What do you get when you put five incredibly talented singers together with nothing more than their wits and a pair of microphones?
You get a unique performance bending a mix of sounds; vocals, bass, guitars and drums spanning a variety of genres all created by nothing more than the human mouth. Putting on this memorable experience is a cappella group, VoicePlay, comprised of Earl Elkins Jr., Geoff Castellucci, Layne Stein, Eliezer “Eli” Jacobson and Tony Wakim. Based out of Orlando, FL, VoicePlay started out as friends in high school who bonded over singing and have grown into a renown act touring the world. Never taking themselves too seriously, Geoff described how, “We predict what each one of them is going to eat for breakfast for the next year and Tony doesn’t eat breakfast in case you were wondering.” VoicePlay has found successful at every point of their career while helping people get a better understanding of what exactly a cappella is.
Originally known as 42Five, the group arrived at their current name while “preparing for a national tour after just hiring Eli and Tony felt like a new name was in order to solidify a “fresh start”. Having tossed around names for a few weeks, they kept coming back to VoicePlay, which worked out as they felt, “It was simple and descriptive of the focus of the group.” During their travels VoicePlay continues to see that many people still aren’t sure what a cappella is, as they explained that, “We still run into folks who don’t understand the concept of vocal drums or bass, but a cappella is becoming more recognized as a mainstream genre so most people get it right away.” Since their days as 42Five, VoicePlay has become a family, with Geoff saying, “Honestly, we know each other so well…. It’s a really good place for a vocal group to be, because so much of our performance comes from being able to read and understand each other. I really believe that a cappella music is the most personal of all musical genres and knowing your fellow singers is a huge piece of the puzzle.” Through continued dedication VoicePlay has become part of a movement turning the mainstream onto a cappella.
With the success of shows and films like, The Sing-Off (NBC) and Pitch Perfect respectively, they mentioned, “We have seen a rise in the interest of a cappella music and groups.” Geoff even stated,” Personally, I’m curious to see if there’s going to be a cultural backlash against a cappella groups like there was against manufactured pop groups of the late 90’s but I’m hopeful that vocal music is such an honest style of music that the genre will continue to grow and thrive in the mainstream for a long, long time.” Always giving credit where it’s due, the group continues to pay respect to two a cappella group they can only describe as “having an influenced in everything they do”, Rockapella and Toxic Audio. VoicePlay can not defined by one style of music as they cover multiple genres. When asked, if there is one particular style they find the most influential, Geoff stated, “Each of us would answer that question differently, but I think the arrangements that we really sink our teeth into are the theatrical pieces that we’ve built into our show. When we started VoicePlay we knew that we didn’t want to be a “Stand-there-and-sing-at-you” group, so making sure we were always inventing new creative ways to share music with audiences was and is a top priority for us.” Their unique ways of presenting music weren’t more evident than when America first fell in love with VoicePlay on NBC’s “The Sing-Off”.
What can only be described as the most challenging thing they have gone through, NBC’s “The Sing-Off” pushed VoicePlay to limits they didn’t know they had. Earl described how, “we taped for 7 weeks in LA and worked 16-17 hour days for every single day of that 7 weeks.” Even though they didn’t win “The Sing-Off”, VoicePlay saw the experience as “so much fun and totally worth it”. For many being featured on a nationally televised show for seven consecutive weeks is an accomplishment in itself, but VoicePlay says, “The smaller more personal triumphs are the ones that stick with us, such as a Patreon campaign which was recently launched and the level of love and support that the fans have shown us has been beyond anything we could have expected.” VoicePlay is currently working on a new album, putting a lot of energy into their YouTube channel and lining up a tour schedule for the fall. As they embark upon 2016, Geoff brilliantly stated, “You have to stay tuned for all the goodness”.