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The Sing-Off Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

The Sing-Off

This is an interview with Pentatonix on November 29, 2011 about winning the show The Sing-Off.

Question:
So what was the winning moment like for you? Do you remember what was going through your head at that moment?

Pentatonix:
It was completely unreal. We were all in shock, as you can see on the show. And it's just like it was just a culmination of thinking of all our journey thus far and like that we were actually standing on stage receiving the prize was something we thought never would happen. So it was just a real feeling.

Question:
You had a lot of support on Twitter, especially from some celebrities. How did that make you guys feel?

Pentatonix:
It feels great. I mean any support is amazing. And to know we got all those votes was like the most amazing feeling.

Question:
What would you like to say to everybody who was a fan in support of you while you were on the show?

Pentatonix:
It's just a big thank you so much. We're humbled and grateful to know that music that we've created is being received so well. And we just thank you so much. And we're going to keep making music. And we hope you all just like keep enjoying it.

Question:
So what is next for you guys?

Pentatonix:
Next for us, we're going to just do some gigs and do press. And hopefully put an album together. And just become recording artists. Hopefully we can make our music transfer over to the mainstream and be the first mainstream a cappella group.

Question:
Could you talk a little bit about your experience visiting the Trevor Project? We saw a little bit of it on the show last night.

Pentatonix:
It was unbelievable. It's a cause that we all support definitely. And I mean I think we've all kind of experienced that before. So it was cool to be able to relate and meet volunteers that experienced it as well. And it was just so cool. It's a great, great program. It has a great, great message. And I meant help save lives and help kids that are struggling and feel isolated and alone. So I mean we were all about supporting it. And we were so happy that they decided to work with us when we asked them too. And we couldn't have been happier to have that package done on the show.

Question:
Do you have any advice for other groups that might want to go on the show?

Pentatonix:
Our only advice is to just go for it. It's all about being a go-getter. Just like put a group together, rehearse and just like don't be afraid to audition.

Question:
About the visit to the Trevor Project, you revealed a few things about yourself in that. Can you talk about that? And then as a group, can you just talk about did you ever expect it to be as hard emotionally as it ended up being?

Pentatonix:
I think that emotionally we didn't expect it to be so hard. Actually we were like we sing all the time. And we thought it was just going to be just singing. But it's so much more than that. I mean you're totally cut off from the world. And all you're doing is singing and rehearsing and doing choreography and all that stuff.

So it gets really emotionally and really emotional, especially when you get so close to the groups and then they're leaving. And it's not really a competition to us, but it really dawns on us at the time that we see people leaving and we're staying it's hard. As for the emotional thing with the Trevor Project, it was definitely emotional for me and I think it was for all of us because we've all been bullied or made to feel bad about ourselves because we are different.

I mean everyone's different. But I just hope that people get out of it that even though you are different, like you shouldn't be discouraged. And that you should embrace that and just be yourself. Or I mean it will make you so much happier. And there's never, ever a reason that you should want to take your own life because life is just such an amazing thing. And you can always make something amazing of it.

Question:
Is everything arranged by you as a group? Or is there somebody that sort of starts it and you all join? How did the arrangements work?

Pentatonix:
We pretty much always arranged it as a group. We just kind of sit in a circle and start the arrangement. There's some arrangements where one particular person in the group will have a lot of ideas, like they'll really connect with the song. And so they'll kind of take it over. But we do it as a group. Avi and Kevin will come up with a really sick rhythm section part. And then we'll come up with harmonies and background parts. And then we'll just kind of add little cool moments in after we're done with the form. And sure enough, something comes of it. It's usually last second. But we were fortunate enough to have pulled enough arrangements together in the short amount of time to be able to do really well on the show.

Question:
How long did you have to arrange a song?

Pentatonix:
We would have about three days before we had to go show it to producers.

Question:
In addition to winning the Sing-Off, what was the biggest highlight of the competition for you guys?

Pentatonix:
Definitely the people we've met. Just every single group was so, so, so genuine and awesome. And everyone was there for the love of the music. And there was like no egos. And we just became so close to everyone. Some of the best friends I've made in my life I made on that show. And I think that was a real highlight of the show more than anything.

Question:
What was it like to take the stage with Nick Lachey and sing a 98 Degrees song?

Pentatonix:
It was awesome. It was great. I actually thought it was going to be kind of awkward, especially with the kind of part I had to play. But he's like really nice, really down to earth, really sweet. And it was just a great pleasure working with him. He had a lot of advice for us. It was just really great. It all clicked when he came. He filled out our sound a lot too.

