STEVIE SOUL is an award winning vocal entertainer, and multimedia artist who is known for his ability to perform the sounds of hundreds of musical instruments in perfect harmony. He’s achieved national acclaim for his appearance in H&R Block’s “Never Settle Campaign” as well as his featured story in USA Today. Currently, Stevie is a contributing writer at CBS Detroit and his monthly street photography blog PPL Watching is featured on Local 4 NBC.
Stevie Soul performs several genres of music, ranging from his signature Funk and Soul sound to improvised covers of Top 40 music. Stevie Soul sings over his looped and layered beatbox sets to create full musical productions live on stage. He’s performed with the likes of Whitney Cummings, Cody Simpson, George Watsky, Jeff Bass & Kevin O'leary.
Inspiring an Artistic Renaissance in Detroit As one of the U.S.A's most famous cities, Detroit has had its share of ups and downs. From the golden age of the American automobile industry to a depressed housing market and the Flint water crisis, Detroit is currently experiencing an artistic renaissance at a scale seen very few places in the country. Stevie Soul is a listen-worthy example of how art can move people and help lift a city in the process. In this interview with 1MORE Marketing Director, David Przygoda, Stevie Soul discusses the state of the city, his most recent projects, and how he got to jam with "Mr. Wonderful" himself, SharkTank's, Kevin O'Leary.
Q: How did you get started with music?
A: During my childhood in Michigan, I struggled with a severe stuttering disability that prevented me from communicating with my peers. I tried to speak but strange sounds came out instead. I eventually transformed these sounds into polished beatbox sets which I performed for family and friends. This became my unique way of expressing myself and, through my newfound talent, I overcame my speaking disability on my own.
Q: What are your three favorite things from Detroit?
A: This is kind of a loaded question because Detroit is known for a lot of really amazing things. The city has contributed so much to the world from historic architecture, to music, to food. Detroit has a very beautiful and historic landscape that is unlike anywhere else. There is so much great music that has come out of the city and is continuing to come out of the city. Right now, I’m really excited about a new music collaborative out of the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit called Assemble Sound. They are connecting artists and giving them a place to record and perform. I kind of consider myself a foodie. My girlfriend and I are constantly exploring and enjoying the city through its food scene. If you ever come to Detroit, you’ve got to try a chicken shwarma from Bucharest, Better Made Potato chips, tacos from Southwest Detroit, and a coney (I’m a Lafayette loyalist).
Q: Tell us about your #yearofbeatbox challenge?
A: On the first day of 2016, I set out to become a better artist. I challenged myself creatively by recording and publishing a video every single day of 2016. 366 videos later (It was a Leap Year) and after all the ups and downs the year had to offer. I came out a new artist with a new outlook, appreciation, and love for my craft.
It wasn't easy and some days the last thing I wanted to do was to create content but I made a commitment and I pressed record. Every. Single. Day. I tried to be innovative and pushed my creative limits, which I look forward to continue doing. It’s a choice daily. Not necessarily an easy one but a choice and promise to carry through with your goals, new or old.
Q: What are some of your favorite performances/shows/colabs you’ve ever done as a beatboxer?
A: Being a beatboxer, I take advantage of opportunities to perform with a variety of different artists. I’m always looking for unique opportunities to collaborate. If I had to narrow it down, playing with The Detroit Youth Volume, a group of young violin students from Detroit, is one of my favorite ongoing collaborations. I love playing with Omar Aragones from the Detroit band One Freq. A highlight of my year was jamming out with SharkTank's, Kevin O'Leary.
Q: You’re not just a vocalist but a multi-media artists. What else are you currently working on outside of your beatbox performances?
A: For the past few years I have been working as a film producer at a Detroit based production company called Woodward Original. I work with an awesome team of creatives on a variety of projects ranging from company branded videos, mini documentaries, and television commercials.
Q: How do you use headphones in what you do and why are they an important tool in your work or everyday life? (e.g. can talk about things like sound quality, recording, balanced sound, music get’s you in your zone etc.)
A: Headphones are a huge part of my day both for personal listening and professional use. That being said, sound quality is everything. Sound is at the core of what I do as a beatboxer and performer. I count on my sound quality to give me an accurate depiction of the many sounds that I’m making.
I got my foot in the door in filmmaking through audio. I started as an sound recordist in the field on film productions. I’ve always been very type-A about sound quality in the field and having a good pair of headphone to support that is essential.
Q: Which 1MORE headphones do you use?
A: The MK802s have become my new go-to headphones when I’m in the studio recording as well as when I’m refining songs and productions. The low-end/bass sounds great. The 802s really give me an accurate depiction of the soundscape I am listening to. They also look great, are comfortable, and connect to bluetooth seamlessly.
I also really enjoy the iBFree. They have become an essential item that I take with me everywhere. In the morning I grab my keys, wallet, and iBFrees and head out for the day. They are in my ears or around my neck constantly up until I end the day at the gym. With my job as a film producer, I’m constantly on the phone and these make going from listening to music to jumping on a call simple. iBFrees are comfortable, fit my ears perfectly, and have great battery life.
Special thanks to Stevie Soul for taking the time to sit down with us for this interview. Keep up the good work and a special shout out to the artists of Detroit!