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Beatbox Heart featuring Luke McMaster

We're excited to let you know about a really cool tune we recorded with Luke McMaster called Beatbox Heart!

Luke McMaster used to be in the amazing duo McMaster & James.

Since McMaster & James disbanded, Luke's been flyin' solo but the ride hasn't slowed down. His recent song Good Morning Beautiful reached #3 on Billboard's AC chart, and he's written for or worked with people like Rihanna and Nick Lachey. And every acappella fan loves Nick Lachey, right?

So when he came to us with Beatbox Heart (that he thought might suit us for obvious reasons), we jumped on board!

We went into "WANTED! Sound+Picture" in Toronto and recorded it and they also recorded/edited video of us performing it live.

So here's the live video of us and Luke McMaster...please enjoy and share it!

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Hello from BC

We've been a busy band for the last 2 weeks performing daily shows at schools all over beautiful Kelowna, BC!

All of the schools we played at were full of enthusiastic people - we loved every minute of it!!!

So the best part about living in Kelowna for the last little while is definitely the awesome people, but a close second is the incredible landscape here.

Eh440 sunrise ~ the sunrise from our hotel in Kelowna, BC ~

Eh440 sunrise
~ the sunrise from our hotel in Kelowna, BC ~

Also, we're going to send out an email soon telling you about a cool song we created with Luke McMaster...stay close to your Inbox! 

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Happy Birthentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to you - Happy Birthday to Us!

Today, Eh440 turns 3! Three years ago today we sang our first gig ever - the national anthems for the Toronto Raptors / New York Knicks NBA game at the ACC in Toronto!

Since then we've toured across Canada, the US, and Germany. We released our first album called Turn Me Up and two official videos ~ Died On The Table / Don't Run Away. It's been a blast!!!

Right now we are in a van stuck in snowy traffic driving from Cleveland to Columbus, OH to catch a flight to Minneapolis! We're not having a lot of luck catching our flight right now - wish us luck!

Eh440 in traffic ~ hope this weather and traffic clears up soon so we can make our flight ~

Eh440 in traffic
~ hope this weather and traffic clears up soon so we can make our flight ~

We just started to use Bandsintown.com for our gig updates because we got too overwhelmed with dates and such. This system will make it easier for us to let you know when we're playing near you! We will update our Tour schedule at http://eh440.com soon! Promise!

 

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Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Eh440!

We had a fun 2014 and we're glad that you were a part of it!

 Early in the year we recorded our debut album, Turn Me Up, and we released it in May. We made TV and radio appearances, we did newspaper interviews, and we sang a whole lotta shows in the U.S. and Canada and we even hit our first Euro-country, Germany.

Eh440 in Germany
~ Eh440 in Heidelberg, Germany in 2014 ~
it feels like it was such a long time ago that we made it sepia

We also released a couple of official videos -> Died On The Table / Don't Run Away.

Basically, long story short, we had a whole lot of fun this year, and 2015 is lookin' like it's going to be every busier and even more fun!

 So, keep in touch - let us know how you're doing from time to time too, ok? We read and reply to each email so visit our Contact page and fire away!

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Don't Run Away video release!

The last you heard from us, we were asking for volunteers to be in our next official music video. And...voilà! Here it is! Just released today! Thanks to everyone who came out and joined us on shoot day!

Feel free to comment on the video and let us know if you dig the coolest location ever for a video shoot! Or, pass it on to your peeps! Also, don't forget to Subscribe to our Youtube channel so that you'll be automatically notified about future videos!

In other news, we were in Germany last week and give a big shout out to all of the people who made our shows so much fun! We are already planning to return next year!

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Be in the next Eh440 video!

Wanna be in an Eh440 video?! DONE!

We're going to be shooting a music video on Sun Aug 17, 2014 in Toronto and need a few "extras"!

It's a really easy part requiring little acting! We just want to film you "being you". 

So, if you're interested, just email us from the Contact page.

We know it will be in Toronto somewhere but we're not sure where. We also don't know the time, but we'll advise on all of that. This is how we keep our lives interesting - we fly by the seat of our pants! ;)

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Tough questions for Eh440

Last month we appeared on the The Drew Marshall (Radio) Show.  Drew's show is billed as Canada's Most Listened To Spiritual Talk Show.  If the word "spiritual" scares you, don't be alarmed.  Drew is very open-minded and likes learning about everyone's views (including atheists) and has had all sorts of characters from Don Cherry to Sinead O'Connor on the show to discuss their thoughts.

