Tom Thum
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Tom Thum

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Hip Hop A Capella




"Beat Generator"

Moments after completing the most important performance of his life, Tom Thum gave a gesture that seemed fitting: he leaped in the air and clicked his heels. The Brisbane-based musician had spent the last eleven minutes with the thousand-strong Sydney Opera House audience in the palm of his hands, entertaining TEDxSydney conference attendees with little more than his voice and a microphone.

“My name is Tom, and I’ve come here to come clean about what I do for money,” he said upon taking the stage in May. “I use my mouth in strange ways in exchange for cash.”

Innuendo aside, Thum’s description of his own talent couldn’t be more apt. Beatboxing — a technique rooted in using the human voice as a percussive instrument in the absence of a boombox or a drum kit — is a highly specialised skill within hip-hop culture, and one that has proven almost impossible to cross over into the mainstream. Yet through a freakish ability to accurately mimic musical instruments and layer intricate compositions, allowing him to replicate the vibe of a smoky jazz dive or Michael Jackson’s signature hits – among many other unlikely and impressive feats – the 28-year-old has connected with a mass audience.

The standing ovation was enough to prompt a celebratory heel-click, but the best was yet to come: in the hours that followed, his vocal talents contributed to an impromptu jam session with guitar virtuosos John Butler and Jeff Lang, and he was approached by Audi Australia representatives to star in an online advertising campaign that saw Thum mimicking the vehicle’s complex array of sound effects. Footage of the performance clocked one million YouTube views within two days of being uploaded in July. By the end of September, Beatbox Brilliance – so dubbed by conference organisers – had surpassed six million hits and become the most-watched TEDx video of all time. The boy from Brisbane christened Tom Theodore Wardell Horn had gone viral.


While the empty building bakes in the heat of an early spring day, the artist reclines in a well-worn office chair in a recording studio at Elements Collective, a hip-hop dance studio in inner-north Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. He tweaks the vocal mix on a local MC’s debut album at high volume while hunched over a Macbook. Navy curtains block out the sunlight; a bold, colourful graffiti mural dominates the back wall. Wearing long pants, a baggy black shirt and silver sneakers, the jetlagged artist is enjoying his second full day back in the Queensland humidity.

Some of Tom Thum’s appeal can be ascribed to his gregarious on-stage nature. In the video, he comes across as a personable extrovert who revels in the ability to share his talent with the middle-aged audience, many of whom have probably never seen or heard anything like it. It helps, too, that the tanned, blue-eyed young man is easy on the eye; plenty of YouTube and Facebook comments mention his appealing appearance. It’ll disappoint those adoring female fans, then, to learn that he’s been in a relationship for three and a half years. “I think she likes my work,” he says thoughtfully. “But she doesn’t like the things my work makes me do.”

By this he refers to the fact that most of his year is spent on the road. The past several months have been devoted to touring throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and United States, performing both solo and as a duo, alongside Melbourne-based singer and guitarist Jamie Macdowell.

While Horn’s dance card has been packed of late – he’s spending a little over a week at home before jetting off once again, this time to work on a hush-hush project with a well-known American animation studio – it’s been a hard slog to get to this point in his career. Born at South Brisbane’s Mater Hospital on April 2, 1985, Horn attended Yeronga State School and, later, Anglican Church Grammar School in East Brisbane. “People always ask me if my real name is Tom Thum,” he says. “My parents aren’t that sadistic! Tom Horn would’ve been a good stage name; either that, or a porn star name.”

Horn is a true student of hip-hop, having embraced the art form in its four distinct elements – aural, physical, visual and oral – and excelled at each of them. His entrée into Brisbane’s underground hip-hop community began with taking an interest in graffiti writing in 1999. He started learning how to breakdance in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2001 that Horn heard beatboxing for the first time. “It was a couple of years after that until I realised it was something I could pursue,” he says. “I just really liked it, and worked at it. I never thought about it competitively; I did it because I was a hyperactive kid with too much time on his hands.” He was never diagnosed with attention-deficit or any associated disorders. “I just picked up a microphone,” he shrugs. “That was the medication.”

After graduating from Churchie and exploring the fringes of Brisbane’s independent music scene, Horn started a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at southside Griffith University in 2003. He sat in a crime and justice lecture and wondered, “What am I doing here? I’m a hyperactive little graffiti writer in a room full of aspiring cops! The second that I understood that no-one was going to force me to go to uni, I was like peace, baby!”

