BWW Interview: Grace Savage talks WOMAD Takeover
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) kicks off their second day taking over the River Stage at the National Theatre. Saturday's lineup features performances and workshops, from a range of artists and for a range of ages. Kids as young as three crowded the stage to learn how to beat box from UK champion Grace Savage. Grace joined us just after to share her experience and reveal why that's the perfect age to start.
You've just got offstage at the WOMAD River Stage Takeover. How was it?
It went really well actually, yes! I've only ever done these workshop, interactive performances a couple of times before, and they're always semi-improvised. So you never know how it will go! I was a bit nervous...but when you've got kids that are up for doing anything and are full of beans, then you've got nothing to worry about. It was really fun! And trying to control four kids on four radio mics and getting them to beat box in time. That made it, really. Some of them were only about three years old!
They were really good!
I think part of the reason kids are so good is because they don't have any inhibitions or self-consciousness. If you say to a kid, 'Make this noise', they'll just do it straightaway! And the older and older you get when you're learning to beat box, the harder it becomes.
Did you get into beat boxing when you were young as well?
Yes, when I was about fourteen or fifteen. I grew up in a little town in Devon and I happened to know a lot of other beat boxers, I learned a lot on the internet and stuff like that. But I didn't actually start performing for four years, from when I started learning. Because it took that long for me to have the confidence to stand on a stage and do it properly.
I wouldn't necessarily associate Devon with beat boxing...
Ha, no! But there was a massive drum and bass rave scene in the West Country. Dubstep started in Bristol. So we were all very saturated in that bass music culture. And there happened to be a lot of beat boxers that I knew. So I think it was part luck really that I happened to grow up in that town and knew some beat boxers. Because it is quite a small chance, I suppose!
What would you say to any young person who wants to get into beat boxing?
I would say always start with getting your sounds nice and crisp, rather than trying to go fast. Don't run before you can walk. People try and do really complicated rhythms, but their actual sounds aren't strong enough. So really focus on getting those three basic sounds crisp first: the kick drum (B), the hi-hat (T) and a snare (K), which you can do like an outwards K.
And be creative. Listen to other beat boxers, but don't try and copy them. You have to find and use your own voice.
Your voice and style is so distinct. Have you always been this confident performing?
It used to be terrifying. I used to get so nervous, I used to have shooting pains down my finger and get pins and needles. But the more and more you do it, the more people come up to you afterwards and give you encourage, the more you believe in yourself and the less scary it becomes. And I've been doing some of those routines now for five years, so I'm starting to get to the stage where I can actually enjoy being onstage and not just freaking out. So I have lots of fun now.
And finally, what's it like being a part of WOMAD this weekend?
It's been great. My first ever professional job was on the South Bank actually, doing a children's show down in the Blue Room. I'm from Leeds uni, so for a while the only thing I knew of London really was the South Bank! So I thought all of London was like this! I used to come and do the show there and just go back. So I've got a real attachment to this area, and it's really nice to do some shows here. And I'm back tomorrow! So come along and learn a new skill, and then you can show it off to your mates after.
Photo Credit: Rona Kelly