Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Canadian beatbox champion loses title, shows poise

"Peterpot" McInnes, performing at the Canadian Beatboxing Competition at the Mod Club in Toronto on Saturday night.  Torstar News Service/Contributed James
Torstar News Service
James “Peterpot” McInnes had to give up the title of Canadian Beatboxing Champion on Saturday but right before the competition kicked off, he said he doesn’t mind losing.

“You learn more from losing than you do from winning,” said the 26-year-old Calgary native, who went on to finish second in the battle hosted at Toronto’s Mod Club. He lost to Windsor’s Joseph Bouary, known on stage as BBK.

Fear of failing shouldn’t be a deterrent to trying something new, said McInnes. After discovering beatboxing as a teen, McInnes was determined to sharpen his vocal imitation of beats, basslines and melodies.

As a child, he always wanted to learn to play an instrument but didn’t have the money to take formal lessons. Being raised by a single mother not only meant money was tight, it also meant there was no one to take care of McInnes when his mother couldn’t.
“She was diagnosed with some mental disabilities,” said McInnes.

This started to take a toll on him as a 10-year-old — that’s when McInnes had to take over as the head of the household.

“I was missing school and looking after her,” he said.

By the time he was 12, McInnes was put into foster care, a move he says was supposed to be temporary but became permanent.

“Here I was taken away from the only family I had ever known — I didn’t know my dad or anything, he left before I was born — so to lose that, the only thing I knew and all I had was school,” said McInnes.

McInnes said he was determined to take control of what he could, which drove him to be singularly focused on whatever the task was at hand, including excelling at academics. Beatboxing provided another outlet to direct his energy.

“Beatboxing was so raw, these people taught themselves and it was very tangible for me to see that this was something I could teach myself,” he said.

He went in to Saturday’s showdown as the defending champion but McInnes, like many of the 16 finalists in Saturday’s competition, is self-taught.

“The beatboxing scene has grown massively with YouTube,” McInnes said.

Gary Goudini, who founded the Canadian Beatboxing Championship in 2010, agrees that the scene has transformed since he started over 15 years ago.

“A lot more talent has been coming out of the woodworks,” he said.

Goudini calls himself a “retired beatboxer” and decided to launch a Canadian competition to give someone a chance to represent Canada on the international stage.

“The community is really building, they learn off each other really quickly and it gives Canada their own sound,” said Goudini.

“It’s a lot more diverse I would say, and it just keeps getting better.”

The competition has always been hosted in Toronto since it’s a “hot spot” for beatboxers, said Goudini, but he’s hoping to bring it to other Canadian cities soon.

McInnes is a veteran of the competition, having competed this year for the fourth time. His secret to success is winning over the crowd instead of the judges.

“If you win over the crowd it demoralizes your opponent,” he said.

One of his biggest fans is his mother, who he sees often.

“I help look after her,” McInnes said. “She’s doing pretty good now.”

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