Sculpting voices: an interview with Grace Savage

GS David Gilkinson photography

One of so many highlights from the recent Dizraeli & The Small Gods gig at The Boileroom Guildford was supporting artist Grace Savage. Singer songwriter and beatboxing champion, Grace mesmerised and thrilled the audience with her skills in the craft of beatboxing but also with a wonderful and engaging vocal performance which radiated from her equally impressive songs. Knowing next to nothing about the lady before she stepped on the stage that night, we thought we would learn more by letting Grace herself reveal all in an interview which she very kindly agreed to.

Hi Grace, thank you for taking time to chat with us.

Having just seen your wonderful performance at The Boileroom in Guildford supporting Dizraeli & The Small Gods, the first question has to be where have you been hiding up until now? 

I’ve been working with Producer Dee Adam in the studio over the past year, developing the sound of the album and doing very low key gigs around London…I’m just about being unleashed into the big wide world of announced gigs now!

What inspired your hunger for music and also beatbox?

Most of my performance experience is rooted in theatre; I started going to stage school at about eight years old and it was there that I had my earliest experiences of learning and performing music. It was around that same age that became interested in writing creatively and even a few songs… inspired by my biggest musical influence of the time – The Spice Girls. I even started my own girl band ‘Flash’ and auditioned people during lunch times at primary school!  I’ve not really had any formal training in music; I think I have grade one in piano, grade 5 in classical singing and had a few guitar lessons but I always eventually lost interest once it came to being assessed and graded. That all changed when I discovered beatboxing! There were a few beatboxers in the little town of Crediton where I grew up in Devon and I was lucky to be mentored by one of them who happened to also be my good friend and 2009 World Beatbox Champ, Bellatrix. She taught me the basic noises when I was about 16 and I caught the beatbox bug instantly. Two years later I found myself performing my first gig on stage at the QEH, Southbank Centre in London with Shlomo and The Boxettes for 2,000 people!

…And your biggest inspirations?

As a young girl with a serious lack of role models in the media, I have always been inspired by strong women in music. Early influences include Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Eva Cassidy, Alanis Morrissette, India Arie and Pink. As for the beatboxing, Bellatrix and Shlomo certainly played a big part in my development but right now, my biggest inspiration is probably Reeps 1 because he is seriously changing the game and pushing the boundaries of beatboxing. My inspiration for rhythms and beats comes from listening to a lot of hip-hop, dubstep and drum and bass but equally can come from everyday noises, if I hear something: a door, a police siren or a phone buzzing, I feel compelled to imitate it…I think it’s a syndrome!

I am right in believing you were singing and playing music long before you developed your other immense talent?gs3

I was playing guitar in an all-girl rock band at the age of 14 (with Bellatrix!) and was taking classical singing exams throughout my later school life but music was never a career choice or serious ambition for me. I went on to study theatre at Leeds University and that was what the path I had always planned on following. Things changed when I started working on projects as a beatboxer throughout my final year at university, as a result of that I decided to move to London and have a go at being a professional beatboxer. It was tough at first but I soon met producer Dee Adam and before I knew it I went from singing privately in my bedroom to singing on stages and officially pursuing a musical career! I had never actually sung in public until a couple of years ago. The thought of it terrified me. So it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster to say the least 🙂

From the gig alone we can see you are trying to combine the beatboxing and your songwriting and performance, is it an easy mix or two aspects you have to carefully craft in to a union?

It’s been a learning process for sure, especially in the studio. As far as the beatboxing is concerned, it was a challenge to find the right balance; we wanted it to sound authentic and recognisable as a human mouth but didn’t want this to compromise the overall muscle and punch of the songs.  Most are a mixture of beatboxing and programmed drums and so work together to create an organic but still hard hitting sound. Having said that, some songs have no beatboxing in them at all which is just as important to me as having it in – Beatboxing is a unique aspect of the music but the strength in the records comes from the left field production, emotive lyrics and soft vocal tones; first and foremost I want to be seen as a singer. The Beatboxing will have the most impact as part of the live Grace Savage experience. Ha. Did I just say that?!

First can we talk about the beatbox side, when did you ‘crack’ it so to speak and beyond being a UK female Beatbox champion which you were last year is there a limit to its potential musically?

