Carnage the Executioner on beatboxing, sampling and looping
HPR: How long have you been beatboxing?
Carnage: I studied boxing when I was somewhere between eight and ten years old. There was this one group back in the days called the Fatboys. There were three guys in the group and they were all big guys. They were produced by Kurtis Blow and they had a few hits around that time. There was a guy in the group that was bigger than the others. His name was Darren Robinson, rest in peace (Robinson died in 1995). He was called the "Human Beatboxer.”
When I first heard him I was like, “Oh sh*t! That is coolest sh*t ever." So I started teaching myself how to do those sounds, then when I heard a little bit more of what they had done I realized they had like two songs that were pretty much dedicated to that guy beatboxing. So I would go around listening to that album and I would listen to those songs and walk around imitating the sounds until I learned how to do basically everything that he would do.
HPR: Wow, That's pretty amazing.
Carnage: I just really learned the by ear. I guess by ear and with a lot of practice.
HPR: When did you start incorporating sampling yourself and looping it into your repertoire and why did you do that?
Carnage: I first started doing it with myself and (Minneapolis MC) Desdemona. When we first started doing the Ill Chemistry thing it was just raw beat boxing and straight rapping. I wouldn't use any enhancements other than the mike and I would just beat box. I was her drums, I was her deejay, and I was her band. So as time went on after doing that, it only took me, I would say, about a year and a half or so of doing that to start thinking about what it was I wanted to do to make my beatbox production be more full.
I can beatbox for a long time. I think that comes from me being from the original old school beatboxers, ‘cause that's how we had to beatbox. We didn't have enhancements and we had to beatbox loud and for long periods of time. That's how you were trained. You needed to be able to do it for a long time and not get tired. That was the mark of a good boxer.
So me and Desdemona could do an hour-long set and I could beatbox the whole time. But I would begin to feel like I was getting bored with it being in just one layer and a couple of sounds that I could do at the same time. I wanted to make beats that sounded fuller, like the songs that was making when I recorded real tracks.
So when you are recording tracks in the studio you have the capability of, you know, mixing down 16, 24, 48 tracks. You have an almost unlimited amount of musical capability, of compiling or compounding music together in the studio. I started thinking more like that about beatboxing.
I started saying I wanted to sound more like a studio production. And right around that time Desdemona and I started to get become more popular, with people wanting us to do shows as a group. So I did my own shows and she did her own shows, but when we started doing our thing together, it got super popular, really fast. So we started doing a number of different types of shows and they weren't just hip hop shows.
I remember doing a show with Ill Chemistry and we performed with a girl named Molly Dean. I can't remember exactly where it was at, but she was playing guitar and she was singing and she was looping herself. So she was playing the guitar, sampling the guitar sounds, looping them and it sounded like there were three or four guitar players. There's like four guitar lines happening at the same time, and then she would sing in the harmonies. I was like, “how the hell is she doing that?" So I came up to her, and luckily I knew her because I kind of rushed up to her really quickly to try to talk to her.
She told me that she knew me and knew I beatboxed and that looping my music would be good for me. So she told me if I ever got one to just hit her up so that she could teach me how to work it. So I just kept that in the back of my head, that that was something I wanted to do.
But then, a few months later I was playing a show with another female artist, named Deborah G, who was also using looping in her music. And as far as I knew the two women didn’t know each other. They were just doing something similar but, you know, they each had their own take on it.
I thought it was interesting but she really got me when she took her earring off and she hit it up against her guitar and made a drum line. And I was like I'm f*cking done. And I'm doing this sh*t. I'm doing that sh*t right there.
I left the show and I was talking to my deejay and I was telling him that I wanted to start using loop pedals and he was like, “oh, guess what? I got one and I need to pay rent so I'm going to sell it to you, if you want to buy it, for a hundred fifty bucks.”
And I was like oh sh*t. So you know I went and bought it and I didn't really know what to do with it at first. I had it and it was kind of intimidating, just like his little pedal. But you know when you think about what it is that thing is going to allow you to do, you realize that you need to step up a level and you have to advance from there. You can't go backwards.
IF YOU GO
Carnage the Executioner, Manny Phesto, Cold Sweat, D Mills
Saturday, October 7, 9pm
The Aquarium (above Dempsey’s) 226 Broadway
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