When Oakland’s Bosko Kante slips what looks like a glowing pair of headphones around his neck, begins tapping on a multi-colored pad on his phone and starts singing in a heavily treated voice that summons the musical ghosts of 1970s funk, it’s hard not to suppress the giant grin that wells up.
Kante is the inventor and chief ambassador of the ElectroSpit talkbox, a piece of hardware that vibrates the throat through an app to create a sound that sort of sounds like a cool singing robot. It’s Kante’s modern version of the classic talkbox used by musicians like Peter Frampton, Stevie Wonder and the late Roger Troutman.
The problem, as Bosko saw it, was the original talkbox was clunky. It required a box connected to a keyboard and the performer to jam a plastic tube in his or her mouth. Kante, a former mechanical engineering student at USC, figured there had to be a way to make it more portable and less invasive.
“We saw the future as being music — professional quality music created with your phone.” Kante said, sitting in an industrial West Oakland that serves as ElectroSpit’s headquarters. “So, we wanted to be part of that future.”
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