Horn gave up breakdancing earlier this year as a result of constant injuries and between 2007 and 2012 toured the world with Tom Tom Crew, a theatre troupe that featured five acrobats backed by three musicians who blasted loud drum’n’bass, dub and hip-hop. Horn has also released three albums as a rapper under the MC name Tommy Illfigga, an EP as Tom Thum in 2012, as well as a 2010 LP of beats as Crate Creeps, a partnership with fellow Brisbane musician DJ Butcher. Beatboxing is forte, though: his versatile voicebox won him first place at the World Beatbox Battles alongside compatriot Joel Turner in 2005; and in 2010, he was awarded “best noise and sound effects” at the World Beatbox Convention in Berlin.


One Saturday morning last November, Horn woke with a start in his rented Berlin apartment. His musical offsider, Jamie Macdowell, was about to leave to get a second key cut. The pair had performed together the previous night and come home, completely sober; a strangely quiet Friday for two young men in a foreign country. Suddenly, Horn broke the silence by yelling for his friend. “I went into his bedroom and Tom was reeling,” says Macdowell, 27. “He said it felt like there was a ten cent piece on his sternum, and an elephant was sitting on the coin. As soon as he sat up, he just lost his mind. The pain got so intense that he couldn’t talk or move. He fell back down onto the bed and was shaking. It looked like he couldn’t breathe.”

An ambulance took him to hospital, where he was admitted to a cardiac ward. His roommates were two elderly Germans. The pair listened to the doctor describe what had happened to Horn in complicated medical terms. “We couldn’t understand; we were nodding quizzically,” says Macdowell. “Tom got it before I did. He said to her, ‘is this the kind of thing that you would explain to someone who’d just had a heart attack?’ She looked straight at him, full of intent, and said ‘yes’.” The next day, Horn underwent an operation to put a stent in his heart; “a rollcage that stops your artery from collapsing,” in his words.

That near-death experience provided fertile ground for planting the seeds of artistic inspiration. “It was fucking boring in the hospital,” Horn says. Naturally, his creative mind wandered. While he couldn’t understand what the doctors or his roommates were saying, he was intrigued by the beeps, hums and whirs of the medical machinery that kept him alive. A key moment in Horn’s solo show is a layered reimagining of the sounds of the hospital, which gradually evolves into an evocative cover of Hearts A Mess, a 2006 single by chart-topping Melbourne musician Gotye, aka Wally De Backer.

To his frustration, the assumption that many strangers make upon hearing this story is that Horn’s heartrate must have been artificially boosted. This couldn’t be further from the truth. “Everyone assumes that, because I’m a musician and I had a heart attack, [I should] lay off the cocaine a bit,” he sighs. “No-one can tell me what [the attack] was from. I’d been deemed perfectly healthy by doctors. It’s not what you expect at age 27. Now I have to live on these medications – but at least I get to live on them. It gave me a great piece for my show … Everyone seems to think that heart attacks only happen to people over 60.”

Macdowell adds: “Tom’s the most sober person I’ve ever met. He’s changed a lot since the heart attack. His consumption of alcohol has almost completely ended. He eats really well, and tries to exercise. It’s really changed him for the better.”

Ever the perfectionist, Horn says he’s got four full albums of original material that haven’t yet seen the light of day due to his “inability to let go of things, and to call something ‘complete’. I’ve got a vault of music that hasn’t been opened yet.” He adopts the voice of a Hollywood mad scientist: “Soon I shall relinquish my pretties!”

With a few more dollars in his pocket of late, he’s keen to outsource some of the do-it-yourself ethic that has always surrounded the production of his own music. “I’ll still have 100 per cent creative input and control,” he says, “but I can be like, ‘okay, press record now! Drop the bass out of this, filter out that sample, boost this’. Because now I know what I’m talking about, I can still drive the ship without having my hands on the wheel.”


For those few months each year that he calls Brisbane home, Horn stays with parents in inner-south Annerley. His 60-year-old mother, Sue, admits that the cloud of noise that surrounds her eldest son can be irritating.

