SOUND SEEKERS: Julia Dales at the Black Sheep Inn
Scene & Heard

SOUND SEEKERS: Julia Dales at the Black Sheep Inn

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

Ottawa gal Julia Dales will purse her lips, make bubble blowing motions, and move her face in such a way that she looks like she’s trying to dislodge a piece of food from her teeth, all the while unleashing blippy noises that don’t really sound human.

The sounds that come out of her mouth don’t seem to match the motions of her face and that’s what makes watching one of her beatboxing performances so compelling. Ellen DeGeneres thought so: Dales, 19, performed on her show and on MTV.

Her gymnastic vocal percussion skills are on full display on her YouTube channel, where Dales shows new techniques and performs beatboxed versions of tunes by Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

It’s a fantastic thing to see: a plucky teenager who displays a certain wit and style without saying a word. Her motor mouth talent has not gone unrecognized. In 2009, she won the World Online Beatboxing Competition, squaring off against more than 200 men.

These days, Dales is ramping up her other talent — playing guitar. She’s in studio recording fun little tunes about crushes, sung in a warm tone that would draw the Lilith Fair crowd. She incorporates beatboxing by adding percussive flourishes between the choruses and looping those noises into her songs.

“I have a board at my feet when I perform that has pedals on it. I can record myself beatboxing and then I kick the pedals so the beatboxing continues,” she explains.

“Then I begin playing my song on my guitar so that my beatboxing acts as the drum kit. I loop my vocal instruments and my guitar over and over until it sounds like each of my songs has a full band behind it.”

Some of the less prosaic, but practical tips she offers to aspiring performers is to drink lots of water when beatboxing, and “do not wear sticky lip gloss.” Dales will share these techniques as well as tips on spreading her music online when she takes part in Tedx Kids on November 9.

Friday, Sept. 2. 8:30 p.m. $10. Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr.,