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Pentatonix vocalist talks a cappella success

By Lana Rogoff
January 31, 2013 at 7:00 am

Only a select amount of people continue to experience fame and fortune after winning televised singing contests, and Pentatonix, a popular a cappella group, fits in that category.

The State Press had the pleasure of speaking with vocalist Kirstie Maldonado after a recent tour stop in Hollywood, Calif. Pentatonix is scheduled to perform at the Marquee Theatre on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The State Press: As an a cappella group, what are your thoughts on television shows and movies such as “Glee” and “Pitch Perfect”?

Kirstie Maldonado: I think they’re great. A lot of people were never exposed to a cappella before. When “Glee” first came out, I was super excited since I used to be in a show choir. They’re amazing. People from them have a negative view on a cappella, but I feel that there’s more to it than people think.

The State Press: Do you think that you and your band mates would have been this successful had you not had the opportunity to compete in “The Sing Off”?

Kristie Maldonado: Well, it’s hard. We were initially a trio doing it for fun. I was with Scott (Hoying) and Mitch (Grassi) at first. We wouldn’t have found each other without it.

SP: Have you entertained the thought of incorporating instruments in the future?

KM: We’re definitely going to stay as an a capella group. Right after we won, labels pushed for us to have instruments. A capella was our special niche, so we wanted to go with that. I think also that a capella music is very real. There is so much production going on in the music world that it’s nice to have something pure with no effects. That’s what’s special with our group.

SP: The YouTube videos are fairly simplistic as far as music videos go. Why is that?

KM: Some of our videos are just us sitting on a couch and singing. It shows that it is live and real. Everyone can see what we’re doing. Kevin (Olusola) does the craziest beats and once you see that, people understand.

SP: Are there any factors that determine which songs will be covered?

KM: No, not necessarily. We are always trying to pick songs that inspire us. We like to do current-day hip-hop because those are popular and will get more people to listen. We all have such eclectic musical preferences that we will choose various songs.

SP: On average, how long does it take to perfect a song?

KM: Every arrangement takes a little longer to perfect if we are in front of an audience. It typically takes a day to three days. It helps in general that there are only five of us, because we get to try a bunch of different things. Some groups have a bunch of people and have to arrange it all on paper.

SP: What is it like to be the only girl surrounded by guys?

KM: It’s fine. I have known Mitch (Grassi) and Scott (Hoying) for a very long time. We were best friends back in community theater and high school. When we added Avi (Kaplan) and Kevin (Olusola), it was like adding two brothers. We’re a big family, which are the dynamics in general. We all get along very well, and we never really fight.

SP: Do you and your band mates see this as a career for many years or just something for fun?

KM: We all want to see it live out as long as it can. We want to do something in music in general, and we have an interest in it. There isn’t a time limit on it.