The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Beat boxing their way to the top

Mirror Magazine speaks to two young talents who are reinventing what it means to be in the music industry in Sri Lanka

For many, beat-boxing is practically a phenomenon, as it’s one of the most difficult genres of music to master. Certainly in Sri Lanka, very few have mastered the practise. Diego Samson (18)and Shonel Perera (16) are two such artistes who’ve perfected the nuances of being a human-beatbox. The two pitted against each other at Talent Search 2012 organised by Royal College recently in a beat-boxing showdown.

Diego started out two years ago, when he happened to come across a video of French beatboxer Pulpo-he’s been hooked ever since. Sites like YouTube, have helped him along from the baby steps to where he is today. “YouTube literally taught me everything I know,” he grins. “After that first video I was absolutely hooked! And I kept searching for more artistes on YouTube and learnt from them.”


His first gig was at a school event. A student of St. Sebastian’s College, he performed at their Colours Night, and from then on moved to performing for larger audiences at zonal events and even at a Y Channel event.

Shonel was lucky enough to have a real life mentor. His uncle Julius Mitchell who has been performing on the Colombo circuit as a beatboxer. Fascinated, he asked his uncle to teach him and what started off as an experiment quickly evolved into a passion when it became clear that Shonel wasn’t your average beatboxer. Julius started teaching him the more in-depth aspects and soon Shonel was performing in public as well as for school, interact events and most notably a funeral!

A member of his school choir at St. Benedicts, he already had a musical background that no doubt helped when it came to taking up beatboxing. The response so far has been amazing. “People come up to us and ask how on earth we do it!” Shonel laughs.


They say the trick of learning to beatbox properly is to start from the very basics. “A little obvious, I know,” says Diego. “But a lot of people think they can start off and immediately try and sound like the professionals. You can’t do that. You have to watch a lot of videos and learn what the basic sounds are. Once you’ve established that foundation, it’s a matter of building on it and creating your own pieces.” “Some people might think that it’s a bit like copying,” adds Shonel.

“But to be honest you have to watch and learn from the established artists if you want to do well on your own afterwards.” They look up to legendary human beatboxers like Pulpo, Joel Turner, Eclipse and Wise for inspiration. And an inspiration they will be to other aspiring young beatboxers as they are taking Sri Lanka’s music industry to a whole new level.

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