He didn't really ask Eh440 about our spiritual views, but did as some tough questions such as;

  • Who's the quiet one?
  • Does anyone get stage fright?
  • What's the meaning of the name Eh440?
  • Is anyone dating anyone else in the group?
  • Is Mike a picky bachelor?
  • Does Eh440 fight?

So have a listen to the interview and get to know your acappella friends a little better!

Here is the 18-minute interview: https://soundcloud.com/eh440/sets/drew-marshall-radio-interview

If you just want to hear a section at a time (2-3 minutes each) here's the topic breakdown (just click on each title):

Part 1: Drew's intro, DD cup, band member introductions

Part 2: How do people know Eh440?, Coolest thing for Eh440 so far?, Dragon's Den deal

Part 3: Janet, Stacey, & Tonya Harding, Who's the quiet one?, Who's the glue in the group?

Part 4: What's the coolest TV/radio gig?, Do you get stage fright?, The history of Eh440

Part 5: Beatbox solo, Cleveland rocks, The story behind Lonely Bones

Part 6: Unpredictable, Drew thinks Eh440 does not suck :) , Meaning of the name Eh440

Part 7: Is anyone dating anyone else in Eh440?, Is Mike a picky bachelor?, Sha-Na-Na & Take 6

Part 8: Does Eh440 fight?, authenticity, the honeymoon phase

Hope you enjoy it!

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Our first official video!

We're pumped for you to see our first official video!

The song is called Died On The Table and it was co-written by Matthew Tishler and your best friends, Eh440.

One of the members of Eh440 doesn't fair so well at the end of this video so if you know if any singers who'd like to join the group, let us know! ;)

Feel free to comment on the Youtube page if you dig it and share it with your friends!!!

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Studio Update

We’ve been taking a little hiatus from live shows to focus on our album. Well, the hiatus is coming to a stop real soon!

Just so you know how it goes, here’s a typical 5-step album creation process: Write, Pre-Production, Production, Mix, Master

People call things by different names, but this is pretty much the same for bands of every kind:

Write – This is self-explanatory. We wrote 10 songs for this album. We actually wrote more than 10, but these were the ones that we wanted to share with the world the most. We know a lot of acappella groups focus on cover songs, but everything has been covered and we like writing our own music too! We did record one cover song though, that we think you'll love! You'll love it so much that we think you'll play it on Repeat over and over again.

Pre-Production – This is where you prepare so that you’re not in the studio standing in front of a microphone with that stunned look on your face, like you do when you’re reading an online blog. Yeah, that one on your face right now. ;) You gotta be ready and know how everything’s gonna roll. So this basically means that Mike locks us in a house and chains the door shut for a few days until we emerge ready.

Production –This is where we actually press the record button a million times and move-shift-nudge stuff around. Sometimes we’re recording together but sometimes, just one or two people are in there at a time. And we’re not actually pushing the record button ourselves. Hill Kourkoutis does – she’s our Producer, who besides hitting the record button is guiding us and making musical suggestions.

When you’re a solo artist it’s one thing, but when you’re a band, you have to all agree to put your trust in one person – the Producer – and you’re handing a degree of creative control over to them. It’s scary to say, because our songs are our babies, but we trusted Hill to nanny our little creations.

Hill is short for Hillary, if you’re curious. Kourkoutis is often mispronounced but she says it as “kerr KOO tis”. Joe calls her The Incredible Hilk™.

We can’t tell you how great Hill was to work with. She kept Stacey calm. She amped Luke up. She tweaked the rest accordingly too.

Mix – This is where you push “that voice up and this voice down”. It’s like the audio version of the hokey-pokey dance. It sounds easier than it is and we’re over-simplifying it a hundred-fold. It takes about a day per song to get the first draft done and another few hours once we all give our feedback. Although Hill is still involved in an advisory capacity at this stage, the heavy lifting gets moved over to Brandon Unis at Cylinder Sound. We’ve worked with Brandon before so we knew the awesomeness he was going to bring to our ears. As of this moment, he has finished 8 of 11 songs. He gets an 8 out of 8 so far!

