Category Archives: Interviews

Meet the Folks from ACAPPELLA the Musical!

 Hey AcaFans! We hope you are filling your summers with lots of fabulous a cappella!

Today, we are bringing you an interview about an a cappella opportunity you need to get onto your schedule this week: ACAPPELLA the Musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival!


What is ACAPPELLA the Musical, and who is making it happen?

ACAPPELLA is a groundbreaking piece of theater melding two exciting art forms together. Musical theatre meets a cappella in this romantic musical comedy for all ages. The project was conceived and is being produced by Greg Cooper. Award-winning Atlanta playwright Vynnie Meli has woven an engaging story around the soul-stirring music of The Acappella Company. [More about the Creative Team here! We see you, Evan Feist. -AFB]

A gospel singer leaves home, going from the “music of praise” to the “music that pays.” A jaded roadie rushes him away from an arena full of screaming fans while a forgotten and ignored old man on a street corner belts some beautiful blues just because it feeds his soul. Jeremiah realizes that somewhere along the way, it became more about the money than the music. He goes back – to family, to friends, to the woman he left behind, but can he? Is it love or just nostalgia? He returns to the place where everything is familiar, except that nothing is. He learns that he has to find his own way home.

Introduce us to the cast! What previous a cappella (contemporary or otherwise) experience do they have, or what groups have they been a part of?

Our cast is made up of both Broadway veterans and several vocal band members with a ton of a cappella experience. Featured in the company are Virginia Woodruff (Violet, Leap of Faith, The Color Purple, All Shook Up, Smokey Joe’s Café), Cheryl A. Freeman (The Who’s Tommy , Disney’s Hercules), Tyler Hardwick, Anthony Chatmon II, Miche Braden and Darilyn Castillo have joined the cast of ACAPPELLA. Rounding out the company are Katrina R. Dideriksen, Gavyn Pickens, Emily Goglia (SoCal Vocals, Element), Rachel Gavaletz, Janelle McDermoth (UPenn Off The Beat, RANGE), Darryl Williams, Alex Koceja and Garrett Turner. [More about the Cast here! -AFB]

Tell us about the Acappella Company and how they got involved with your project.

Every vision has a genesis. And the vision for ACAPPELLA The Musical launched with some of the most soul-stirring music ever created! All of the songs featured in the production were originally produced by The Acappella Company – more commonly known as Acappella. Acappella has sold well over three million units and toured every continent on the globe since Keith Lancaster – songwriter, producer, and original lead singer – formed the group in 1982.

Believing in the awesome versatility and flexibility of the human voice, this renowned vocal group can fill a large concert hall with beautiful, intricate music without ever plucking a string or beating a drum. Acappella’s current model, launched in August 2014, combines the talents of the ministry’s past and present singers on concerts and albums. The group’s lineup will vary from event to event, showcasing vocalists from multiple eras of Acappella Ministries’ 32-year history in fresh new combinations. Acappella has featured special lineups for reunion concerts and other select events in the past, but is now in position to make that a permanent fixture for fans to enjoy.

Melissa Lancaster, Keith’s daughter, is currently Vice President of the group and oversees much of the current line production. She can hardly contain her passion for music. “I’m sort of a workaholic – mainly because I love what I do! I grew up on a bus touring with my family for my dad’s singing group. I saw the whole country at an early age, and now I can’t stay put. It made me a gypsy so I have to travel and sing or I get antsy!”

Melissa has served as a both an invaluable resource and a constant source of inspiration for the show!

What style(s) of a cappella music will acafans be treated to? How did you select the songs?

We’ve got something for everyone! Gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, soul, hip-hop – you name it! The Acappella Company has recorded 24 albums in their long history, so it was like diving into a treasure chest! We tried to select songs that would be effective in the telling of this timeless story.

Where can acafans see ACAPPELLA the Musical?

New York City! Performances run Tuesday, July 7 at 7:00 pm, Friday, July 10 at 5:00 pm, Saturday, July 11 at 9:00 pm, Sunday, July 12 at 12:00 pm, Tuesday, July 14 at 1:00 pm at the PTC Performance Space – located at 555 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues on the South Side of 42nd Street).

Is there an opportunity to meet you and the cast after the show, and maybe get some autographs?

Sure, if you can catch us! We’re usually hanging around in the lobby after each show. Come and say “Hi!”

The show starts  TONIGHT, July 7, and runs through the July 14. How do acafans buy their tickets?

Easy! Simply visit our website: – Hurry! Tickets are going fast and opening night SOLD OUT!

