GVSBeatbox: Boston’s Beatboxing MBTA Busker Gets a Break
In the world of MBTA busking, it’s make or break.
Some people pluck at guitar strings overshadowed by incoming T trains, roaring to a stop as riders shuffle on and off the vehicles. Others create music with a harp, a piano, or even try to be a one-man band complete with drums and a harmonica—all vying for the attention of passerby.
But one T performer seems to be standing out from the rest of the musicians that rent spaces along the transportation system, picking up change from commuters: the beatboxing busker Gene Shinozaki, or, as he is known in the hip-hop mouth noise scene, GVSBeatbox. “The art of beatboxing is a beautiful thing. It has saved and improved the quality of my life in so many ways. Beatboxing has given me friends, love, sex, a career, and a job that I love,” says GVSBeatbox on his official YouTube channel. “Through this channel, I will spread the love of beatboxing throughout the world.”
GVSBeatbox’s skills landed him on the front page of Reddit today, putting his talent in front of millions of viewers. “This video is starting to get a lot of attention and is currently [number two] on Reddit videos! I really don’t know what to expect but I’ll have my fingers crossed anyway,” he said on his Facebook fan page, after the clip of him performing at his spot in Downtown Crossing took off.
GVSBeatbox, a former Berklee College of Music student and California native, told Boston that within minutes of the video climbing to the top of the page, his inbox was flooded with new subscribers to his YouTube channel. “It’s pretty crazy,” he said.
Busking on the T has become his fulltime job, supporting his efforts to play guitar in a local band, and paying all his bills, he said. He first started beatboxing two years ago after seeing a YouTube video of a British performer making the sounds heard in typical dubstep songs, using only his mouth and a microphone. “I was like, ‘whoa! humans can do this?’ After that I started to practice. I wanted to become that forever,” he said.
While most people are receptive to his talents during their daily commute, GVSBeatbox said others aren’t into it. “I do get a lot of compliments. Some people just really love it. But there are some people who try to ignore me because they have had a long day. There are some people that just hate it. This is very few, but maybe like one person out of the day will try to heckle me, or say that it’s terrible,” he said.
But that doesn’t deter him from keeping it up. “There is so much love I get from other people, it’s such a minor thing to me [when people are negative]. I don’t really care. Plus I have to keep going because it’s my job,” he said.
When GVSBeatbox isn’t bearing the humid temperatures underground near the T tracks, pedestrians can catch him beatboxing on Boston’s streets. He has even started creating and composing his own music, and making music videos that aren’t choppy shots taken by people watching him perform.
He also has a Vine account set up so fans can enjoy his work in short spurts. “Performance is my go to thing. Wherever I have a chance to perform, I will be there,” said the 23-year-old musician.
Here are some earlier videos of the beatboxing busker on his turf at Downtown Crossing, captured by some other T riders who described his beatboxing as “amazing.”