When we began our Skype interview, I felt a sense of déjà vu. Stephen, better known as TheBeatboxHitmanTwo, films all his videos from the desk in his room, and seeing the familiar background on his Skype window, I almost felt like I was talking to one of his videos. I couldn't help but laugh.
Stephen is always down for putting his own beatboxing spin on any song that catches his attention, regardless of what language the song is in, but K-pop, in particular, has really gotten a hold of him. Quirky and humorous, Stephen started off by giving me a full self-introduction along with several beat boxing demonstrations throughout the interview. Unfortunately, that part can't be shown through the Q&A.
YouTube Account: BeatboxHitmanTwo (his 4th account)
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Birthday: March 29
Major: Computer Engineering
Favorite color: Dark Blue
Favorite food: Chinese, Italian, and Barbeque
Random fact: Seen in most of his videos, the stuffed animal by the perpetually playing TV is Nala from the Lion King and he's had it since 2nd grade.
Asia Pacific Arts: So, let's start from the beginning. How did you start beat boxing?
Stephen: I saw this one Twix commercial with Rahzel 8 or 9 years ago. He was beat boxing and I never knew what it was until I saw it that day. Then, I learned it on my own by watching other people and listening to the radio. Basically, I learned to mimic a whole bunch of sounds, got the hang of it and made my own style.
APA: You've had multiple accounts with hundreds of videos on each of them. What got you started on YouTube?
S: When I first started, I'd freestyle and go on this one site Humanbeatbox.com, and it was a community for beat boxing. I didn't start beat boxing over songs until late 2007, when Sean Kingston came out with his first song “Beautiful Girls.” Then, people thought I was Sean Kingston beat boxing, but it was a pretty good start. [laughs]
APA: What sort of equipment do you use?
S: I just use one microphone, an audio-technica ATR30. I got it to plug into my computer. I have to use this little mono adapter and after I record, I use Sony Vegas to edit it together.
APA: I've seen many of your videos, and you do a variety of music from all over the world, but how did you get into K-pop?
S: I started last year when a fan of mine came onto my page and asked if I wanted to try some K-pop. At that time, I only really did American music, so I first tried Super Junior's “It's You.” It surprised me, but I got a crapload of views -- like from 400 to 15,000. I got into it ‘cause I like the whole electro scene. And of course K-pop has the “pop element” to it, for me to be able to have a fitting rhythm [to beatbox to] for the songs. It shows it doesn't matter what genre the music is as long as it has rhythm.
APA: Do you think you wouldn't be as interested in K-pop if it weren't for YouTube?
S: Honestly, I probably wouldn't be since YouTube is a part of my daily routine. Every time I go on the Internet, I discover new music. Well, YouTube is a huge source and a way to get new music promoted. Every time someone likes, comments, shares or favorites a video, it gives them more honors and makes it more likely for people to watch it, people who have never heard of that type of music before
APA: Who's your favorite artist/group and why?
S: It would have to be 2NE1 just because of how consistent they are. I can listen to the whole CD, and it doesn't feel generic or stale to me. Actually, I never expected this, but my submission to the 2NE1 Lonely Cover Contest made it to the top 21! I'm really thankful to everybody for voting for me.
APA: How popular is K-pop where you're from?
S: I don't even know anybody who likes K-pop in my area. I'm probably one of the only ones. I think it's getting more popular nationally, but I don't feel it locally. I only enjoy K-pop with my fans and people online. Since I have never met anyone in person who likes K-pop yet in my area, it's nice being able to share a love of it with another through the web. It's a cool experience.
APA: I see that you've been doing lots of collaborations lately.
S: I started doing more collabs because it feels a bit lonely just doing it by yourself all the time. With the internet, you can just about work with anybody and not even physically be with them. I actually did one with Kaotsun to 2NE1's “Clap Your Hands.” In the K-pop realm, I would love to collaborate with Jay Park, so I beatboxed to his song “Abandoned.”
APA: Where would you like your beat boxing skills to take you?
S: I see it as a hobby, but I want to prove to people that there are other beat boxers on YouTube who can do different styles other than the cliché a capella. I'm just trying to break the mold.
To check out TheBeatboxHitmanTwo's YouTube channel, click here.
Hallyu Trends on YouTube (Part II): Kaotsun
Hallyu Trends on YouTube (Part III): DJ Masa
Hallyu Trends on YouTube (Part IV): Smr00
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