So, AcaFans – who’s going (we are)?! Be sure to let us know, and tell us all about it!

You can read more interviews about ACAPPELLA the Musical from our fellow

VocalBlog: Acappella – The Musical (Exclusive Interview)
Acatribe: The Long Journey Behind Acappella The Musical



Meet “The Sing-Off” Season 5’s Timothy’s Gift!

Hey AcaFans! You know we wouldn’t leave you hanging without this final competitor interview from tonight’s The Sing-Off: A Special Holiday Event!

timothys gift-3
L to R: Emily Angarole, Melissa Greene, Anna Register, Lauren Wedertz, Abby Lane, Beta Angarole at The Sing-Off Nashville audition (via

Allow us to introduce… Timothy’s Gift!

Thank you to Melissa Greene (MG) and the rest of Timothy’s Gift for their time and answers in this interview!

AcaFanBase: Who are Timothy’s Gift, and how did the group get started?

MG: Timothy’s Gift is an innovative, prison outreach founded by Ron Miller. I, Melissa Greene, am the Hope Curator for TG.  Ron asked me back in 2012 to organize and produce a concert tour to take down to maximum security prisons in Florida for Christmas.  That initial tour went so well that since December 2012, we have now sung in over 80 prisons, for over 15,000 inmates and 400 staff.

The six girls that appeared on The Sing-Off make up the core team and face of TG.  TG’s heart and message is that no one should be forgotten or overlooked, that every life matters, and that we all have great worth for who we are as inhabiters of this great world, NOT for what we do or don’t do. That message is not just for inmates; it is for all of us.

AcaFanBase: Introduce yourselves and let us know how you each got started in music.

Melissa Greene: I grew up singing in church and musical theatre.  I traveled as a Christian Artist for almost 10 years- 7 of which with American Music Award-winning and Grammy-nominated group Avalon.
Anna Register: I sang my first solo in church when I was 5 and never looked back.
Abby Lane Hinton: I used to give private concerts to the posters in my bedroom, and somewhere along the way my hairbrush turned into a microphone and the people become real.
Beta Angarole and Emily Angarole: We are sisters, and we grew up singing in church and school.
Lauren Wedertz: My first public performance was in a Hallmark store when I was 4 singing, “All I wanna do is Make love to you.”  The rest is history.  🙂

timothys gift-1

AcaFanBase: What are each of you doing now?

Melissa Greene: I am the Pastor of Worship & Arts at GracePointe Church, the Hope Curator for Timothy’s Gift, and a Speaker, a Writer, and I’m also a wife and mom of 2 crazy kids…sometimes I wear a cape! 🙂
Anna Register:  Director of Children’s ministry at GracePointe Church
Beta Angarole: Artist, Song Writer, Background Vocalist, Dog Walker, Voice Teacher, Busker.  🙂
Emily AngaroleSouthwest Flight Attendant
Abby Lane Hinton: Indie Artist, Song Writer and Executive Assistant – Marketing Company
Lauren Wedertz: Business Development at a Cancer Research Center

AcaFanBase: Who would you say is your current fanbase for Timothy’s Gift?

We have a mixture, between people who follow and are moved by the prison outreach that we do and also tons of new friends that have heard about us simply through The Sing-Off platform.  We look forward to showing all of them the depth of what TG and our music represents.

AcaFanBase: How do you select your songs? Who does the arranging?

I, Melissa, normally select all of the music for the tours.  We all have a hand in arranging the music for our tours though.  The amazing Robert Dietz has had a HUGE hand in arranging most of our a cappella music thus far.

AcaFanBase: What did it feel like when you found out Timothy’s Gift had been cast in The Sing-Off this year?

WE were ecstatic.  Little secret – we actually made the show while using acoustic guitar and percussion.  Originally, this year, The Sing-Off was going to include some instruments.  Then they said – YOU MADE IT – but it’s back to just a cappella.  🙂  No problem for us since we do sing a cappella music.

Once we got over the initial shock of making The Sing-Off, we were excited to be an all-female group representing on the show.  Then we consistently were so grateful that not only were we sharing our music with such a LARGE platform, but more importantly that we were sharing our message.  TG stands for something much larger than just the 6 of us ladies and our voices.

Here is one of our audition videos:

AcaFanBase: What would you like to say to all of the AcaFans out there?

We are SO, SO HONORED to now be a part of this A Cappella Family.  The Sing-Off reminded us how a cappella singers are simply SMART MUSICIANS and endlessly talented.  We hope that you’ll allow us to stay a while in your world and that you’ll be inspired by our message in the meantime.

