Interview With: Pentatonix

Pentatonix is just about to wrap up their North American tour! I got the chance to interview the five-person a capella sensation at the Danforth Music Hall before their show on April 8, 2014. Members Scott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola talked about their exciting tour, their new music and the possibility of new music videos! Photo creds go to Sharon Wong.

 

Theresa Shim: Hello! How are you all?

 

Pentatonix: Good! Good! How are you?

 

TS: Good! This is your first time in Toronto?

Scott: We’ve been here before.

Kirstie: Second time in Toronto!

 

TS: Good, you’ve tried the Canadian food, and by Canadian food I mean poutine!

Scott: Yes, and we learned about ketchup chips today!

 

TS: Ketchup chips? You’ve never tried it?

 

Scott: No, never! But it sounds so good.

TS: If I’d have known I would’ve brought you guys a bag

Kirstie: Wow that’s nice!

 

TS: So your most recent album is PTX2 and I believe you have three original songs?

 

Scott: Four. Well one of them is half original, half a cover, plus the chorus is a classic song.

 

TS:  Original songs, that’s really exciting! Are you planning on doing more?

 

Scott: Yeah, we are slowly transitioning to that.

 

TS: So you’re nearing the end of your North American leg of this tour and you’re going to Europe which is exciting. What are you most excited about?

 

Kirstie: Yes. I feel like, it’s meeting the fans…

Scott: Yeah, it’s cool meeting the fans of new countries. It’s really cool.

Kirstie: And seeing the sites too!

 

fans

 

Fans waiting outside hours before the show.

 

TS: Do you guys plan on working on any new music videos while you’re on tour there?  I was going to ask regarding your YouTube videos: you’ve done collaborations with Lindsey Stirling and Todrick Hall – both of which were very cool videos by the way – anything more like that in the future?

 

Scott: Yeah, we’re always brainstorming. We’re not particularly working on anything right now, but we have stuff being edited that we already did. It’s hard on tour.

Mitch: For sure, yeah. We just…honestly don’t have time right now because we’ve been on tour for so long. Hopefully in the summer when our schedule gets a little less crazy.

Scott: We also have to align schedules with those people too.

Mitch: Right, right.

Scott:  Yeah, but…when those planets align, something like “Wizard of Ahhs” comes out. I’m sure that’s going to happen again sometime, though. We’re definitely all Wizard of Oz super fans, so that was really fun.

 

TS: Regarding your video production methods…as opposed to doing one-take a capella shots, is there an aspect of larger-scale video production that you enjoy more? For example, your Radioactive cover was.  Do you prefer the more intimate aspect of the a capella videos?

 

Scott: I always like the product of our full productions more, but it’s just so much simpler and time-efficient to do the a capella takes. We do like the full productions; it’s just a long day. I know like…‘Starships’ was an eighteen-hour day and what was it…

Avi: ‘Wizard of Ahhs.’

Scott: Yeah, ‘Wizard of Ahhs’ was about the same. Those get exhausting, but it’s still really fun.

Kevin: I have to say, I do like whenever we do the one-take videos, especially when it’s really innovative ideas. I was talking to somebody about the ‘Evolution of Music’ video and I know a lot of people think “can they really sing like that?” Then they get to hear it live and say “oh my gosh, it’s actually real”. It’s always cool to do things like that.

 

TS: Are there any of your own videos that each of you like more in particular?

 

Kevin: ‘Radioactive.’

Scott: ‘Evolution of Beyonce’ for me.

Kirstie: I loved ‘Daft Punk’.

Mitch: Me too.

 

TS: Take ‘Evolution of Music’ for example, is there a particular genre each of you like – or a particular genre each of you like more than another?

 

Scott: Totally, yeah. I like RnB, Hip Hop – ‘Say My Name’ is always one of my favourite songs to perform.

Avi: Yeah…I wish we got to spend more time on choral music, but I don’t think the general population would want to have like 30 more songs from the renaissance.

Scott: [Laughs] Yeah, no.

 

TS: Oh I totally would!

 

Avi: I would too!

TS: Musical instruments…anybody have any formal training? I know Kevin, you can play the cello very well.

Kevin: Thank you!

Mitch: Hm, piano, also formal vocal training.

Scott: Yes. I’ve played piano my whole life, jazz piano – I was in the jazz band.

 

TS: Oh, so was Sharon!

 

Scott: Oh really? What instrument did you play?

Sharon: Tenor sax!

Scott: That’s so cool! Yeah, jazz band was the bomb!

 

2

 

 

TS: Oh! A cool question from a few fans waiting outside was: “What’s your favourite chord?”

Scott: Ooooh. I think E Major.  It’s just – on the piano for some reason, where it is, it’s just a very rich chord.

 

TS: When you arrange songs, when you pick songs to sing – do you take into account how it best suits all your voices or how much it means to you as a group?

 

Kirstie and Scott: Both.

Scott: Yeah, a song that inspires one of us a lot, we usually get ideas for how to break it down or find little moments for solos.

 

TS: Last question, what are you a best fan of?

 

Scott: …Beyonce. I’m like her biggest fan. Part of the Beyhive.

Mitch: Imogen Heap.

Kevin: I don’t know. For me…he doesn’t really have a fandom like Beyonce, but Quincy Jones.

Kirstie: Sara Bareilles.

Avi: I would say…Simon & Garfunkel, Iron & Wine.

 

TS: Wow, all great artists! Thank you all so much for talking to BestFan.

 

PTX: Thank you! It was nice meeting you.

 

Their most recent album is PTX, Vol. II. Check out their Daft Punk video – a song featured on the album – if you haven’t yet!

 

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