Lo-fi rapper Beverly Bounce House is Alex Swartzentruber.
The 24-year-old Goshen, Ind., native first called himself Bounce House three years ago. On his 21st birthday, a friend gave him a card that read, “Beverly
But it wasn’t until spring 2011 that Beverly, or Bevy for short, braved the stage alone at Rachel’s Café where a friend and fellow musician asked him to play the
acoustic guitar for a show.
“I was like, ‘I think I’m just going to rap,’” says Bevy, smiling. “I don’t know, it was funny.”
It didn’t take long for the rapper, who has performed in genres ranging from pop-punk to experimental to folk bands since middle school, to release his two mixtapes on his Bandcamp account and a YouTube collection of more than 60 videos.
His Facebook following consists of almost 900 friends alongside a Twitter account with 304 followers.
Known for performing with his hype man — an individual who fires up the crowd for the main act — Kurdus Conrad at house parties, Bevy, at least as a rapper, has never been paid to perform.
Bevy transferred from Purdue University his sophomore year after he was unable to produce any music with people he says “weren’t weird enough for me.” After graduating from IU in 2011 with degrees in Spanish and English with a focus in poetry, he eventually began teaching English as a second language part-time at Learning Plus, Inc., a Korean institute in the same building as Rachel’s Café.
“You’ve got to build up enough of a name to get people to come up to your shows that are venue shows,” he says. “I play mostly house shows so people can come and see me for free, and they laugh and have fun and stuff.”
When Bevy did try to approach his music with a career in mind, he says he experienced writer’s block and became stressed.
His two mix tapes, which are downloadable for free, were released in 2011. Bevy’s first mixtape, “Sorry Mom,” was put online in spring 2011 and consists of 14 songs. Many of the songs are matched to YouTube videos Bevy films with friends.
In the YouTube video titled “TEXT ME IM DRUNK AND I DON’T WANNA GO TO SLEEP (EXPLICIT) PROD,” Bevy is seen sitting on the steps of his house with friends, sitting on the couch and standing outside, where he parodies Katy Perry’s costume in the “California Gurls”
His music on his Bandcamp site is tagged with “indie”, “lo-fi party rap” and “Bloomington.”
Lo-fi, a genre for music recorded with inexpensive equipment, features a low-quality audio sound. Until recently, Bevy began using a more expensive microphone on his MacBook Pro laptop.
The song, which accounts the experience of being drunk while hungry and bored, could end up on one of the many mix tapes Bevy hands out to friends or has yet to complete. Right now, he’s working on about five mix tapes, but he can’t remember exactly how many.
“It’s really scatterbrained,” he says.
In the basement of a house on the south side of Bloomington, a green light illuminates Bevy rapping the words to a song titled “Bounce House.” It’s his most viewed
Shirtless, hype man Conrad, who currently lives with Bevy, holds a microphone to his mouth. It’s after midnight, and the basement is hot, loud and full
Conrad has known Bevy for about 15 years and has been making music with him since middle school.
When Bevy performed with other hype men, it didn’t click, says Conrad, who joined Bevy as his impromptu hype man at Jake’s Nightclub one night.
Although no one in Bevy’s family is musically inclined, living in Midwest suburbia led Bevy and his friends to amuse themselves with
Bevy, who is part European, Native American Indian, Mexican and Chinese, says that for a while he didn’t have the confidence to rap because of the stigma of being a Midwestern white rapper.
“He raps a lot about the Great Lakes, the Midwest, things like that,” Conrad says. “The seasons, pretty things. It’s all
Nathan Siery, former guitarist of the post-rock band Clouds As Oceans, says Bevy’s music is about being nice to people, as evidenced by the song “Be Nice (Produced by Chode)” on “Sorry Mom.”
“He also kind of, I don’t know, he makes a very intelligent point of view and mixes it with the kind of party rap style that he does, too,” Siery says.
Bevy’s second mix tape, released in November 2011, consists of music by Clouds As Oceans mixed with Bevy’s beats and rap lyrics.
Although Bevy has performed at the Bishop Bar and the Bluebird with Clouds As Oceans, Siery says most people will be more inclined to attend a performance at a
“It’s tough to make the transition to get people to actually pay to come out to your show,” Siery says.
Although Bevy’s songs tend to be on the sillier side, Siery says some of his lyrics allude to more serious subjects related to pop culture and life experiences.
“I think it just kind of comes from his experience and of being kind of this party figure and rapper in town,” he says. “He kind of takes the world with adifferent approach.”
During the summer, Bevy says he has performed at fewer house parties than during spring semester, when he would sometimes perform twice
Right now, Bevy is also working on a mix tape of 60 one-minute songs for the drinking game Power Hour, a game in which participants drink a shot of beer every minute of an hour.
“I don’t believe in taking myself too seriously,” Bevy says. “I feel like that’s what I want from a performance, or I feel like the best possible scenario would be half and half. It’s not fully comedy, but it’s not fully serious. Because that’s how life is, pretty much.”