I can’t remember a specific time when I suddenly felt like I had cracked it. It’s just something that comes with practice, it’s a gradual process and the more you do it the better you get. Getting over nerves and stepping on the stage to perform live is half the battle because beatboxing when you are short of breath is not easy! Being relaxed and feeling the groove is one of the most important things to remember when first learning, when I started relaxing I definitely started getting better. Whenever I start to think there might be a limit to beatboxing, someone does something to prove me wrong and the new generation of beatboxer’s are a clear example of that. Technically things have advanced an incredible amount over that last few years because as music changes and becomes more technical/electronic so does beatboxing. Reeps 1 just posted a video called ‘metal jaw’ where he beatbox’s heavy metal music which I never thought was possible! Having said that, unless you are absolutely exceptional, I do think there is a limit to beatboxing as a solo act. The beatboxers that are most successful and doing the most interesting work (in my opinion) are those that experimenting in different areas, theatrical shows, developing notation for classical concertos, dance shows, incorporating technology.

One imagines it takes constant work and practise to stay at the heights you have achieved, does this impact or distract from your other musical invention at all?

You have to be very disciplined if you want to get better and no matter how good you are you can always get better. I’m nowhere near where I want to be with it. I’m competing for the title of UK Champ again this summer and will need to start putting the hours in soon to refresh my material, construct new routines and learn new covers. But I have been so focussed on my singing, loop station and guitar playing recently; I have kind of neglected beatbox practice. Naughty Savage. Inspiration comes in waves!

Does it also place stress on what is your powerful and soaring vocal beauty, or is there a mutual use of vocal factors in both aspects?

Only certain noises in beatboxing are harmful to your vocal chords, usually involving throat bass which I avoid anyway…mostly because it sounds terrible when I attempt it! The physical power of Beatboxing comes from the plosive and percussive sounds made by the lips and tongue, breath is achieved quickly and often taken in whilst making a noise ( inward snare noise for example) whereas the power from singing is made using a different breathing technique entirely, deep and from the diaphragm.  So although I am using my voice and body as an instrument for both singing and beatboxing, they are very different disciplines to learn technically.

I will be honest and say I was expecting just a display of beatboxing on the night, not knowing of you before, so was wonderfully surprised by your outstanding vocal performance and stirring songs. Who has inspired that side of your invention musically and personally the most?

Within the beatboxing community creativity is respected and imitation is not, it forces you to be original and that mentality has certainly transferred into my music as well so I wouldn’t say there is anyone I am significantly inspired by in terms of musical or singing style.  People love to make comparisons and I’m sure they will but I really am just trying to be myself and hoping that will be enough. I wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for Dee Adam, she is a seriously talented producer and songwriter and her sensitivity & creativity combined with my odd little mind, we have managed to find the sound of Grace Savage, which I believe is something quite unique. But we will have to wait and see!

GSAre you a lone songwriter or do you work with others to create songs?

I’ve been keeping a diary most of my life and started scriptwriting a few years ago so have always been in the habit of observing people and recording my thoughts. Initially it starts as a lone process, sometimes it’s an idea, a verse, a title, an image or a story I’ve heard but once I take this to the studio it very much becomes a collaborative process and I’m very lucky to have developed such a strong song-writing partnership over the past couple of years with Dee.

Where do you get your inspiration for songs predominantly?

Relationships. I know, how predictable. Since working in the studio over the past year or so I have had a few for want of a better word ‘dramatic’ experiences within my relationships, these experiences have naturally bled into the mood and lyrics of the songs that we write.

Do you place a rich personal element onto your compositions then?

It’s important to me that the lyrics are personal and that I am singing from a place of truth.  A few writing sessions have turned unexpectedly into therapy sessions over that past few months! However, if every song related to a personal experience, it could become a bit emotionally exhausting. ‘By a Bullet’ is one of my favourite songs lyrically and that was written about the last woman to be hung in England, which I obviously have no personal connection with but we had to get into the head of her as a character in order to write the story. As a singer, sometimes you are bearing all and sometimes you are simply telling a story, lyrics can be a personal diary or a fabricated script and therefore sometimes you have to act.  Either way, if you are good at it, the audience will never know and I think that is fine, we all project our own emotions onto songs and create our own meanings for them anyway.

I believe your debut album is on the near horizon?

