Hip-hop and beatboxing are integral parts of youth culture, said a prominent video producer on Tuesday.
Angela Viscidio, president of Eclectrix, Inc., visited the Oswego Cinema in the second of six film screenings that make up the “On Screen/In Person” film series organized by Artswego and the Cinema and Screen Studies department.
Viscidio served as the producer of “Beatboxing: The Fifth Element of Hip Hop,” a documentary about the evolution of beatboxing (the art of producing musical beats using only one’s mouth, throat, and vocal chords) and its impact on both hip-hop culture and music in general. The documentary features interviews from established beatboxing artists from around the world, including countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Canada and Switzerland.
Q: How did your company Eclectrix start up?
A: It started off with me being involved in the performing arts. I studied dance for many years and also drums. I put my own CD together. So I was very involved in the performing arts, which is what kept me in New York City (coming from Great Britain). And then from there I was around musicians all the time and I picked up a camera and just fell in love with it. I started filming my friends in the performing arts and they paid me to film. One job lead to another job, to another job, to another job. I kind of created my own little job in New York by filming live bands for less money than most production companies would charge them. I was able to do it with one camera so that it was affordable and then gradually three-camera, four-camera, five-camera. Then your name gets out there, and at first people want to hire you because you’re cheap. And they go, “Oh, call Eclectrix, because they’re really reasonable and they do a good job.” So once you get over that hump, then you’re good to go. It’s a labor of love.
Q: You mentioned that at first you weren’t a fan of hip-hop. What drove you to get interested in hip-hop in general?
A: The beatboxing. When I saw what Butterscotch [one of the beatboxers from the documentary] do what she did, being her own accomplished musician as she is, and Bellatrix, Greg Patillo, THePETEBOX, they’re all accomplished musicians who have studied music, read music, play classical music. When they came out there and do what they do, it’s the spirit of it. It’s so alive, and it’s fun. It seems really simple, but it’s not simple, it’s quite complex. It’s rhythm, which is where I come from, so I really related to the percussive side of beatboxing. It’s all percussion, which is one of my loves. That’s what I connected to, really.
Born and raised in Wales, Viscidio moved to the United States in 1981 to pursue her dreams in visual and performing arts. Her production company has produced performance footage for a number of musicians, actors, and other creative icons. The company also provides services for editing, direction and post-production. Viscidio produced “Beatboxing: The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop” on a shoestring budget, with many of the performers within the documentary having donated their time.
The “On Screen/In Person” series continues on Nov. 15 with directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson presenting their documentary, “Out in the Silence,” about a high school jock forming a bond with an openly gay filmmaker in order to make sense of what is going on around him. More information can be found at oswego.edu/arts.