THePETEBOX on The Voice UK, Working With, and Beat the Streets

Photos: George James
Interview: Gemma Cockrell
Tuesday 20 February 2024
reading time: min, words

Nottingham’s Pete Sampson, aka THePETEBOX, has been making music for about the same amount of time that this very magazine has existed. Now based in London, the 2023 semi-finalist of The Voice UK chats to us about being coached by, his appearance at Beat The Streets, and what’s coming up for him in 2024…

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How are you feeling now that The Voice UK has aired?
It all gets pre recorded, so it was a while back now but I'm feeling really good about it. They gave me a nice amount of time on the show and I went exactly as far as I'd hoped to. I didn't want to go any further, you know, record deals and things like that. I’m just proud of myself, and I made my family proud. 

If you didn’t want to win the record deal at the end, what was your motivation to do the show in the first place?
I think it was just an opportunity to reconnect for myself as a musician. Because I didn't feel like one for a long time. The show is good - I get asked by Britain's Got Talent a lot to go on. I would never touch it. I don't really agree with how they do the show. Same with The X Factor. But the way they asked me was really nice. They just absolutely gave me space to do what I wanted, to say what I wanted, wear what I wanted, and just to have some fun - it was the perfect environment, it did me no end of good. It means a lot to see these things through, for both me and my family.

Your coach,, lets all his artists select their own songs to perform, which is different to how the other coaches on the show operate. Is that why you picked him?
He’s just cool, isn’t he? All four coaches turned for me, and then they asked me to be on their team, but when it was his turn, he just beatboxed. I thought that was cool. He just got it! He just gives people the space to do their thing, with encouragement. 

What was it like working with him?
It’s a TV show so most of that part of the show is just for the TV. I was very aware of the fact that I was just joining that little bit of circus. You don't really work together, you just have a few chats - he went “Pete, as your mentor and as a fan, I think whatever you do is going to be right.”

Did you ever see yourself doing TV?
I wouldn't have thought to reach out. I said no to begin with, because I know how brilliant the singers are on that show. Any clips I’ve seen, it’s just like wow, that’s legit. And then I got this really nice message back from someone on the show so I just thought I’d go for it. I hadn’t planned on it but when the opportunity came and I got my head right, I thought I’d just go with it. 

Nottingham’s LYVIA was the first spoken word artist to do the show in 2022, and now you were the first beatboxer a year later. What was the reaction to you doing something so different that the show hadn’t heard before like?
I didn’t really think about it! People reacted well, I have seen some comments saying ‘What’s going on?’ but that’s the reaction that I hoped for, really. 

Have you watched the episodes back?
Yeah, I watched the episodes and stuff. I got to know a few other people that are on team Will so you start to follow them and want them to do well. It’s a cool show, there's a lot of integrity for what it is. I would recommend it, with the way that they treated me and dealt with the artists and stuff, I would do it again.

It's got that little bit of credibility compared to those other shows that bully the contestants. I didn't want anything to do with that, but The Voice UK just offered a lot of support. I was actually in a bad place when I was filming it and they were really caring and kind, so respect to them. The first thing that they do is provide you with links to mental wellbeing people.

That’s great to hear. Moving forward to 2024 now. You’re set to appear at Beat The Streets at the end of January, which will already have happened by the time this article is out, but what do you have planned for your set there?
My brother CJ Mirra Maze will be there and also the band Panchiko who are really good friends of mine. Andy from Panchiko is my best mate ever - he was in a band I was in with John, my brother, as well. So, it's just gonna be wicked for that. My best mates since junior school and my brother - doesn't get much more family than that! And they’re both doing wicked, it’s ace to see. I can't ever be happy enough for any of my mates that are smashing it. 

I'm gonna be playing tracks that I haven't really played live before. I made an album that went pretty big and then you kind of you go to shows and you start playing big shows where they want to hear the stuff that they love you for, which kind of takes over, but I'm gonna play a bunch of not necessarily new songs, but a bunch of songs that nobody has seen me play live before. And I've got a pretty sick set up as well.

You're based in London now. Do you come back to Nottingham often?
I’m back every so often, still have family here, mates, stuff like that. Nottingham will always be very special to me. People questioned why The Voice UK said I was from London and not Nottingham, but I was born in Australia! I’ve lived in London for thirteen years. But Nottingham is my stomping ground, where I cut my teeth as a musician, which actually is pretty huge for me. All the love for Notts!

It’s nice to have plans and goals to do with creation again - that feels good as it is

What's the difference between making music in Nottingham and making music in London?
Making music never changes. Since I've been living in London, I've just been sort of touring the world all the time. In Nottingham, most nights you're just out watching bands and hanging out with bands and recording - it’s such a strong, vibrant community. I guess because of the size of it, if you feel a bit more present in it. But that's just the situation and the timing of it. 

I saw you’ve been posting some short videos on social media recently showing how you create your music. Could you tell us more about those?
I have control over my socials, my YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. I’ve started to fire them up a lot. I live to do shows, but you can never really choose when you do that, but I'm on a mission to create content, which is a really sterile way of saying just make songs, making tunes. People are excited because I do have a strong core group of fans and they're letting me know that they're excited, so doing this kind of thing just keeps a bit of activity and I also feel like I really want to show people what I'm doing and I’m going to start talking about the tracks as well because people seem interested. 

I get a lot of musicians that use loopers on their voices who are making music and using techniques that inspire me… I'll meet up with them and they'll say, ‘I started doing this because of your videos, you know?’ That's like a really lovely idea, that there's this sort of cyclic nature to a fairly new kind of music creation. I get a surprising amount of video requests for videos from parents for their kids who wanna beatbox. I like the idea of giving people a bit more of an insight into something that comes across as quite a mysterious process. 

Have you got any plans to release an album in 2024?
I will be recording one in a couple of months, but that’s all you say about it for now - I’m creating a version of myself who actually sees ideas through. I’m not going to promise anything other than I have one written and studio dates booked, so we’ll go from there with announcing it properly. 

A big event in my life is that I am sober. I won’t go into why, but I’m feeling wicked. It’s new territory for me, I’m determined again and I care in a way that I didn’t for years. It’s overwhelming. I’m looking forward and I have plans. I don’t want to say dates or anything like that, or make promises, but it’s nice to have plans and goals to do with creation again - that feels good as it is.

You can find Pete on all social media platforms @thepetebox

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