Yes, nothing happens overnight though!

What can we expect from the release?  Any clues or details you can reveal?

Beatboxing. Big Chorus’s. Freshness.

How did the link-up with Dizraeli and the gang come about?

I was asked by the promoter if I could perform as a solo beatboxer, I sent them my music as an alternative and they liked it. I actually know Dizraeli through Bellatrix (who plays bass for them) and also worked with him teaching workshops in primary schools a couple of years ago so it was a real nice vibe at the gig.

Tell us about your two companions on stage; are they a factor in your work beyond the live shows?

Yes, we write together too, it’s a really great team we have and I’m so lucky to be working with such talented and generous people.

Apart from the album what is next for and from you?

I’m performing at The Social on May 13th, As One In The Park festival 26th May and have just been confirmed to play at Kent Uni summer ball alongside Chase and Status, Labrinth and MistaJam in June! I have a music video for Wrecking Ball which is being released soon and I am performing at The National Theatre’s new space ‘The Shed’ throughout August as part of a verbatim musical piece called ‘Home’. It’s all go!

Once more many thanks for giving us an insight into Grace Savage.

Any last thoughts you would like to share?

Just a cheeky social network plug if I may 🙂

And lastly…who did that ironing board belong to? 😉

The keys player from Dizraeli’s crew!

Check out the live review of Grace Savage and Dizraeli & The Small Gods  at The Boileroom Guildford@

The RingMaster Review 17/04/2013

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Kill With Hate – Voices Of Obliteration


From making an immediately contagious introduction at its start to ending up as one of the most enjoyably violating brutal romps to come along this year to date, Voices Of Obliteration the debut album from Hungarian death metallers Kill With Hate is an album all extreme metal fans should make an acquaintance with. From its mighty start the album is a constant treat with extra fires of quality emerging throughout and though it is questionable as to how much originality the Budapest quintet has forged into their release there is no denying it’s invigorating and thrilling impact.

Formed in December 2007, the band took no time in becoming a potent presence in the metal underground scene of their homeland. Sharing stages with bands such as Onslaught and Moonsorrow, Kill With Hate released their first EP in 2010. Evolution of the Beast was well received from fans and media and helped lead the band into playing with the likes of Job For A Cowboy, As I Lay Dying, and Belphegor. Some line-up changes followed as well as the chance to support The Black Dahlia Murder in 2011, followed by shows with Origin, Psycroptic, Leng Tch’e, and Cannibal Corpse over the next year. 2012 also saw the band record Voices of Obliteration and at the beginning of this, they signed with PRC Music for its CD release.

After the ok intro Revelation (It’s Just Murder), only really notable for its didgeridoo and male cloister union, the album kicks kwh_lowoff its corrosive tempest with Submersion. The track falls upon the ear with riffs and intensive rhythms crowding and abusing their recipients. Taking a brief breath for the grooves and intensity to stake its claim the song explodes again into a tirade of bone snapping drums punches from Bence Turcsák and deliciously insistent riffs and grooved temptation from guitarists Ákos Olt and Márton Hartvig. All the while the bass of Patrik Pornói prowls with predatory malevolence to further intimidate whilst the guttural scowls of Krisztián Gyémánt reap caustic treachery with the lyrical intent to exhaust the emotions further. With a latter flame of sonic melodic teasing which is enjoyable if short on impact, the track is a very satisfying murderous confrontation with destruction on its mind.

The short roll of crisp drum raps aligned to a deep bass groan opens the way for another furnace of violence from The Beast Within. The track is an outstanding carnivorous fury with  death and black metal styled vocals unleashing their dual malice upon a driving energy of riffs and vengeful rhythms. Unrelenting and merciless, the carnage of the torrential hellacious drumming and equally demanding and imposing riffs taking its toll on body and psyche, it simply leaves a wasted carcass grinning from ear to ear in its wake. At this point the album has made a strong persuasion and ignited greedy passions which the following Servant of God, Epistle of Fire, and Pray for War confidently and competently continue. Fair to say the trio of songs do not live up to their predecessors or others to follow but all leave a depth of pleasure and accomplished temptation which for many other releases would be their highlights.

