Stevie Soul: I'm a Detroit based producer, multi-vocalist and beatboxer. So the story goes, as a kid, I stuttered, it was a pretty severe stutter. When I would try to say words, I would get caught up on the first letter, and couldn't push the full word out. An example is my older brother's name was Billy. I would try to say Billy and I just got caught up on the B... and I realized that there was, in that instance, a drum bass sound coming out. And that was just a little quirky thing that I noticed, but I kept getting caught up on a lot of different words, and there's a series of letters and words out I would always get tripped up on, S's and P's and C's, those letters to sounds are a lot like a full drum set and started playing that out Not only did it become my foundation for beatboxing it became my sonic palette. Even a stutter has a rhythm to it. I know most people don't think of it that way, but there is a sort of rhythm and cadence to it all.
Once I was more comfortable with it I took those sounds and turned them into beats and patterns. Through that process, I learned sentence structure, tempo, and pace and it helped me find my internal rhythm. Through it all, I realized that it was helping me with my speech specifically timing and delivery.
Beatboxing became my unique way of expressing myself but as I moved into schooling it was obviously very difficult as speaking and communication is such a huge part of school. I was really struggling with school so it was nice to have a little bit of a side talent to help balance out the day. One of the best parts to come out of that was some of the kids that would pick on me would eventually be begging me to "Drop a beat" so they could sing and rap over it. I would have never thought that I would have been able to morph the stutter into this talent and way to bring people together. Once I made sense of that I became obsessed with it.
SD: Really inspiring and a truly amazing story. Collaboration is such a big part of your style. In your new video series your working with lots of other multidisciplinary talents. Why the shift?
Stevie Soul: I hear sounds and melody in just about everything. I have actually been practicing this concept in my head for years. If I hear a car alarm beeping, I'm quick to add a little backbeat to it. This project is my attempt to document that with other creatives and industries that I admire. I want to combine these sights and sounds in iconic Detroit settings to create multilayered, audio-visual experiences. Most people have heard a ball dribble or jump rope hit the floor a million times before.
SD: Can you talk about your video JUMP and how that came about?
Stevie Soul: I knew of Eli Lindauer but only knew him as an incredible photog. When I went to his studio opening event we were catching up and he mentioned to me that he had done some competitive jump rope in the past. I was shocked and super intrigued so after asking a bunch of questions the idea came up to see if we could mix my beats with his jump rope. I went back a few weeks later and after an hour of experimenting we started locking in and it was magical. From there we spent time working through a routine. His studio space also lent itself as the perfect backdrop for the video.
SD: What other collabs are you working on?
Stevie Soul: I have a whole list of future collabs ready but COVID forced me to hit the pause button on production for a while. I didn't feel comfortable getting a crew together to shoot until things felt safe. I'm slowly getting back to it now and have lots of fun unique videos in the works.
SD: How are you staying productive while at home? Any useful tips?
Stevie Soul: I'm so used to being on the move and traveling so this has been a big mindset change for me. I’ve really been able to spend more time on longer-term planning for 2021 and beyond. I’m spending a lot of time cleaning and re-arranging the house and my studio space. I feel more productive when the space around me is tidy and organized. I highly recommend getting your space right to maximize your creative energy. It's really worked for me!
Beatboxer - Stevie Soul
Jump Roper - Eli Lindauer
DP - Dimitrius Ramirez
Editor/Colorist - Josh Beebe
Audio Mix - Drew Michael at Branch Creative Studio