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Pentatonix – Vocal Realness This Sunday at the State

from Conor Tubbs

I’m a bit of a music nerd. One of my favorite activities is to put on a new record and pick it apart for the musical intricacies for hours on end. As a musician, writing vocal harmonies is a particular favorite of mine, which is why I’m geeking out a ton this week. NBC’s “The Sing-Off” is a show that has different acapella groups competing American Idol-style for a chance at a record contract. But the best part was that they weren’t doing your grandparents’ Barbershop Quartet ditties. Pentatonix, the winners of the 3rd season, proved that they could meld different genres and styles into one brilliant sound, drawing heavy influence from modern pop music. And you’re in luck, because they’re playing the State Theater in Portland this Sunday, April 7th. I got a chance to speak with Mitch Grassi, the group’s youngest member, about their rise to fame, touring and their next album.

DISPATCH MAGAZINE: What goes into the process of choosing the songs you’ve covered?
MITCH GRASSI: “We like to take top 40 hits and give them our own spin — it’s familiar but different simultaneously!”

The original tracks on PTX Vol. 1, “The Baddest Girl” and “Show You How to Love”, showcase serious songwriting ability. Can fans expect a shift into more original music on the next record?
“Absolutely. We have been writing like crazy and we’re hoping to have a good number of original songs on this next EP.”

With such meaty vocal parts, there must be speed bumps. What’s the hardest part about arranging with five distinct voices?
“Sometimes we want to add more substance to our music, or add another part, and it’s just not physically possible. We see it as a challenge, though, and fill out the sound with just our five voices to prove that overproduction isn’t necessary.”

You guys got thrown into the fame game pretty suddenly! How have you been adapting to stardom?
“It’s pretty wild. Sometimes people will recognize us in the streets, which is always a trip. I think just the fact that we’ve sold shows out is enough to make my jaw drop. I just can’t believe it’s all actually happening sometimes!”

What have been the highlights of your 2nd tour thus far?
“I think the highlight of being back out on tour is just that we are so excited to be playing shows all the time and meeting fans. The crowds are always so gracious and sweet. We love being on tour!”

I bet! It’s gotta be exhausting, though. What’s the downtime like for y’all?
“I just picked up music production, and I’m studying Ableton Live. It’s been one of my long-term goals to produce music so I’m stoked that I’m finally getting started. Usually, we’ll just catch up on rest during our days off, or hang out with friends.”

Got any plans to team up for some collaboration in the future? Like, who would be the dream to work with?
“I think we all have different artists we’d like to work with. I’d love to work with Imogen Heap because she’s skilled at using the human voice to create unique, otherworldly music. We will definitely be collaborating with more artists in the future. We actually just released a collab video with Lindsey Stirling!” [EDITOR'S NOTE: It's kinda ridiculous how great this collaboration is. Just saying.]

Interested in checking out their show? You should be, dude. They’re incredible.