A big thanks to the ever-busy to Melissa for coordinating this interview with her group! Here’s the contact info in case you missed it in our Sing-Off Season 5 intro post.

Members:  Beta Angarole, Emily Angarole, Melissa Greene (Hope Curator and Leader of TG), Abby Lane Hinton, Anna Register, Lauren Wedertz
Twitter: @timothysgift

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs TONIGHT, Wednesday, December 17, 9/8c on NBC.



Meet “The Sing-Off” Season 5’s The Exchange!

Hey, AcaFans! That’s right, we are here to keep your aca-fix going until The Sing-Off airs, so here is another competitor interview!

L to R: Alfredo Austin, Aaron Sperber, Christopher Diaz, Richard Steighner, Jamal Moore
L to R: Alfredo Austin, Aaron Sperber, Christopher Diaz, Richard Steighner, Jamal Moore

Allow us to introduce… The Exchange!

BIG THANKS to Christopher Diaz (CD) for taking the time to answer a few questions for us AcaFans… from Hong Kong!

AcaFanBase: Who are The Exchange, and how did the group get started?

CD: The Exchange is a five guy vocal band from all over the US. We started out of a desire to do more than just hustle as a band to “make it.”

Aaron and I met on The Sing-Off Season 3 and connected instantly over some beers and philosophical discussion about the connective and transformative power of music. We decided to start a group that would use music to open up the world to us and to others. Aaron was in the YellowJackets with Jamal, and we met Richard while he was with Urban Method, and we all became fast friends. We hit up Fredo to join our squad and The Exchange was born.

AcaFanBase: Introduce yourselves and let us know how you each got started in music.

CD: I’m Christopher Diaz, and I am from Newport News, VA. I didn’t sing formally as a child, I just loved singing along with the radio. In high school I stumbled into choir and musicals, and then a passion formed that sent me to Florida State University, where I graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance and Russian Literature.

Aaron Sperber is from Rochester, NY and started at an early age as a classical musician. He’s an accomplished cellist, pianist, and singer and graduated from the Eastman School of Music with degrees in Vocal Performance and International Relations.

Jamal Moore is from Augusta, GA and grew up singing and playing drums. He also graduated from Eastman with a voice degree and an aspiration to be an opera singer.

Alfredo Austin is from Newark, DE and found his voice at an early age singing in church choir. He went to the University of Delaware where he graduated with a Music Business degree.

Richard Steighner is from Denver, CO and discovered his proclivity for beatboxing while making sounds in grade school to impress girls. He graduated from University of Colorado-Boulder where he studied Psychology and Architecture.


AcaFanBase: What are each of you doing now, as part of or separate from The Exchange ?

CD: The Exchange is our full-time job/career/passion/life! We spend about 2/3 of the year on tour in the US and abroad, but when we’re home, we all dabble in other things (arranging, songwriting, producing, cooking, web design). In The Exchange, Aaron is our founder, group leader and high tenor. Alfredo is one of our arrangers, lead vocalist and tenor 2. Jamal also arranges and is our baritone and style guru. Richard is our webmaster/designer and beatboxer/bass, and I am our de facto music director and bass. I also organize most of our educational programs.

AcaFanBase: Who would you say is your current fanbase for The Exchange?

CD: Our fan base is as diverse as we are, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our first fans were fans of our individual pursuits- Aaron and Jamal brought lovers of the YellowJackets , Richard brought Urban Method fans (and fans from several of the other groups he’s performed with) and Fredo did the same with his fans from Overboard and Hyannis Sound. Now, however, we have fans from all over the world.

We spend a great deal of time in Asia, Australia and Europe, so we have a broad base of new fans in those places. Hong Kong is a favorite spot of ours, and a place where we find a great deal of support, though we have also had a blast singing for the audiences in Taiwan and Singapore. This spring, we toured Europe as the opening act for the Backstreet Boys, so we got the chance to sing for thousands of people all across the continent, which was an incredible experience. We spend a lot of time in Germany performing, so many of our most loyal fans are there.

AcaFanBase: How do you select your songs? Who does the arranging?

CD: I’d like to say this this is an intense and developed process…but it isn’t. We just sing songs that we like, that we can’t stop humming, that we heard and thought someone would sound great on. Someone likes it and arranges it (or asks someone else to arrange it), we give it a sing, and if it works, we perform it. In general, Fredo, Jamal and I do the most arranging, but all 5 of us have arranged songs for the group and still do when something speaks to us.

AcaFanBase: What did it feel like when you found out The Exchange had been cast in The Sing-Off this year?

