Beatboxer Tom Thum Discusses His Second TedX Talk
After hosting the most viewed TedX Talk in 2013, Tom Thum was invited back and this time he put a camera down his throat.
Beatboxing is a unique talent that is extremely hard to master and Brisbane’s Tom Thum is one of the lucky few that have been able to make it as a professional beatboxer. His first TedX Talk was a brilliant showcase of his talent to manipulate his throat in order to make it a musical musical instrument. And in the follow up that I think nobody asked for, last month he held a second TedX Talk with a camera down his throat.
This may not be for the squeamish but it is undoubtedly a very interesting view into what happens in the throat when beatboxing and I highly recommend you watch even just a minute of it. We had a chat to Tom about what it’s like to be a professional beatboxer and how the second TedX Talk came to be.
The Creative Issue: Is beatboxing something that came naturally to you or was it something you had to work at?
Tom Thum: It was most certainly something I had to work hard at. I think I have literally spent thousands of hours driving people crazy.
TCI: Where was your starting point for beatboxing? How did you start to gain traction in the field?
TT: I started with a deep infatuation for anything that had anything to do with hip hop culture. It was only when I realised I literally only needed my face to do it that I started really honing in. I think I mainly started to get a little bit of love from doing lots and lots of gigs and getting in front of as many people as I could.
TCI: Was there a specific moment where you realised you could make a career out of beatboxing?
TT: I guess it was probably the first time someone put money in my hand for performing instead of telling me to shut up. There was no real epiphany moment I just never had a plan B so I threw everything I had at it.
TCI: What’s the weirdest response you’ve gotten from someone when you’ve told them you’re a professional beatboxer?
TT: VISA DENIED!!!!!!!!!!
TCI: How did the first and second TedX Talk come about?
TT: I accosted one of the organisers at a bar and basically pitched my idea on the spot, flying globules of spit and all. And then had to try and convince a few other people that it was a good idea (THANKYOU!!). TBH i’m still undecided if it was a good idea, my nasal passages will never forgive me.
TCI: Whose idea was it to put a camera down your throat to capture what beatboxing looks like? Was there a rehearsal before the actual TedX Talk?
TT: It was mine. I have wanted to do this talk for a long time. I had been wondering if it was possible for a long time so I took my idea to DR Broadhurst to find out, and he was very generous with his time and expertise. In terms of rehearsal the first time we ran it in it’s entirety was live at the event (rookie error.) We had run dialogue and the experiments separately but once you add the technical equipment it is a whole new swarm of logistics that add time and uncomfortable experiences to the onstage moments.
TCI: With the rising popularity of Hip Hop and RnB, do you think there’s more of a chance for a beatboxer to get a break now rather than a decade ago?
TT: I think it’s becoming more widely accepted as an art form as opposed to a novelty but in terms of a “break” in a commercial sense I think that just depends on the commercial viability of the artist. But there are so many beatboxers out there doing incredible music it really excites me when I see them get the props they deserve.
TCI: What’s some advice for anyone wanting to get into beatboxing or make a career of it?
TT: DIVERSIFY!!! Do weird collabs and don’t take “shut the FK up” for an answer.