HomeThe Stereotypes Take The First Acapellafest Collegiate Competition

There's something aesthetically pleasing about a bunch of well dressed men in colored ties, singing in perfect harmony. I am of course talking about The Stereotypes. Hailing from Washington University-St. Louis, these talented musicians competed in - and won - the first collegiate competition at Acappellafest this past October. I had the opportunity to sit with Michael Schwartz, the group coordinator of the Stereotypes, and asked him several questions about their recent victory.

Q. How did the Stereotypes hear about Acappellafest? Was it easy to convince the entire group to go? If not, why and how did you come to an ultimate decision to apply/purchase tickets/compete?

A. We first heard about Acappellafest when talking to our Missouri CASA Ambassador, Sean Patrick Riley. Many of the Stereotypes have wanted to go to SoJam or BOSS for a while, but distance has always been too much of an obstacle. It was very convenient to have an a cappella festival in the midwest during our school’s fall break! The group was excited to go, mainly to learn more about a cappella and meet people from other groups.

Q. As an individual, what were you the most excited for at ACF (i.e. the competition itself, meeting people, the classes, a combination of those things, etc.)?

A. I was most excited to meet people from other college groups. One of my favorite parts of being in the Stereotypes is travelling to other colleges, to sing and hang out with other a cappella groups. I looked forward to having groups from several colleges converge on the same festival!

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced as a group while preparing for the competition (i.e. time constraints, learning new music at a quicker pace, extended rehearsal time, etc.)?

A. The biggest challenge we faced was creating a competition set so early in the year. We found out we were competing at ACF right after taking our new members, so we had to be extra efficient during rehearsals to come up with something we could be really proud of. The afternoon of the competition, one of our Men In Drag hosts helped us find an empty room in the Logan Center where we could rehearse. We even made a few changes to our set that day!

Q. At your mic check, what were some of the challenges that you faced as a group? How did you overcome/compensate for those challenges in order to win?

A. ACF was the first time our whole group had used individual microphones, so we didn’t know what to expect. It’s a completely different experience! We tried not to let a different mic setup distract us. We told ourselves: be confident, and trust that what we’re singing is right, even if it sounds different than what we’re used to in the monitors.

Q. As winners of the ACF competition, you got to pick your masterclass with one of the professional groups. Which group did you choose and why?

A. The group chose to do our masterclass with Six Appeal. We saw them perform at the collegiate competition Friday night, and they were great! We wanted to stick with an all-male group, and Six Appeal seemed to have a similar style and personality to the Stereotypes.

Q.  What did you learn from your masterclass?

A.  We worked on perfecting the three songs we performed in the ACF competition. They were especially helpful with our balance and blend. After seeing Six Appeal’s performance of “Harder to Breathe” the night before, the Stereotypes ended our masterclass by performing our version of the song for them!

Q. In addition to first pick for a masterclass, you guys also recorded on the collaborative recording with the professional groups and the ACF VIPs! What song did you guys record? How was recording in that setting different/similar from what you're used to when recording your own albums?

A. We recorded “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, with the guys from Plaid Productions. It was exciting to be on the same recording as so many talented singers we’d met that weekend. Our group normally records each member one at a time, so it was a different experience recording all together. It’s amazing how long it took to get that stomp-clap section right!

Q. As a former competitor (and winner) of the first ACF competition, what would you say to people that are unsure of competing next year? And will we see the Stereotypes returning to defend their title next year?

A. Competing at ACF was a great experience for the Stereotypes! We’re lucky to have been chosen for such an amazing event, and we had so much fun meeting groups from all over the midwest! The Stereotypes haven’t planned that far into the future, but it’s certainly possible that we’ll be back in 2013.

You can follow the Stereotypes on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/wustereotypes) and Twitter (@theStereotypes).

If you're interested in hearing the ACF collaborative recording track, click here. Mixed by Plaid Productions and mastered by Dave Sperandio at Vocal Mastering.

photos courtesy of Michael Eldredge