CD: Needless to say, it was really exciting to hear that we were going to get to perform on The Sing-OffI have followed, promoted, and (as of Season 3) even worked for the show, so I know what an amazing venue it can be to have your music seen and heard. We do most of our performing and touring out of the country, and while it is our dream to see the world and exchange cultures and ideas through music, our families haven’t even ever seen us perform!

We are, and were, so thrilled to share our music and passion and love with a broader American audience, and I know for one that my grandmother is absolutely freaking out- she is so excited to finally see what it is that I do that keeps me away from home for so much of the year!

AcaFanBase: What would you like to say to all of the AcaFans out there?

CD: We feel really honored to get to show America what The Exchange is all about, but because of the nature of television, it’s a very condensed version of what we’re about. We perform often, and definitely have some boy-band qualities, but we also believe strongly that music *is* the universal language, and to that end, our mission is much bigger than just singing.

In almost every place we go, we concern ourselves not only with putting on a show, but also with engaging communities through service projects and musical outreach, inspiring young people to persevere in school and arts education through workshops and classes, and we have even pushed ourselves beyond singing only a cappella, including original music and music with instruments in our concerts.

At our core, though, The Exchange is about exploring and promoting and sharing the power that music has to connect us all, across cultures, languages and oceans. And to us, there is no better instrument, apparatus, or gift more able to highlight and enhance our sameness- and uniqueness- than the human voice.


Thanks again to Chris for giving us some background info on his group! Here’s the contact info in case you missed it in our Sing-Off Season 5 intro post.

Members: Alfredo AustinChristopher Diaz (Bass), Jamal Moore, Aaron Sperber, Richard Steighner (VP)
Twitter: @exchangevocal

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs IN 2 DAYS, Wednesday, December 17, 9/8c on NBC.


Meet “The Sing-Off” Season 5’s SanFran6!

Hey, AcaFans! There are still more groups competing in The Sing-Off to get to know, so here is one who is brand new on the a cappella scene!
L to R: Del Lazaro, Kevin Redrico, Cherilyn Acorda, Jess Walsh, Jaron Liclican, Danny Cavero
Allow us to introduce… SanFran6!

Thank you to Kevin Redrico (KR) for taking the time to answer a few questions for us AcaFans!

AcaFanBase: Who are SanFran6, and how did the group get started?

KR: SanFran6 is a vocal band based in the Bay Area/San Francisco, CA. We started singing together in September 2014, coincidentally when The Sing-Off auditions were posted. I recruited them from seeing them or competing with their various a cappella or singing groups in the past. It’s kind of the same formula as how The Backbeats started in Season 2 and Delilah in Season 3, except nobody has been on the show before. We decided to take the chance and audition even though we were completely new, and we were able to put 3 videos together on our second day of rehearsing as a complete group. It was tough! Soon enough, to our complete surprise, we got the call that we made it on the show!

AcaFanBase:  Introduce yourselves and let us know how you each got started in music.  What are each of you doing now?

KR: I’m Kevin Redrico, and I’m the group leader, a current student at San Jose State University. I’ve been playing piano since I was 3 ever since my dad influenced my ears in music. He has been a musician all his life and it rubbed off on me whenever he would practice his bass in his garage. Since then, I’ve been playing piano for years and developed arranging skills for both piano and voice. I grew a passion for pop music through making piano covers on YouTube. After being in multiple choirs and starting various small groups, I was able to discover my abilities in a cappella arranging and utilize them for a group of amazing vocalists.

Cherilyn Acorda is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a full-time chemist at a laboratory. She was involved with The Golden Overtones during her college years and later became a lead vocalist for a Bay Area band known as The Delivery.

Jess Walsh is a graduate of UC Davis where she was active in musical theatre, landing the lead female role for their production of Spring Awakening. She was also a part of the UC Davis a cappella group, The Liquid Hotplates, who have competed in ICCAs throughout several years.

Jaron Liclican is a graduate of UC Berkeley. He was a part of the UC Men’s Octet, along with another men’s group, Elevate, who auditioned for X-Factor a few years ago. He has a background of musical theatre and solo-singing, and was also seen on the auditions for The Voice of the Philippines.

Danny Cavero is a graduate from UC Santa Cruz and was a beatboxer for the a cappella group, Acquire, as seen at the ICCAs. He is a competitive beatboxer and has competed in national competitions for years, most notably winning 1st prize at San Francisco’s Asian-American talent showcase known as Kollaboration SF 5.

Del Lazaro is a member of the Bay Area R&B group known as Legaci. They’ve toured with Justin Bieber as back-up vocalists and have sung all over the world, even at The White House in front of President Obama. His group was also featured on America’s Got Talent as well as X-Factor.


