Tom Thum and Jamie MacDowell. Picture: Supplied

In Perth early ahead of his shows with Jamie MacDowell, beatboxer Tom Thum is quick to prove his multi-tasking skills as he talks about his career while riding a hire bike along the coastline.

Brisbane-raised Thum travels the world wowing audiences with his innate ability to make inhuman noises using nothing but his mouth.

Like many contemporary vocal percussionists, he first discovered the craft at a young age through old-school rappers like Doug E. Fresh and the Fat Boys.

"I had always been a noisy kid, and I had always been very starved for things that interested me," Thum recalls. "One day after listening to some old-school hip-hop tapes, I realised that it was people making the noises and not drum machines, it very much appealed to my hyperactive side because I didn't need anything to make this music except my face."

Once Thum mastered the beats, he delved into the origins of hip-hop and started to learn how to recreate jazz, funk and soul songs using only his mouth and a microphone.

"Because I've always been into hip-hop, I've been interested in where the sounds came from and all the beats, so once I realised that it was sampled from other musicians, I started searching for a lot of different sounds to explore," he says.

Thum was acknowledged for his ability when he led a Technology, Entertainment, Design presentation last year at the Sydney Opera House.

The resulting YouTube video has garnered almost 11 million views, making it one of the most watched TEDx talks of all time.

Thum's debut Perth shows see him team with singer-songwriter MacDowell, who he met when

they were both part of the circus/hip-hop collective

the Tom Tom Crew.

"We toured with the Tom Tom Crew for so long before we started playing music as well, Jamie was an acrobat, so we definitely bounce off each other a lot," he says.

"We've tried to change our show up so it is not just a stock-standard musical performance. We kind of want to make it something that is engaging, even if people don't know any of our music - we want to encapsulate that whole live-on-stage vibe."

The West Australian

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