HomeHuman Nature Launches Contest To Find Tour Openers

Amy Malkoff's picture

Australian group (and current Vegas headliners) Human Nature is about to embark on their first US tour, and are looking for a different a cappella group to open each show. They're running a contest to pick those groups, and CASA had a chance to talk to them exclusively about their tour, the contest, and more [instructions for contest entry and available dates and cities are available at www.humannaturelive.com/contest]:

CASA: I believe this is your first US tour, is that right? What are you looking forward to the most?

There is so much that we are looking forward to about our first US tour - but getting to travel to so many places that we haven’t been to before is right up there. We have had people from all over the country come to our show in Vegas, so it’s exciting to be able to bring our show to them and our new fans in their home towns.
CASA: Is it true you all met in high school? How did the current group come to be?

The four of us were all members of our school choir. Actually I think we may have been the only guys in the choir! Andrew had the idea to put an a cappella group together with Mike (his brother) and his classmates Phil & Toby. He arranged a version of Earth Angel for us to try together. We fell in love with the sound we were making together and that’s how we came to be. At first it was just for fun - but it developed into something that would become our careers - and we’re still having fun doing it.

CASA: How long have you been doing your Vegas show and will it resume at the end of this tour?

We have been performing our show in Las Vegas for three years now. It’s an awesome city to be part of - such an incredible legacy of entertainment. We will return to Vegas to resume our show after the tour. It’s exciting to have our regular spot on "The Strip” to return to after taking our Motown sound around the US. 

CASA: How is your show received in Vegas?

 When we first brought our show to Vegas we really weren't sure how 4 Aussies singing Motown songs would be received, but every night it's so great to see people up on their feet dancing & singing along. We feel like we've been received so well by audiences in Vegas & can't wait to now take the show on the road across the US. We have so much fun singing this music & I think that is infectious to people, you can't help but enjoy yourself.

CASA: How was the transition from Australia to Vegas, or where you living in the US before Vegas?

I think a transition to a new country, new city always takes a bit of getting used to, particularly when you move from a city by the water (Sydney) to the desert!  But we're all now really enjoying living in Vegas, it’s an exciting city to be in, there's never a dull moment on the strip. Of course we all still love Sydney & look forward to heading back there to see family & friends whenever we get the chance.

CASA: In your live show, you also perform with a band, correct? How much of your show is a cappella?

We do 4 songs a cappella in our show and the rest is with a fantastic 7 piece band, we really love doing both, we started a cappella & there's always something special about hearing just voices on their own, but we also love the energy you get from having a rocking band behind you. We've always incorporated both in our concerts & felt it really helps the dynamic of a show to be able to go from just 4 voices to a full wall of sound.

CASA: Who are your collective musical influences and are there any a cappella groups that you listen to?

Because there are 4 of us, our musical tastes are pretty wide-ranging of course, but collectively we are all definitely big fans of soul music and R'n'B. When we first got together 22 years ago, many people told us we should listen to groups like the Temptations and the Four Tops for inspiration. We fell in love with it, and eventually we came full circle and are now doing those very same songs ourselves! As for a cappella groups, one of the first groups we listened to a lot was a Canadian group called the Nylons, but the group that had the most impact on us by far was Take 6.

CASA: How did your collaboration with Smokey Robinson come about?

We recorded two albums of Motown songs in Australia, and wanted something special for the third album. We reached out to Smokey to see if he was interested in doing a duet with us, and luckily for us, he had heard the first two records, loved what we were doing and was happy to be a part of it (and do two songs rather than just one). We first met Smokey while he was recording his vocals in LA, and we wanted to show him what we could do, so we sang an a cappella version of "Ooh Baby Baby" for him. He was blown away, and has been a huge supporter of ours ever since. We're so lucky and grateful to have such a living legend on our side.

CASA: How do you choose your songs and who does your arranging?

There are so many songs to choose from with Motown. Our choice of songs came from compiling the best-known songs (plus a few lesser-known personal favorites we may have had) then filtering the list by working on each song to see if our vocals and singing style fit. Some songs were obvious fits, some took a little tweaking, and unfortunately some just didn't work out. We think we came up with a great mix of songs though. Apart from the horn arrangements (for which we hired a professional arranger) the band arrangements were a collaborative effort between ourselves, our producer and the musicians who played on the record. The four of us work out vocal parts by all coming up with structure and ideas, then Phil works out the notes.

CASA: How did the idea to have a contest for a cappella openers come about?

After being in the states for a while now, we have noticed just how popular college vocal groups are here and have always been - so different to back home in Australia. We are lucky enough to be traveling to a whole bunch of cool US cities on our upcoming tour so we thought asking some of the local a cappella groups to open for us would be a great idea. We get a chance to help some great singers have an opportunity to perform for an awesome crowd and also introduce ourselves to some of their fans and friends at the same time.

CASA: What are you looking for in the groups chosen?

One of the most important things in a great vocal group is the blend of the voices. Sure it's important to have good lead voices too but the blend and "harmony" if you will in a cappella singing is what makes it so unique and special. I feel that is what we have as Human Nature - which has only gotten better over time - our vocal blend. It will be also great to hear some interesting arrangements being sung - that's another mark of a great vocal group - great arrangements

CASA: What does the a cappella community need to know about you - and this tour - that they might not already know?

We have always had a great passion for a cappella singing - it's the true stamp of a great harmony group to strip away the instuments and just have the voices together. We have always been inspired by great and interesting vocal arrangements and hope to be seen as a fine example of this unique art whenever we perform our a cappella songs.