Peterpot dishes battle strategy for the 2013 Canadian Beatboxing Championships [Interview]
Calgary, AB – On Nov. 9, Beatbox Canada brings the 2013 Canadian Beatboxing Championships to the Virgin Mobile Mod Club in Toronto. The majority of the 16 finalists are from Central Canada. But two of Western Canada’s finest beatboxers will be holding things down for their respective scenes: Feng (Vancouver) and Peterpot (Calgary). This week, HipHopCanada caught up with Peterpot over Skype before he left for the big T.O.
We chopped it up about battle strategy, getting audience support, and Peterpot’s fruity little mascot (a pineapple named Petri). We found out the story behind this peculiar edible muse, as well as the importance of brand recognition. Peterpot also gave us a briefing on how he’s plans to beat last year’s champion, Toronto’s own Scott Jackson. Check it all out after the jump.
“The thing with Western Canada, is that our beatboxers and our style is very unique. And that’s partially because we don’t have as many meet-ups and as many gatherings and competitions. We inspire ourselves, or from the sounds that we hear.” – Peterpot
HipHopCanada: So let’s start. Do you want to tell me about the first time you ever had an experience with beatboxing?
Peterpot: Rahzel’s “If Your Mother Only Knew.” It’s the song where he sings and he beatboxes at the same time. But I didn’t really realize that it was beatboxing the first time I heard it. And that’s such a common thing for other beatboxers that I never really tell anybody about that. The first time I actually really recognized [beatboxing] for what it was, was some people told me to look it up online after I was making sounds in class. I guess I was kind of beatboxing—just making sounds. I looked it up on YouTube and I saw videos of Eklips, and SkilleR, and Kenny Muhammad. Those three were the first three types of videos I saw. I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool.” And they’re just using their mouths, and I figured, “Well I have a mouth. And they’re people. And I’m a person. So if I worked really hard, I could probably do it too.”
HipHopCanada: Right on. So in terms of coming up in the local Calgary scene— I find that people tend to dismiss Western Canada’s beatboxing scene. But I think that in Calgary we have quite a talented scene. I wanted to know what your thoughts were on that.
Peterpot: When I first started Exzam was probably the most well-known in Western Canada. He was the first guy I saw live. So it was Exzam. And Ominous. Those two guys. And Ominous is just so unique from all of the beatboxers anywhere. Same with Exzam. Same with even myself: Peterpot. The thing with Western Canada, is that our beatboxers and our style is very unique. And that’s partially because we don’t have as many meet-ups and as many gatherings and competitions. We inspire ourselves, or from the sounds that we hear. We aren’t as influenced by other artists. If you go to France, everybody sounds very similar there. The calibre is so high because they’re constantly pushing themselves. But they do all sound quite similar. Whereas here, I can’t really do the same stuff that Ominous can do. But he can’t really do the stuff that I can do. When you look at things per-capita, Toronto has so many people. And that area is so large, so you’re destined to have a larger number of anything, really. Western Canada has fewer beatboxers. It’s also more spaced out so it’s harder to get together. That’s the big thing in Europe—beatboxing is so common there. Competitions are so common [so] you fly everywhere for cheap, and most things are within driving distance. In Canada—for me to go to the championships, it’s costing me about $1,000 to go there.
HipHopCanada: And that’s all out-of-pocket?
Peterpot: It always is for these kinds of things because there isn’t too much money in beatboxing right now because it’s still young and it’s still growing.
HipHopCanada: So how does one go about preparing for a beatbox championship?
Peterpot: There’s a big distinction between a championship and a battle. If you’re preparing for a battle, you have one opponent and you prepare specifically for that opponent. But not only are you preparing for that opponent, but you’re preparing for the crowd that will be attending to watch you battle that opponent. For a championship, it’s a gauntlet. There’s 16 people in total so you can’t really think in terms of, “Okay I’ll be facing this guy. He’ll probably be doing this. So I should be doing this.” That’s the mistake I made last year – which was my second year – and I ended up paying for that. Part of battling is that it isn’t just about beating your opponent—it’s about winning the crowd.
HipHopCanada: So how do you get the Torontonians on your side when they’re not used to you?