AcaFanBase: Who would you say is your current fanbase for SanFran6?

KR: Our current fanbase is our family & friends. We’re very new, so we haven’t had a chance to show everyone what we’re about. Hopefully that changes when The Sing-Off  airs!

AcaFanBase: How do you select your songs? Who does the arranging?

KR: We select our songs based on what is popular and mainstream, and based on the skills of each singer. We make sure we can handle the song before we choose to sing it. Each member has an element of creative control in each song whether it’s a bass line, a run, or a beatbox solo, but the arranging on sheet music is done by me (Kevin). We continue to explore new ways of arranging to include everyone’s ideas.

Here is our most recent video:

AcaFanBase: What did it feel like when you found out SanFran6 had been cast inThe Sing-Off this year?

KR: It was surreal to be cast on The Sing-Off. We were stunned and speechless, and didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t hit us until we started rehearsing in Hollywood! We have all been striving for a big break in music, so making it on the show was definitely a dream come true.

AcaFanBase: What would you like to say to all of the AcaFans out there?

KR: To all the AcaFans out there – We’re so excited to start our new journey, and we’d like for you to be a part of it – so stay tuned and follow us on social media! We have a lot of ideas and we can’t wait to share it with you all!

Thanks again to Kevin for giving us some background info on his group! Here’s the contact info in case you missed it in our Sing-Off Season 5 intro post.

Members: Cherilyn AcordaDanny CaveroDel Lazaro (Bass), Jaron LiclicanKevin Redrico, Jess Walsh
Twitter: @sf6official

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs IN 2 DAYS, Wednesday, December 17, 9/8c on NBC.


Meet “The Sing-Off” Season 5’s Vanderbilt Melodores!

Hey, AcaFans! With just THREE days to go till The Sing-Offwe are back with another Season 5 competitor interview just for you.

L to R: Dan McNeil, Austin Lyons, Augie Phillips, Jonathan Amaro-Barron, Ted Moock, William Woodard, Nikhil Ramaprasad, Hollis Cuffie, James McHugh, Cameron David, Jamal Marcelin, Justin Riele.

 Allow us to introduce… The Melodores!

Many thanks to Justin Riele (JR) for taking the time to answer our questions on behalf of the group!

AcaFanBase: Who are The Melodores, and how did the group get started?

JR: The Melodores are an all-male, collegiate a cappella group from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. We were founded in 2009 by a group of guys who strived to create the best collegiate a cappella group in the world.

AcaFanBase:  Introduce yourselves and let us know how you each got started in music.  What are each of you doing now?

JR: We all come from a variety of musical backgrounds. Some of us have classical experience, while some members had never been in any sort of performance group or taken voice lessons before joining the Melodores.

We do not currently have any voice majors in our group. Right now we are all pursuing respective careers- some guys are pursuing medical school, law school, business careers, or professional music careers. We are all involved in several different organizations and activities.

In order of the photo (L to R) above:

Dan McNeil: Tiny with a powerful voice; attending medical school next year
Austin Lyons: Southern charm
Augie PhillipsPresident, father of the group
Jonathan Amaro-Barron: The only freshman in the group, friends with Avi Kaplan [Editor’s note: Aren’t we all?], magician
Ted Moock: Mr. Treblemaker in Pitch Perfect 2
William Woodard: Cute as kittens, pianist
Nikhil RamaprasadHails from New Delhi, an Indian beatboxer
Hollis Cuffie: Southern preppy – Mr. Vineyard Vines
James McHugh: Pretty chill guy and the group’s Musical Director
Cameron David: LA dude and Abercrombie model
Jamal Marcelin: Brooklyn soul singer
Justin Riele: Frat star and water polo player.

AcaFanBase: Who would you say is your current fanbase for The Melodores?

JR: Vanderbilt University is our primary fan base. We love the support from all of our fellow classmates and students at Vandy. Our moms love us, too! All of America is next! 😉

AcaFanBase: How do you select your songs? Who does the arranging?

JR: We select our songs through a democratic group vote via email thread- this is how we conduct our most serious matters as a group. All of the arrangements we perform are done by our current group members.

And on that note, here is our newest video!

AcaFanBase: What did it feel like when you found out The Melodores had been cast in The Sing-Off this year?