“Especially if you’re watching something really good on TV, one has to be very patient,” she says. “I think if he lived at home all the time, it could be quite difficult. [This living situation] probably works well for us all.” The former nurse and her husband Murray, a forensic scientist, occasionally fret about his chosen career in the performing arts. “I’m not really happy about it, because I think it’s not a terribly stable industry. But he’s his own person. We have no influence,” she laughs. “We frequently have these discussions.” Are they playful discussions, or serious? “Playfully serious,” she replies. “Tom doesn’t appreciate them at all! He went to uni for a year and said that was the greatest waste of time. But I think he does have a lot of talent.”

Macdowell agrees. “Tom is a prodigious noisemaker. He has no attention span for anything except beatboxing and creating sound effects. His practice is relentless. The guy just doesn’t stop making noise. It infuriates me when we’re on tour; I was okay with the European tour ending, just to get some silence,” he laughs. “But every time I think about saying something, or coming close to telling him to shut up, I remind myself that that’s why he’s so brilliant – he doesn’t stop.”

While Qweekend’s photographer and his subject explore the colourful canvases at Elements Collective, 25-year-old Alex Steffan slips into the studio, slides on a pair of headphones and listens to the latest vocal mix that Horn has spent the morning working on. He nods his head in approval. “He was always the most talented one of our group of friends; he always had freakish abilities with his beatboxing, breakdancing and graffiti,” says Steffan, whose stagename is DJ Butcher. “We’ve all been waiting for him to blow up. All of a sudden, the TEDx talk has let the world know what we’ve known for ten years.”

Throughout the photo shoot, Horn’s voicebox produces soulful trumpet tones, intricate beatbox phrases, and even a note-perfect take on Fly Me To The Moon. He’s preoccupied with perfecting his saxophone – “reed instruments are hard; I’ll get there one day” – and says that the hardest thing about making sounds with his mouth is in finding the instruments’ accents; their defining characteristics. The pluck in a blues guitar, or the woozy feel of its tremolo arm. The way the pitch slightly wavers in a trumpet when the player stops blowing so hard. The breathy tone of a flute. These are the sounds that Tom Horn studies and rehearses in a constant feedback loop that fills nearly every waking hour.

“People often ask me if I’m making a living out of beatboxing,” he says. “I reply, well, I’m making a ‘not dying’. I’m not hungry. I’m definitely not making a living in terms of the traditional sense of saving up for a house, a home loan, a wife and kids; an Audi …” he smiles. “I’m not rich monetarily, but I’m definitely rich in experience, and that’s my priority at the moment. I’m not earning mad cheddar, but I’m 100 per cent happy with my life.”

Andrew McMillen - Qweekend

"Tom Thum: Out of the beatbox"

You have to wonder what Mr and Mrs Horn must have thought about the noises that emanated from their son Tom's bedroom when he was growing up in Brisbane.
''Yeah, mostly from the shower,'' corrects the human sound-effects machine professionally known as Tom Thum. ''You start to wonder what your teenage son's doing when he's in the shower for 15 minutes and there's just'' - casually, he mimics a bowel-rumbling bass effect - ''coming out.''
With just his voice, the 28-year-old will create many more physiology-defying sounds, including smooth jazz trumpet, a humming didgeridoo, even the crackle of a record-player needle on vinyl, at his Sydney Festival show Tom Thum: Beating the Habit. He will also use a microphone (purely for amplification) and a sampler (so he can combine multiple sounds) but everything you hear will be created live in front of you.

''I learned about beatboxing through hip-hop,'' he says, ''but … if you were only to perform hip-hop beatboxing, that's like buying a boombox that only plays hip-hop records. I like to be accessible when I do my thing.