Master – At this stage Brandon gets to breathe a little. Now he and Hill act in an advisory capacity and the torch gets passed to a magician named Brett Zilahi from João Carvalho Mastering. Janet & Joe have worked with Brett in the past. Actually, Brett introduced us to Hill, so that’s how we found her in the first place! Brett’s job is intricate but he basically takes what Brandon did and fiddles with eq and compression and volume and makes sure it will sound the same on all different kinds of stereo systems – from big sound systems to little earbuds.

Then we’re done with all that noise. Literally. But of course, there is CD cover art and we got to put the lyrics inside and order them and they take weeks to arrive. So we’re planning on a late May 2014 release date. We’re pretty excited about it!

And here’s the best part of this album. Usually near the end of it, bands are googling their local laws to see how many years they’ll be imprisoned for if they commit a homicide. But that didn’t happen this time and we’re in the 4th stage. What is going on here?!


Anyway, that’s it for now. We’re excited for May to arrive so you can hear this! It’s going to be fun!

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SoJam is Not a Myth

SoJam in Raleigh, NC: it’s not a mythical acappella festival but it’s for real. We know – we’ve been inside the belly of the beast and lived to tell our tale.

SoJam is one of the largest acappella festivals in the world. As a group that just formed in 2012, we confess that we were a little shocked when we were asked to perform at SoJam in 2013.

We recall our manager emailing us and saying SoJam had contacted him. We replied, “Are you sure? They must be confusing us with another group – one year old acts that haven’t even released their debut CD don’t just get to headline SoJam”. But it was true. We were shocked and honoured at the same time.

The festival in short, was incredible. If you’re an acappella fan you must experience this festival at least once in your lifetime!

We hate thanking people because we will surely leave someone off in error, but as Canadians we still feel compelled to thank people incessantly.

So, no joke...if we left your name off this list and you know you should be on it...email us at band@eh440.com with the Subject line: You forgot me, knucklehead!. We’ll add it and pretend we never missed it in the first place. Ah, the beauty of online publications – edit as you go!

Dave Sroka: Executive Producer of SoJam: a kind soul that you feel like you’ve known for 5 years within 5 minutes of meeting him, he put his heart into this festival and we can't thank him enough

Kristin Sroka: Welcomed us into her home, no questions asked or criminal backgrounds checked. ;)

Lindsey McGowan: Drove us around in a big van and kept us on time. She was once on Jeopardy so we would make her always answer us in the form of a question. :) She also was a Riff-Off Team Captain as shown in this video!

From Liquid 5th Productions: Carl Taylor, Eric Scholz, Josh Chopak, Chris Juengel

SoJam/CASA Types: Amanda Cornaglia (who first suggested we play SoJam), Blair Baldwin (always delivers), Lauren Thomason (she brought us Bo-Berry Biscuits vine here ), TeKay, Michael Eldredge, Tom Keyes, Brian Watts, Troy Dolendo, Virginia DeMoss, Yassee Mohebbi, Kate Pientka, Nic Parson, Tom Anderson, & Scott Cobban

New Friends (& Some Old Online Friends): Bill Hare, Mike Why, Melissa Taylor, Charlie Friday, Chris Tess, Deborah Rosanwo, Florian Stadler, Marc Silverberg, Michael Marcus, Tone Siwela, Tara Marie Ahn, Heather Newkirk, Dave Bernstein, Alli Brooks, & Rachel Chalhoub

One last thing...

MICappella from Singapore : Mark Spencer (sound), Diana Tan (manager), Calin Wong, Eugene Yip, Goh Junyi, Peter Huang, Lee Ein Ein, & YK Teng

Swingle Singers from England : Hugh Walker (sound), Clare Wheeler, Jo Goldsmith-Eteson, Sara Brimer, Oli Griffiths, CJ, Kevin Fox, & Ed Randell

...sang amazing sets for us to enjoy on Saturday night. The Swingles got standing ovations in the middle of their set...you don’t see that very often but it was well-deserved. We’re looking forward to hearing the collaboration recording we recorded with them and U of Denver’s MIX at Liquid 5th! When we have it, we’ll send it out to you too!

