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Pentatonix breathes new life into a myriad of pop classics on PTX, Vol. III. The world's premier a capella group takes on everybody from Ariana Grande to Stromae and adds their own potent and powerful spin to them. Moreover, they're readying a Christmas album, That's Christmas To Me for holiday release. They'll undoubtedly make their own classics with it too!
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix talks PTX, Vol. III and so much more.
How did you approach PTX, Vol. III? There’s a real cohesion to it.
That’s so interesting. Sometimes, we think, “Whenever we’re picking songs, we’re just picking songs that we really like”. We’re not sure if it will be cohesive. What makes it cohesive is not just the songs but our arrangement styles. This time, we had a more cohesive arrangement for all of the songs. I think it flowed really well. Some of the songs are more chant-y and anthemic. They have that vibe. Others are lot funkier like “Rather Be”. We added funky sections that we don’t usually do. Others are chiller like “La La Latch”. The arrangements style helped the songs flow well.
How did you know “La La Latch” would work?
That was all Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying. They absolutely loved “La La La” and “Latch”. They were close to the song. It took some time to put the two together. That was one of the tracks which took the most work in terms of the arrangement process. Figuring out how it would go was very difficult. We didn’t know what part of which song we would do. Once we figured it out, it felt right.
What was your take on “Problem”?
To be honest, that one had so many moments within the song itself that we knew we could make it something really special. When a song has a lot of moments, we know we can do some real work with it. On The Sing-Off, we knew we only had a little bit of time to impress people. You only had to sing a song for a minute and thirty seconds. You had to do whatever you could to make people go, “Oh my goodness”. You had to make it really special and give it a lot of moments. That’s what we did. It turned out really special.
Which song speaks to you the most at the moment?
To be honest, "On My Way Home" is an original and I bump that every single time I’m in the car—literally.
What’s the story behind it?
We’re young people, and we do a lot of things. We’re youthful. We have fun. It’s a crazy time. At the end of the day, we have to run to something that’s very much our center. What centers us and keeps us going? That’s what it means to me. We’re never satisfied. We have dreams and all of these different things. We have to find what centers us and keeps us grounded.
What made you want to do a Christmas album, That's Christmas To Me?
Christmas is such a great time, especially for a cappella music. People are more willing to listen to that style. We realized that after our Christmas single “Little Drummer Boy”. It did so well. We knew we wanted to do something more extensive. That’s when we got the idea of doing a full-length Christmas album.
Has it always been a special time of year for you personally?
Yeah, it’s when I finally get to see family and enjoy them. This artist life is very busy. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I want to see my family more often. It’s a time when all of us band members get to go home and enjoy our families. Thinking about what grounds us, family grounds all of us. It’s really great to be with them.
What artists shaped you?
It was really classical musicians like Yo-Yo Ma. Jacqueline Mary du Pré is close to my heart. She’s a cellist who made the instrument talk. Anything she wanted to say, whether it was dirty, gritty, nasty, or mean, she showcased a raw human emotion. I feel like not a lot of cellists can do that. That’s always been so important me. Another person is Stevie Wonder. Just the way he plays—he’s a true musician. I love that.