Imperial College London’s The Techtonics returned from their tour of Croatia yesterday after competing in the inaugural Vocal Marathon competition, and I spoke to two members of the group, Eugene Chang and Benjamin Chadwick, about their experiences in Southern Europe.
UACUK: Hi there, boys. Tell us about the group itself. When were you formed?
EC: The Techtonics were formed in 2008 by Ed Brightman and Christian Carter, and became the first contemporary a cappella group at Imperial College, London.
UACUK: What have you been doing since your inception?
EC: Like most other new groups, we’ve been increasing our reputation around London, doing various gigs and performances whenever we get the chance. Last year, we competed in the Voice Festival UK for the first time in the Cambridge Regional Round and won an award for ‘Outstanding Arrangement’.
UACUK: How was the experience of competing in the Voice Festival this year in the new London regional round?
EC: It was fun and obviously more convenient doing the round in London. It was great to meet the other London-based groups and compare notes with them. We didn’t qualify for the final, but it was a great experience.
UACUK: What made you decide to tour Croatia of all places?
EC: One of our members toured Croatia a few years back and remembered it as a great place for university groups – sunny, inexpensive food and drink and very friendly people. We got in touch with a few tourism boards around Croatia and a Croatian musician Olja Desic got back to us saying that they’re hosting this debut competition and they wanted us to take part!
UACUK: How did the Vocal Marathon competition work?
BC: There were seven performances in the pop/comedy/freestyle category, two in the jazz/gospel/soul category, and two beatboxers. We were competing in pop/comedy/freestyle. We were required to sing a twenty-minute set of five songs. There was a gold, silver and bronze prize on offer in each category. Sadly, we didn’t win any prizes, although we were very well received. The competition was formidable and included professional groups with many years’ experience. We were there to entertain and to have fun, both of which we undoubtedly achieved!
UACUK: What was your favourite moment of the tour?
BC: The tour was so much fun – we found a lovely cocktail bar in the Vela Placa, the town square in Krk, where we were given free drinks for serenading the bar staff and clientele. Also, as we were there with the Imperial College Chamber Choir, it was great to hear them sing and to have them as a very supportive audience!
But the highlight has to be hearing Austrian beatboxer fii (http://www.myspace.com/fiimusic) and dancing/raving to his music during the competition on Friday and during the final concert on Saturday.
UACUK: Do you have any CDs out, and do you plan to release one in the near future?
EC: We do have a CD out – contact us for more details. And another one is on the cards, which will feature some of our arrangements from this year.
UACUK: What other plans do you have for next year – gigs, tours, the Fringe Festival perhaps?
EC: We have several options. The Edinburgh Fringe; perhaps an East Coast Tour of the States; we may compete in the Vocal Marathon competition again. It’s all very exciting – watch this space!
You can read a review of the Techtonics performance and find out more about the Vocal Marathon competition here.