''I like to think of different ways I can sort of step outside that box and try to expand creatively, rather than just being that guy that jumps on stage for five minutes and does a routine. I wanna show people the possibilities. It can be a credible musical tool; it's not just a glorified party trick.''
It was, of all things, skateboarding that set Thum on his unconventional career path.
''A couple of guys at my school were into skating and so I tried to tag along with them,'' he says.
This brought him into contact with the so-called four cornerstones of hip-hop culture: first graffiti art, which he soon discovered went hand in hand with b-boying (better known as breakdancing). He then started MCing via his fascination with beatboxing.
Regarding hip-hop's fourth discipline, turntablism, Thum admits to having a go but being ''so bad''. Then again, beatboxing wasn't a skill he acquired overnight.
''It started off terrible … but I think 'cause I was so hyperactive and kinda keen on hip-hop it was just something that I practised and practised and practised and eventually stopped getting told to shut up and started getting paid.''
If it's all down to practice, does that mean anyone can learn to beatbox at his level? ''Yeah. I mean, I do a lot of community workshops and just try to show people what I can do and show how accessible and actually easy it really is, once you break it down.
''A lot of people say, 'Oh man, I could never do that, that's impossible.' No. Absolutely anyone can beatbox. Someone might not be able to make a [certain] sound that I make because my teeth might be in a different shape - but surely, the way their teeth are, they could make a different sound that I couldn't make.
''It's not whether or not you could do it, it's whether or not you have the dedication and the mindset to decide that dedicating 10 years of your life to making weird noises is a good idea.''
During those 10 years Thum joined forces with Joel Turner, who attained a modicum of fame after attempting to infiltrate the first season of Australian Idol as a beatboxer. They won team battles at the World Beatbox Championships in Germany in 2005 before Thum joined the acrobatic and acclaimed Tom Tom Crew in 2007.
When that group went, as he puts it, ''on a bit of a hiatus because everyone's having kids'', his solo career began to blossom, bringing us to the present day.
Did Thum ever think he could take his beatboxing this far - to the point of being invited to perform at reputable cultural events such as the Sydney Festival?
''Hell no.''

George Palathingal - The Sydney Morning Herald

"Tom Thum - Beating the Habit"


This was always going to be good. Having seen Tom Thum before, when he performed with the extremely athletic and exhilirating Tom Tom Crew, I was already well aware of his amazingly astounding beatboxing talents and ability to drive a show. What I was not quite so sure about was how he was going to carry a solo show for an hour as previously he had provided some captivating sounds to accompany some pretty impressive visuals. To be clear then here is what Thum does not do; backflips, strip off to his waist or launch into the air. What he does do is exude confidence and provide no concerns that he is capable of maintaining an hour long show on his own merits.

Whether it be a hazy, floating on air jazz trumpet, hissing hi-hat, booming bass drum, Julie Andrews on helium style vocals or the familiar and re-assuring crackle of old vinyl it would seem there is no sound Thum cannot convincingly summon up from his vocal cords. Armed only with an arsenal of basic equipment to store the sounds he conjures up we are treated then to remixes of ‘Tainted Love’, Rappers Delight’ and the, bemoaning the fact he still lives with his parents, original ‘Homestay Blues’. There is also a section where the audience suggest sounds for him to make and last nights requests included an imploding kitten-nice-and dolphins having sex. This section shows the dexterity of his talent and the fact he can respond at breakneck speed.

A short film followed about his time in rehab to purge him off his beatbox addiction-the beating the habit of the show’s title- and this section is well executed with humour and verve. It is then back for his closing section featuring a Terminator analogy which cannot fail to impress.

That is the thing about this show, there is little about it which can fail to impress and, indeed, some sections will leave you gobsmacked at the talents this young man has at his disposal. Thoroughly amiable and charming his natural insouciant charisma shines unquestionably through until the very end of the show. The other night during the preview shows I was in the toilets and heard a strange collection of sounds that I assumed was the toilets backing up-the excessive rain of late has provided uncertainties such as this- and rushing out the cubicle I ran into Thum doing the beatbox version of practicing his scales and vocal exercises and suddenly my fears were assuaged. Likewise this show will set aside any notions that the Fringe does not have something worthwhile to offer in 2012.

David Marren - The QuotidianTimes

"Tom Thum - Beating the Habit"


Tom Thum has been to the Edinburgh Festival before, as part of the vigorous Tom Tom Crew of acrobats and musicians. But this is his first solo show, and while the young Australian hasn’t quite come up with a structure that gives shape to his ability to produce almost any sound with his own voice, he does provide a lively hour of entertainment.
His beatboxing talent is extraordinary. With only a microphone, a loop machine and two other bits of nerdy kit, he can make music ranging from hip hop to Soft Cell to the sound of trumpets in New Orleans around 1938. In a sound effect challenge where he asks the audience for suggestions, he reveals he can also imitate dogs and cats fighting underwater and the bagpipes. Though not a glockenspiel, it turns out.
In the middle of his set, he shows a mockumentary about his addiction to beatboxing, shot in the style of a drugs documentary and featuring such cherishable scenes as one of him beatboxing while eating cereal. It’s great fun and his endearing personality shines through. But the best moments of the show are where he uses his musical talent to shape songs both alone and with his Tom Tom Crew companion Jamie McDowell. Fantastic.

