Postyr’s Paper Tiger

Postyr began as a project. Literally. The group initially called itself “Postyr Project,” and it sought to explore the human voice in new and exciting ways. The group’s efforts to put together new album “Paper Tiger” (currently available only in Denmark, with worldwide distribution coming soon) over the past two years has tested its resolve, but also made it stronger. So much stronger, in fact, that it has rediscovered its identity and dropped the “Project” moniker altogether.

I recently spoke with Postyr’s Tine Fris, who is as patient, gracious, and kind a person as I have had the pleasure of meeting in the a cappella community. She described the process from conception to release of Paper Tiger as a “bumpy ride,” beginning the day before a scheduled rehearsal week in August, 2014. At that point, tenor Andreas Bech told Postyr he was leaving the group.  One of the things which makes Postyr special is the members’ shared roots in the Danish a cappella choir Vocal Line and shared interests in musical experimentation and music education. The group has been singing together for years, and losing Andreas more than just a monumental shift in the group’s foundation, it was also in some ways the loss of a friend. As Fris pointed out, the group members are extremely dependent upon one another, professionally, financially, and personally.  Unsurprisingly, this development has brought remaining members Fris, Line Groh, Kristoffer Thorning, and Anders Hornshoj closer together. Perhaps more importantly, it has forced the group to confront challenges and explore its collective purpose and identity. The result is “Paper Tiger,” an album which is more intricate, personal, and emotional than its predecessor, “My Future Self.”   Continue reading…

Retrocity Loves Those 80’s Greaties

Retrocity is an eight member a cappella group devoted to 80’s music which formed in 1998.  The group has since expanded its repertoire to cover jazz, soul and funk, yet their heart still belongs to the 1980s. They previously released their debut album ‘Totally 80s A Cappella’ in 2006 and recently released their second full-length recording ‘Mixtape’. The group also offers professional vocal workshops and performances at venues and festivals around the world, including Panamania at the 2015 PanAm Games and the 2015 Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto.

retrocity

I recently interviewed group members (and very accomplished performers, arrangers, etc.) Aaron Jensen and Dylan Bell via email about the group and its latest release. Continue reading…

The House Jacks’ Newest Member Revealed!

The word is finally out! After recent news of Troy Horne’s (bass) return to The House Jacks, their final member has been revealed. Mark Joseph will bring his smooth, sultry tenor sound to complete the lineup.

11950988_1034317419914324_2032470071_nMark has been singing his entire life. In his earlier years he was always in a choir or group of some kind. His love for a cappella was cultivated in high school when he was a part of the jazz choir. There he realized that he wanted to be a part of a collegiate group in the future.

 

Mark graduated in 2014 from the acclaimed Berklee College of Music. There he was a member of Pitch Slapped, winners of the 2014 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). He can be heard on their album, ‘Good Life’. He also won ‘best male soloist’ at SoJam 2011.

“I love how everyone has everyone’s back in a group. There’s nothing like singing and blending in harmony with other voices. That’s so much more fun than singing alone! Also, the relationships you build in a group is my favorite thing. Makes everything that much better.”

Mark is thrilled to be a part of The House Jacks! He sees the group having a great deal of versatility, as their voices are all so different. In addition, to be in a group that has been around for 20+ years, “It’s going to be a great learning experience for me because these guys clearly know what they’re doing.”

When asked what fans can look forward to with the new lineup, Mark replied, “You can expect new music, of course, and you can expect even more outside of the boxness.”

We CANNOT WAIT to see what this rebirth of The House Jacks will bring! Stay tuned to all of their social media to keep up with news, tour dates, and more! (fb/Twitter/IG: TheHouseJacks)

The Long Journey Behind Acappella The Musical

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Greg Cooper smiles a lot. The executive producer of Acappella, an entirely vocal musical show opening its weeklong run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival Tuesday, July 7, leans back at one point, lets out a hearty laugh, and talks about how this 12-year journey to get the show made has been a “pleasurable torture.”  The phrase harbors no negative connotation because it is delivered with a big smile and because it is clear that Cooper’s experience getting here has paralleled the show’s tagline: “a musical about finding your own voice”.  It is also apparent that he could not be happier with what is happening, regardless of any obstacles he has faced along the way.

