Adam Test, aka Fogatron, beatboxes for a packed Red Onion at a Tuesday open mic he hosted. Katie Emmets
on the Skagway Music Scene
By JOSEPH STEPHENSON
Captivating, mesmerizing, and mind blowing are accurate words to describe Adam Kristopher Test, aka Fogatron, and his beatboxing performance as he hosted open mic at the Red Onion Saloon on August 21.
I kept wondering where he was hiding the didgeridoo or the drum machine because I couldn’t believe the simultaneous multitude of sounds coming from one man’s voice. Fogatron’s natural rapport with his audience also makes him very fun to watch. I grew up in small town South Dakota and have spent most of my adult life in either Skagway or in foreign countries, so it might not surprise you that I know nothing about the beatboxing world.
Thankfully, Fogatron filled me in.
What exactly is beatboxing?
Humans making beats and music with their mouth. Beatboxing as we know it today is trying to sound like a beat box, a beat machine, or a boom box of the hip hop genre. I’m guessing it came from the traditional A Capella groups that were beatboxing on a basic level with vocal harmonizing and using the original instrument – the human voice. What I think happened is that technology started advancing and people started mimicking technology and that’s where we are now. Like humans mimicking sounds for people to rap to. To me beatboxing is creating sounds in rhythm. That’s what I would say, but some might argue that Michael Winslow is a beatboxer.
I was hesitant to ask you for fear of being rude, but I totally wanted to ask you if you are a fan of Michael Winslow from the Police Academy movies.
The most commonly asked question I get after a show is do you know Rhazel and do you know the guy from the Police Academy movies. Rhazel is probably the most popular beatboxer in the world. He has a famous song called “If Your Mother Only Knew,” which anyone who’s into hip hop knows. So pretty much after every show someone will ask me if I can do that song. Michael Winslow is amazing with making sounds. He definitely knows how to beatbox and he has an album, but he’s more of a professional sound effect guy.
Do you do any sound effects?
I actually do Michael Winslow inspired airplane bells, that I sometimes put into my beatboxing.
Is there a common terminology for certain sounds that beatboxers make?
It’s talked about as drums. What you’re doing is drumming. People also call beatboxing vocal percussioning. So kick drums, snare drums, high hats, symbols, baselines, the basics of drumming. I like creating and performing. I feel something special when I create something for the first time.
How did you discover Skagway?
My dad’s best friend has lived here since before I was born, so he was either coming to visit us in Portland, Oregon, where I was born and raised, or we were coming here to visit him. The first time I came here was when I was five, but I remember it like it was yesterday, because I got a train whistle.
Did you perform in Portland?
My last performance was at a show called Entertainment For People, which is a popular show in Portland. After I did that I got invited to tell a story at the PDX Back Fence show, which is put on by the same people and is specifically an adult storytelling show. It’s much like the radio show the Moth with Dan Kennedy which is super popular. The Back Fence show that I did featured Dan Kennedy, and my story was popular enough that Oregon Public Broadcasting is actually doing a special feature on it and they’re going to feature my story on it.
How’d you get the name Fogatron?
I used to wear glasses. In the seventh grade I wore the Wayne’s World Garth glasses. I wore them because I loved Garth. They used to fog up and this guy Scott called me Fog when we were outside a Winterhawks game. It’s a hockey team in Portland. When we went inside the stadium my glasses were all fogged up and Scott was like “Hey Fog.” I loved it. It just stuck. I started referring to myself as Fog. I told my friends to call me Fog. I wrote it on my school papers. And then I just adapted it.
How do you like hosting the Red Onion open mic?
It’s been kind of fun for me because I started my whole career as a beatboxer at open mics. I was 19 when I performed for the first time and it went really good, so I started going to more open mics, and then I started battling. Hip hop has its roots in battling. Whenever there was one I’d go to it.
Did you dominate?
I always won. In Portland I did. I kind of got a little ego from it. Then, I battled up in Seattle and got humbled by two people: an audio poet and a guy who got second on American Idol. He’s a singer and also a beatboxer. A great beatboxer. Blake Lewis, that was his name.
Besides hosting the occasional open mic, Fogatron has entertained this summer at several shows at the Red Onion Saloon including the Skagway Arts Council fundraiser and the Corset Show. You have one more chance to hear him perform this summer. He’ll be opening for me at the Skagway Brewing Company on Thursday, September 20, and you don’t want to miss it. For more information about Fogatron, visit his website at www.fogatron.com.
SKAGWAY ARTS BEAT
Arts Council season off and running
There will be plenty of activities to keep you busy through the non-tourist season if the Skagway Arts Council has anything to do with it. Their presenting season will start out on Sunday, September 16 at 5:30 at the Historic Glacial Lounge at the Westmark Hotel with the Annual Membership Meeting. Refreshments will be served and alcoholic beverages can be purchased. This is a great opportunity to renew your membership (all memberships expire on 9/16/12) or join as a new member; plus you can vote on the Board of Directors for next fiscal year. In addition, all new and renewed members will receive a voucher to attend FREE OF CHARGE the first live music concert of the season presented by acoustic guitarist John Lilly, which begins immediately following the conclusion of the annual meeting.
John Lilly Concert at Westmark
Join us on Sunday, September 16 at 7 p.m. at the Historic Glacial Lounge at the Westmark Hotel and experience the Americana, country roots and traditional folk music of John Lilly, a multi-talented acoustic performer from Charleston, WV. He writes new songs that sound as old as the hills and performs older songs like they were made yesterday. According to one reviewer, "If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he'd be John Lilly." Admission $12; members are FREE!!! Note: All Skagway Arts Council memberships expire on 9/16/12 but may be renewed at the Annual Membership Meeting held just prior to this concert at 5:30 pm, same location. Learn more about John Lilly at his website www.johnlillymusic.com.
Tracy Spring End of Season Concert
Relax and celebrate the end of the season on Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the AB Hall at a concert presented by Tracy Spring. There will be an opening act (TBD) followed by the concert which includes performing songwriter Tracy on guitar and a bass player. Tracy is known for her compelling vocals and versatile guitar playing, and has been compared to Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, kd lang and Yo Yo Ma's cello! Admission is $12/ $10 for SAC members. Learn more about Tracy Spring at her website www.tracyspring.com.
Keep your eyes open for information about the following events that are in the planning: November 2, CR Avery and Robert Sarazin Blake (acoustic guitar, storytelling, slam poetry, beat box, adult content); Perseverance Theatre Weekend Trips to Juneau to attend performances of either Of Mice and Men (with Brandon Demery as Slim) or Oklahoma (with performances by Margeaux Heaton Ljundberg and Allison Holtkampt); December - Marian Call (a Juneau singer/songwriter) will present a non-traditional Christmas concert; February 23, 2013, The Good Lovelies (female folk trio); March 2013, Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers; and a variety of arts workshops that will begin sometime in October. Anyone interested in participating in the Perseverance Theatre Group trip to see Of Mice and Men on the weekends of either September 22, 29 or October 6, please contact Dottie at 983-2248. Visit us at www.skagwayartscouncil.blogspot.com. – SAC