JR: Funny story actually! We were on our fall tour to Boston sometime in October, and just as we were running out of a gig from Boston University on a Friday night, rushing over to our next gig at Northeastern, our group President Augie stepped away for a minute to take a phone call. When he came back, we were all waiting for taxis on the streets of downtown Boston when he just said, “We are going to be on The Sing Off.” At first we didn’t believe him, but soon we were sprinting and screaming up and down the streets of Boston! I will never forget that next performance at Northeastern- that adrenaline rush from hearing the news that we had made the show didn’t leave me for days.

AcaFanBase: What would you like to say to all of the AcaFans out there?

JR: We would like to say a huge THANK YOU! Thank you for your support, and please reach out to us. We always love to chat, talk, listen to you, or give any advice we can. We love having the support of our fans and we are always looking to meet new people in this amazing aca-community.

Thanks again to Justin for giving us some background info on his group! Here’s the contact info in case you missed it in our Sing-Off Season 5 intro post.

Members:  Jonathan Amaro-Barron, Hollis Cuffie, Cameron David, Austin Lyons, Jamal Marcelin, James McHugh, Dan McNeil, Ted Moock, Augie Phillips, Nikhil Ramaprasad, Justin Riele, William Woodard 

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs this Wednesday, December 17 on NBC.


Meet “The Sing-Off” Season 5’s a.squared!

Hey, AcaFans! We are counting down to The Sing-Off in 5 days <insert SQUEE>, so we are ever so excited to bring you this interview with one of the six groups.

asquared MYLV Still 1
L to R: Jackson Thea, DJ Stanfill, Nimal Eames-Scott, Paul Holmes, Jacob Reske

 Allow us to introduce: a.squared!

A big thanks for Jacob Reske (JR) and DJ Stanfill (DS) for taking the time to answer our questions!

AcaFanBase:  Who are a.squared, and how did the group get started?

JR: Hey guys! We’re a.squared, and we’re a 5-person vocal group that remixes the voice live. I’m Jacob Reske, and I write the music and do production for the group.

DS: I’m Daniel Francis Stanfill V, known as DJ. I sing baritone, write, and work with Jacob on production.

JR: a.squared started as a kind of concept that I had been kicking around for a few years. I produced a couple of a cappella albums in college and realized that the world of a cappella recording has gotten very exciting in the past few years. Producers and groups are going into the studio with some new and creative ideas, borrowing things from the pop/electronic scene and starting to use effects and layering openly. I think that a cappella performance and production is starting to split into to very divergent art forms, which is exciting. They’re both cut from the same cloth, but they have different goals.

So as I was doing these albums, I kept asking the question: how much of this production you could do live, and what that would mean if you made that a central concept? The idea was that you could create songs where you know that at any moment you can sample and loop any member of the group (or all of them) at any time, and make music with that knowledge. But we also decided that we wanted to keep some of the big ideas in a cappella: we create all our music with the voice as a base, and all our songs can be performed live. And a lot of the ways we work today are basically the result of us asking that question over and over, and trying to find ways so that we can do everything we possibly want to do live. The technology to do everything we want to do is almost but not quite there, so it takes a lot of work to plan out how we’re going to make all the sounds we want in any song.

So basically this group started with us asking the question, “Is it even possible to make a group that can do all the things we want to live?” And now that we know what is possible, we want to keep exploring what great music you can create with tools like these.

asquared rehearsal computer

AcaFanBase:  Introduce yourselves and let us know how you each got started in music.

DJ: I got started with piano in about first grade, then picked up trombone in 4th grade. Sang choir from middle school until high school. Got really into jazz in my junior year of high school, and that’s when I started to take vocal jazz really seriously. When I hit college I joined an a cappella group– the Duke’s Men of Yale– and started to get into pop and other styles of singing. I still doodle around with the piano and occasionally I pick up the trombone, but at this point I love singing so much I know I’m going to do it for the rest of my life.

JR: We all met at Yale about two years ago, and all the other members (except me) have been heavily involved in the a cappella scene there. I studied music + math primarily. In high school I did a TON of a cappella… my friends and I started a mixed group called Don’t Panic. When we sat down to make an album for that group, that’s when I first opened up Ableton (a program for making electronic music), and that’s what introduced me to producing and mixing and the electronic music scene. So the two things have always been very connected for me. (Nobody ever told me that it was a pretty strange thing to be making an a cappella album in Ableton.)

AcaFanBase:  What are each of you doing now?

DS: Right now I’m music directing the Yale Whiffenpoofs. I’m taking the year off and touring and performing with them, and I’m doing some of my own music on the side. Besides that, I don’t really have time for much else! Next year, I’ll be finishing my senior year.

