Shlomo: “I was born into a line of certified geeks”

Alice Rose contributed to this report.

Beatboxer Shlomo has collaborated with the likes of Bjork, Jarvis Cocker and The Mighty Boosh. He’s played drums since he turned 8 and from there began to beat box. Since then he’s won a championship, put together a Vocal Orchestra and performed a one-man theatrical tour. His latest project is called Human Geekbox, a tour which explores his family history in astrophysics and how it influenced his childhood. The Linc caught up with him ahead of his Engine Shed gig.

Shlomo is bringing Human Geekbox to Lincoln tomorrow. Photo: Gabrielle Motola

Shlomo is bringing Human Geekbox to Lincoln tomorrow. Photo: Gabrielle Motola

Shlomo is bringing Human Geekbox to Lincoln tomorrow. Photo: Gabrielle Motola


What technology do you use to put your music together?

I’ve been working with Loop Pedals for nearly a decade, and a couple of years ago I entered the World Looping Championships and somehow came out the World Champion. Since then I’ve developed my rig, and I now have a table stacked with various gadgetry designed to process, warp and mash up my voice.

You’ve collaborated with so many artists, what’s been your favourite part about that?

One favourite moment was being asked to record with Bjork which was a big shock, as it was my first major break. I was working in a call centre typing out lonely hearts ads when I got a voicemail from her asking me to come to London to record my beats. After that collaboration I got really inspired about my music and took it a lot more seriously, and since then I’ve got to work with amazing people like Jarvis Cocker, Imogen Heap, Bill Bailey and the Mighty Boosh.

You’ve worked to promote beatboxing to young people. How important do you think it is for young people to gain interest in music?

I just think it’s such an accessible way for young and old people to express themselves. A lot of the young people I work with get ignored, or pushed to the side, or made to feel like they aren’t good enough. The voice is universal as we all have one, so it’s great to hear people making something their own.

In your trailer for your show Human Geekbox, you say your granddad inspired the idea for it, tell us more about that…

It’s a very theatrical show, so I’m mixing my beatboxing with a storyline from my own life. I was born into a line of certified geeks – my grandfather, Professor Kahn, was an astronomer and they named a planet after him, called Planet Kahnia. When I was a kid I thought I was going to go and live there. So #HumanGeekbox kind of tells the story of 4 generations of space obsessed boys from my grandfather, my dad, me, then down to my own son, all mashed up with plenty of beatboxing, live looping and audience interaction.

At every tour date you write a song with a local collaborator in 2 hours then release it the day after, what gave you the idea to do this?

I love collaborating, and even though it’s a solo tour I couldn’t resist the idea of working with other artists. I’m using digital media to help find a different collaborator each time I do the show. I’ve set myself a slightly ridiculous and totally terrifying challenge: to co-write, perform and release a new song in 2 hours with a different local artist in each town on the tour. After each show, the music will be released digitally in aid of War Child. My guests for Lincoln are The Moth Lantern, a brilliant local band, and I can’t wait.

What part of your Human Geekbox tour are you most excited about?

The finale… I do a song called Geek Attack and I get to go completely mental. I basically have a geek attack every night!