Have you ever come across something, or someone, that – to put it simply – blows your mind? You know that feeling of wanting to consume every little bit of information on it/them? Thoughts incessantly racing through your mind questions, answers, awe, disbelief, and maybe even slight rejection sometimes. Electrical impulses fire up your brain that’s as happy as can be with its new source of serotonin. Well TNCers, this is what happened when we first discovered Harry Yeff, aka Reeps One.
Reeps One began his career as a beatboxer and went on to win UK’s Beatbox Championship in 2009 and 2010. He has now expanded beyond the limits of being a beatboxer and has plunged into anything and everything voice-related. Now, one can say that Reeps One / Harry Yeff is a new media artist, researcher, and musician from London. A wildly talented multidisciplinary artist who specializes, and excels, in voice, technology, and performance. As a matter of fact, Harry Yeff might just be – and we mean this quite literally – the voice of the future. It should therefore come as no surprise that Harry Yeff, Reeps One, is our pick for this month’s instalment of The Next. Welcome to Vol.11 of The Next guys: Harry Yeff, Reeps One, The Voice Of The Future.
Taking into account the state of awe we find ourselves in, this might be a little less of a structured article, and more of a word vomit resulting from sheer elation and mental stimulation.
Why is Harry Yeff the voice of the future?
Whether he realises it or not, Harry Yeff’s research regarding the voice entails a delightful philosophical diagnosis regarding our lack of knowledge of our own limits. The British multidisciplinary artist reveals to us that we use a mere 20% capacity of our voice. His purpose on this earth? To expand this usage as much as possible.
Just how much of our capabilities are yet to be explored? This isn’t necessarily new, one look at the Olympics 50 years ago and today will tell you that we have pushed the limits of our physical capabilities and achieved things never before thought possible. Simone Biles, the gymnastics GOAT, is living proof. But more interestingly, Harry Yeff’s impact on human voice exploration is as impressive as it is significant. It has yielded the results that it has because he has dived into the voice not from its practical use of speech, but rather everything else sonically speaking.
That gets us thinking… What would happen if we explored our capabilities beyond their practical functionality? It’s one thing to be an artist that creates a piece that can be consumed and enjoyed by the public. It’s something else to spark waves of curiosity, drive, excitement, and deep fascination and questioning with what you do. And that’s what Harry Yeff, Reeps One, does. And that’s why his existence as an artist matters so.
See Sound and Second Self: Two projects taking the voice to The Next level
With his project ‘See Sound’ you can, quite literally, see sound. You can observe the visual fingerprint of a voice. Sound breaks the barriers of the limits it is confined to. Our perception of sound, once again, shifts, giving rise to a new perspective. In doing so, it allows us to understand it differently, to understand it more. Deepening our knowledge of sound, of our human voice, and subsequently bringing us closer to understanding this facet of being human.
Another one of his collaborations, Second Self, integrates machine learning and generative audio as means pushing the limits of his own capabilities. Helping AI to help himself learn from himself. Quite possibly the most stunning and reflection-inducing 4 minutes and 48 seconds we’ve experienced in quite some time.
Hacking the brain to use our voice to express ourselves beyond traditional speech
Harry Yeff is taking his expertly trained and elevated voice, to amplify the voice of those who struggle to speak up. By going outside the box of what we’re supposed to do with our voice – that being communicating via normal, everyday speech – Yeff and his work are opening up doors for others to express themselves using their voice. Because you don’t need words to use your voice.
What does this mean? Hack our voices? Harry Yeff presents the case of Remy, a young man who has a lot of trouble speaking and articulating, and yet thanks to the efforts at New York’s Lavelle School for the Blind has learned to beatbox. His speech is percussion, and with this knowledge, his articulation can improve as speech therapists treat words as percussion. There, brain hacked.
From foe to friend: Harry Yeff wants to flip the narrative on technology
Technology is so often juxtaposed against humanity. It’s almost striking to see it referenced as a “mirror that allows us to see ourselves and become more what we want to be, more human“. Once again, Harry Yeff flips the script on the standard perspective of life. Technology brings us closer to who we are, rather than the commonly held belief that it will lead us further away from what makes us human. And, therefore, from each other.
Reeps One is using his role and knowledge as a musician to redirect the narrative surrounding technology to encourage new relationships with technology. Globally speaking, technology is often inspected under the lens of science fiction or other uses that seem inaccessible, elitist and exclusionary in nature (think Silicon Valley or Tesla). And yet Yeff explains that technology isn’t any of these things, it’s something we all use every day to enhance our daily lives. We can use technology to deepen our explorations of the self, of humanity as a whole.
With this in mind, Harry Yeff’s goal is for people to become more human. That’s the purpose of most art, isn’t it? To explore ourselves, our depth as humans, or how far we can go, either physically or in our minds. But in a time when so much content is created for money and money alone, it’s refreshing to come across someone whose goals are so explicitly rooted in self-discovery, for his own benefit and that of society as a whole.
In a time where artists, and celebrities in general, have an increasing amount of cultural, social, and even political influence, observing the position of the cultural and social relevance of a creative such as Reeps One is somehow, emboldening. It feels right, it feels good. More importantly, it gives us hope for what’s to come. For how far we can go.
And if that’s not The Next, we don’t know what is.