Moktadir Dewan (Shanto) is a creative professional with a day job in the advertising industry. But his true calling is in the music scene where he goes by BeatBaksho. He is a member of the first proper beatbox/acapella group called 'Beatmosphere'. Over the years, Shanto has been in bands like GrooveTrap and Old School, and is currently guitarist and backing vocalist for the band Blunderware.
With music in his veins, he wanted to initiate a spark of change in the beatboxing scene of Bangladesh when he started it in the mid-90s. Beatboxing is an unorthodox form of musical expression where one mimics a drum machine using their mouth, lips, tongue, and voice.
After searching for years, he came across several beatboxers at a hip-hop event in 2014. It was at this event, Shanto met Ronesh Biswas, whose stage name is Han-X. Ronesh is a CSE graduate, who heads the digital department of an ed-tech company, he has been doing music for over a decade.
"I was thrilled. I wanted to do projects with these beatboxers and find ways to promote the scene. But something better was waiting up ahead," said Shanto.
After several meetings, Ronesh proposed the idea of forming Beatbox Bangladesh, a platform designed to encourage enthusiastic beatboxers to grow their talent and find a supportive community where they will be represented, both nationally and internationally.
Since its inception in 2015, the platform has been a host to proper beatbox battles, workshops, events, etc.
"We believe there is talent out there and here on the Beatbox Bangladesh page we hope to discover them," Shanto added.
The Facebook page found its footing in the first quarter of 2015, while the
YouTube channel for Beatbox Bangladesh was created in June 2015, where enthusiasts can find beatboxing tutorials to hone their mouth orchestra.
One of the more recent achievements of Beatbox Bangladesh amidst the Covid-19 outbreak was crossing 100,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel and its founders receiving the Silver Play Button from YouTube. Presently, the Beatbox Bangladesh YouTube channel has amassed almost 200k subscribers.
Over the years both Shanto and Ronesh worked to find more beatboxers in Bangladesh by arranging workshops around the country and publishing beatbox tutorials in Bangla.
As the training commenced, more and more beatboxers heard about Beatbox Bangladesh and joined, which led to the platform organising the first beatbox nationals, BattleBox BD, in 2017. They have been annually organising this event during the month of December ever since. American Embassy teamed up with Beatbox Bangladesh as partners for the 2019 edition of BattleBoxBD.
Through the national championships, Beatbox Bangladesh garnered international recognition in the global beatboxing community as the official beatboxing platform of Bangladesh.
"Our winners automatically secure a place at the Asia Beatbox Championship and World Beatbox Championship," said Shanto.
Besides the national championship, Beatbox Bangladesh organises several battles. The StreetWise Beatbox Battle, which happens around the end of the 2nd quarter of each year, is their 'half-yearly' battle, as Shanto dubs it. They also host a friendly battle series called 'The Fifth Element'.
World-famous beatboxers namely Napom, Gene Shinozaki, Amit Bhowmick, Sparx, Colaps, Chris Celiz, Kenny Urban, D-Koy, Ettoman and many others judged the battles both on ground in Bangladesh, as well as online.
The group also organises an annual beatbox workshop, BeatCamp, where they teach the basics of the beatboxing discipline and the how-to-dos.
"We talk about the history and explain about beatboxing from the western point of view and how the local version of beatboxing has different avenues. The workshops are also a connection point for beatboxers to exchange knowledge and get to know each other more."
At BeatCamp, the focus is mostly on beginners. In the final portion of BeatCamp, they hold friendly battles. So far Beatbox Bangladesh has successfully organised BeatCamp in Dhaka, Chittagong and Comilla over the years.
Shanto explained that they want to bring out the beauty of our mother tongue through vocal exploration while respecting the roots.
"We are incorporating the sounds of our rich culture so that beatboxing can take shape and contribute to the music of Bangladesh. Beatboxing isn't just something that can be included in music, it has other interesting and positive sides, such as foley for movies/visuals, speech therapy (it helps deal with stuttering), boosting self-confidence, igniting self-discovery and find out how much we are capable of doing with our body and for many who can't afford instruments, beatboxing can be a way forward towards music exploration"
With a Facebook group with around 2000 active beatboxers and a YouTube channel that is 200k strong, Beatbox Bangladesh is here to transform the music scene of the country.