His voice fascinates people and breaks stereotypes. It is a gift that has helped him transform his life, while allowing him the opportunity to give back to children who might be in the same shoes as he once was.
Mikey Mathaba exudes confidence. With his tied-up dreadlocks, million Dollar smile and strong, stocky physique, he immediately catches people’s attention when he walks onto the stage. The x-factor, however, is revealed when he opens his mouth and shares his smooth, sexy and incredibly talented ‘golden voice’. It is this voice that has made him famous as ‘The Human Sound Machine’ as he can impersonate just about any sound and hold an audience in awe with his mad beatboxing skills. “I love seeing people’s reactions when they hear my voice. People often think I’m a white guy when they just hear me and when they see me, they actually ask me to say something,” chuckles the Durban North resident who is one of the radio presenters on DYR 105.1 FM.
Seeing him in action on stage, it is difficult to imagine that Mikey was not always comfortable being in the limelight. “I used to be bullied because I had a weird physique and because of my passion for music. I was in the choir, but used to keep my voice down and never had the confidence to really be heard.”
The 27-year-old discovered his beatboxing skills during a youth camp in 2012 when the pastor asked everyone to present their talent. “I was so nervous. I didn’t know what my talent was. I panicked and closed my eyes. I heard an older voice say, “Mike, beatbox”. I looked around, but saw no one, so I closed my eyes and started a little percussion. I had this blurry image of Jesus sitting on a chair, grooving to my beatboxing. I never stopped after that. Now, every time I hold the mic and a new sound happens, I think about this gift that has been given to me.”
A year later, he took part in the local talent show, Gateway to Fame, where the event-co-ordinate and local artist, Shelley McClean, saw him and dubbed him ‘The Human Sound Machine’. “After the show, things just started happening for me. People asked me for my number and before I knew it, Chloe Clark invited me to her gigs as an ice breaker, I did some work with Veranda Panda and so my career climbed. Now, I love making noise,” says Mikey. The motivational speaker for schoolkids does not only box with his voice, but with his fists too at his private gym, Coach Mikey, in Durban North.
“The family my mom worked for as a domestic worker owned a gym and told me to start boxing and I just fell in love with it. Seeing how my body transformed fascinated me and I wanted to give back that power and feeling of being in control of your body to others. Now, I train Monday to Saturday from 4.30am with my clients. I have built amazing relationships with them and really invest in their lives as I believe in the importance of a holistic transformation. It is not just about losing weight and building muscle. Your soul needs to be healthy too, so we work through personal problems such as depression, divorce or bullying with functional training. I think I have a gift in listening to people and helping them and I try my best to do good with this gift. And my beatboxing!”
Details: The Human Sound Machine on Facebook and @humansoundmachine7 on Instagram.
Text: ELANA WAGNER | Photo: Val Adamson