A couple of students at Bismarck High School perform a unique style of music.
The students practice beatboxing — the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue and voice.
Bismarck High School senior Jj Hasselstrom and sophomore Ben Lee create the music of beatboxing every day, whether they are performing for people or just for their own entertainment.
“It is tons of fun,” Hasselstrom said. “We make all these awesome sounds that are unique.”
Both found out about beatboxing during fifth grade — Hasselstrom when he was walking home one day and Lee on YouTube.
“It is actually a funny story. I used to walk home from school,” Hasselstrom said. “And I was literally afraid of squirrels. So I would make the noise they make and then I just got the beat down.”
“It pretty much came naturally to me,” Lee said. “I saw a video on it and tried it. From there it kept progressing.”
Starting out, Hasselstrom and Lee both practiced anytime they could during the day.
“When I first started out I would practice a lot to get better,” Lee said. “I don’t practice as much anymore. I get enough practice in school and with friends.”
Beatboxing has many styles with different techniques depending upon the artist. They can choose the way they create their music.
“Having some other musical background really helps, I think,” Lee said. “Singing, humming or instruments really adds to the beatboxing.”
To create music through beatboxing there need to be two beats. The one compliments the other to make a rhythm.
“You have to learn how to breathe really well,” Hasselstrom said. “It is holding your breath in, controlling your breathing, breathing through your nose and a whole bunch of other things like that.”
Using the beatboxing has helped Lee and Hasselstrom both in school and outside of it. Lee takes part in BHS’s New Generation jazz choir group.
“I am in New Gen and I definitely think the unique music of my beatboxing has helped me with that,” Lee said. “I hope to one day be a musician and be able to use this skill.”
There are many artists with careers in the beatboxing field. They either have their own career or perform behind rappers and artists of other genres.
“I hope to move forward with my career,” Hasselstrom said. “The problem is getting noticed. My friends and I have tried to show that North Dakota does have talent here that is worth the notice of many people.”