In 2003, Cooper heard about the success of MAMMA MIA! (a tribute to the music of Swedish pop group ABBA) and the surge of other jukebox musicals which flooded New York City’s theater scene and he immediately thought of the extensive catalog of music produced by The Acappella Company and its founder, Keith Lancaster. Lancaster formed and sang with the Christian vocal quartet Acappella in 1982, and he still advises the group along with several other Christian vocal groups. Lancaster and The Acappella Company have been prolific, producing dozens of a cappella albums over the past 25 years, and Cooper describes that catalog as the “music of my life.”
Continue reading…

Spotlight Interview: Peter Hollens

Peter Hollens is an American pop singer-songwriter-producer. He has been heavily involved with a cappella music since 1999 when he co-founded the University of Oregon’s award-winning a cappella group On The Rocks, known as the first official collegiate a cappella group in Oregon. Originally from Ashland, Oregon, Peter graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Since his graduation from the U of O, he has become very involved with collegiate a cappella, including recording, producing & judging international a cappella competitions throughout the United States.

In 2010, Peter was featured on NBC’s The Sing Off season 2, receiving acclaim from judges Shawn Stockman, Nicole Scherzinger and Ben Folds for his solo performances with On the Rocks. Peter records and produces from his home studio in Eugene, Oregon.

 

Hollens_070_1_by Jay Eads

Peter Hollens. Photograph by Jay Eads

Peter’s eponymous debut album on Portrait/Sony Masterworks Records is now available in iTunes, Amazon, and Loudr.  The album features seven songs from Hollens’ catalog and six new releases.  It includes collaborations with Brian Wilson, Avi Kaplan (from Pentatonix), Jackie Evancho (covering Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”), and Sabrina Carpenter (covering U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). The diverse tracklist also includes “Skyrim (Main Theme)” (with Lindsay Stirling), a Les Miserables medley (with guest vocals from his wife  Evynne Hollens), and original composition “Ashland’s Song,” written for his young son. Rounding out the collection, Hollens includes iconic songs from his YouTube catalog such as Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” as well as a selection of folk songs he was working on before the album deal came to fruition.

You can check out his website here, and he is very active on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

His latest YouTube video, “Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair,” performed with Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix, is up now right here and at the end of this post following the interview.

 

Peter, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. 

First of all, congratulations on the new album!

Thank you kindly!

How busy were you in the weeks leading up to this tremendous accomplishment, a debut album on a major record label?

It has been a lot of work getting everything together, but I’m so excited to be able to get this album out to my community of supporters, and hopefully to a wide range of new listeners!

The album contains a combination of songs you previously recorded and some new tracks. Did you get to choose which of your existing tracks would be included, and if so how did you narrow it down from such an extensive catalog?

Yes, I was able to choose the songs on the album. I ended up listening to my supporters and my wife a lot for which songs to include.  I almost made a few changes at the last minute by adding another song that I recently did with Malukah —http://youtu.be/17svtURunUk — I actually believe Evynne ended up choosing the final song order on the album as well.  She’s been an enormous help!

The album has a new, original track with the legendary Brian Wilson, whose harmonies decades ago continue to inspire the a cappella community overtly and subliminally. How did that collaboration come about and what were you thinking when you found out this was going to happen?

The collaboration came about because of a mutual awesome acquaintance, Winston Simone, who introduced me to the projectI think the song came together quite amazingly!! I’m so honored to be able to sing with someone I’ve looked up to my entire life.

Who are some other major recording artists that have influenced you musically or with whom you’d like to collaborate? Continue reading…