If you are a fan of Shawn Mendes’ Riff Off episode with James Corden, you should be a fan of The Filharmonic too. In each episode, their harmonious acapella music becomes a beautiful base on which artists including Mendes showcase their vocal talents.
This Filipino-American group has been making a sensation online and offline with their acapella covers. The group consists of vocalists Vj Rosales, Joe Caigoy, Trace Gaynor, Vocal Bass Jules Cruz, And Beat Boxer Niko Del Rey. Along with Pentatonix, The Filharmonic is one of the significant groups that are bringing attention back to the genre.
As an Asian American group, their goal is not just to create good music but also to bring attention to the artists in their community. Today, a very few Asian American artists (Eric Nam for instance) have been able to take the centre stage in the music industry. So, it has become quite important for these artists to garner attention and shift the focus to their community too.
Stretching their boundaries further, the group is now entering the music scene with the original tracks. Be it “The Sing Off” or a feature in “Pitch Perfect”, for a long time, people have known The Filharmonic as an acapella cover group and now the boys are all set to change the perception and show another aspect of themselves as artists.
They have recently released their single “Stupid”. Focusing on Carpe Diem, the single carries summer vibes which makes the song a perfect pick for the season. The single is an exclusive preview for The Filharmonic’s upcoming production “Affiliation Summer” of 2018. The production will consist of originals and collaboration with other artists to cover the latest and Top 40 hits of the year.
CelebMix talked to the boys about their journey, their vision for their music and the upcoming project “Affiliation Summer”. Check out the complete interview below:
1. The Filharmonic does not really need an introduction. But we would definitely like to know what led you guys to pursue music?
JOE: Growing up in a Filipino household, music has always been a huge part of daily life. At a young age, our families always encouraged us to perform at parties, so naturally when we grew up we chose to sing in choirs and play in band in school. When the opportunity to form a group and compete on NBC’s “The Sing Off”, we all knew that we wanted to pursue that dream.
2. Please tell us a bit about your influences. Who do you look up to as idols and why?
TRACE: What’s cool about being a part of a group is that we all have really diverse music backgrounds & upbringings- all five of us would answer this question very differently. So when we come together to make music, we all get to bring different things to the table and make something super unique. I think some of the performers that we all really look up to are the greats like Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, etc. And then from the a cappella side, we really look up to Take 6, BoyzIIMen, and Pentatonix.
3. How do you see yourself placed as artists in the industry? What are some of the challenges you guys have faced during your journey?
JULES: There have certainly been challenges but we’ve been good at just keeping our heads down, working, and it has led us to places we never thought we’d end up. That being said, being Filipino and trying to break into the mainstream consciousness is tough because a lot of people want to keep us in the international realm. But we will continue to work until we break through!
4. You guys have had some big moments but for each of you, which moments are the highlights of your journey?
NIKO: The top 3 biggest moments to me would probably be The Sing Off, because that was the birth of our group and it was one of the highest forms of validation you could receive as a collegiate a cappella singer. Secondly probably opening for Fifth Harmony in Manila, because being home and to see our homeland was a first for some of us and seeing all our family back home was an indescribable feeling. Lastly, the Late Late show is such a blessing because not only do we get to meet so many other artists we look up to but we also get to be doing what we love in front of millions of viewers. Those are some of the most rewarding things in our career so far.
5. The riff offs at Late Late Show are quite popular. How has been the experience of working with James Corden? Which episode is your favourite?
NIKO: James is THE BEST. Truly the definition of professional. He always welcomes us in such a warm way and never fails to deliver in his performances. I’m sure we all have different favorites but for me, Usher’s episode was one of the coolest experiences in my life. Early hip hop / R&B played a huge role in my upbringing. His career has influenced both my dance and singing significantly, so being able to meet him and experience how “down to earth” he was, was really mind blowing.
6. Congratulations on releasing “Stupid”. We loved the song! Please tell our readers a bit about the single and “Affiliation Summer”?
TRACE: Thank you!! Stupid was a song written by VJ, singer/songwriter Will Jay, and his producer Jonny Shorr. A cappella groups are mostly known for their covers of other songs, so getting to do original music is a bit of a scary leap. Affiliation Summer is our music video series where we will release 1 new music video per week. We will be collaborating with different artist and doing more originals. It’ll be fun!
7. Can we expect a music video for “Stupid” soon?
VJ: Yes, you can expect a music video from us very soon! It’s in the works.
8. Please tell us a bit about the creative process that went behind creating the tracks for your new project?
VJ: First off, I wrote the song with some good songwriter friends of ours, Will Jay and Jonny Shore. A lot of the creative aspects of the song “Stupid” was created in that session- the island groove, the lyrics, and the overall vibe. Then, it was important to keep that vibe while transferring it over to the A Cappella genre. In fact, we did not even want it to sound a cappella, even though it is. And I think it worked out, I’m super happy with the final product! Shout out to Ed Boyer who helped us mix the project.
9. In the press release, you have mentioned how important and enriching has been the experience of producing “original” music. Please elaborate a bit on it.
VJ: Original music is something you can’t compare covers or general music to. Most of the time, it comes from a real place, and the person creating it immerses their life experience in the song. That’s why it can be vulnerable sometimes to release original music- it’s a glimpse into the human who wrote it. I believe that vulnerability is important though, because how else can music speak to other souls if the music came from a inauthentic place? Original music must be real. It has to feel real. And that’s why we love doing it.
10. Till now, The Filharmonic and acapella groups like Pentatonix have been majorly producing covers. Do you think that by only releasing covers an artist inhibits his/her growth or that original music is a mere extension of his/her artistic calibre?
JOE: Performing covers vs our original music showcase both sides of the Filharmonic’s artistry. With new beats and harmonies, we can take a song everyone knows and give it new life. When it comes to original music, we are able to bring our audience a sound that is completely our own. Neither inhibit our growth as musicians, but show off the many sides of our artistry.
11. It’s not easy to be group as each of you have your own personal unique traits. What kind of challenges do you guys face as a group and how do you resolve them?
JULES: I think we all understand the bigger picture and can settle any differences we have by refocusing on just making great music and representing our culture.
12. What are some of the things that you like about each other?
JOE: Some of the best things about the members is that we all enjoy the same foods. So when we’re trying to figure out what to eat, we already know what we’re trying to get.
13. A lot of fans in the Philippines see you as the representators of the country. How do you feel about it?
TRACE: I mean, when we started The Filharmonic, that was the point of the group. We don’t see enough Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry, and we wanted to be a face for our community. Being a part of mainstream American shows such as The Late Late Show and Pitch Perfect, all while so loudly Filipino, is one of the most rewarding parts of all of this.
14. Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavors?
JULES: We’re working on so much new content for our YouTube Channel and are in the studio trying to make new, original music so stay tuned!
What do you think about The Filharmonic’s new single? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.