Leejay Abucayan (born December 5, 1986 in Sacramento, California) is a YouTube musician, more known for his amazing beatboxing skills. Also a part of three-piece group GLP (along with fellow YT musicians Gabe Bondoc and Passion), Leejay is also a UC David alum. Leejay has great aspirations as well as great advice for all you aspiring musicians out there!
How long have you been doing music for? Are you doing it professionally or independently?
I've been beatboxing since 2001, so... 9 years now. Wow, has it really been that long? I guess you could say I do it "professionally."
What style of music do you generally play
As a solo artist, I tend to gravitate more towards hip-hop and R&B, but in my collaborations with other artists, we tend to play… pretty much anything and everything. A lot of nostalgic songs that remind me of childhood, soul, R&B, pop, hip-hop commercial jingles, TV theme songs, whatever feels good.
How did you first get involved in music?
If we're talking music in general, I've been into music LITERALLY since I was in my mama's belly. My dad said he used to always play music to my mom's pregnant stomach while I was still in there, haha. Today, I'm the kind of person that always needs music, even if just playing in the background. As far as beatboxing goes, I picked it up originally as a hobby after hearing my good friend, Kevin Discipulo, beatbox for me face-to-face back in 2001. Watching all those sounds come from one person's mouth was enough to inspire me to learn how to do it myself.
What made you decide to starting YouTubing your musical talent?
I started my website, LeejayBeats.com, back in 2003, after coming home from the Austrian Beatbox Championsip in Vienna, Austria. Having a website, I was able to upload my own audio and video clips online for fans and supporters to listen and watch, so having online media was nothing new to me when YouTube came out. (Of course, I had no idea how much of a phenomenon it would become later.) When YouTube first started picking up popularity, I just casually decided to upload a few of my videos to test out the interface and see the kind of response I would get. Before I knew it, YouTube blew up and helped a lot of local artists gain popularity and exposure. Although I don't even consider myself a "YouTube artist," as I don't put a whole lot of effort putting my musical talents online (I use it more for my personal and humorous adventures), I somehow found myself in this circuit of "YouTube stars," as I have collaborated with a few of them. I guess I'm a YouTube Star by association, haha.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Oh man. As far as beatboxing goes, I'm really diggin' Beardyman, Eklips, Scratch (of The Roots), Otha Major, Killa Kela, and legends like Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, and of course, the original human beatbox, Buffy (of the Fat Boys). But since I don't like to limit myself to just hip-hop and beatboxing solo, I would say that I'm pretty well-rounded as far as musical influences go. I don't like to stick to one particular genre — I like to see beatboxing as a versatile artform that can magically work with just about any genre and style of music. Generally speaking, I believe any two musicans can play together if they can vibe together, regardless of background, genre, or style. It's such a universal language that doesn't even require knowing a person to communicate — any two strangers can make beautiful music together. Wow, I'm totally going off on a tangent here. That said, I listen to anything from John Mayer to Nat King Cole to Biggie Smalls to Hans Zimmer. If it moves me, it inspires me. And if it inspires me, it influences me. The beautiful thing about collaborating with other artists — whatever I can't do on my own, I can do with teamwork. Just like Planeteers combining to summon Captain Planet.
How does it feel to be getting all this support from people for doing what you do?
It's really the best feeling in the world. One promise I always make to myself is to never be afraid to show my personality and character, whether on stage or on screen. I grew up being told I was weird, and I feel like I haven't really changed much, personality and imagination wise, since then. To be admired and inspire others for doing what I do and simply being myself is really the most rewarding part of it all.
Is there ANY musician that you would like to do a collaboration with in the future?
OK, I know he's not a musician, but I would LOVE to someday... beatbox while Christopher Walken narrates over it. That would be my dream come true.
What has been your most popular cover on YouTube? Your most popular original song on YouTube?
I don't often sing or perform sitting in front of my webcam, but right now, a lot of people seem to be loving my somewhat morbid parody/cover of "Raindrops," a children's song made popular by Barney & Friends hella years ago. As far as originals? Wellllllll... I don't exactly have any "original songs" as a beatboxer. People tell me all the time they love me as the Tooth Fairy though. Haha, that's hella not a song.
I imagine you have a lot of music tastes; what do you normally play on your iPod and/or when you’re at home?
Oh boy. I get told a lot that I have the randomest playlist. I just like to listen to a lot of music that others wouldn't even think to put on their iPod. I have a lot of theme songs, motion picture scores, and outlandish mp3s I find scouring the Internet for hours. All weirdness aside, I love listening to R&B, soul, old-school, lowrider oldies, 80s hip-hop, 90s jams, megamixes, video game music, mashups, chiptune, other people beatboxing, live performances, super-cheesy pop & dance songs from the "Night at the Roxbury" era, and I'm trying to get into other stuff like dubstep.
Where’s the one place where you can go and get your creative flow going in order to write/create music?
THE BATHROOM. Honestly where all my ideas come from. And I'm not just talking in the shower. Use your imagination. Also... the car. Sometimes, I'll just shut off the radio during extended periods of time driving, and beatbox with a blank mind. Sometimes new material will magically find its way from the deepest regions of my brain and spitting out from my lips.
Who is your closest musician friend, and how did you two meet?
Ahhhh, too many. And to choose one would be rude to the others. I love all of you!
What do you do in your spare time when you’re not playing music?
I'm into design and art. I actually work as a digital media/graphic/web designer when I'm not performing. Also, I love going on food adventures and blogging them. (Shameless plug - check out my Tumblr page at http://leejay.tumblr.com!)
What do you hope to accomplish while being involved in music?
I just love seeing people smile and laugh when they see my performances or videos. I'd much rather be known for my overall personality, character, and humor than ONLY for my music. When I see comments on videos that say things like "this made my day"... THAT makes MY day.
Do you have any final words for the readers?
Stay inspired! And never, ever be comfortable in your craft. Keep yourself uncomfortable and always learning and growing. No single person can accomplish everything there is to accomplish so you can always improve and grow. The second you become comfortable in your craft, you become stale. Always stay hungry in the search for creativity and continuously feed your imagination. Network. Meet other artists. As my friend Charito says, make "musical babies!" You can always learn from other artists, as they can help you to discover abilities and ideas you never knew you had. Lastly... check my out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/lee
Thank you to Leejay for the interview, and thanks for reading, later days!