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Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit, Nunavut

Day 1
These pics & videos accompany our blog on the Music Canada website: http://www.musiccanada.com/newsitem.aspx?scid=64709
The view from the plane near Iqaluit. Awesome! Right?
Iqaluit Airport is so bright and cheerful!
We thought the airport was bright and cheerful until we saw Anne Hellwig's smile! We wish she could be there to greet us any time we step off of any flight! <3 her!
We thought walking down this rocky slope from the hotel to the venue was difficult...
...until we had to climb up!
We met a talented guy, JP Cormier, accompanied by his talented bass player Emily Dingwall both from Nova Scotia.
JP and Emily brought some East Coast charm to Iqaluit.
Greenland folk legend Rasmus Lyberth and his awesome band.
We jammed with a great fiddler, Wesley Hardisty!
VIDEO ~ Wesley & Luke jam while Janet Brewster drums along.
Day 2
These pics & videos accompany our blog on the Music Canada website: http://www.musiccanada.com/newsitem.aspx?scid=64710
Janet Turner always has a way of sniffing this out. The writing at the top is Inuktitut, an official language of Nunavut.
Mike found this on the shores of Frobisher Bay. He wanted to add it his bone collection, but how do you explain it to airport security? ;)
Billy Kuksuk shares his talent. We called him the Inuk version of Tom Waits!
Billy sings every song from the inside. Lesson learned. Thank you, Billy.
Anthony from Koel and the Twin Otters & Mike put on their very best smiles!
VIDEO ~ Christine Tootoo tries to teach Jo3 to throat sing. Jo3 admittedly gave himself a "negative F triple minus" but promised her that he will practise and nail it next time!
VIDEO ~ This is how throat singing is supposed to be done! Here the awesome Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt (on the right) and her friend bring it home! (Put your headphones on for full enjoyment!)
This is a better view of Kathleen. She taught us how to pronounce a lot of things properly!
This is our first show in any Canadian territory. We coulda sung all night.
Luke, Janet, and Jo3 sing while Mike and Stacey look pretty.
How did we take those pictures of ourselves while we were on stage?! We didn't! Our new pal Bruce here contributed those and some of the other pics in the blog! Thanks Bruce!
Kinnie Starr belts out a few notes for a packed auditorium.
Day 3
These pics & videos accompany our blog on the Music Canada website: http://www.musiccanada.com/newsitem.aspx?scid=64717
Photographer & new friend Ed Maruyama sets up a shot for Stacey. She looks a little shaky.
Yes, it take this many people to take a picture of Jo3. He looks a little shaky.
Mike shows off his balancing skills to Jo3 & Stacey. Not shaky at all.
OK, enough of our amateur pics. Here are some of the real shots that our buddy Ed took! He's good, eh?





Our pal Anne teaches us how to drum properly. Bend the knees, Stacey!
A Circumpolar Soundscape. One from each of Canada's territories and one from Greenland. Lovely blend.
Day 4
These pics & videos accompany our blog on the Music Canada website: http://musiccanada.com/newsitem.aspx?scid=64718
Koel and the Twin Otters put smiles on people's faces on Canada Day!
VIDEO ~ Christine Tootoo (left) and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (right) rehearse their "throat boxing" with Luke.
The wonderful Laakkuluk and her gentlemanly husband Stephen invited those who were at rehearsal and within earshot over for dinner before our show because we wanted to try some "exotic" foods.

Here Stacey feels conflicted about trying seal because they're sooooooooooo cute! ;)

Laakkuluk laughs because she knows Stacey will love it. :)
Christine Tootoo gets too too close to the camera...
...then she can't find it even though Stacey and Janet are looking right at it...
...now she's got it, posing here with Jo3!
Agaaqtoq, Mike, and Calvin Pameolik jam out John Lennon's Imagine in Inuktitut! This inspired Agaaqtoq to record it days later!
Mike teaches Calvin & Agaaqtoq how to make rock star poses.
Calvin and Janet smile but Agaaqtoq still loves his rock star pose!
Here Janet poses with David Hart, who's got a great big smile!
Like any guy, David smiles even more when there's food around! Calvin too!
Stacey likes to steal stuff! Here she steals Calvin's NU jacket...
Here she steals the trampoline from some neighbourhood kids...
But she couldn't "steal a victory" in a running race against this young guy. For real...he beat her and she had a head start. :)
Another neighbourhood kid found a polar bear skull outside and was just walking around with it like it's nobody's business.

