James Burchfield

Human beatbox
James Burchfield is a human beatbox. Using only his mouth, tongue, throat and vocal cords, he performs heavy, layered, club-style jams that seem to come from real drum machines and lusciously scratched turntables.

Why you should listen

Outside of the hip-hop world, the art of "human beatboxing" was mostly overlooked until the droves came to YouTube. For that trend -- from obscure fad to open mic-night fixture to full-scale Internet meme -- some credit is due to James Burchfield. Known by the handle AudioPoet, the young artist was a main figure in Seattle beatboxing competitions and open-mics in the early 2000s, and then on larger stages like San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

For a musician whose goal is "enlightenment of the mind," Burchfield has a fairly concrete tack: studying the mathematical formulas that are the foundation of music. He brings that knowledge -- and an instinct for dance-friendly grooves that simulate seemingly impossible-to-mimic machine sounds -- onto every stage.

What others say

“A mind-blowingly inventive and agile human beatbox.” — The Stranger

James Burchfield’s TED talk