Penn Masala is the world’s first South Asian a cappella group. Having started as a small group in the University of Pennsylvania they are now one of the biggest and most recognized a cappella groups in the world. They have 9 full length studio albums; and have recently appeared in Pitch Perfect 2 alongside stars like Anna Kendrick and Pentatonix. Our team meet with Penn Masala blew us away, with their killer vocals and passion for their art, they are definitely a group to watch out for.
What events led to the formation of the group?
The group started with four founders in 1996, at the time acapella was not a big concept and was still developing so they thought why not mash up their 2 heritages, Indian and American as a means to express themselves.
What challenges did you face in the initial stages?
Initially bringing in a new concept was not as easy as we thought it would be, we found it difficult to mash songs together but, eventually that became easier as we learnt more about acapella and its form. Since we were also the first Hindi acapella group people were interested and attracted to the idea.
What are the best and worst parts of being on tour?
The best part is probably meeting all our fans and performing for such large number of diverse people. We really love exploring the cities we go to and getting in touch with them and their cultures. The worst part about being on tour is how tired we get. There are lot of shows packed into a short amount of time and a lot of travelling. However, despite that, it’s definitely worth it.
Since you have toured so much which city would you say has the best music culture?
Honestly for us India has the best music culture as the people have an appreciation for different types of music. Bollywood music is also the top music form because of its use of so many unique instruments and sounds in their music.
What effects does acapella have on your voice?
You definitely get tired singing acapella, but that’s only if you strain your voice too much. Acapella also helps your voice by increasing your range and it helps you grow as a singer with small things like breath control which is essential for an acapella singer.
So far the group has mainly focused on mashing up songs written by other artists. Do you plan on creating an album with just your original music?
We do release our own songs, about 10 percent of our albums are our own music and they have a good number of viewers as well. We only release a few because our originals are songs that express what we feel sometimes individually or as a group but we do hope to increase the number of originals that we release in the near future.