JR: Right now, I’m working on a few projects that will let me (and anyone who uses it) to do the kind of live vocal manipulation + looping that we’ve always wanted to do. I’m building a few tools in Ableton that will let us do looping and sampling that feels more natural. I want to make it easier to do these things, so that anyone can do it if they want to. Other than that… producing a cappella albums! I’m not a very good singer, but somehow everything in my life is revolving around a cappella in some way or another at the moment. And it’s awesome!

asquared BOSSAcaFanBase: Who would you say is your current fanbase for a.squared?

JR: Mostly our friends and family 🙂 It’s funny, because this time last year we hadn’t performed a single concert yet. It took us about 8 months of rehearsing and perfecting our technique + workflow before we had something that we could show people I probably can count on one hand the number of people who had ever heard us sing anything, this time last year.

DS: We’re so thankful that the a cappella community has been so supportive of us so far. It was really cool meeting so many people at BOSS (Boston Sings A Cappella Festival) and on The Sing-Off who are so involved in the a cappella community… all of them have been extremely encouraging.

AcaFanBase:  How do you select your songs? Who does the arranging?

JR: DJ and I do most of the writing. The best way we’ve found that we work is if I come to him or the group with a beat, and then we flesh out the vocals and harmonies within that structure. If we’re lucky enough to have everyone in the room, sometimes we’ll sit around with a basic blueprint for a while and come up with the parts as a group. We all know each other’s voices really well by now, so dividing things up can be really easy if we’re all sitting in the same room.

DS: After that, everything in the computer has to be configured into the software so that it can be performed live. The software needs to know what kind of effects we use, when to loop things, etc., for us to perform them live. This means that we have to write everything with a computer on hand, and rehearse everything with the whole system, microphones and all. We call this process “teching,” and it can take a few hours for each song. But once it’s set up, it’s definitely worth it, because then everything works!

AcaFanBase:  What did it feel like when you found out a.squared had been cast in The Sing-Off this year?

DS: We were SO excited to hear we’d be doing The Sing-Off. I was a little apprehensive about working out the conflicts that would arise between filming in LA and scheduled Whiffenpoof gigs, but I knew that we had to do whatever it took to participate because it was just SUCH a good opportunity for us, especially given the fact that before The Sing-Offwe had performed only 4 times. We’re a very new group who is doing some kind of out-there things… to have NBC and the music team believe in us and want to show us to the world is a really incredible thing.

AcaFanBase:  What would you like to say to all of the AcaFans out there?

JR: Go play with loop pedals! 😀 Seriously, mess around with this stuff. Mess around with things in a cappella in general. Even if it’s not technology, even if it’s something else. Keep pushing forward and challenging people with your art, but keep making people enjoy the moment and have fun. We’re just starting on this road ourselves, and we’re a part of a

larger conversation people are having about technology and its role in creating and performing. It’s really exciting to be a part of this, and we are so excited to see where other people take things next. And email me if you ever want to talk about software! 😀

DS: Keep pushing the limits. Don’t think that a cappella music or music in general has to follow any guidelines; just follow your tastes and create what you believe is good music. Remember that the best art is the type of art that makes you question what art is in the first place. Open people’s ears, change people’s minds, stir things up and DO your OWN THING.

Thanks again to Jacob and DJ for giving us some background info on their group! Here’s the contact info in case you missed it in our Sing-Off Season 5 intro post.

Members: Nimal Eames-Scott, Paul Homes (Bass), Jacob Reske, DJ Stanfill, Jackson Thea
Twitter: @thisisAsquared

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs on Wednesday, December 17 on NBC.


AcaFanBase & Popappella: A #SpideyBoys Interview

A Joint Interview by AcaFanBase and Popappella

Hello, fellow acafans!  We’ve been away from the blog for awhile, but we’re back with something very exciting…

If you like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed us stalking our new obsession with some Broadway boys singing a cappella: #SpideyBoys!

UPDATE: The Spidey Boys have changed their name to Apollo Link! Same guys, new name!

#SpideyBoys are (L to R): Brandon Rubendall, Adam Roberts, and Jake Odmark

We, along with our good friend and fellow a cappella blogger, Popappella, were able to catch up with the very busy #SpideyBoys to get some of our burning questions answered.  Enjoy!

AFB & POP: Who are the #SpideyBoys, and how did the group get started?

#SpideyBoys: The #SpideyBoys are Brandon Rubendall, Adam Roberts, and Jake Odmark. They met as castmates in Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark on Broadway in 2012. Brandon and Adam were aerialists and played The Lizard and Carnage, respectively, while Jake played Flash and was the cover for Peter Parker. (Fun note: All three of us wore the Spidey suit at one time or another!) We sang for the first time during the Christmas season in 2012. We sang Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas just for fun – learning our parts during intermissions.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, arranged by Jake Odmark

AFB & POP: Introduce yourselves and let us know how you got started in music.  


