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Episode 3.5

Surprise! Here’s a mini-episode about one beatboxing set: Venom by Trung Bao. Venom went viral in the beatbox scene and Tani tries to figure out why. Hear from Trung Bao himself, the reigning Beatbox World Champion Alexinho, and music expert Charlie Harding. All that and more in Episode 3.5: Venom Action. PS: Brace yourselves. It’s gnarly! 

Alexinho’s Artist Week
Switched on Pop, Charlie Harding
Intro and Outro Music by Punchdeck: Link
SpeshFX Guests Playlist
Beatbox Basics
Email Us: 


Tani: Hey y’all, Tani here. I hope you've been enjoying the first three episodes of SpeshFX. The feedback has been incredible and I am so thankful you've taken the time to listen. As you know, episodes 4 through 6 aren't coming out until next month. But in the meantime, here is a mini-episode to tide you over for a couple weeks. This episode is about a good friend of the podcast, a beatboxer from Vietnam named Trung Bao. Trung Bao is an amazing musician and visual artist whose track Venom has been blowing up the beatbox scene. Hope you enjoy!


[Intro Music: Fifty Fifty by Braden Mitchell]


Tani: It takes an amazing track to be recognized by just one name: (sung) Thriller. Royals.  If you didn't recognize those words, shame. But don't be too embarrassed, you're in good company. Check out this conversation I had with the reigning beatbox world champion, Alexinho.

What's your favorite set that you've ever performed? 


Alexinho: The video I did for Swissbeatbox, my artist week: Choose. 


Tani: On the loopstation?


Alexinho: No no no, *sings song*


Tani: oh yeah yeah sure yeah yeah yeah…


Tani: But think about this: Alexinho is the best beatboxer in the world. And I still didn't recognize his favorite set. It's hard to make a beatboxing set singularly memorable. But since late October one word and one set have been all over the beatboxing scene: Venom.


[Venom Drop #1]


Tani: Venom is Trung Bao's wildcard for the 2019 Grand Beatbox Battle. The Grand Beatbox Battle or GBB is the premier annual beatboxing competition. And like any major Beatboxing competition there are open auditions for a few spots to compete. Those auditions are Wild Cards. 


[Venom Drop #2 - Wonky]


Tani: Trung Bao and the other Wild Card winners were announced in November, so they had five months to prepare routines for the GBB. When my brother introduced me to the GBB, he explained the process as follows


Yona Levitt: You have to come up with a lot of material, and you're expected to be perfect all the time. And there's a lot of high expectations that you'll do something new, and crazy each time.


Tani: For all the detail Trung Bao needed to put in to make this a successful wild card, it started as just one 4 beat measure.


Trung Bao: When I compose a new routine I just lay out the basic structure.


[simple Venom drop]


Tani: But if you've listened to any beatboxing, you're here thinking "4x4 beats, intense words in a scary voice, I've heard this before." So Trung Bao had to find a way to set himself apart.


Trung Bao: One of my special sounds is kind of funny at first but it's actually really dope. It's the letter D in Vietnam. My special sound sounds like this *does inward Đ*.


Tani: After years of practice that becomes this.


[Beatboxing with Vietnamese Đ] 


Tani: For beatboxers and non-beatboxers alike, this ingenuity separates Trung Bao from the pack.


Charlie Harding: It's so clear that he's inventing new sounds.


Tani: That's Charlie Harding a producer and songwriter. He's convinced that it's not just the unique sounds that make Venom a special track.


Charlie: One of the challenges with dubstep and bass music is that to get a lot of those kinds of sounds, you can't actually play it on a keyboard because so many things are modulating at once. You're getting these forman EQs passing over and you're adding and moving reverbs and all these sorts of things, and the way you have to do this is that you have to be on a computer and you’re clicking a mouse and you're moving things and it's hard to perform.


Trung Bao: Heavy bass, the technicality, it’s a little bit of musicality, but it’s all intentional. I mean the most important thing is just the vibe, you know? it's very, like heavy, dark and in your face. I think that's what makes people so excited about it.


Tani: Trung Bao's attention to detail, variety, and power all made Venom a successful Wild Card, and will continue to win over audiences long after the GBB. But to write and perfect a routine takes time.


Trung Bao: I take care of that routine for such a long time, it was a month and a half in my head. It's just venom, venom, venom, venom, venom, you know?


Tani: Imagine a crisp fall morning, you're walking across the University of Oregon campus to organic chemistry and you hear this demon approaching you: *venom* when you hear the real thing it's quite unsettling.


Trung Bao: The whole idea is like you get bit by a venom like a venom snake. Like very poison, and you get wonky like kinda drunk like out of control you know? So, I mean the sound, it's wonky for me too. It's no exception for me. It’s like, *wonky venom*


Tani: As Trung Bao prepares for the GBB, and tries to gain the respect of his beatboxing peers, he is simultaneously building a following. Just like Alexinho did before he was world champ.


Alexinho: Now I'm leaving thanks to shows, thanks to workshops. Thanks to the views the battles gave me. I have fans now thanks to that. 


Tani: Battles are beatbox family reunions and major events unto themselves, but they are also the best platform for beatboxers to build their music careers. Right now as I'm recording this episode, Venom has over 1.2 million views on YouTube! Look, I know Thank U Next got 46 million views in one day, but 1.2 million views in 4 months is really good for a beatboxer. Alexinho's Choose is at 1.1 million right now. And he released that track 16 months before Venom. That said, there's nothing better for an artist than to perform a new song and get a good reaction. No matter how Trung Bao does in the GBB, he is set in that regard.


[Trung Bao performing Venom and the crowd going wild]


Tani: Hey guys, Tani again. I hope you enjoyed this mini episode. Huge huge shoutout to Trung Bao. You can find links to Venom and the rest of his stuff in the show notes. You can find links to Charlie Harding's podcast Switched on Pop and Alexinho's Swissbeatbox Artist Week in the show notes as well. I also want to give a huge shoutout to PodX Nashville and the Netflix recording studio for letting me record this mini episode here. This was awesome. ESH!

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