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Just beat it, beat it…

NEETI SARKAR

Vineeth Vincent is upbeat about beat-boxing and its future in India. The self-taught musician who's constantly breaking or setting records, is willing to share what he knows, finds NEETI SARKAR

PHOTOS COURTESY: AUDI PHOTOGRAPHY

EMITTING NEW SOUNDS Vineeth Vincent is self-taught in vocal percussion — he produces drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using his mouth, lips, tongue and voice

B elieve me when I say he talks nineteen to the dozen! And why wouldn't he? After all, it is his gift of the gab that has brought him a long way in just three years. All of 21, emcee cum beat-boxer, Vineeth Vincent has made it with flamboyance to the Guinness Book of World Records, royally shattering an old record set in Vienna involving 327 beat-boxers, when he led 1,246 participants of Christ University, Bangalore, to beat-box on a single platform in February.

That apart, in a bid to enter the Limca Book of Records for the Largest Beatbox Ensemble, the staff and students of Christ Junior College gathered in the institution's auditorium for the event, ‘Can You Say Beatbox?' again led by the uber-talented youngster. And while the results are yet to be announced officially, Vineeth is pretty darn sure they're going to sweep this one too!

Beatboxing fundas

(For those of you who are a page behind, beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion, which primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue and voice).

Vineeth does have his head in the clouds but what makes him a rare spectacle is that he's got his feet firmly planted on ground. “Breaking a record isn't that big a deal. One does something of this nature to make his mark just so people know he exists. Fame is not the aim,” he says, with an air of nonchalance.

And that doesn't come as a surprise because this beat-boxer doesn't participate in the rat race. “I hate competing with anybody. It's unnecessary, hypocritical and a waste of time. Instead, I believe in getting people together for one common goal and that was my core purpose behind setting this world record,” he explains. A self taught beat-boxer, Vineeth's source of inspiration was American Idol contestant Blake Lewis. “I used to fool around with the microphone a lot and that's kind of how I got into beat-boxing.”

And not having anybody to teach him the technical knowhow and nuances of the genre, the music connoisseur admits to making umpteen mistakes while he took his baby steps into the field. “I would go crazy and do more shows than were humanly possible; sometimes doing 40 shows in less than 30 days. I really messed my throat big time.” But then of course failures were his stepping stones to success.

Vineeth has done over 650 shows since he started his career in 2008. He has even performed with The Boxettes in 2010 and Austrian beat-boxing group Bauchklang in 2009. What really gave him perspective was the year he took off from college before he started his undergraduate degree program at Christ University. “I figured how I should go about pursuing this as a career.”

He owes his success to his alma mater and his core team of 12 people. Vineeth was a part of the Christ University choir and was a member of the acoustic group Headphones. He's won every music competition from LKG to Std 10, with the exception of class VIII (he makes it a point the interviewer jots this down!) So it does look like the stage has been his best friend. “It's not like I want to be in the limelight, it's just that I'm most comfortable on stage,” he laughs. “There were only two instances when I cried and that was in playschool when I was the sheep in ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep' and then when I was ‘the dish that ran away with the spoon'!”

Reflecting on the beat-boxing state of affairs in India, Vineeth is thoroughly appalled. “I don't get why artistes do shows for free. Organisers think they're doing us a favour by giving us ‘a platform to showcase our talent' and it's ridiculous that there are people who would do it for fame when they claim they want to make a living out of beat-boxing. It is a capitalistic market in the music industry and I do my best to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

The city has certainly been a good and supportive audience for him. “Bangalore is a receptive market for beat-boxing, so much so, I even get stalked,” he guffaws.

Ask him if beat-boxing would be his career for life and the young man doesn't mince words.

Fascinated

“I don't love beat-boxing. It's just something I have been fascinated by and have attempted to take it on professionally. For now it's a means to an end, which is to make a living,” he says adding: “In the UK almost anyone can beat box. I might be the first or the only professional Indian beat-boxer but that's not going to be the scene forever. In fact, I don't want it to be that way. I don't believe in monopoly, which is why I conduct workshops and teach people what I know. One day every other Indian will be able to do what I do now. I have my options open but what I know is that I would always work towards promoting artistes.”

Whether he does break more records in the future is only for time to tell, but for now, Vineeth is kicked about touring 14 Indian cities till the end of the year.

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