is the British irrepressible beatbox, music-making, party-initiating genius who has now built his own sound time machine to take us backwards, forwards, inside, left-side and beyond...With Beardytron Mark 2, a brutal North American tour and two packed shows at Coachella, he looks ready to expand his spontaneous creativity to a new dimension.

1. Define beatboxing.


It’s a form of self-defence practiced by 1950's bohemian jazz-poets. 


2. What attracted you to it initially and how did you learn, develop those skills?


I was attracted to it as I’d always been good at imitating things and people and generally being a clown. I knew I'd love to get into music and this seemed like an in. People love beatbox. They love it more than I do I think. I was only ever interested in it because it was the quickest way from inspiration to actualisation. But now I see it more as useful as a tool to use rather than an artform in itself. 


3. Why do you think it was one of the fundamentals of early hip hop discipline? 


It was actually a fairly insignificant building block in the life of hip hop. It was always a novelty and wasn't taken that seriously by anyone apart from Doug E Fresh. Until Kenny Muhamed started doing it the beats were very unrefined and it was mostly a party rocking tool and a street-corner sound-system replacement rather than a detailed sound reproduction methodology or a developed and defined discipline. Rahzel changed all of that. He was and still is the best at being an all round beatbox showman. Others have bettered him in terms of accuracy of sounds of dexterity or complexity of beats, and since beatbox started there's been constant innovation in the field and the lexicon of sounds has increased hugely, but Rahzel invented the discipline as we know it today. It's because he's done it so well that I have no real interest in trying to beat him at his own game. My focus is on technology, and improvisation, using beatbox as a key ingredient rather than the adhering to the purism which drives the competitions I used to compete in. 


4. How did your adventure into music technology begin?


I've always made stuff using computers. When I was 5 I had this Tomy thing which i used to program to make tunes. It sounded like a greetings card. When i was in school, I used to program people's phones to play whatever ring-tone they wanted. I had lessons in how to use cubase when I was in high school. 


5. You must be one of the few artists who actually invest in creating tools to fit your craft and vision...rather like the early graffiti writers, rocket engineers or movie makers.  How did your mission to create Beardytron MkII start?


There's a long tradition of artists being forced to innovate in order to achieve they're artistic goals. At the genesis of a new discipline it's the experimenters who must make the tools. Any instrument you can name was made with a particular artistic vision in mind by a frustrated musician with a particular methodology in mind. About 8 years ago it dawned on me that, theoretically at least, loop-based music was capable of being produced and created and composed in the moment.There just wasn't a way to do it yet. So I set about trying to find a way. I tried everything on the market, and as new bits of equipment or software came out I incorporated them into my set-up. But I kept hitting insurmountable barriers. I tried using hobbyist / maker - ware, but the efficiency, stability and support just wasn't there. I tried getting the system built in Max-MSP, which is what professional sound designers use when they have a challenge such as this, but even this needed it's engine coded in C++, which is far lower-level, and orders of magnitude more efficient if written well. Now I basically have a team of developers working hard on realising my vision, working entirely in C++ and objective C, which means it is limited only by my imagination and my ability to fund the development. 


6. What were the main challenges?


We've gone deeper into the computer than any personal project ever attempted. There's always refactoring that can be done but the thing is incredibly efficient. There is so much processing going on in the system that the CPU would simply not be able to handle the task were it not for the multi-threaded audio engine we had built, that was a challenge as there are only a handful of these in the world. Really though, the biggest challenges have been and continue to be the design of the user experience, or more accurately the heuristics built into the usage methodology for controlling the huge number of variables and processes and various working-practices with the system. It's been a voyage of discovery. Often the only way of doing something complex can only be found by using an obviously flawed, scrappy solution and then refining it according to lessons learned from actual experience till its efficient and easy to use. 


7. What have you particularly enjoyed about the journey and what have you learnt? Who did you enjoy working with?

Over the past year and a half I've learnt that being a software designer is similar to other creative endeavours. Your initial idea is not necessarily going to be what you end up with, but so long as your as methodical and determined as you can be you won't come too unstuck. 


8. How has Beardytron MkII transformed your already off-the-radar productions and dj sets?

I can now do so many things I couldn't before. Everything's integrated which means I never miss a drop or have sync problems. I can manipulate samples in any way which has yet been devised, on the fly and with no preplanning, I can freely move or copy loops around the system, bounce and resample freely. It's really quite insane, but the upshot of all this is that I can do off-the-wall stream-of consciousness shows which take can include fully-formed songs or briefly fleshed-out ideas, in any combination, but all done in a way which sounds like it's taken weeks to prepare. 


9. You don’t view yourself as a dj.  How do you feel about the artists out there operating as djs?


There’s a lot of press and play going on. You know, djing with LED shows, robot dancers, big balls, big gimmicks. It’s all gone a bit Spinal Tap.  I just want to bring back the spontaneity which hasn’t really been electronically possible since the early scratch, sample etc.  I don’t want to replicate anything.  As a society, we stifle creativity. People are now realizing the value of improvisiation.  Academic circles are studying it as the essence of creativity. I know it’s part of my job to give people what they know and want but maybe it’s part of my ADD – I can’t bear doing the same thing twice. I have a pathological hatred of it.  So it’s a balance between giving my audience what they want and retaining interest in what you are doing without stifling your creative urges.  You do have to have enough awareness and concern for what you’re doing.  AC/DC have been doing the same thing for decades, following a template that works. But I want to introduce people to seeing things differently, new experiences, new ways of thinking. That is the job of an artist I feel – performing is only one part.



10. What inspires you: sounds, visions, places, people? 

Love, hate, burgers, vegetarians, space, science, food, drink, air, transport, people, aliens, God, Cthulu, Richard Dawkins. 



11. How do you come up with a concept and name for a track?

By concentrating as hard on your inner pain as your inner child can bear. Then eating some snacks. Then focusing on joy. Then breathing, really slowly and deeply in the ear of a stranger. Then going for a dump. That'll do it. 



12. What's your favourite creation and why?

My favourite creation is australia, I'm particularly proud of that one. I hid it away so no-one would find it but they found it anyway. . . still. . . lovely spider work . . Won an award for the spiders. Never got enough funding to complete the middle bit. . my final design had loads of solar power stations basically blanketing all in land desert areas, but back then the technology was in it's infancy and way to expensive to do on the sort of scale we had planned. Still, we're looking at 2020 as a date for reintegration with the Crab snabs of Wendar.


13. What's your most popular creation and why do you think that is?


My kids. . . because I don't have any. 


14. What is your vision for creativity and reaching new audiences with your music?


My way of reaching people is to digitally capture and transmit my musings via remote server computers in remote places, it's cheaper if you use cheaper suppliers. This is the first rule. 


15. Who would you like to work with or who has influenced/inspired you in the past?

Melinda Gates, Melinda Messanger, Belinda Carlisle, Linda Bellingham, ingvay, Palms Spring and the nostrils of tomorrow, to name but a few. It's hard not to be inspired with all these things in the air. 


16. What does playing Coachella mean to you? I know it comes in the middle of a pretty intense and rigorous tour.

Coachella is great, but has too many hot valley girls which makes it hard to concentrate. . . still it was a good show. . was a good tour, hung out with Dub FX and his crew. Saw Blur. . . 


17. What do you hope your music does for people?


I hope my music makes people weep with indifference, then shit themselves. . . Then i hope they eat their shit and puke it out. . . then I hope they eat that puke.