Guns, cars and lasers were the sounds of one West Kelowna beatboxer’s childhood.
Nuge Bird, 22, was featured as part of a Vancouver media company’s grant program, which aims to tell stories about fascinating Canadians.
For Bird, beatboxing came as a way for him to escape the violence in his childhood, growing up in a rundown neighbourhood in Saskatchewan.
“I just made lots of noises as a kid, so I would pretend to be a gun, a car, a dinosaur,” he said.
Filmmakers submitted more than 550 submissions and 30 finalists, including Bird, were selected to be part of True Calling’s documentary series on Amazon Prime and Dailymotion, according to True Calling’s media release.
Bird’s fascination with beatboxing grew after watching an A cappella group while on a school field trip when he was about 12 years old. It inspired Bird to use his voice to distract him from the other challenges he faced in his life, he said.
“Then I went to bible camp where I learned how to do a throat-based noise,” he said, “uns, uns, uns.”
Everyone would beatbox to the Truffle Shuffle from the American adventure movie, The Goonies, and he wanted to feel included.
He’s been beatboxing for seven and a half years, performing in West Kelowna and Kelowna.
Bird combines beatboxing with bad jokes, acting like a DJ while using his sense of humour to make the show entertaining.
“Paid performances I will get dressed up in a suit and underneath will be lingerie,” he laughed.
He’ll beatbox while dancing, taking his clothes off and reading a raunchy novel; all satirical of course.
Comedy and laughter saved his life, he said.
“Otherwise…I’d be a downer and I didn’t want to be like that, so I had to figure out a way to change my mindset,” Bird said.
“I just think laughter is such a great medicine and my culture is all about medicine, and having your own medicine is important,” he said. “There’s not just a silver lining, but there’s a gold lining and a platinum lining.”
He gets his sense of humour from his dad, Donovan Bird.
“He’s the one who saved my family and I, he saved our lives, he picked us up from Saskatchewan and brought us out here, it was the change that we needed,” he said.
“As soon as we moved out here to the Okanagan, things started to change for the better, I’m really grateful for that man.”
He also draws on his Indigenous background to create music.
“Throat singing, chanting and singing and drumming, those are all things that are in my culture, if you’ve ever been to powwow you’ll hear lots of that. I’m doing all of that, but with my mouth,” Bird said.
Bird lives on the Westside with his family, working part-time as a labourer while beatboxing on the side.
“It’s hard trying to get paid as an entertainer,” he said.
Bird hopes to inspire others through his music.
He beatboxes for the kids at the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, which they love he said. In 10 years time, he sees himself helping others through music therapy.
“That would be so cool. I want to be a big community advocate. I want people to know that I’m here to help,” Bird said.
Watch Bird perform on Thursdays at L’ Oven Farm Fresh Food in West Kelowna, starting at 6 p.m.