Back at the start of last year Steven Best, Sholto Websdale and Phil Gowland were an aspiring human beatboxing trio from Moortown with ambitions of getting a few gigs together in bars and clubs around Leeds.
By the end of it their group, Bloxed Beats, had performed at Wembley Stadium, Trafalgar Square and Soundwave festival in Croatia. To top it all, they had also recorded a hit YouTube video with Canadian chart star Kiesza.
The collaboration came about after she spotted Bloxed Beats’ own video rendition of her summer hit Hideaway. “In a short space of time she tweeted about it and messaged us personally,” explains Steve Best. “It went from 800 views to 60,000 in the space of three days.”
Kiesza also suggested they meet up when she played in Manchester and then invited them to record the song with her in her dressing room. In the video she sings into a showerhead while Best, Websdale and Gowland add beats and harmonies.
The roots of Bloxed Beats go back “six or seven years” when Best and Websdale were working at The Village Hotel in Leeds. “I used to do little beats around the kitchen,” Best recalls. “I was a waiter, he was a porter. He was really impressed by it. I taught him how to do it.”
They lost touch for a couple of years when Best left the hotel, but Websdale had got the beatboxing bug and duly passed on his skills to his friend Gowland. When they began posting videos on Facebook, Best was so impressed he suggested they get together to jam. “It became a regular thing, but nothing ever more than a hobby,” he says.
Eventually they decided to start busking. Such was the response – “We were making at least 500 quid each time” – they started to take things seriously. “Towards the end of last year we entered four local competitions in Headingley, Bradford and Leeds city centre and won them all – that’s when we knew we had to do this properly,” says Best.
At the start of 2014 they started emailing out videos, pictures and a biography. That led to interest from the NFL who asked them to perform to a crowd of 10,000 at an event in Trafalgar Square, London and then at a game at Wembley Stadium in front of 40,000 people. They also played their dancier material at Soundwave festival in Croatia.
Next year the trio are booked to appear in Istanbul, Dubai, Egypt, Croatia and Monaco. They plan to team up with Kiesza again when she plays at Manchester Albert Hall in March.
“We do not like to think it’s luck,” Best says of their growing success. “We put a lot of effort in. We had an idea of exacly how we wanted to do it. We think no one really does what we do. It’s three guys beatboxing but it does sound like music. When people have done it before it’s either got instruments of guys doing percussion at the same time or an a capella group or barbershop quartet. We do sounds like dance music or drum and bass. The only thing is we did not expect it to come this good this soon.”
To see a video of Bloxed Beats visit www.yorkshireeeveningpost.co.uk. For details on the group visit http://www.bloxedbeats.com/