Feel the beat: Here’s how India’s first folk beatboxer showcased his musical skills on a global arena
Beatboxing, the art of mimicking drum machines, is a musical style, primarily in hip-hop and the techniques are based on the vocal imitation of percussion sounds.
It is a skill that requires an incredible amount of control over the vocal cords and breathing, so when Divyansh Kacholia started beatboxing at the age of 13 in his hometown of Jaipur, Rajasthan and acquired this rare musical prowess, he soon became one of the top Indian folk beatboxers in India.
Divyansh had plans to become a professional volleyball player initially, however, the adrenaline rush of performing on stage had no parallel. He decided to dedicate his talents to this art form full time.
Over the years, he revolutionised the face of beatboxing with his unique blend of regional and modern sound.
In an exclusive interview with YSWeekender Divyansh talks about how he got into beatboxing, performing live for Shah Rukh Khan, accompanying celebrity singer Sunidhi Chauhan on her UK tour and his plans to come out with a full-fledged album…
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YSW: Who are some of the musicians, singers, bands and beatboxers around the world who currently inspire you?
DK: There are so many great artists who inspire me like Mehdi Hassan, Hariharan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Anoushka Shankar and Skiller (World Beatboxer Champion, 2012). Mehdi Hassan and Hariharan’s ghazals are beautiful and their style of singing brings me great peace.
Sunidhi Chauhan and Anoushka Shankar are the artists I most wish to emulate – right from the way they perform to the energy they bring to the stage. If I could have a quarter of that talent, I would be happy with myself.
It was only after I met Skiller did I realise how much additional effort I needed to put in to enhance my beatboxing abilities. He taught me what it means to be a beatboxer.
YSW: How is your folk style of Beatboxing different to others out there?
DK: My style is quite different from other beatboxers. My basic sounds (kick and snares) are very diverse.
Another thing I pride myself for is being able to convey the feel of a romantic number without making it feel like a hip-hop song. This is something many artists struggle with, but I have been practising for a long time to accurately convey emotions through my sounds.
YSW: What was the feeling like when you made it to the finale of the TV reality show ‘Dil Hai Hindustani 2’ and Sunidhi Chauhan invited you on her UK Tour?
DK: I was ecstatic! I have always been fond of reality shows and to reach the finale of Dil Hai Hindustani 2 and go on a UK tour with Sunidhi Chauhan was the cherry on the cake.
YSW: You performed with Shaan at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and you were a featured artist in ARRived with Shah Rukh Khan and AR Rahman. What was the experience like being in the spotlight so early in your career?
DK: I feel very fortunate. I performed with a few contestants of ARRived and SRK asked me for a solo performance.
I couldn’t believe that King Khan wanted me to perform for him and to be recognised by such a well-known celebrity at such a nascent stage of my career reminded me how lucky I was.
YSW: With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting our lifestyles, and live events and concerts coming to a standstill, did you host any online or virtual initiatives during the lockdown?
DK: I did a workshop teaching Beatboxing to the students at The Dharavi Dream Project, India’s only Hip-Hop School in India, run by AR Rahman and Universal Music.
Another project I was really proud to be a part of was ‘StayinALive’ which is an organisation that is raising emergency funds for artists.
YSW: Are you planning to release an album anytime soon?
DK: I’m hoping to release my album by the end of the year. This album is a reflection of my journey and will feature never-performed-before sounds. It is an introspective look into who I am as a person and an artist.
In the future I hope to collaborate with some of my favourite artists, grow as an artist and of course help popularise beatboxing as an art form.
YSW: How do you feel you are revolutionising and challenging the beatboxing sphere amongst the current generation?
DK: I’m so glad people are recognising beatboxing as a career. It’s good to know that I can be a role model for these upcoming artists and convey to them that beatboxing can be a mainstream art form. I hope all these artists have the opportunity to feel the joy and adrenaline I feel each time I perform on the stage.
YSW: What is your message to aspiring artists, beatboxers, and musicians out there?
DK: My advice is to keep trying. Keep working on your art form, put up content that you are proud of and which is an accurate representation of who you are, instead of falling prey to fads.
Music is like a garden that requires a lot of tending and care and as musicians, we need to keep caring for our gardens to see beautiful flowers.
(Image Credits: Divyansh Kacholia)
Edited by Asha Chowdary