Backstage with...beatboxer Lee Gibling

Festivals have widened out in recent years, and are open now to almost every kind of music and performance there is. We met Lee Gibling to discuss festivals backstage, running workshops and making it as a beatboxer...

Backstage with...beatboxer Lee Gibling

When did you start beatboxing?

I started beatboxing back in 2002 after a friend of mine had shown me a short clip of a beatboxer singing and doing the beat all at the same time. It blew my mind and for ages I was obsessed with working out how it was done. I had already been a drummer from an early age, so the fundamentals of understanding the structure of beats and rhythms were there and it was then a case of perfecting a few sounds before building on it. I first performed publicly when another friend told a host of an MC battle that I could beatbox and I was unexpectedly called up on stage!

Did you initially think you'd get to this level?

Not really. I have always enjoyed performing. With beatboxing it is something a bit different and I always caused a reaction whenever I performed. This is when I really wanted to keep improving and learning more things. When I was learning there were very few other people locally who could beatbox. In fact, it was probably about 2 years before I found anyone else so it was difficult to watch and hear other beatboxers to find out how they were doing it. I regularly attended some if the big beatboxing events including the UK Championships and also the first ever World Beatboxing Convention back in 2003. It was a great opportunity to see live some of the best in the world at that standard!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am regularly visiting school and youth organisations running beatboxing workshops all over the UK, and occasionally abroad. I also perform in and manage an Acapella group, The Acafellas, where we perform all over the country at weddings and corporate events, as well as teaching workshops in Acapella. I also still perform solo for club nights, parties and events as well as collaborating with other musicians and singers in the Norwich area.

When did you start performing at festivals?

I started performing at festivals about 6 or 7 years ago mainly as a performance based workshop to also teach people how it's done. But my main performances at festivals have come about through a company called CultureWorks who host and manage the Inbetweeners area at Latitude festival. I have been involved there for the last 5 years running workshops and hosting a small music stage which gives the opportunity for young, local acts to perform.

Is it different performing to a festival crowd instead of a regular gig?

Festivals are always going to be a slightly different crowd compared to a regular gig. There is always so much going on at a festival that if people don't want to listen to you they can simply walk off and find something else. On the flip-side of that, you end up with a crowd that DO want to listen to you and I've always found a festival crowd to be great!!

What is the festival atmosphere like backstage with so many acts?

It's great. Everyone is happy to be there (providing it's dry… never guaranteed!!) and it's a fantastic vibe. You get to meet some fantastic people and artists to really help inspire what you do and feed of some ideas.

What advice would you give to any young people wanting to get into your kind of work?

Stick at it! It can take a lot of practicing and then performing to result in a good performance.

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