It’s as uncommon as fried sushi. Unconventional and quirky — female beatboxers are not your most quintessential artistes. But for this group from London, beatbox acapella is how they make music. Yvette Rigby Williams, Alyusha Chargin, Harriet Syndacombe Court and Neo Joshua, all jazz singers, along with beatbox Female World Champion, Belle Bellatrix Ehresmann together form the human drumkit.
In town to perform at Blue Frog and the Dharavi National Park, the quintet is all about breaching sound and sex barriers. “Not everyone considers beatboxing to be a male-oriented genre. We have been called the female version of Bauchklang. That’s quite a compliment! Although the two bands are very different in style and musical mentality, the Boxettes aim to challenge the realms of popular music as it stands today. This, they do by creating catchy accessible music without removing any of the intricacy of harmony,” Yvette, the jazz singer, informs that they are constantly compared to the Austrian acapella group that has previously played in Mumbai.
Yvette describes their genesis: "We all met at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where we studied jazz. Belle got us together because she wanted to create a band that would inspire girls to get involved in this art. Since then, the band’s ethos has evolved and we want to inspire everyone.” The quintet has been using the mouth as an instrument and a beatbox tool to create sounds with vocal manipulation.
Their songwriting also includes “altering notes by making faces and changing placements of the tongue,” Yvette explains. She says Boxette is particularly looking forward to playing at Dharavi. “We are going there to work with some of the local children to teach beatboxing and singing. We’re playing a free gig in the Dharavi National Park. This exposure to a new culture is just the thing we, as a band, look for.” Drum rolls!