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Sound Bites: Pentatonix

Posted by Will Levith on April 24, 2013

It used to be cool to play an instrument and sing. That is, until Pentatonix showed up.

What makes them different from your average pop group is that they’re all voice. The guitar, the synth, the bass, the beats are all created by the group’s Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola.

Pentatonix, who won the third season of NBC’s recently resurrected a cappella contest-reality show The Sing-Off, has fast built itself a giant internet following, with viral-video covers of songs like Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (6.6 million YouTube views) and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” (13 million views).

CityEats caught the group in the middle of its cross-country tour. Call this interview “Pentatonix: Far East Edition.”

Kevin, you’ve lived in China. Were you a chiao tzu (light dumpling) or bao tzu (doughier dumpling) kind of guy?
Kevin: It depends. In the morning, I would eat bao tzu all the time. It’s cool… they put so much great stuff inside like chicken [and] vegetables. But at dinner time, I’d eat chiao tzu a lot. Especially during Spring Festival.

Speaking of China, you all traveled there to appear on its version of The Sing-Off. What was the weirdest dish you were served there?
Mitch: We went to a fast-food restaurant — I believe it was Bruce Lee-themed — and the chicken they served was full of cartilage! I had never experienced that texture before, but I thought it was delicious.

What is your favorite U.S. food city to visit on tour?
Kevin: I absolutely love going to eat in Chinatowns. I just went to ones in Chicago and San Francisco, and my favorite food is huoguo or hotpot.

Do you have any favorite food spots in New York City?
Kevin: I love going to Brooklyn to get Carribbean food. My mom is from Grenada, so I just eat a lot of Caribbean stuff. Shout out to Golden Krust!

You are a quintet. Describe each member as a plate of food.
Scott answers:
Mitch [is] caviar, because he’s sassy.
Kirstie [is] mac and cheese, because she’s a child at heart
Kevin [is] any kind of meat, because he is pivotal to our sound
Avi [is] potatoes, because he complements Kevin perfectly
Scott [is] fried chicken, because it’s the only food I ever eat

Listen to Pentatonix’s most recent “cover” of 1,000 years of music in five minutes, “The Evolution of Music”: