Stuck for something to do in Bristol this Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend? Get your butt down to Upfest! Featuring heaps of art and great music, the Urban Paint Festival kicks off from the 2nd June and runs all weekend.
Double whammy UK No.1 beatboxer, Reeps One, has long been part of the VNA family.Fresh back from touring with scratch legend Q-Bert, he’s also appearing at the official Upfest afterparty this Sunday at the Lanes. We caught up with him for a quick chat and his take on the festival.
More jump off after the jump off
VNA: Where did the name Reeps come from?
REEPS: I was asked to be on the 1999 expedition to the moon and my i.d Badge was 787-REEPS-78-ONE-89, once layed my eyes on it I just new it was going to be my second name….
VNA: So, originally, you were painting for Secret Wars, was beatboxing kind of just another string to your bow for the shows?
REEPS: I never thought my beatboxing would take over my art. It was a bomb I could always drop at the events. But it was one of my earliest shows in Birmingham with Kid Acne, Pete Fowler and John Burgerman that I really remember. I was drawing for a couple of hours, but when I got up and beatboxed, the reaction and level of enjoyment, not to mention the buzz of being on stage, really hit me deep. Another year down the line I was doing things the human voice had never done before. I was hooked.
VNA: Your family are quite artistic, have you learned a lot from them? Or are you self-taught?
REEPS: My dad is my hero. He is a poet, tennis champion, guitarist, sign-writer, portrait artist, piano playing badman. I dabbled with all these, but my short attention span got the better of me. This sounds ridiculous, but I always say, from watching him, my dad taught me how to learn without being taught. Just to observe something with natural logic and creativity. This skill, I think, is the key to creating something new.
VNA: You’re really pushing some boundaries with beatboxing, can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on?
REEPS: I like to involve myself in projects that shock and surprise. People usually expect the flatcap yob from a council estate when it comes to beatboxing, thats why I hate the word. Last year I worked with the UCL, scanning my brain to find how the process compares to a beginner, and this year I have built a visualizer that is not digital, it creates amazing sights with vibration alone. I did grow up on a council estate, wearing flat caps, but I was also Southern England Chess Champion when I was 14…That sums me up pretty well.
VNA: Do you find it similar collaborating with visual and musical artists? Which do you prefer?
REEPS: When I was younger I had them more intertwined. I still learn things with my own skills and apply one to the other – If you’re just freestyling, the thought process is the same in both. But, I find with my art, collaborating has been more about getting to know the person. Maybe that’s just because my art is more personal to me.
VNA: You’ve toured the globe and worked with some of the hottest acts out there, from Shlomo to Q-bert, where do you see your music going from here?
REEPS: Its still all about the live show. Its bigger, badder and more surprising then ever. The Reeps One team is growing too, now I have acts like Bassnectar playing my voice at all his shows and DJ’s wanting to remix clips. The studio and tracks are an inevitable route.
VNA: Has it been a big learning curve as you’ve found more fame and success? What’s good and what’s hard to deal with?
REEPS: I always appreciate people that enjoy what I do, I always will. The weird thing is thinking about having around 15,000,000 plays online and how many people would have heard my voice… It makes my head spin. As long as I’m happy with what I’m creating, I will be able to deal with anything.
VNA: Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with Upfest?
REEPS: I love Upfest! I have played the last two years and to be headlining this one makes it even more special. Ill be drawing and beatboxing, I plan to do them proud in both.
VNA: Who do you really respect and admire in terms of music and art right now?
REEPS: Production wise, I’m feeling Disclosure and Culprate, but rescently discovered some old boys Mogwai. Check them out!
VNA: Any shout outs or big ups?
REEPS: Shouts to VNA magazine for the amazing and consist flow of art for my eyes. Upfest and of course BRISTOL – See you soon!