Sarah Crompton - The Telegraph

"Tom Thum - Beating the Habit"


Part of Australian acrobat-dance-variety show the Tom Tom Club, 27-year-old beatboxer Tom Thum now brings his solo show to the Fringe. With the ability to conjure up a large variety of unusual sounds – bagpipes and a didgeridoo all show up — the Aussie no doubt has a unique talent. Along with a charismatic personality and the ability to use this to comedic effect, his vocal capacity will appeal to fans of hip hop and electronic music, but also works well in a family show.
The show includes a dubstep and drum & bass versus hip hop battle between Thum’s multiple ‘characters’, a demonstration of how he creates his sounds and an entertaining video ‘Beating the Habit’ – getting laughs by displaying the toll his beatboxing addiction takes on his friends and family at home. However, the amount of time Thum has on stage could possibly be utilised slightly better, as the performance works better when he displays his range of sounds, rather than giving the audience a lesson in how to beatbox.

Sophie Stephenson - The List

"Tom Tom Club"

“There’s a lot of squishy overtones that’s for sure.” This is the disgusting downside of having a cold when you’re travelling the world making noises with your mouth, Brisbane beatboxer Tom Thum tells Chris Yates.
Tom Thum is on the phone from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he’s been doing his show, Beating The Habit, a veritable barrage of sounds, noise and proper music made using only the sounds he can create with his vocal cords. The cold weather hasn’t been kind to our Brisbane boy. It’s a freezing cold Edinburgh summer,” he laughs. “It’s Brisbane winter times two. It’s pretty depressing. I’ve been doing shows pretty much every night.”
He excuses himself briefly to chuck a jumper on and he’s coughing really hard in the background. “It’s kind of hard to explain,” he says of Beating The Habit, the same production he’s bringing back home to the Brisbane Festival. “It’s basically everything I find amusing squeezed into an hour. There’s some stuff with a loopstation, some visual stuff, a lot of audience interactions and then stuff with just a microphone. It’s a whole mishmash of all the different facets of me as an entertainer I guess.”
While travelling the world earning a bit of coin from making noises with your mouth is not something a lot of people can lay claim to, another member of that club is the famous ‘funny noises from Police Academy guy’, also known as Michael Winslow. Tom says it’s something of an honour to get the chance to play some shows with him in Edinburgh. “Well it’s in the same venue as where I’m doing my show. He’s like the OG sound-maker. I’ve been hanging out with him backstage a bit and he’s a really nice guy. I hope we get the chance to collaborate on something, which will be really cool.
“The thing is, I’ve never seen one of his performances. The only thing I’ve had to go on was Police Academy and Spaceballs videos. I have trawled the Internet and can’t find a lot of stuff. I really want to pick his brain, but I don’t want to be rude. I know when anyone comes up to me and is like ‘How do you make that sound?’ I’m always like, well first of all you need to practice for five years and try and get it [laughs].”
Tom says this often comes up at parties, and it’s hard to nd a way out. “It’s like a gift and a curse sometimes man. As much as I love beatboxing, I hate looking like a show-off. Also, it’s my instrument. You can carry it around wherever you go, and you don’t get charged excess baggage, and you don’t have to plug it in or anything like that. But the other thing is you’vealways got it. I can’t be like, ‘Ah you know what man? I can’t beatbox for you at your party, in front of two of your drunk mates because I left my beatbox at home, sorry bro!’”
When he’s not in the guise of Tom Thum, he’s also been known to drop some rhymes under yet another pseudonym Tommy Illfigga, including a track on the newest Obese Records compilation, ObeseCity 2, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the classic mix that helped put Australian hip hop on the map. He also performs as part of the Tom Tom Crew, which features DJ and acrobats.
“I’ve just done a new record with Jamie McDowell, one of the Acrobats from Tom Tom Crew,” he adds. “When we were on tour I started doing drums for him when he would go to open mic nights, and it turned out to be a really cool dynamic. It was a completely different foray for me into a world I know nothing about, but it was great being the backing guy.”

