Vocal Mash Ups with Beatboxer Contrix

12 Feb 2021

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Rumours were heard in the Phanganist office that there was a beatboxer on the island and low and behold, there he was when we went to photograph Nomad’s Jungle Experience warm up party!

Contrix who hails from East London came in to see us and sat in the Phanganist hot seat to answer some questions about his interesting career...

So Contrix, how have you ended up on Koh Phangan?
I came to meet a friend and ended up staying as I really like it. I was travelling around first and met friends in Bangkok where we did some shows on the street and then I stayed for about two weeks and wanted to go to Phi Phi, so I went to Phuket then to Phi Phi.

I saw many videos of the place and wanted to go since I was young, it’s just very different compared to where I’m from, it’s very beautiful

How did you discover you had a box in your voice?
My dad’s friend was a professional beatboxer, I was eight years old and he came to the house and showed me, I didn’t even know it existed and was amazed by it.

So I just didn’t stop, I think it kind of went perfect with my ADHD, as a kid I was always hyperactive, ha-ha I was unstoppable!

It gave me a way of expressing myself and because I really like it I tend to be able to go really far with things I like.

How did you learn?
I was taught the basics, the kick snare, high hat and clap but actually it took a very long time to learn as I couldn’t pay attention. I couldn’t focus and anything that came out was wrong, I would not listen on how to do it in a specific way so I did it in my own way.

I was eight, I was a tiny little person and couldn’t project my sound so wasn’t heard a lot but as I got older my focus got better at concentrating and following patterns.

Do you have to exercise your voice for this?
Yes, there's different exercises. There’s muscle memory which is very important, if I wanna do something like chest bass, you do a ‘hum’ but move into the body.

How can I explain in english? One exercise is to practice to do the sound you want but in something similar to words e.g. ‘boom bat, boom bat’ and keep doing that so it’s more simple and your mouth moves in the same way as the sound you eventually want to perfect.

You have to take it slow with the chest bass as you can damage yourself, you wake up the next morning with a sore throat.

Do you work with people on tracks or just work solo?
I do a lot of solo mainly but I have collaborated but not with anyone seriously, I like to do solo but in future I will do more professional collaborations.

I only collab with other beatboxers where we’ve done it professionally but beatboxing was something that came from me doing free running, I didn’t have the money to buy headphones so I used to beatbox whilst freerunning solo.

So Contrix, you are a UK champion we hear…
I have won two times, last year and the year before 2014 and 2015. There’s championships coming up in 2016 so I will be going to defend my title for the last time, if I lose then I will go back but you can only win three times.

What do you do in the run up to and at a competition?
In the UK they have to make a wild card then they select thirty four people and then at the event you have to do a two minute elimination round, there’s no battling here.

You show what you've got then they pick the top sixteen to go do battles and then you end up battling with other people for two minutes a round.

The way I do it is I just go over everything I can do and everything that feel right. For years I could prepare a routine then go onstage and get nervous and stuff and forget it and when you forget, it all goes not how you want.

So I practice everything then perfect it before but when I am there I do what feels right at that moment and I’m happy with it.

I think you could be the best and win it but not be the best anymore because someone has gone so much better than you.

That’s why it is good to do what feels in the moment as you’re doing the best u can.

Does it get competitive?

Are you using Thailand and Koh Phangan as inspiration?
I'm trying to get my name known as I gonna come to live here and do everything I do at home here in Thailand and other places in Asia, Malaysia, China and more.

This place is amazing, everywhere there's sound, it’s gold to experience it. At home you hear sounds but not like here.

When a beatboxer hears sound they learn to do it, even subconsciously, I practice and the bird sounds subconsciously just come out.

How has the Thai ‘scene’ reacted to you, is there one?
Yes, my friend is the Thai champion and he helped me out when I came, showed me around Bangkok and is trying to organise people so I can teach them. I can’t make it this time as I’m going home but when I come back I will be doing that, we have quite a few people who want to learn already.

The beatbox scene in the world is quite similar, it’s actually really similar but there are some different styles but not one you haven’t heard yet.

How was performing at Nomad?
Crazy, people just go off the roof, one person came and showed me a video of me in London and she was really amazed I was there.

The people enjoy it because it’s something different. When I do a show I do it differently, I do mash ups, rather than one song it will be mash up, mash up and they hear it and go crazy, I do my own stuff but leave it to the end or put it in here and there.

Doing cover songs they recognise really helps the atmosphere, I have a lot of busking and street performing experience so this is why I do mash ups rather than really long songs, with busking you need to make a crowd and you make a crowd more fast when doing song after song after song. I leave the Drum and Bass to the end with my own stuff.

What have you enjoyed about Koh Phangan?
I love the quietness of it when it’s quiet, I have found it really quiet but also like the fact it gets packed and there are nice beaches and the people are really nice.

I been to Loi Lay and Jungle Experience which were really good, actually I really enjoyed Jungle and Half Moon is good too.

It was good to experience full moon but there’s too many people, I haven’t been to Eden but would like to if I didn’t have to go home.

What's the plan when you get back to the UK?
I’m gonna work every single day on the street and have jobs lined up, I work with a big sports company JD and have for four years and have two festivals coming up.

I will start with doing videos and get up my youtube content with musicians and then come back to start up a company as I want to be self employed here in Thailand.

I am also going to try for the sixth time to get on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. I have been on the street for seven years just keeping my dream, with what I do it’s hard to go far. I do jobs abroad and have supported famous people and been on TV but I am still in the same place.

I think if given the opportunity I could do better than most beatboxers on Britain’s got talent, I always watch them and think ‘Come on, do some proper music!’.

Leave us with your beatbox philosophy…
Keep positive and do what you wanna do.

If something bad happens try to see it as a learning curve rather than thinking of the negative part. I came here and crashed a bike, it wasn’t that bad but maybe if I hadn’t of done the I would of wanted to get a superbike and would’ve crashed that!

I looked at where I went wrong and learnt from that. Never give up!