Reeps One doesn’t do introductions and he doesn’t do labels. Put simply, he likes to let his music do the talking as evidenced by his unique take on performing at festivals wherein the environment allows him to surprise crowds at the end rather then during his performances. “When I played Arcadia at Boomtown, I played a one hour set with no introduction as on that stage you can’t actually see who is playing” begins Reeps drink in hand after delivering a blistering show for Ballantine’s True Music series in London. “I came directly out of Roni Size’s set and went straight into doing what I do without any intro or explanation. It was only at the end that I let the crowd know that it’d been a human voice that they were listening to and you could hear their surprise from their reaction – I want to prove that what I do iof the receptive crow more than a trick or skill.”
It’s this quest to escape the stereotypical confines of what we can expect from a – forgive us Reeps – ‘beatboxer’ that has seen the Londoner raise himself up to a level beyond that of his many contemporaries, his ability to craft music with his voice rather than replicate it marking him out as an artist rather than beatboxer to watch. So why does the Walthamstow native think his ambitions are so much loftier than the majority of his peers within beatboxing?
“Well I’m from a different background musically from most ‘beatboxers’” he explains. “If you look at where the scene comes from, if you say the word beatbox the most common preconception people have is that you have direct association with hip hop. But I’ve never ever been a hip hop head. I was raised within grime, garage and the many other genres of electronic music that have their roots here in London.”
“That’s been my foundation for a long time and I’ve always said if you take techno, dubstep and a lot of other early examples of electronic like it Aphex Twin and then try to envisage that being created though a human voice then you’re imagining my aims. This is my love. And those people don’t bend to rules of traditional songwriting. People like Aphex Twin they are complete anomalies – they behave in their own way and even though it’s extremely rare this really is my line of thinking. I’m thinking, can I create something that’s never happened before? I’m looking to control and manipulate entire spaces, create entire new experiences and my voice is a medium rather than me being part of a scene or industry I don’t recognize.”
So where does the blame for beatboxing’s currently limited appeal lie? For Reeps the answer is simple, its practitioners.
“Too many beatboxers just don’t think about production. It should be about being a music making tool rather than anything else. You have one chance. One life. We only get one opportunity to be here so what is your absolute potential? What is your maximum capacity? Do you want to be an entertainer or an artist? Because there’s a massive difference between the two. If you’re going to do it with just your voice I think you need to be thinking about production and what other elements you need to be able to control to create music that truly represents yourself.”
“I’ve proven I can do solo sets.” Reeps continues. “I’ve done hour long solo sets in clubs all around the world and within the beatbox coomunity that’s not something that happens so for me the main thing is I feel no need to have to explain myself or what I’m doing. It’s all about what allows me to make the best music I can as freely as possible and right now that involves me – I am a virtuoso, I can control a number of different elements in very much the same way someone might use ableton to create a minimal techno set so there’s a stripped backness to it but that is the trunk of what I do. I do create a lot on my own but I am now more than willing to add more elements to my productions and performances. As long as all of the content has been crafted by me in some way or another then I’m happy. I just want my work to be able to shine in its own right”
And if he keeps delivering performances and music of the caliber we were fortunate enough to catch at the Printworks then we’ll be happy too.
Not lucky enough to have joined us for Reeps genre defying journey in London? Fear not, you can heck out Reeps in full flow below. Prepare to be amazed.