Sky Yoo ’11: Extreme Beats

For Sky Yoo ’11, his voice is his instrument. He started out singing but moved on to beatboxing because he wanted to learn how to make the as many sounds with his voice as possible. He picked up beatboxing from a friend in eighth grade. Now, he’s experimenting with making new beatboxing sounds and performing with Phillips Academy’s female acapella group Azure. Yoo shared his story in an interview with The Phillipian. Why did you start beatboxing? I always thought that a person’s voice was the most beautiful instrument in the world, and that’s why I liked to sing. Then, I wanted to expand the sounds I could make without any instruments, so beatboxing was like reaching out of the boundaries of singing. How did you first learn? Fortunately, I had a friend who was really good at beatboxing, and I first learned the three basic techniques: [kick drum, high hat and snare drum]. Then, I looked for some beatboxing tutorials online. Also, I tried to come up with new, random sounds I just picked up with my ears that sounded good. The friend is actually a professional beatboxer right now. How do you practice beatboxing? Usually I just make random noises whenever I’m bored, but when I have to do a performance or when I’m trying to come up with a beatboxing routine, I sometimes write the sounds down on paper and practice them [the way that] people practice instruments. What’s the hardest part about it? When I started off, it was really hard to make the snare drum sound because you have to breathe in while you’re making the sound. Lately, it’s [been] really hard to beatbox louder and the volume is actually pretty important. It’s especially hard without a microphone. Have you performed with beatboxing? After I came to Andover, I had two performances, both with Azure. The first one was at the bell tower during Parents’ Weekend. I beatboxed “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor, “Mercy” by Duffy and “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne for them. The second one was at the Andover Inn when Azure was having a welcoming performance for these kids from another prep school. Do you have any future plans to perform on campus again? I’m not exactly sure about anything yet, but I’m thinking of beatboxing for Azure for a while, and possibly for the Yorkies, too. Because beatboxing is such a portable instrument, do you find yourself randomly beatboxing sometimes? Yeah, of course! Sometimes when I’m listening to a song and I find the beat catchy, I unconsciously beatbox along to it and kids tell me to do it again. Do you have any favorite artists who beatbox? In fact, I do. His name is Faith SFX. He’s a British beatboxer, and he’s really good. What’s the coolest sound you can make? I would say it’s the gong beat. How do you learn new techniques? Usually, I just try to imitate sounds around me that I find cool. Sometimes I visit online beatboxing cafes and learn stuff.