Inventing sounds with the Boxettes
Imagine you’re in a band, but you have no instruments. How will you play? While for most bands this would be a disaster, for the Boxettes it’s a dream come true. This girl band compromises of female world champion beat boxer Bellatrix, and four vocalists; Yvette, Kate, Alyusha & Neo. Collectively they seamlessly intertwine vocals & beat boxing, proving vocal chords can stimulate you just as much as physical instruments could. These unique and extremely talented girls will keep you captivated by their essence, leaving you lingering, and wanting more. We sit down with beat boxer Bellatrix about what it’s like beat boxing in a prodiminately male dominated genre, the beauty of experimenting human voices & breaking the mould of typical a girl band. Margaret Tra writes.
In such a male dominated genre, what is it like being female beat boxers?
There's actually something quite humbling about having been the first professional female beat boxer in the UK and one of the first in the world. Being right at the beginning of a big change comes with a lot of responsibility, and I think that my male counterparts can see and respect that. Consequently it has so far been a great pleasure to be the minority in this case.
You guys break the mould of a traditional girl band; at what point did you guys decide to become a female vocal group?
Being a female beat boxer in itself is pretty unusual, and it is a part of what makes me unique that I have never had to work on! Working as a solo beat boxer was never really what I wanted to do as I'm more of a team player and a female vocal group that could create heavy beats and bass lines is something I had never heard of, and therefore seemed like the perfect concept for a new project!
Could you explain the process of your techniques?
Initially the Boxettes were four singers and me doing the beat boxing. Over the three years we've worked together each Boxette has learned how to experiment with sound so that the group sound is more integrated. We all share sounds and everyone has certain sounds that they are more comfortable with - they are still the professional singers and me the beat boxer so generally they will take the harmony work and I'll cover the beats. As we grow, however, we are becoming better and better at venturing outside of our comfort zones!
How did you guys all meet each other?
We met at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama where we studied jazz. There is generally one/two of each instrument in each jazz year group, across four years. I was there as a double bass player (not a beat boxer!) and the rest of the band were the guildhall singers at the time. At the beginning of 2011 one of the girls left the band, and we auditioned to find Kate, our newest member. She joined Alyusha, Neo, Yvette and me in May 2011 after donning a two month audition process.
What’s next for the Boxettes? Any future projects?
At the moment we're focusing on writing our music as a collective. We've always written our songs individually and then work shopped the arrangements as a group. We want to hone our sound and pool our resources to create what we're hoping to be some really exciting new music! While we're doing this we are trying to find the right producer for our debut album. Beat boxing is infamously difficult to capture well on record. When we've found the person for the job then we're rolling!
We can only imagine the audiences first reaction from seeing you guys perform live, how does it make you feel?
I think a lot of the people seeing us for the first time are seeing something that’s both new to them, and surprising to them. Consequently, people often get really excited about our show. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing this feels for us; such positive feedback inspires us to keep on pushing forward and is really exciting when considering where we can take the Boxettes in the future.
How do you train your voice to mimic instruments?
There is a surprisingly broad range of timbres available to the human voice - getting access to them is just a case of experimentation and dedication. And it’s not just a case of mimicking instruments. In fact, more of our sounds are our own synth sound inventions as opposed to a copy of specific instruments, although we definitely take inspiration from other instruments and synth sounds.
What stimulates your soul?
I think each of us would have a slightly different range of pleasures that stimulate our souls, but one thing is for sure that writing, performing and listening to music is going to be in there somewhere for all of us!
Check out the Boxette's website to hear more from the girls.