Admit it. When you think no one’s listening, you bust out singing at the top of your lungs in the shower, car or anywhere else you feel like. Four out of five times, however, your friends would actually pay you to stop singing. At least that’s what happens to me. That isn’t the case for everyone. Meet Vocal Motion and Brothas From Otha Mothas (BFOM), two of UCSB’s amazing a cappella groups.
Vocal Motion is the first all-female a cappella group at UCSB, created recently in 2003. Founding member Melanie Bever wanted to make the group unique from the others on campus by focusing on the ’80s, bringing back the songs, clothes and overall vibe. The group has expanded its selection of songs. They choose numbers based on personal preferences and what sounds good, eventually voting on which ones they should perform. This group offers something for many different types of people. They don’t focus on one specific genre, but rather dip their toes in almost everything.
Members come from various backgrounds, from having no experience to years of training. Member Nili Salem, the main beatboxer of the group, never really had any voice training but plays many instruments. Her father once said that she should never sing because she had “voice pollution.” She writes her own songs, one of which has already been performed by the group. Although she is one of the six or seven members who aren’t coming back next year, Nili plans to continue singing in Africa, where she will be studying music. On the other end is freshman Chelsea Dyer. She has been singing her whole life, in a variety of areas including musical theater, backup sounds and even the White House Christmas party. She too will be leaving the group next year, to perform on Broadway.
As a group, they find that performing is the most fulfilling aspect of being part of Vocal Motion. Member Katie Rossi says, “We’re not just a group of singers. We’re a family. It’s empowering to be on stage and perform something that we’ve created ourselves with just our voices.”
Many of the members that brought Vocal Motion to the level it is at today will not be returning this coming year. They’re all going on to new ventures in music, but not without a few farewell performances. Tonight at the Francisco Torres Linda Vista Room at 7:30 and Santa Rosa Hall at 8:30 will most likely be your last chances to see the departing members perform.
BFOM is the first all-male a cappella group at UCSB. It was started in 2003 by Daniel Tuutau and D.J. Ozan after an opera workshop in Italy. Right off the bat, you can tell that there is an extremely firm sense of chemistry and compatibility between the group members. These 10 guys are about the music, and the passion that they feel for it makes nothing else matter. It’s all about the singing. Any ideas at all are welcome; they do things for the greater good of the group.
The chemistry between them adds to their appeal and heightens the talent that they possess. Many of the group members feel that they work so well together because they are so laid back and don’t take themselves too seriously. They do consider themselves “the best singing group ever,” as member Brendan Sherlock claims. Do not take this as arrogance. They just take pride in what they do and who they are. They are 10 soloists who came together as an ensemble – 10 individual, strong, unique voices that blend and work well as a group.
Honestly, watching them was one of the most fun times I’ve had as a reporter. The guys were really lighthearted and fun. It was hard to get a few words in, but nonetheless, it was great to watch them interact. They are friendly, approachable and genuine – not cocky whatsoever, even though they have amazing abilities. When you watch them perform and interact, you automatically feel a connection with them.
They are the type of people you can see yourself hanging out with. Adding to their voices is their sense of humor. When asked about the group, freshman Sean Aguirre had this to say: “BFOM is like a jelly doughnut. Warm and crispy on the outside, gooey and delicious on the inside.”
If you haven’t already heard these guys sing, you really are missing out. But not to worry, they have a CD coming out early next fall and are performing in the Reel Loud Film Festival on Friday at 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall.
For any of you out there who want to sing with these artists, look out next fall for audition fliers that will be posted around campus. Both Vocal Motion and BFOM bring variety to UCSB’s multiple a cappella groups. Both groups have their own methods of going about business, but always deliver in the end. You don’t have to take it from me; check them out for yourself, and I’ll stop pretending like I can sing.