Pentatonix's Kevin Olusola: 'There's a Uniqueness Inherent in What We Do'

Jiro Schneider

Pentatonix photographed in 2014 by Jiro Schneider.

Billboard caught up with Pentatonix's Kevin Olusola to talk about the success of their Christmas album and their plans for 2015.

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How was your New Year's?

It was great. The band was in Anguilla. We felt like we needed some chill time with all the craziness that happened during Christmas with That's Christmas To Me, so it was very much needed.

Did you always know you wanted to make a Christmas album?

Seeing the success of PTXmas, the deluxe edition, and especially "Little Drummer Boy," the single, I think we realized that Christmas could be a very special time for us. So we were thinking about doing a Christmas album. I don't think it started to really crystalize until we finished PTX, Vol. III -- that was finished on tour. We started working on some pieces around July, but things didn't start crystalizing until after we came back from our Asia tour in August. That's when we really started hitting it hard. We turned in the final around September 17th.

Did you feel like the album was going to be a smash?

Anything you release as an artist you hope it does it well. We're very proud of this album because it's very eclectic. A lot of things are very left field in the way we chose songs, the way we arranged songs. "White Winter Hymnal" is not really a Christmas or a holiday song, and we took a very cool direction with it. We always hoped that this album could be the soundtrack to a lot of people's Christmases, but you never know how well it's actually going to do. We had an amazing team, and I think the videos we put out really helped catapult this to what it became. We owe a lot of it to the fans for picking it up and definitely our team for marketing it.

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Was there a Christmas favorite someone had that didn't make the cut?

There were definitely songs we wanted to do that didn't make the cut, but it was kind of a unanimous decision as the album was coming together. "Santa Baby" was actually one of the songs that we chose, but we thought "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" would actually be a better fit because that one is a solo that Avi got to sing, and he didn't have a solo on the album. Kirstie had just taken "Sleigh Ride," and we wanted to balance out the album. So unanimously we decided it's probably better to have this song than this song.

What's it like writing a Christmas original?

We just wanted a song that focuses on the nostalgia of Christmas. For us, we are gone so much on the road. The only time we get to spend with family is during Christmas. So we wanted to write a song that kind of focuses on that. We're just so happy how it turned out -- it's a simple song that people can truly gravitate to. Musically it's kind of complex, but the simplicity and the musicality is what makes the song come to life.

Do you feel any sort of added pressure making Christmas music because there's so much of it out there already?

The Christmas market is very saturated -- there's so many albums that come out every year, and there's so many songs that have been overdone so many times. For us, just the fact that we do music all vocal, there's already a uniqueness inherent in what we do. It's not a crazy amount of pressure, we just try to do what we do.

Did you ever get sick of singing Christmas songs?

The season's over, and we're happy that we had that time. Starting tomorrow we're getting back in the studio to start working on a new album and start writing again. We're really excited -- we've been singing these songs from PTX III, from PTX II, and some Christmas songs, for a while. We're ready to start the next process and write a new album. It's a very exciting process -- this album is going to be mainly original. We're excited to get into that territory.

An edited version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of Billboard.


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