As a member of Pentatonix, Kevin Olusola helped push the a cappella group to win Season 3 of The Sing-Off, land two GRAMMYs and score a No. 1 album as the vocal quintet's resident beatboxer. But on the side, the Yale graduate and acclaimed "celloboxer" is exploring new musical territory, including with his first official side group, Triptyq.
Described by Olusola as "urban and classical fused," Triptyq (pronounced "trip-tick") is made up of himself, singer/Roots collaborator Antoniette Costa and pianist Tara Kamangar. Brought together by mutual friends in college, the trio initially bonded over a mutual love of classical music, but never thought their Bach-plus-beatboxin' sound could be parlayed into something more.
"The goal was trying to get a different sound out there for fun," Olusola tells Fuse. "We all play classical music—I play cello, Tara plays piano and violin—and my beatboxing adds the urban element that people would not necessarily expect. We knew we wanted that as a basis sound. Then Antoniette started writing these songs that we really thought would work well for that classical-type sound. But then we came to this idea of 'How do we make this more accessible? How do we write songs that made sense for people to say, "Oh I can groove with this"?' To have classical motifs that people knew and could pull from, and utilize that and take that and say, 'Oh wow, I understand what's going on now'... That took some time to get to."
People did respond, including one unexpected fan: Kate Upton, who proclaimed their tune "Mr. Right" was "an amazing song!" on Twitter.
"I think there's a lot more classical music fans," he says of the supermodel's support. "That's one of the goals [of Triptyq]: To get people to say, 'Oh, I would interact with this.' Because with a lot of people, as I've learned, you say 'classical music' and it's an esoteric art form that they can't really figure out how to interact with, and that's why we try to take what we love and what we've learned, and put it in a way that people can say, 'Oh, I can digest this, I can understand this.'"
While Kevin's grinding with Triptyq and promoting their recently released The Triptyq Sessions EP, the 27-year-old also looks forward to upcoming solo and group projects.
"The great thing about being part of Pentatonix is that it allows us and affords us a fan base that will listen to the things we do individually," he says. His solo music will spotlight his singing voice for the first time. Although the production will boast classical elements, Olusola is also bringing heavyweight pop writers to the mix including Hayley Warner (who worked on Tori Kelly's "Hollow"), Kevin Fisher (PTX's "First Things First"), and Nate Campany (Carly Rae Jepsen's "Emotion" and "When I Needed You"). Meanwhile, Pentatonix start their world in April, with the quintet currently playing around with the idea of recording a country EP after a warm response from performing at the 2015 CMAs.
But even among their many projects (bass singer Avi Kaplan is working on a solo record, Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi have their popular Superfruit channel), PTX fans shouldn't worry the band mates will abandon one another anytime soon.
"We're always focused on Pentatonix—that's always first and foremost," he assures, adding that their heavy into rehearsals for their upcoming tour. "Yeah, I've been working on a lot of stuff for myself, but I think that's the greatest thing about being a musician. You can do so many different projects—with Triptyq, with Pentatonix, and for myself—and you're learning so much from every single experience just to become a better musician."
Hear Kevin's latest musical progress by streaming The Triptyq Sessions below: