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Tour has PTX working in perfect harmony
Four guys, one girl, no
instruments — that’s all it took for Pentatonix to garner
almost 9.5 million views on its YouTube cover of the radio hit “Somebody
That I Used to Know,” originally by Gotye and Kimbra. Well,
that and a massive knack for beats, blending and sheer vocal talent.
Kevin Olusola: It’s
just fun! I mean, we’ve been learning a lot about keeping our
vocals ready for every single performance. It’s been difficult
because we’ve never done shows back-to-back with a full set.
Not only that, but we can’t hide behind anything; we don’t
have any backing tracks or anything like that — it’s really
just our vocals. That’s pretty hard for us to do every single
day, so that’s why we’re learning a lot about vocal rest,
about trying to keep our vocal cords protected every day. There’s
a lot of Throat Coat and Emergen-C to make sure we’re not sick,
because if one piece of the puzzle is sick, it really messes up the
Olusola: What we absolutely
love is meeting the people that have supported us throughout The Sing
Off, the fans that have been with us literally from day one. It’s
been incredible to see people’s support and how much they’ve
been excited about our music. And the crowd is so diverse. We don’t
have just metalheads or pop people — we really have such a diverse
fanbase of all ages and backgrounds.
Olusola: We’ve had
such an amazing team to help us get our music out there, and it’s
been really incredible to have a team that really believes in us.
I think also that social media is huge for us. We’re always
tweeting, we’re always Facebook-ing and we’re always trying
to get connected with our fans. That direct artist-to-fan connection
is so crucial to how we get our music out there. YouTube is obviously
a huge part of that. After The Sing Off, we thought that it would
be useful to put up covers so that people would get to know us. I
think that’s what led to our album and being able to get up
to No. 14 on the Billboard charts, which is crazy because I think
we’re the highest charting a cappella group on the Billboard
200 chart in history.
Olusola: We are so excited
about it! We recorded that album really quickly, probably in three
weeks total. It was really fast because we wanted it to be out, and
we already had ideas about the songs and the direction we wanted to
take it. Right before we started touring we had to work it out, so
we just hashed out the whole thing, arranged everything and put it
out. I think people are going to love it. It maintains the Christmas
vibe, but it still has a couple of surprises in there. Because we
just really wanted to get it out there, there aren’t any originals,
but we’re thinking about doing more Christmas stuff once the
next year comes around, so probably during that time we’ll think
about doing some Christmas originals.
BONUS: The Central Florida
Future reached out to a cappella enthusiasts from the UCF student
organization Contemporary A Cappella and gave them a chance to contribute
questions of their own. Here's what they wanted to know.
Olusola: I'm a cellist,
so I listen to a lot of classical music. But I also actively love
pop and R&B and electronic music. Stevie Wonder is someone who
I have loved since I was young – I love his style, and that's
been huge for me. In terms of beatboxing, I mean – I did a cappella
for one year in high school and then I kept beatboxing, but really
for myself and really just for fun. I really think I got my style
when I was on The Sing-Off. After putting out that video of myself
playing cello and beatboxing – which is so much fun to do, to
take two different, opposite things and combine them into a single
entity – now I had to take my beatboxing and I wanted to elevate
it. I especially wanted to do dubstep, electronic music – very
pop-oriented stuff for our group. So I just listened to a lot of music
and tried to imitate what I would hear.
Olusola: It really depends.
Usually what we do is we sit around all together, look through the
piece, and then we just start throwing out ideas. Everybody throws
out ideas, and it's not that it's exclusive – that Avi and I
think about the rhythm stuff while they think about the harmony stuff
– we really think about everything together. I mean, I will
think of ideas for harmonies or different melodies to change it up;
Avi will do the same. And sometimes Kirstie, Mitch and Scott will
give ideas for beatboxing, like, “It would be cool to have more
of a gangster or hip-hop beat right here.” It really is very
collaborative. But then for some of our more complex arrangements,
like “A-Ha,” for example, we had to sit down and kind
of write it out on paper, which we did with our producer Ben Bram.
Olusola: Oh, well, thank
you! We really believe this group came together very, um...it kind
of felt like we were supposed to be together. The way we came together
the day before the audition [for The Sing-Off] and just created this
sound, you know, it was rough at first but it was kind of a diamond
in the rough. The Sing-Off gave us the opportunity to create that
sound that we really wanted and to refine it. So with the way everything
happened, we are just so thankful. I mean, if it wasn't for the people
that were watching The Sing-Off, the fans that were looking to see
what we'd do post-Sing-Off, the fans that we've gained, then we wouldn't
be doing this. We wouldn't be able to serve the world of music. And
so we really thank them for giving us this opportunity. We're thankful
that we came together, but it's really because of everybody who has
supported us, so thank you.
Olusola: No way, really?
Oh my gosh. Well, if they can pay for the ring. If they like it then
they should put a ring on it.
Olusola: [Laughs] Avi's
dancing...Avi goes hard on stage and it's really fun. I love watching
him dance. He loves to move on stage because he feels the music so
much. It's crazy; we'll be in rehearsal, he'll be dancing and we'll
be like, “Yo, bro, we're not even performing right now. Calm
down!” and he's like, “No, bro, this is how I feel the
music.” It's just so good.
Olusola: [sings] Iron Man!