A new heightened barrage of vindictive enterprise breaks free within Doubt to return the experience to the levels forged at the beginning and take them beyond. A ravenous sacking of the ear coursing with the now expected ferocity from the band and their imagination, the song wrongs foot by going against type with a scintillating twist of melodic guitar and similarly gaited bass lines  which offer a rock voice within the cavernous aural vehemence around and above them. It is a surprising and exhilarating thrust of invention within ultimately a tsunami like blitzkrieg. Imprisoned then takes over to offer an individual and equalling marauding storm of invasive spite. Mixing up vocal styles again as well as rippling with sonic intrigue and mastery from the guitars, the riff and rhythm incursion chains and enslaves with blistering efficiency. It is a maelstrom of energy, sounds, and black hearted passion honed into a tumultuous and inescapable nasty pleasure.

Completed by Speeches of the Defendant and a decent cover of Internal, a song of old Hungarian death metal band Extreme Deformity, Voices Of Obliteration is an excellent album from which it is hard to find anything not to hungrily like. Originality is debatably scarce maybe but the great sounds and violently aggressive encounter given, more than makes up for it. With this album, Kill With Hate is poised to find awareness well beyond their home borders one suspects.


RingMaster 17/04/2013

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Pyrithion – The Burden of Sorrow EP


Put As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis with two exceptional guitarists and a desire to explore the heaviest sounds possible and you get the impressively tormenting confrontation of Pyrithion and debut EP The Burden of Sorrow. The three track slab of maliciousness is a monster of a violating rampage upon the senses, a trio of songs which are corrosively compelling as they creatively carve up of the senses and then spew out of the debris.

In his own words vocalist Lambesis has said “I have wanted to do a heavier and more traditionally metal band for a while. Being that I own a recording studio, I thought a great place to start was by asking my engineer who the best guitar player is that he has recorded. I wanted to team him up with one of my favorite guitar players growing up.” The result was the bringing in of Ryan Glisan from Allegaeon and ex-The Famine guitarist Andy Godwin, which has subsequently bred  a brutally impacting and equally promising new force to extreme metal. Released via Metal Blade Records, The Burden of Sorrow is an uncompromising and passion igniting furnace of cataclysmic rhythms, ravenous riffs, and sonically driven melodic ingenuity honed into a merciless and quarrelsome tempest of intense pleasure.

The release opens up reasonably restrained for the start of The Invention of Hatred, the guitars coaxing fires from the heart of Pyrithion - The Burden of Sorrow - Singlethe following fury ridden by the expected venomous growls and heavy squalls of Lambesis laying their distinctly intensive weight and presence onto the ear. It is mere seconds later that the track explodes into a torrent of energy and grooved inducement from the guitars, whilst the drums splinters bone with their mighty sinews and the vocals bleed spite and rasping viciousness with every syllable. Arguably there is not a great deal new going on across the surface, though beneath the sonic solo and sparking shards of melodic invention give evidence that there is an underlying uniqueness finding its voice, but as a confrontation and ferocious experience it could not be fresher or more skilfully accomplished, and before the track has laid down its final blow the presence and promise of the project is greedily devoured by the passions.

The following Bleed Out continues the carnal seduction, its hypnotic yet destructive rhythms and impressively varied textures of abrasion driven vocals recruiting the emotions with ease whilst again the guitars rampage and wantonly persuade the passions with insidious devilment and unreserved ingenuity. Neither Godwin nor Glisan try to steal the show from the intent and heart of the songs, but brilliantly stretch and evolve their presence with a craft and invention which is irresistible and strongly imaginative.

Final track Rest in the Arms of Paralyzed Beast lays down its welcome with a subdued and emotive breath, the guitars teasing the air whilst painting a narrative in the mind before hell opens its door to expel another leviathan of intensity and aural abuse. The most diverse of the three songs with a serpentine groove veining the plundering of the senses with intermittent heights of strength but a continual taunting of the ear, the song is unpredictable and magnetic within its ruinous intent. The break into a less consuming stretch which lies in tune with the start allows a breath to be quickly swallowed before the song re-ignites its predatory instincts for a thunderous primal ravaging once more.

Hopefully this is the start of much more to come from Pyrithion, the band not being just an occasional ‘supergroup’, because on the evidence of The Burden of Sorrow we are in for some murderous and exciting times.


RingMaster 17/04/2013

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