Dropping the Beat


By Drew Tucker Dropping the beat. I can’t call Rachel Chalhoub a singer, although she can sing. And I can’t call her a drummer, although her rhythms rival those of any drumset player. What I can call Rachel is a beat master. She just happens to create them with her mouth. Some would call her a Beatboxer, but the definition would not do her justice. Rachel wields looping and effects pedals in a way any guitarist would, and drops vocal lines like a master turntablist. Making her mark in acapella music, Standing at 5’7” tall (taller with the shark heels she sometimes wears) the Lebanese musician and budding acapella legend isn’t what you would expect from someone who stands poised to continue the lineage of beatboxing legends like Biz Markie and Doug E Fresh. But your expectations change as soon as she drops her beats! We were curious so we caught up with Rachel between producing the video for Inside Acappella, and recording in NYC with her group Executive Board, to hear her story. The Pineapple: The big question everyone wants to know is, How does a girl like you get into beat boxing? Rachel: I guess it stems from my passion in music. I’ve always enjoyed and connected with percussion and participated in many different musical performance genres. From marching band to orchestra and musical theatre to vocal jazz, I can’t seem to get enough of music. Beatboxing, to me, is the heartbeat of it all. I feel it in all forms of music and just felt the need to express it the best way I physically can. That and I heard it on a CD once in high school and just sorta got hooked on making those noises. The Pineapple: You are also a videographer? What’s that about? Rachel: I started documenting my travels through video and photography. My mother and I usually take a trip once a year and as a souvenir, I would take our media and organize it into a video. From there my technical nerd side wanted to learn more about video editing and my curiosity just took over. I guess it was just a hobby that helped me express my artistic vision. Thankfully, people seem to be enjoying my work. The Pineapple: Why is a cappella your musical drug of choice? Rachel: I think a cappella is an amazing form of entertainment. People who perform contemporary a cappella are so dedicated to the music, they spend countless hours practicing and imitating specific sounds that are normally created with instruments. Its such an amazing way to celebrate sound, music and vocal expression. Also the ingenuity of some of the arrangements that are created inspire me more than any other genre to create more vocally, whether through beatboxing or singing. The Pineapple: A cappella came to the forefront with the movie Pitch Perfect. What would you tell someone who is looking to get involved with this musical art form? Rachel: START A GROUP! There are so many resources out there to help you get started. The Contemporary A Cappella Society or CASA (casa.org) posts blogs, forums and news related to a cappella. Whether it is from finding groups who are holding auditions or tips on creating an innovative arrangement, you can find a lot of advice and a lot of amazing and talented friends in such a rich community. There are Facebook groups, twitter handles dedicated to a cappella and youtube channels (*cough Inside A Cappella *cough) showcasing a cappella a cappella worldwide. The Pineapple: Any big things coming up? Rachel: Only the biggest news in the community! NBC & Sony have decided to bring back The Sing-Off! I’m so excited. This was such an amazing way to share a cappella with so many people. Before you had to travel across the country to see amazing talent such as this. Auditions are happening over the next few months and taping will begin this summer. It’s such an amazing time to be a part of this community. Contemporary a cappella moving into mainstream music is something all of us in a cappella have all been hoping for a long time. We’re excited to share our passions. The Pineapple: Who are you listening to in your ipod right now? Rachel: I can’t ever seem to get enough of Lana Del Rey. She’s such a entertainer. Plus I love sultry alto voices. Catch Rachel’s work on youtube at www.youtube.com/RIChalhoub Twitter @RoguePotatoe

Drew Tucker is the Director of Education and outreach at Arts Garage you can reach him at Drew@artsgarage.org Twitter @drewMtucker