NEW YORK CITY - Jazz, pop, reggae, classical, rock. Music is everywhere: on the radio, on your phone - even in the headphones of a co-worker who, judging by the volume they set their jams on, you’d think must be hard of hearing by now.
Music brings inspiration to people of every walk of life. But what about when music becomes a passion, and turns into a way of life?
For Bjorn Hunstad, music has been part of his life since childhood. Now, the 25-year-old Moorhead native is making a name for himself - one beat at a time - and is fresh off being named the 2018 American Beatbox Champion.In the beginning…
Hunstad, who goes by Bloomer, attributes his beats to an early love for the drums.
“I actually started playing the drums when I was 9,” he says. “I took drum lessons and started making weird sounds with my mouth. Then, when I was 14, I heard beatboxing for the first time, and I have beatboxed every day since.”
Beatboxing is imitating the sound of drums with the voice - beatboxers use their mouth, lips, tongue and vocal cords to generate sounds that most would not expect to come from the human body.
After being introduced to beatboxing by his brother’s friend as a teenager, Bloomer began practicing daily. After graduating from Moorhead High School, Hunstad moved to the Twin Cities for a time where he performed at various open mic nights every weekend.
In October 2012, he competed at the first Midwest Beatbox Battle where he made the top 16, but lost to beatboxer BBK in the first round. Bloomer continued to compete, participating in seven American Beatbox Championships, consistently cracking into the top 16.
“When I started, I basically didn’t think this scene was even real,” he says. “I just watched beatbox videos and I looked up to (the performers) so much. But then when I started traveling to New York for these events, I started really being able to see myself doing it one day. So I started talking it really seriously and over time... It took a long time, but it happened eventually.”
Now living in New York, he finds the community, while small, is growing.
“(Beatboxing) is still a niche community, but it is pretty big view-wise,” he says. “There’s a big YouTube online scene and the World Beatbox Championship is pretty big. Asia has a big community, too. In America, there’s a few hundred of us active (beatboxers) I would say. It’s small, but it’s growing.”Becoming the champ
Showcasing the cutting edge in vocal music, the American Beatbox Championships bring together the best beatboxers in the United States each year to compete.
After seven consecutive years making it in the top 16, Bloomer won this year's American Beatbox Championships on Sunday, Nov. 11, in Brooklyn. Consisting of eight rounds of 90-second sets, he says the best part of the experience wasn’t winning - it was the camaraderie among all the performers.
“I have spent a lot of time thinking about (this event) through the years and thinking of this moment,” he says. “But at the end of the day, everyone is just friends. The competition is furious, but even onstage we are friends when we are battling each other. It’s just a fun time.”
Bloomer has some advice for anyone trying to make it big in beatboxing.
"Practice every day," he says. "Beatbox every day and be comfortable being weird. Once you get comfortable making weird sounds and having fun with it, the next thing you know, you'll be making crazy beats that people will be dancing to."