally do it from time to time so I'm sure we will do it again.
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