And he's so easy to work with. We totally changed around a song and arranged it totally differently. And he was totally cool with it, loved it so much. He just gave us a lot of freedom and he jumped right in and was a total professional. We loved him to death.

Question:
Was there ever a point where you thought that this might be my week to go home? Or was every week like that?

Pentatonix:
Every week we'd psych ourselves out. Like we'll like in dress rehearsals mess up or do something terribly. And we're like this is the week we're going home. We would get discouraged. I mean in that type of atmosphere and under that kind of pressure, I mean getting discouraged is a regular thing for all the group kind of. It's a stressful thing.

I just, the only week that I really thought we were going home, well there was kind of two weeks I thought we might be going home, selling "Your Love Is My Drug" because they had a lot of criticism on that one. And then during dress rehearsal we were kind of scared during our Britney Spears medley because all the other medleys were so amazing. We felt like ours was probably the weakest. And so we thought we were going home that week too. And I mean every week we had our wonders. But fortunately we never did.

Question:
Well how do you feel now going from really normal everyday people to going to basically superstars? Do you think you're going to be able to handle it? Has anybody given you advice?

Pentatonix:
People who worked on the show, Nick, Shawn, all the judges. They've been giving us advice nonstop. And I feel like we have got a great team around us that's helping us and protecting us. We're just taking everything one step at a time. And just crossing each bridge as we come to it.

Question:
Give me a sense of the kind of album you want to make? What do you hear in your heads as a Pentatonix album?

Pentatonix:
We really want to stage through our sound, just that five person, but with the incredible giant rhythm section sound and the three-part harmony. We want to make it electronic influenced, kind of like we did on the show. Really staying true to what our fans that we've had so far like really liked about us. And we can have some solo in it. We want to make it eclectic. But still really true to us. We also want it to be like mainstream and pop too hopefully. So we can get radio play and maybe be one of the first groups to have gone mainstream.

Question:
What do you think is the barrier that keeps an a cappella group like yourself and all the ones on the show? What's the barrier to the mainstream?

Pentatonix:
Well the big barrier to the mainstream is just like the fact that there's no production on an a cappella track really except for just voices. And I feel like when programming directors of radio stations really want to hear that production. But I mean I think that we can create enough sound in an a cappella track, or have it remixed, or figure out some way to make it radio accessible. And then have the mainstream love it because I mean the reaction we've gotten from the show, I think it just shows that the public in general can actually really latch on to this. We just need to have some radio stations that have faith in us. And hopefully we can pull it off.

Question:
Are you songwriters as well?

Pentatonix:
Yes we are.

Question:
Who did you think was your biggest competitor at the beginning? And then did that change at the end or did you always feel like you like what was your progression throughout the process?

Pentatonix:
I thought Afro-Blue was our biggest competitor. I just think they're amazing musicians. They're so humble. They always put so much heart into their arrangements. They're really complex. And they're all just so talented. I thought they were definitely our biggest competitors.

And then when they were eliminated, after they were eliminated we really thought, we thought our biggest competitors were the Dartmouth Aires. I mean they've got so much energy on stage. And they're incredible. And Michael is just the most amazing front man. And he just totally runs the stages, and especially in person. Like in person it was just the most amazing thing to see him perform so.

Question:
What was the low point for you guys in the process? And then how did you come how did you guys overcome it?

Pentatonix:
I think there was kind of two low points. I mean "Your Love Is My Drug," it was right at the beginning. And we were a newly formed group. So "Your Love Is My Drug" was like our second week to really work together. And we didn't know exactly how we wanted to arrange or what we wanted to do. And we were kind of running out of time. So that was kind of a low point where we were discouraged. But then next week, that "Video Killed The Radio Star" was the next song we did. That's when everything kind of worked out and we started figuring it out.

And we really had that breakthrough performance, which we kind of held on to that momentum the rest of the show. I would say another low point would be the Britney Spears medley week. We, that was the first time we had to do something that was three minutes long. And it was just overwhelming for all of us. And we were really like lacking on the ideas that week. And we were kind of discouraged then. But I mean we managed to pull it off. And make it through that week too. So we were thankful for that.

Question:
How do you guys feel about the Internet and how that pretty much has changed the way people listen to music? And how will that benefit a group like you by being on the Internet?