Chris Yates - Time Off

"Tom Thum - Beating the Habit"

Beatbox talent Tom Thum to debut solo show at Brisbane Festival
TOM Thum's most precious instrument doesn't need a case.
Instead, the Brisbane beatbox talent says mimicking an entire sound studio of drums and synthesisers - with just a flex of his vocal cords - means watching what he drinks and getting a good night's sleep.
Back in town for the local debut of his solo show at the Brisbane Festival, following a stint at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Tom says he is delighted to be "flown around the world to make weird noises".
"I used to be a delinquent little hip-hop head, and then a couple of years ago I found myself performing on a Broadway stage," he said.
Over the past 10 years Tom has created a stockpile of sounds to wow audiences - including fire engines and bagpipes - but the 27-year-old refuses to rest on his beatboxing laurels.
"There is a section in the show where I ask the crowd for a sound they want me to make," he said.
"There were a lot of weird requests in Edinburgh for exploding animals and cats and dogs fighting underwater, so I'm interested to see what Brisbane audiences come up with."
With nothing but three loop pedals and a microphone, Tom says it is a chance to showcase "his weird niche".
"A lot of people have said that they failed to recognise any narrative, but it's not about that. It's more me trying to sit there and show off."

Kate McKenna - The Courier Mail

"Tom Thum"

Two thumbs up and more if I had them! Tom Thum put on such a display as to send my head into a spin thinking up superlatives that could properly sum up his hour long tour de force. Amazing, incredible, awe-inspiring, all close but none quite sum up the sheer brilliance of this young man. Beat-boxing is just one string to a thickly strung bow: Tom is a comedian, producer, singer, film maker and all round performer. Playing to a full house at the Visy Theatre, he instantly ingratiated himself to the crowd by confessing that he is a ‘mature age man’, currently taking the lifestyle choice to live with his parents. Laughs abound as he began to expound his unique vocal skill, taking us from ’40s Blues to Luniz ‘I Got Five On It’ layering his vocals on top of his beats with nothing more than a few Korg recording units for company. Looping and sampling himself to incredible effect, it was then time for natural history according to Tom; creating every noise from the burps of the primordial ooze to the wiz of the bullet train and wowing the audience as he did so.

Tim Goodson - Scene Magazine

"Tom Thum - Beating the Habit"

GOBSMACKING is a fitting word to describe this 27-year-old's art.

The self-confessed "Tourettic noisemaker" uses his vocal chords to create what seems to be an endless repertoire of songs, instruments and sound effects. From

The Sound of Music

and Marilyn Manson, to nightclub beats and a whistle simulated with his schnoz, Thum toes the line between man and machine.

Playful videos break up the eardrum onslaught, adding insight into his beatboxing obsession.

Nothing much has changed since last year's show which is a shame for fans in search of a second dose of "wow". A stint in Edinburgh did, however, result in an impressive bagpipe impersonation.

The sound effect challenge produces some classic crowd interaction moments too. No synthesisers, backing tracks or gimmicks - for first timers it is sensational, pinch yourself stuff.

Music ***1/2

Katie Spain - The Advertiser

"FRINGE REVIEW: Tom Thum - Beating The Habit"

THE Adelaide Magazine's verdict on the sonic youth that is Tom Thum.

Deluxe - The Garden of Unearthly Delights

The buzz
If you wrapped your peepers around Tom Tom Crew's acrobatics last year, you'll be familiar with the beatboxing skills of Brisbane’s Tom Thum. The man produces more noise than your average DJ… using nothing more than his mouth. Based on impressive past performances, expectations were high.

The vibe
The 26 year old pulls a crowd as varied as his vocal sound effects. The motley mix includes hip young beat boys, kids, adults, media types and even a gran or two. Tom uses video, step-by-step demonstrations and a Q&A to educate the masses and brings beatbox-first timers up to scratch. A cheeky home video likens beat-boxing to drug addiction and adds insight to his ongoing obsession.

