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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Grey Matter
Monday, July 05, 2010

You may remember a few weeks ago I told a story about meeting two artists while waiting for the 6 train. The first artist was the recently featured Truth Now. The artist that was doing the beatboxing during their freestyle session was Grey Matter. After honing his craft and linking up with Kid Lucky and Beatboxer Entertainment, Grey Matter, although he still loves a good session on the train, has become one of the leading beatboxers in NYC. This week I caught up with him to find out more about how he became interested in beatboxing, why we see so few great beatboxers today, and the secret power of beatboxing that was revealed to him in Paris.

Adam Bernard: Why don’t you start everyone off with the Grey Matter story? Where are you from?
Grey Matter: I was born in Texas to my biological mother, who was only 16 years old when she had me. I was then adopted by my mother and father, Arlene and Ron Gutterson. I lived the first part of my life in NYC, never really living in one house for more than a couple of years. Then we moved to Chappaqua NY, in Westchester, when I was in kindergarten. Fun fact - I lived a couple of streets away from former President Bill Clinton. In school I never really had a niche, or a thing that I excelled at, aside from video games and math. I'm still pretty good at both. My parents tried everything with me - instruments, sports, and even theatre. None of them stuck. During my sophomore year my brother Brett was going to graduate high school. My parents approached me about moving back to NYC because they worked in the city. It was while working at a camp that summer where I met some of the first people that introduced me to hip-hop, real life, and my future. They were singer/emcee David Gonzales, comedian Duncan Jay, and two breakdancers, Ize and Honey Rockwell, who both worked for an entertainment company called Travesties Entertainment. They were there to throw an end of the summer camp wide party. It just so happened that was the blackout of 2003. I made it my job to entertain them and make them feel at home, helping any way I could. It came to the point where the dance had to be cancelled, so they had to pack up and go. Before they left, though, they told me to call them when I got home so I could work with them in the future. I called the company when I got home and ended up working there for the two years I lived on the upper east side. When I worked there I was exposed to all types of cultures and different life lessons.

Adam Bernard: How did you get your start beatboxing?
Grey Matter: It was a mix of a ton of different influences. The major reason was due to a combination of cause and effect. When I was younger I got bored very easily and had a pretty decent case of ADD. When I moved to NYC one of my friends was doing “step” one day in the hall to “Grindin’” by The Clipse ft. Pharrell. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and of course I wanted to learn. Due to the fact that at that time I had no physical coordination, I failed miserably, so instead I started doing it with my mouth. I continued beatboxing through high school for no real reason until I went to Muhlenberg College. I saw the Muhlenberg Dynamics (their a capella group) performing for an open house for accepted students. That was when I really wanted to get into it. I actually beatboxed at my college interview. When I told my mom after the interview, which we had driven for two hours to get to, she wanted to smack me upside the head. I really started to take beatboxing seriously, and as somewhat of a side career, when I got out of college and started to perform more.

Adam Bernard: When people ask what you do and you tell them you’re a beatboxer what’s the type of reaction you get?
Grey Matter: Most people laugh and say “no, really, what do you do?” Then I say I work for a footage licensing company during the day and I beatbox, as well. Most people don't actually believe me, especially when I'm dressed in a corporate manner, but then I drop a bit of beatbox for them. It’s usually pretty funny. Then, of course, I try to teach them how to beatbox, as well.

Adam Bernard: Is it just me or are good beatboxers getting harder and harder to find? Why do you think that is?
Grey Matter: Yes, good beatboxers are harder and harder to find these days, but it all depends on your definition of "good." Every single beatboxer has their strengths and weaknesses. I’m a really loud beatboxer due to the fact that when I beatboxed for the Muhlenberg Dynamics I never had my own mic so I had to be loud, and I have a pretty decent grasp of timing. When it comes to really intricate drumming and performing, though, or even having my own set, I fall short. Beatboxing is also somewhat hard to do without constant support from people. When I started beatboxing I almost quit because people said I sounded horrible. I was actually at the Rapathon and some dude freestyled about how I sucked as a beatboxer. I stuck it out to the end of my time then peaced out right afterwards. Luckily Kid Lucky was there. He told me “Andrew (Grey Matter is recent name), you have skills. I know this. Don’t let one insignificant person keep you from beatboxing.” Due to that, and many many different people who have supported me in my life, I have continued beatboxing. When a person starts beatboxing, or doing any craft, you have to be prepared to be bad first. You only get better with practice. I would walk two miles back home from work, and during that walk I would beatbox the entire way. People would give me all types of strange looks but I didn’t care. I was doing what I loved.

Adam Bernard: Other than working with emcees, what kind of possibilities are out there for a beatboxer?
Grey Matter: Tons of sound effect work, acting, you name it. I’m also a baby de-cryifyer! I was in Paris and there was a baby crying. I told my friends I was traveling with that I could stop the baby's crying with beatboxing. They said no way. Low and behold I beatboxed and the baby did a 180 and was laughing.

Adam Bernard: That’s freakin amazing! So, other than nurseries worldwide, which I assume have, or should come calling, where’s the most interesting place this skill has taken you?
Grey Matter: It’s taken me to television, including being in a scene in an episode of Nurse Jackie, being a part of MTV’s Beatbox special, and doing work on a Justin Bieber promo. I’ve beatboxed for the Knicks during a time out. I’ve done tutorials that have over a million views worldwide. And as I mentioned earlier, it got me into college.

Adam Bernard: Finally, when you first started, how many faces did you accidentally spit in? You can tell me, I’m only going to broadcast it to the entire internet.
Grey Matter: Let’s just say my saliva definitely made a lot of journeys onto some unfortunate faces - defective clones buggout sessions, the Subway Series, Muhlenberg Dynamics, random New Yorkers - though I have to say I feel the most sorry for my girlfriend, Lindsay Polt, and I have to thank her for all of her patience dealing with me for the past year.

Related Links

Facebook: facebook.com/GreyMatterNYC
Twitter: twitter.com/GREYMATTERBBOX
YouTube: youtube.com/user/ag232679
MonkeySee: How To Beatbox


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:40 AM  
  • At 8:16 AM, Blogger Dave said…

    Grey is retarded dope--- boy's got DRUMS

    my fam!LL

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