No strangers to the occasional party in the kitchen, Newfoundlanders are in for one of a different sort this week.
Solala is an a cappella trio from Sweden performing at this year’s Podium conference. This year marks the first time the conference has been held in N.L., and Solala’s performance will mark their North American debut.
“They are going to be a phenomenon,” Kellie Walsh, co-chair of the Podium conference, said. “We went to Bob Chilcott, who is one of the biggest names in choral music in the world, and said, ‘We’d really like to bring a group here that you feel are going to be the next international sensation in small vocal ensembles,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got the group for you. This is it: Solala.’”
The trio of Olle Bergel, Anders Gabrielson and Jens Lindvall, started posting videos on YouTube six years ago and have gained a significant audience online, with their up-tempo version of Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose,” having reached over 492,000 views alone.
“The fact that their North American debut is right here, to get that, that’s what we really want the public to know.” Walsh said. “It’s just so rich and it’s happening right here at home.”
Their videos are typically shot around a kitchen table. Percussion is added from various household items like glasses tapped with pencils, salt shakers and spaghetti taped together like drum brushes and smacked across an upside-down candy tin. They’ve tackled songs like the 1983 hit by Michael Sembello, “She’s a Maniac,” and Toto’s “Africa,” all over a couple rounds of beer and wine.
The kitchen being their comfort zone, they bring the table on stage with them when they perform. This is part of the charm — the casual nature of the set-up and their everyman-style fashion sense of toques, trimmed beards and button up denim or plaid shirts. It’s choral singing disguised as if it were an everyday occurrence. They look as if, after singing a flawless a cappella rendition of NSync’s, “It’s Gonna Be Me,” Radiohead’s, “Creep,” or the 1993, Ace of Base hit “All That She Wants,” they’ll get up from the table to build a gazebo, haul in a lobster trap, or check on their homebrew.
It’s playful and fun, but there’s a very serious skill in the three-part harmonies they produce.
“It’s the freshness of their approach,” Ki Adams, co-chair of the Podium conference, said. “Part of it is the joy that I see in their performances and also, the fact that they are just using these found things to make music together at a very high quality.
“It’s that combination — which I think is what we always want to have in any kind of singing that we do together — (the) joy of singing and a sense of excellence.”
Solala will be performing at 8 p.m. on June 30 at the Arts and Culture Centre. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.podiumconference.ca/highlight-concerts/.
The Telegram is sponsoring the Podium Festival.