In Service of Lip: An Unusual Orchestra
January 1, 2012 | Report by Satrupa Paul – For years, Ipshita Roy, the lead vocalist of Delhi-based blues band Big Bang Blues, has been flawlessly belting out songs of the great blues masters. She has now decided to expand her musical horizons and become a part of India’s first ever beatboxing orchestra, Voctronica.
Brought to India by the UK-based Guinness World Record holder and an Israeli-Iraqi-German beatbox artist Shlomo, Voctronica is conceptualised by the British Council and is organised in association with Zomba, which is a digital platform to develop and promote hip-hop culture in India.
Beatboxing involves using one’s mouth, lips, tongue and voice to produce musical sounds. Conventionally, it focussed primarily on producing percussion sounds, but beatboxing has now been expanded to include vocal imitations of turntables, simulations of horns, strings and other musical instruments.
“I toured India last year and while I was there I collaborated with different Indian artists, including a few beatboxers. I have a vocal group called Lip Factory in the UK that I’ve been working with for nearly five years and I thought it would be exciting to take the idea to India,” Shlomo told Guardian20.
Poised to become India’s first all human beatboxing orchestra, the members of Voctronica were chosen after auditions conducted personally by Shlomo.
“We were just looking for vocal power and range is what’s key for us. We wanted people who are comfortable with singing. It didn’t necessarily have to be people who beatbox; they just had to have a powerful voice, a unique voice of their own,” he says. Thus, the ensemble includes singers like Roy, rappers and even Indian classical vocalists, apart from beatboxers.
The top 10 finalists will now be part of an eight-day training workshop in Mumbai to be held this month. It will be conducted by Testament, a human beatboxer and a member of Lip Factory. They will also be trained by Shlomo via Skype and will perform as the country’s first ever locally bred beatboxing troupe across India and the UK in the first half of 2012.
Roy thinks that it will be interesting to learn something new and incorporate elements of beatboxing in the kind of music that she normally performs. She is excited that she will learn to produce complicated harmonies and beautiful mixtures, all by the power of her voice.
Shlomo hopes that the platform will help beatboxing grow in India. “At the moment not many people know about it, but I think it has a lot of potential because of the tradition of using your voice to create rhythm in Indian music. I think that’ll enable a lot of musicians in India to learn beatboxing very quickly and to start using it in new ways,” he says.
“I believe that human voice has the unique power to bring people together and Voctronica will create something new using the wealth of vocal talent that India has to offer. It will sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before!” Shlomo assures.