Reality bites
Hollywood blockbuster theme songs, brass instruments… you name it, Tom beats it. Anyone with a short attention span may struggle to stay engaged for the full 60-minutes, but a well-timed dose of crowd participation reminds us just how difficult this art actually is. Wipe the spittle away and marvel… this young bloke may still live with his mum but he’s got one hell of a gob full of talent.

We’re telling our mates... take your mum - it'll be the last time she nags you about your annoying bad habits.

Verdict... 3 and a half / 5 Mall Balls

Katie Spain - The Adelaide Magazine


2014 Airways and Arteries - Jamie MacDowell & Tom Thum

2012 Pirates & Thieves - Jamie MacDowell & Tom Thum

2012 The Broken Window EP - Tom Thum

2011 Walk a Mile - Tommy Illfigga

2010 Tom Tom Crew - Tom Tom Crew

2010 Its About That Time - Crate Creeps

2007 The Unfiltered EP - Tommy Illfigga

Also appears on:

2004 The Trouble EP - The Serenity 

2004 Breakfast at Fatboys - Butterfingers

2005 Airheads Two Australian Beats & Rhymes - Various

2010 Six Books - Propher Rayza

2010 Audio Projectile - Dialectrix

2010 The Album - Adroit Effusive

2011 Found The Sound - Beats Working

2012 Bigger Pictures - Rainman

2013 Force - Force

2013 Legends Never Die - R.A. The Rugged Man

2013 Telling Scenes - Mantra (8)



Tom Thum challenges preconceptions of the capabilities of the human voice-box and reveals a unique form of vocal technique that spans an amplitude of eras and genres, with not an instrument, synthesizer, drum machine or sampler in sight. 


2013 - Most watched TEDx talk of all time

2013 - Nominated  - Best Music – Adelaide Fringe

2012 - Underbelly Edinburgh Award – Adelaide Fringe

2010 - Best noise and sound effects - World Beatbox Convention (Berlin, Germany)

2007-2010 - Voted Australia’s best all rounder – Australian Hip Hop Awards

2005-2010 - Voted Australia’s best beatboxer – Australian Hip Hop Awards

2006 - 2nd Place - Scribble Jam (Cincinnati, USA)

2005 - 1st Place - World Beatbox Battles, Team Battle, alongside Joel Turner (Leipzig Germany)


  • Afrika Bambaataa     
  • Grandmaster Flash 
  • Michael Franti
  • Cut Chemist 
  • Hilltop Hoods
  • Blue King Brown
  • Sneaky Sound System 
  • Hermitude 
  • Bliss and Eso 
  • Rainman 
  • The Prodigy
  • Cee Lo Green 
  • Klaxons 
  • Kelis

Tom has also collaborated with companies such as:





Only in his mid-twenties Tom Thum has achieved and experienced more than most artists could hope to achieve in a lifetime. From winning the team battles in the World Beatbox Championships in 2005, to fulfilling every artist’s dream and performing on Broadway in New York with the Tom Tom Crew, Tom has seen his fair share of accolades and well and truly paid his dues. 

In 2007, Tom began touring extensively as the front man, beatboxer and breakdancer with the Tom Tom Crew - an energetic show, explosively fusing the worlds of Circus and Hip Hop culture. This has seen Tom and the crew perform with critical acclaim to sell out seasons in Brighton, Edinburgh, New York, London, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Berlin and Hamburg, culminating in a record breaking 23 sold out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. More recently the Tom Tom Crew has had sell out seasons in Berlin, Ann Arbour, Montreal, Adelaide Fringe, Bahrain & Bogota, Colombia. 

At Adelaide Fringe 2012 Tom debuted his solo show BEATING THE HABIT to sold out audiences and picked up coveted UNDERBELLY EDINBURGH AWARD which supported his 2012 UK tour beginning July at London's Southbank before he moved on to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. In 2013 Tom went back to Adelaide Fringe, performing to sold-out houses and nominated for best music show at the festival. The video of his performance at the prestigious TEDx conference at the Sydney has officially become the most watched TEDx talk of all time.


‘Tom Thum appears to have swallowed an entire orchestra and several backing singers’


‘There are not enough superlatives to describe the wonder of this beatboxing virtuoso - I am still trying to figure out how he got those sounds out of his mouth’


 ‘The mic master seems to have an orchestra living in his throat: trumpet blasts, guitar strums and samples from classic songs including Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" effortlessly spout from his mouth’



Band Members