AcaVids You Oughta Know: a.squared

We live in a privileged time with tech galore: virtual reality headsets and magical glass, tons of wearable technology so that you can stay connected and be updated within milliseconds. Did you see that video of the patient cat dealing with those two adorable persistent pups?

…you just went to YouTube and searched for the video and watched it, didn’t you?

That’s what I’m talking about. Everything is instant.

Well, surprisingly enough, I grew up in a time when things weren’t so immediate. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings and flipping on VH1 so I could watch the top music videos from that past week, waiting eagerly to see Britney Spears in that crazy red pleather one-piece singing on Mars. However, one of my favorite features to this day is the You Oughta Know segment of the show, where VH1 would show a video of an up-and-coming artist who hadn’t quite hit the mainstream radio yet.

Lucky you, this is the Acatribe version of that, groups that YOU should be aware of, groups who use innovation and push boundaries.

Now we all know/love/adore the artist formerly known as SONOS, ARORA. They captured our attention not only because of their inventive arrangements and crazy incredible vocals, but because they were using pedals and all kinds of technological magic. The a cappella community watched in amazement (and the purists in disgust) as SONOS/ARORA popularized the use of loop pedals and octavizers both in recorded and live performance.

For absolute beginners, here’s Sonos’ cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Haunting and groovy in all the right ways:

After that, the a cappella scene began to really toy with the idea of, well, using tech toys. Post-collegiate groups began to spring up who focused on using electronics in performances, groups like The Executive Board:

Which FINALLY leads us to the main topic of discussion, Yale’s newest a cappella group, a.squared. That’s right; collegiate groups are starting to catch onto the tech trend. This sextet performs with six individual mics and a screen, and uses music sequencer/DAW Ableton Live during performance. Yeah. Impressive. It definitely takes a lot of practice to be able to edit yourself live, and a different kind of prep has to happen in order for

Check out their cover of James Blake’s “Retrograde” and be blowwwwn away: 

You’ll probably want to check out their newest video, a cover of Bon Iver’s “Holocene”, because it’s just as if not MORE impressive:

(Oh, and follow them on Twitter so you don’t miss a chance to see them perform! I know I’m eagerly waiting for a performance to spring up in my area.)

So what do you think? Is using electronics “cheating”, or is it simply utilizing what’s available? Is it innovative or is it blasphemous? I’m definitely in favor of making music in new and ground-breaking ways, and I think that if a group’s style and sound is enhanced by tech, why not?

So a.squared is definitely a group that You Oughta Know: making beats, making moves. We can’t wait to see what kind of music they make in the future, and what kind of groups they’ll inspire.

– Heather

[Ed. – Somewhere in the conversation is Postyr Project, who did the following at Boston Sings last year using the “Danish Discount Disco Dice”, as Kristoffer Thorning called them- and I”m pretty sure they used Ableton Live as well]