Peterpot: The first year, they loved me. They were cheering louder for me than they were for KRNFX or for any of these guys that I was battling. Which was crazy. My style is different. And I was rebuttling. I was new and I was fresh. And I still am. Part of winning the audience is having things they’ll enjoy and things that are new and things that are relevant—giving your sounds context. A lot of times, in battles, a beatboxer will just do technical things for the whole 90 seconds. In both rounds. The crowd can’t relate to that. For example, there’s [wop wop wop]. It’s kind of like a wop-wop. And people would do that sound a lot. But I turned it into a Pac-Man. I used that exact same sound. And then there’s [woo-woo-woo]. Like the cherry. And it built up. And I gave the sounds context.
HipHopCanada: So can you share a few tricks that you have up your sleeve?
Peterpot: I’m not preparing specifically for opponents. Some guys are easier to prepare for than others. Some guys are very predictable. If I battle BBK – I battled him the first year and I used that Pac-Man thing on him. I wouldn’t use it against anyone but [BBK] because it might just sound like I’m reusing my material. But when I use it against the same guy in that same context, and I say, “Hey remember the last time we battled and you gave me the middle finger on stage?” Because he did.
HipHopCanada: That’s your middle finger return?
Peterpot: Yeah. That’s actually why [the crowd] liked me so much. Especially because beatboxing is so young, people don’t really have an etiquette so they look to rap battles. So I got the middle finger thrown at me twice in the first year. But I just came back and I just…
HipHopCanada: Used your craft?
Peterpot: I just destroyed. So I know BBK—that’s kind of his persona. He acts like a big jerk on stage so I’m going to try and use that against him. But I don’t think that he’s my biggest threat. Scott Jackson won it last year.
HipHopCanada: I was just going to say…What are you going to bring if you have to go against him?
Peterpot: I was really surprised that I lost against him last year because I’m more technical than him. I’m not trying to brag, or anything. He has more power in how he holds the mic and how he presents. He’s very loud. But that’s not really a concern to me. The most dangerous opponent is a creative opponent. People that are technical—they’re predictable. I can know ahead of time what they’ll be doing. Scott is musical. He’s not as creative. He tries to do stuff with melodies. I feel that I have prepared better. The first year I came in third, and last year I came in second. And it’s just been so close both times that I feel that I have what I need to have this year.
HipHopCanada: So you feel like you’re going to win?
Peterpot: I would be surprised if I don’t win. But I don’t want to jinx it. I don’t want to have all my confidence in winning.
HipHopCanada: So what’s the deal with the pineapple named Petri?
Peterpot: You know how Peter Pan has Tinkerbelle as his assistant? Well I’m Peterpot and I needed somebody. So I got Petri the pineapple. He helps me keep it fresh.
HipHopCanada: Why didn’t you get a pot—like Peterpot?
Peterpot: That’s just kind of boring. I cook with pots every day. I see them all the time. The thing with the pineapple, it’s brand recognition. When people see pineapples now, I get pictures sent to me all the time. When people see a pineapple, they think of me. And I think that’s good marketing.
HipHopCanada: So there’s nothing really about the pineapple, except that it’s brand recognition.
Peterpot: There’s that. I like alliteration. So all of the things start with the letter “P.” So Peterpot’s pineapple, Petri. I like pineapples. They’re my favourite fruit. It’s also a symbol for friendship. So Petri is my friend. He’s a creative outlet, as well. He doesn’t have a mouth so I have the mouth and I beatbox.
HipHopCanada: Do you actually talk to this pineapple?
Peterpot: In real life? No. We communicate telepathically. He kind of just sits there and he looks good. And that’s pretty much all that I need.
HipHopCanada: Love it. So are there any last words you’d like to share with the HipHopCanada community?
Peterpot: Beatboxing is more than hip-hop. But hip-hop is where it comes from, and what people conotate it with. It’s like words. Words are just organized sound. Beatboxing is the same way. To try to limit it to a certain genre— I find sometimes people do that. Like, I’ll do Mickey Mouse tap-dancing as a beat, and they’ll be like, “No. You shouldn’t do that.” People close their minds a little too much. I mean, I have a pineapple with sunglasses. That has nothing to do with hip-hop. I mean, sunglasses are pretty cool. But pineapples—you don’t see them on the street too much. I don’t know if I’ve done an interview with a hip-hop magazine or website. This is my first one.
HipHopCanada: You’re gaining street credibility. Congratulations.
Peterpot: Thank you.
Photography by Ryan Enn Hughes for Beatbox Canada
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada