By Senaya Savir, Staff writer, @SenayaSavir
In this year’s SEE Battle of the Bands, senior Joshua Leviton claimed victory, giving him the privilege of performing his biggest show so far opening for artists Jessie J, Logic and the Chainsmokers at the Art Attack concert May 1, an annual event hosted by Student Entertainment Events.
Leviton goes by the stage name “the Orthobox,” which is a reflection of his religious identity and his unique beat-boxing skills.
Leviton grew up in Hockessin, Delaware, in what he described as a semi-observant home. In high school, he became more religious. He said the qualities he found in the Jewish culture motivated him to try and become the person he wanted to be.
“Judaism certainly influences the musical choices I make in the words I choose and my appearance
on stage,” said Leviton, an aerospace engineering major. “When I am performing, I’m wearing the
black pants, a white-collared button-down shirt and my tzitzit (ritual tassels) sticking out.”
Judges selected Leviton from a pool of 30 applicants and performed a 20-minute set in the upcoming show. Because the show lands on a Friday night (the Jewish Sabbath), Leviton requested to perform before the holiday began at sundown. Thankfully, he said, he was able to work it out and although he could not stay for the whole show, he could open.
“Judaism will always be a part of my life and the decisions I make,” said Leviton, adding that he can never perform on Friday nights or Saturdays.
Growing up, Leviton played the trombone, the baritone horn and the trumpet. He said he always wanted to play the drums but was not allowed to learn because of the loud noise. In 10th grade, he searched for an alternative to his dream of playing the drums and picked up beat-boxing through watching tutorials in the early days of YouTube.
Leviton said his musical inspiration is a combination of electronica, dub-step and trap. He added that he tries to incorporate an a cappella feel to bring a little more depth to his beats.
“Music is personal, it varies depending on the person,” Leviton said.
On campus, Leviton participates in sporadic performances depending on what the needs are for an entertainer.
Maryland Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Ari Israel said he had heard Leviton perform several times, including at Hillel’s a cappella showcase in November.
“He is an amazingly talented and totally creative artist,” Israel said. “He defies expectations and blows people away with his raw capacity to inspire.”
Leviton also started a beat-boxing group on the campus called the Maryland Beat Box Institute and performs ‘jams’ on the mall from time to time.
Lucas Tax, a sophomore physics and astronomy double major, beat-boxes alongside Leviton in MBI.
“Joshua is an unbelievably talented beat boxer,” Tax said. “I’ve been beat-boxing for years and he makes me look like an amateur.”
Jason Langer, a senior finance major, spent a gap year in Israel with Leviton before enrolling at this university.
“When I was with him in Israel, he would perform on Ben Yehuda Street and raise a few hundred shekels in just a couple of hours,” said Langer, adding that Leviton would give that money to charity.
Langer recalls one time when reggae artist Matisyahu walked by and Leviton began to beat-box one of his songs.
“He turned around gave Josh a wave,” Langer said. “It was pretty cool.”
As graduation approaches, Leviton said he doesn’t plan on pursuing his beat-boxing as a full time career because of the risk it poses financially. However, he plans to live in New York City and work more closely with a few a cappella groups that have performed with him in the past.
“I have also been developing my YouTube channel, which I am really happy about,” said Leviton, who began his channel a few years ago. His tutorial videos have received the most attention, attracting over 200,000 views.
“He is definitely a hot topic in the UMD Jewish community,” international business major Mai Shachi said. “I’ve seen several of his videos on YouTube, and it’s incredible how many views he receives.”