Pentatonix:
I mean the Internet is a really powerful thing. And I think that we want to put a lot of our music out there so it can go viral and be all over YouTube, Twitter and social media sites. And I think that's a great way to get our music out there. And so yes, we're going to try to do that as best as we can. It's done great things for us too because that's how we found Kevin's YouTube video. It went viral on YouTube and that's how we found him. And it's just a great way of connecting like with the entertainment or with music and stuff as well.

Question:
A couple of times throughout the season Shawn Stockman described you guys as from the future. How did you guys feel when he said that? Is that a lot of pressure to live up to that?

Pentatonix:
Yes it was a lot of pressure. I mean when someone says you're from the future that means from then on you have to think of really creative stuff that's never been thought of before. And that's quite a task to undertake. Each one of us is into different types of music. So there was a lot of different ideas that were thrown around. And I think that because of that we managed to come up with something new and creative each week. And we're just so thankful. I'm thankful to have a group full of people that are into so many types of music because I think that's what really made us a strong opponent in the competition.

Question:
Can you assess the individual judges and what you got from each of them throughout the competition?

Pentatonix:
I'll do Shawn since he's one of my favorites. I think Shawn Stockman's just like an incredible musician, an incredible performer. And he's just a legend in the business. And I really love how he connects with the emotional aspect of the music. And he talks about how we connected with the song. That's something that was really important to us. I know with "Love Lockdown" and "Dog Days Are Over," those type of performances we really connected with emotionally. And he really recognized that. He also helped us connect with songs too. I just thought he was an incredible judge.

I'll talk about Sara. I actually have been a huge fan of hers since forever. So I was super excited that she was a judge on the show. I think she's great. And she's so quirky and so likable with all her comments. And it was really great just to get feedback from artists that we look up to so much and respect. And they always had really great, honest critiques. And I think that's what really helped us to like get further in the competition and to grow as a group. And Ben always gave like great technical advice. And I think his critiques are really what helped us.

Ben Fold is just like a music theory genius. And so he would go into the details of our arrangement and really go in depth about things that were wrong or things that could be better. And it really, really helped us out. And we definitely took everything he said to heart and thought about it when making our new arrangements. And I think that their critiques definitely were a huge aspect in how we won the show.

Question:
Being in a competition with groups of such massive amounts of members, do you ever sort of feel the pressure of having less people? Did you sort of feel like you had to compensate? Or were you just really confident in your abilities even before going into it that way?

Pentatonix:
At the beginning we were definitely very intimidated because some of the groups had 16 people. And we would hear them rehearsing. And they were just like full of sound. And it was a scary thing because especially since we were so like newbies at the whole a cappella thing. But I think that we've gained confidence because I we create this massive, massive rhythm section sound. Especially on mic it's just the most incredible sound. So I think that we gained confidence after getting feedback that was positive. And then these block cords and all these parallel harmonies that just ended up making a really big sound too, especially mixed with Avi and Kevin's rhythm section. And I think that we ended up creating a unique sound that we definitely gained confidence in as the show went on.

Question:
Were there people that you really developed a close bond with that you see yourself keeping in contact with in the future?

Pentatonix:
Oh absolutely. I mean as I said earlier, some of the best friends I made in my life are on this show. I mean there's some of the Aires that I've gotten so close too. And then Afro-Blue, we're all really close to them. I mean all the groups are just so sweet and genuine. And it was really, really cool to get to perform with all the guys on "Born To Run." I know that was awesome. It was a big frat party on stage. And all of us got to like flail around and just like leave our hearts on the stage. It was really awesome.

It was really great to have all the girls back because there were only four girls total in the finale. So I was really excited when they all came back. I really missed them a lot. And it was nice to just have everyone, and they all have a lot of heart. And we all just caught up. And it was just great to have them all back. And they all got to sing Aretha and be divas.

Question:
You have another TV performance next week. Is there anything you can tell us about the Christmas special?

Pentatonix:
Oh yes. It's December 5 on NBC, 8, 7 Central. And it's going to be great. We're performing with past season winners. And there's some surprise guests. And we're doing a pretty fun song. I don't want to spoil anything. But it's going to be a great show. There's groups from past seasons that are going to be on the show. And it's just going to be a bunch of Christmas cheer. And it will be really fund and awesome. The talent on the show is going to be great. And, oh yes, and to plug, there's actually a holiday CD out called Songs of the Season. And it can be purchased on iTunes. And it has the Top 12 groups from the season on it.

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