Earlier this week we announced Blake Lewis‘ signing to Republic Records and his collaboration with Internet Explorer. Now, we go a little deeper in getting to know this man of many talents!
Why do you make music?
I make music to set my soul free. I feel I have too much bottled up inside at all times and need to communicate myself in the most creative ways possible. Music is my cathartic release. Might sound cheesy to most people, but not to me.
What do you love about it?
I love everything about music. The way it can transcend space and time, take you on a journey down memory lane and make you fall in love time and time again.
If you couldn’t make music, what would you do for a living?
I would be getting in to sketch comedy and pursuing my career in film and voice acting.
What was the first concert you went to?
I remember seeing a local band called Super Deluxe at the Redmond Fire House when I was in Jr. High and loved every minute of there set. But I grew up with my mom being in bands and singing to me since I was a wee lad. So that would be my first concert technically.
What was the first record you bought?
Well, are we talking actual vinyl, tape or cd??? My first album on vinyl was either Duran Duran “Duran Duran” or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” I can’t remember that far back. One of my first tapes was Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock “It Takes Two” and my first CD was Pearl Jam “Ten.”
What’s your fave record out right now and why?
I have a couple. For album it would be JMSN “Pricilla” and for record I would say “Latch” by Disclosure and “Strung Out” by Calyx & Teebee. All sexy jams.
What’s your sad/mad/happy go-to song?
Sad: “Save Me” by Justin Nozuka
Mad: “Hero’s and Villains” by Calyx & Teebee
Happy: “Mirrorball” by Elbow
Were you concerned you’d be pigeonholed as “that guy who beatboxed?”
Yes, I totally wanted to avoid being the beatbox guy on American Idol but that’s something I’ve always struggled with as an artist, long before I was on television. I¹ve always had to walk a fine line between my beatboxing and singing. I use my beatboxing as the stepping-stone for creation, it has always been the foundation to my creative process as a loop-based musician. I loop a beat, put down a bass line and start coming up with melodies, whether on the piano, guitar or with my voice. It’s just what I do but it’s not just about the beatboxing as much as it is that it’s one step of an entire creative process. Before I even had the chance to sing live on American Idol, they had already edited me in all the commercials as the “Beatbox Guy.” I didn’t love that so on the first night of live performances, I wanted to show the depth of my singing and was the only artist to sing a ballad “Somewhere Only We Know” – by Keane. The producer, Nigel was pretty adamant with me throughout the week that I beatbox but I stayed true to myself. They really wanted to manipulate me in to their own image, so every week I did my own thing and was the first to arrange/produce my own covers on that show.
Who inspired you to beat box?
There have been multiple artists and performers who inspired me to create noise, which is what lead me to beatbox. The first three in my early development were Robin Williams, Michael Winslow and Michael Jackson. I had been watching Mork & Mindy and I was fascinated by all the zany sounds Robin would make. Michael Winslow’s sound effects in all the Police Academy movies had me transfixed on the TV, soaking up every sound he made and not many people know or realize that Michael Jackson was an amazing beatboxer. In all of his rhythmic songs there was always some form of it and laid nicely into the track. I didn’t find beatboxing till later in high school when I saw a beatboxer Matthew Selby in an amazing a-cappella group called M-Pact that he was in. I remember it like it was yesterday. The first episode of South Park had just aired and I was obsessed with doing all the voices. Matt and I hit it off after the show and I’ve been beatboxing ever since. It went from something I had been doing subconsciously my whole life to that one guy who can’t stop making noises with his mouth.
Talk about your experience with voice acting
Along with making noises as a child, I would do cartoon character voices. I started getting into voice-over acting many years ago and love making new characters up. Growing up around the greater Seattle area there are many outlets for voice actors especially since half of the video games made come out of Washington. My first gig was doing some vocal sound effects for a game called Crash Bandicoot. I loved it! Since then I’ve worked on a couple cartoons for Cartoon Network, some Anime and was all the voices of The Gremlins in their last video game.
What do you think of reality shows and competitions?
I never really watched a lot of TV after high school and at that time reality TV was just taking off. The last time I had seen a show of American Idol’s caliber was when MTV’s The Real World had just started its fifth season, which took place in Seattle in ‘98. It was cool to see my hometown on the screen and all the drama unfold in places I had frequented. Kind of random that I ended up on a competition/reality show that I had never seen. The universe has a sense of humor and I’m glad I ended up there in that moment in time.
Talk about collaborating with Sir Mix- a-Lot
Sir Mix-a-lot. When I came home for the first time during Idol. I ended up playing two shows. To my surprise, Sir Mix-A-Lot was at my first. He and Pat Monahan from Train introduced me to the Seattle audience of about 10,000 people. Later in my set, Sir came up and we rocked “Baby Got Back” for the crowd. It was a great day.
How’s Jimmie Walker Blue doing?
Jimmy, Bob Bobberson and a bunch of my other characters come out from time to time. Mainly at costume parties, in YouTube videos or around Halloween. We are all chameleons so it’s always fun to be someone else for a day.