Jake Odmark as Spider-Man!Jake Odmark (@jakeodmark on Twitter and Instagram) went to college as a trumpet major originally, eventually switching to voice/music theater which earned him a degree in voice. He also plays piano. His parents are both instrumentalists, along with his three siblings (two sisters and a twin brother) who are all still working in the music industry. Music has always been part of his soul and to have an outlet like the #SpideyBoys to not only sing with but arrange for is a dream come true!

Brandon Rubendall as Spider-Man!

Brandon Rubendall (@Brubendall on Twitter and Instagram) grew up as a dancer and a musical theater nerd. Skipping college after high school, he decided to put himself out there and attempt to make it on his own. Without any real professional training, shortly after graduation he was able to break into the theater scene regionally. It was doing shows across the country where he was able to get real life training to prepare him for what was to come. After his Broadway debut in the Original Cast of Spider-Man, Brandon went on to dance behind artists like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna to name a few. It wasn’t until after his second Broadway show closed that he realized singing was just as much of a passion as dancing.

Adam Roberts as Spiderman!Adam Roberts (@adamant9 on Twitter and Instagram) was born into a musical family, his father a singer/guitarist and grandfather in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, so it was inevitable that he’d follow suit and pursue his dream of performing onstage for the masses. He began working professionally at age 10 and went on to further his education, receiving his BFA in Musical Theatre from Coastal Carolina University.


AFB & POP: What are each of you doing now?

#SpideyBoys: Jake Odmark is performing as Harry in the Broadway company of KINKY BOOTS!

Brandon Rubendall has recently returned to his regional roots playing Al in A Chorus Line at Weston Playhouse.

Adam Roberts can currently be seen as one of the Players in Pippin on Broadway and harmonizing with the #SpideyBoys in his spare time.

AFB & POP: Who would you say is your current fanbase for the #SpideyBoys?

#SpideyBoys: Our fan base is anyone that loves music! We have a lot of Broadway fans because that’s, of course, where we first started. However, we have a lot of a cappella fans as well! Through the wonders of social media, we strive to expand our fan base every day.

AFB & POP: Did you anticipate this much attention?

#SpideyBoys: Of course not! The first song/video we did was for our own entertainment, and that’s it! Adam and Brandon knew Jake arranged music in his spare time, so they asked him if they could sing something, purely for fun. When it all came together, we knew we had something special, for sure, but there was no way we could have anticipated this much attention. Our first video (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) was shared over 500 times on Facebook… in less than a week!

Latch (opb Disclosure ft. Sam Smith), arranged by Jake Odmark

AFB & POP: How do you select your songs?

#SpideyBoys: Since we are all working in different shows now, we are rarely all in the same place. So, we have a text thread going almost all the time and if there is a hot new song that one of us likes, we’ll send it in the text thread to the others to see what they think. When we all agree on one, that usually means it’ll be our next.

Jake does all the arranging. He has been arranging choral and a cappella music for about nine years now and definitely has a passion for it!

AFB & POP:   Are you keeping the name #SpideyBoys, even though the show has closed?

#SpideyBoys: You know, at first we all agreed that this name was accidental and that we were going to change it at some point. But now? We’re not so sure. We are starting to like the name! It represents where we met, it’s different and definitely won’t be confused with other bands or groups, and it’s got kind of a cool ring to it, don’t you think? The #SpideyBoys might be staying! (We did add a hashtag – it’s very important to note that!)

AFB & POP: Can we expect recordings soon?

#SpideyBoys: Absolutely! Brandon is away for a few more weeks, but when we get back in late August… be on the look out! Do you have any requests?

AFB & POP: Do you have any exclusives for AcaFanBase and Popappella?

#SpideyBoys: You know, we have a pretty killer version of the Star Spangled Banner that we learned way back when. We could probably give AcaFanBase and Popappella a little snippet of that when Brandon gets back! We’ll tweet you!

Chandelier (opb Sia), arranged by Jake Odmark

Well, acafans, what do you think? Will you join us in our stalking obsession with the #SpideyBoys? Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram: @jakeodmark, @brubendall and @adamant9!

Big news! #SpideyBoys will be performing LIVE for the first time at BroadwaySpotted’s 5th Anniversary Party on August 30th. Buy tickets here!

Also, be sure to follow the blog of our friend and partner in this interview, Popappella, and also like Popappella on Facebook and follow @Popappella on Twitter.