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OEB’s 5 SXSW Q’s – Pentatonix

Hometown: Arlington, TX

OEB 2013 SXSW Review

After taking the crown on the TV a cappella completion The Sing Off, Pentatonix is looking to explore their buzzy sound even further in 2013 – the ultimate goal of becoming the first preeminent mainstream a cappella group in the last half-century. They are well on their way, drawing tons of viewers to their wonderfully active YouTube account and releasing a set of well-received EPs last year. 2013 should see no slowdown – a third Pentatonix EP is on the way and founder Kevin Olusola checked in with OEB from the road as the quintet sets to close off this current national run at SXSW. Olusola hit on a variety of topics, notably discussing shifting from popular covers to original material (yes!!), what’s on deck for the band after this tour wraps up and the opportunity that SXSW allows to ‘test the waters’ of Pentatonix’s exciting next steps.

The technical skill that Pentatonix brings to the table is extraordinary. Where does all that technical prowess come from?

I think our technical prowess comes from each member putting in years of hard work honing their craft. We’ve all been singing since we were young and pursued it passionately. Scott, Mitch, and Kirstie had a lot of experience singing together in choir and naturally found their blend. Avi sang with award-winning choirs and a cappella groups. I’ve always loved beatboxing and finding unique ways to showcase it, like playing cello and beatboxing simultaneously. So when we came together, we clicked.

While Pentatonix will surely always be in the business of reinterpreting popular material, what are your thoughts on writing original a cappella material and do you think that is something an audience can get behind?

2013 is an exciting year for us because we are working on that very goal – creating original vocal music that people all around the world will enjoy! We’ve been writing a lot on our own and with other songwriters to figure out what our original sound is. You’ll get to hear some more originals on PTX Vol. 2, and then in fall 2013, we’re focusing solely on writing. Stay tuned :)

From television shows to YouTube videos, one thing Pentatonix has done brilliantly is find many channels to get your music out there. SXSW presents a different angle playing alongside artists of every genre imaginable. Why SXSW and what is the best way to get your music out to ears in this day and age?

SXSW is an amazing festival because so many awesome up and coming bands from around the world will be in one place! That being said, will your band standout from the plethora of bands around you? That’s why we love SXSW, for that very challenge. At this stage in our career, we want to test the waters and see how our music fairs with everything else out there.

Per the second question, we really believe in the power of the internet/social media. We are huge Facebook/Twitter/YouTube people, and it’s a great way to keep people interested in what we’re doing. Artists like Macklemore have used these tools on their own to create a huge buzz for themselves, and that’s what we’re doing as well!

Do you have any shows lined up for SXSW yet? I hear LiveNation has some interesting plans up their sleeves for a showcase. Anything else of interest on deck for the beginning of 2013?

Yes! We’re doing a showcase called “As Seen on TV” at The Belmont on March 15th, and we’re also doing a Whole Foods Rooftop Showcase earlier that day! As for 2013, we’re finishing up our second headlining tour on May 11th, and then opening for a bigger artist all summer ’13 ! In addition to touring, we are releasing our third album, PTX Vol. 2, before the summer tour so we have new original material to perform on the road!

Have you had a chance to check out the SXSW lineup yet? Any artists you are looking to catch yourself while in town?

Oh my goodness yes, there are so many good bands that we all want to see! I personally want to see Benny Benassi, but that’s just me :)