Why You Should F***ing Love Beardyman
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Some musicians are impossible to forget. They leave an indelible imprint on your memory, permanently branding their art on your brain. For TMMP, Beardyman is that kind of artist – and here are a few reasons why you, the open-minded, intelligent, and no doubt deeply attractive regular reader and boundary-free music fan, are more than a little likely to feel the same way:
He’s more than just a beatboxer.
Beardyman was the first beatboxer to win the UK Beatbox Championships two years in a row, and spent the time between the 2006 and 2007 championships honing his skills to the point of Jedidom. He was also the guy behind the Kitchen Diaries YouTube video, through which Beardyman has taken over five million viewers step by step through the birth of a sick break:
But Beardyman is no one-trick pony. While a quick stroll around central London will quickly yield a bunch of buskers imitating non-vocal instruments and covering high-charting pop songs for the amusement of excitable tourists and grim-faced corporate drones, Beardyman’s long been busy writing his own material, becoming an exceptional songwriter in his own right. And that’s not all…
The Beardytron 5000 will blow your mind.
The Beardytron 5000 is a piece of music production gear that is to modern music studios what the Starship Enterprise is to a bottle rocket. Capable of more or less any imaginable method of audio manipulation (including live looping, sampling, pitch shifting and sequencing) and comprising multiple iPads, laptops, a keyboard, and a guitar, the Beardytron 5000 allows Beardyman to improvise studio-grade songs in real time, without the need for any samples bar those he creates in the moment with his own voice. The Beardytron is a blank canvas upon which any perceivable sound can be painted – and here it is in action:
His live shows are entirely improvised.
Beardyman has two albums under his belt – 2011’s I Done A Album and 2014’s Distractions. On hearing the latter (created using the Beardytron 5000), I said (through my keyboard):
“Distractions represents a Pokémon-like evolution not only for Beardyman as an artist, but also for the world of music as a whole. Just as Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile and Felix Baumgartner became the first man to skydive from the edge of space, Distractions demonstrates how something once thought impossible can be proven to lie within the realm of human possibility in a hugely inspiring fashion. I’ve no doubt that many musicians will be freshly motivated by Beardyman’s boundary-shattering efforts, but even when the pack begins to catch up to Distractions we can safely bet that the mind behind it will be restlessly exploring territories far beyond even this.”
I still stand by those words. On record, Beardyman is fucking brilliant – but live, it’s a whole other ball game. Using nothing more than his voice and the Beardytron 5000, Beardyman has left a long trail of shocked, stunned, cracked-up and entertained audiences, all of whom have borne witness to a fully improvised onslaught of musical mayhem and hilarious comic asides. Behold:
Nobody mashes up multiple genres as coherently and fluidly as this guy.
See the last video for (pre-Beardytron 5000-based) proof. Always hungry for new challenges, Beardyman has gone so far as to improvise entire albums in the space of sixty minutes. He’s created one album per hour alongside the likes of Jack Black and Tim Minchin, while live show attendees find themselves included in the collaborative process as they submit song titles for the resident mouth-wizard to turn into Real Things.
The best Beardyman show I’ve ever seen, though, isn’t on the Internet yet – apart from a couple of clips included below and TMMP’s own live review. Collaborating with MCs Dizraeli and Leen alongside drummist extraordinaire Andy Gangadeen, keyboardist Arthur Lea, cellist Rob Lewis, and beatboxing double bassist Bellatrix, Beardyman masterminded a beyond-epic evening of endlessly inventive and 100% spontaneous music inspired by song names dropped in a bucket by thirsty patrons at the bar before the set.
Telepathic to the degree that I’m sure Derren Brown was involved behind the scenes, that night was insane – and if you get the chance to experience Beardyman live in any setting whatsoever, I’m telling you that you have to be there – or miss out on something special that will never happen again.
He has a track for every mood.
Whether you want your sides split or crave a chillaxative, Beardyman has you covered. Here are a handful of examples – and if you’re still not satisfied, dig into the links at the end. With two studio albums, constantly creative tours, and a hyperactive social media presence, there’s still much, much more for the Beardy-curious to discover…
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See you in the next video!
What – you want more?! Check out TMMP’s interview with Beardyman (WARNING: contains women in horse masks and the apocalypse) and these additional videos, which take very different approaches to explaining more about the Beardytron 5000:
And yeah, okay, one more live clip: