COUNTY Times music critic Jess Needham interviews the multi talented DJ/Producer/Beat Boxing genius, Mr Phormula a.k.a Ed Holden.
Mr Phormula will be performing at the Boomtown Festival this August and Jess caught up with him ahead of his album release on March 14, here's what he had to say...
So where are you from Ed?
Originally I'm from Anglesey but I'm based in Llanfrothen near Porthmadog.
How would you describe your musical style?
Well there's a few things I do, I'm a beat boxer, but also a producer and also a rapper so I think the fact I do the three things sort of moulds my style as a beat boxer. I'm always looking for a certain musical sound that I can use in my own productions, I think that reflects in the way I beat box - it's a sort of technical yet laid back vibe if that makes sense - I like that style to emulate in my music.
What are your main musical influences?
I would say mainly Hip Hop, in regards to that genre I'm influenced by artists like J Dilla, Madlib, the classic stuff like Cypress Hill, Wu Tang. But also I listen to a lot of new school Hip-Hop like Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Ugly Heroes, Guilty Simpson, Sean Price, something that sounds different, that's what I like.
How did you get into beat boxing?
I started when I was about six years old, well that's when I started beat boxing. It was a guy called Rahzel aka The Godfather of Noise - a famous beat boxer, that sparked my interest. He was the one who started the programme called "Yo MTV Raps", he was only on an advert for about six seconds and that was the first time I'd seen beat boxing, so that's what triggered my interest in it. Then I went on to secondary school where I started Djing and producing music, I linked up with people there and we played out a lot so that's where I learnt how to produce music. Then one thing lead onto another, and it has just progressed throughout the years, it's all I've ever known, it's all I've ever done.
I think my parents influence helped as well, my mum was a singer so music was all around me in my youth, my dad worked with speakers and PA's so my up-bringing really helped.
What software do you use to produce?
I used to use Cubase and Reason for my producing but these days I only use Ableton coupled with a shed load of hardware i.e. synths etc, which is great as it means I'm able to quickly put down rough ideas / sketches before producing them further, incredible program!
Are you excited to play at Boomtown?
Yeah I can't wait for that one, I played last year and loved every minute. As everything is in the music industry, it's who you know, and it turns out an old friend of mine who used to put on a lot of gigs down in Cardiff, he's called Captain. A few years ago he was a promoter for Boomtown, and last year he became the Mayor of Boomtown!
What can we expect from your set at Boomtown?
I used to just do solo sets with my beat boxing and looping it. But recently I've sort of gone back to the old school, so there's me, another MC called Dybl and a Dj called E-Ratik. So basically the three of us will be doing various tunes from my new album and then various beat boxing between the set so it's a mish mash of new school versus old school beat boxing - it should be a lot of fun!
How would you describe Boomtown for anyone that hasn't been before?
I would describe Boomtown as four days of absolute, mental, crazy, psychedelic partying! Last year was brilliant as it happened the day before my wife's birthday so I could take her to Boomtown and I also got to play so it was a great weekend!
So do you rough it and camp or have you sorted accommodation?
Well when I was younger it would be camping, no question - I'd just be sleeping under a bin bag or whatever! But these days, obviously I'm 30 now, and I've been doing festivals since I was 14, so now I prefer my home comforts so we stay in a hotel. So yeah I leave the camping to the younger generation!
How many albums have you released?
As an artist that's been in bands I've released 10 albums altogether. As a solo artist this will be my second album.
The new album will be out on March 14, it's called Cymud which means speaking in Welsh.
Did you always want to be in music?
I wanted to be an astronaut at one point! Apart from that all I've ever wanted to do is music. I've tried the nine till five jobs for about two years of my life, but apart from that I've always done music, it's all I'll ever do, it's all I know. It's an amazing blessing to have in my life, doing something I love, and to be able to earn a living from it.
Have you ever been signed to a label?
No I've always worked in labels to release things, but as far as an actual signing goes I've never signed a deal with anyone. I think as what I do is so unique, in Wales it is harder to cater for. Over the years I've been trying to find a label, I've sourced so many contacts myself I decided it would be easier to just do it myself.
What's your most influential tune?
I'd have to say Diesel Power by the Prodigy. The first time I heard that I was blown away. The another tune that was really influential was C.R.E.A.M by the Wu Tang. All the old school Hip Hop stuff was very influential to me.
Do you ever get nervous before a set? How do you cope?
I don't really get nervous so much nowadays, I get more hyped now. I think over the years I've learnt how to turn the negative nervousness into a positive thing. I switch it around, and try and turn the nerves into positive energy which helps my performance.
What advice would you give budding musicians that want to make it in the music industry?
To be as unique as possible. Don't imitate other people and say that is your style, especially in the Hip Hop scene I think that's the most important thing, to be true to yourself and trust yourself and your capabilities.
When I was a kid and learning to beat box there was no internet, no you tube, so I had to teach myself how to do it which is why I was able to build my own style. Beat boxing takes a lot of understanding, like how it fits on an arrangement, so it will take more than a tutorial to master it. Just be yourself.
Thanks for your time Ed, I look forward to seeing you at Boomtown!
You can catch Mr Phormula a.k.a. Ed Holden at Boomtown Fair 2014 held at The Matterley Estate, Nr Winchester, Hampshire, from August 7 to 10, 2014.
For more info on Mr Phormula visit his website www.mrphormula.com, and don't forget to check out his new album on March 14.
Here's a little exclusive for you, Mr Phormula's brand new video for