Mike would have loved to add this to his bone collection, but again...airport security? :)
Here are your friends Eh440. This is just a normal picture of us, L2R - Jo3 Oliva, Stacey Kay, Janet Turner, Luke Stapleton, Mike Celia. Right? It's just a normal pic.
Gotcha! That wasn't Mike in the last pic! It's his doppelgänger Alec Frith from our new friends Gypsophilia! Here he lets his hair down with Janet and then looks a little less Mike-like.
This is Alec performing with his fun band, Gypsophilia!
The real Mike hanging out with a real good guy, Tjupurru, from the land down under.

Those of us in the finale collaboration piece showed our unity by painting a white stripe across our faces at the urging of Christine Tootoo.
The most resistant to the white stripe idea was JP Cormier (posing with Jo3 here), but sweet Christine can be very convincing. We did check with several people and were assured that this wasn't culturally offensive to anyone in any way!
Christine Tootoo, Luke Stapleton, and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory merge beatboxing and throat-singing.
Executive Director of the festival, Heather Daley. Secret talent: she plays a wicked fiddle!
The fearless leader of our finale collaboration piece - Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory.
Done! Went off without a hitch! L2R - Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Eh440 (Luke, Jo3, Stacey, Janet, Mike), JP Cormier, Christine Tootoo, Agaaqtoq, Calvin Pameolik, Rob Aubé, David Hart, Tjupurru.
Day 5
These pics & videos accompany our blog on the Music Canada website: http://musiccanada.com/newsitem.aspx?scid=64719
Some tired but still smilin' musicians in the airport ready to fly home...L2R: Stacey, Jo3, Janet, Mike, Luke, JP Cormier, Emily Dingwall, David Hart.
...but we had to. And we'll do our best to fly back one day!

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2nd Annual Sing! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival

This past weekend was the 2nd Annual Sing! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival.

Last year was the inaugural year (for Eh440 and the festival) and we didn't participate because we were still getting our ducks in a row. But this year, with ducks fully aligned we performed on Saturday night at a show honouring Frank Busseri of the Four Lads.

We had a lot of fun and shared the stage with so many great acts ~ Retro Ramblers, cast members from the musical Forever Plaid, Countermeasure, Denzal Sinclaire, Freeplay Duo, & The Watch. And of course, the guest of honour joined us on stage for the big finale number!

The night before, Luke & Jo3 checked out Snowday from Washington, DC and The Real Group from Sweden. As different as they are, there were some commonalities: both acts sang really well and were very funny (with their American and Swedish accents, respectively, in tow).

Thanks to those who came to see the show, and to Aaron Jensen, JM Eriendson, Pat Silver, and the rest of the SING! team for bringing us to the festival! Hope to do it all again next year!

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Sara Bareilles, The Sing-Off, & Socks

The ladies of Eh440 had their socks rocked off at the Sara Bareilles concert in Toronto this week. Aside from being a phenomenal vocalist and songwriter, Sara showed off her incredible warmth, wit, and humour the entire night.

A true entertainer and just a 'real' artist, she kept the audience captivated from the moment she stepped foot onstage to the moment she sang her last note.

For those who are unfamiliar, Sara is a multi-Grammy nominee and was one of the judges on the 3rd season of the NBC TV show, The Sing-Off (a reality show where acappella groups compete to win prize money and a Sony Music contract).

The Sing-Off recently announced that they were accepting auditions for their 4th Season.

Despite there never having been a non-American act on the show, and the fact that Sara isn't going to be a judge this year, we're submitting an audition tape anyway!

Maybe we can be the first Canadian acappella group to appear on the show! Maybe Sara will read this blog and put in a good word for us with her ol' pals at NBC? Hello...Sara? Are you there? :)

Ok, we gotta run and find Janet & Stacey their socks.

Keep in touch.

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Scream & Shout

So yesterday we released our parody video of the will.i.am / Britney Spears song Scream & Shout.

Yeah, we know we embellished Brit's brit accent, but come on...she deserved it. And if you ask "Why the handpuppets?" we ask you: "Why not?" ;)

If you missed it elsewhere, here it is. Enjoy!

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Silence from the busy

You may have been wondering where all of our blog posts have gone. We haven’t been doin' 'em because we’ve been busy. That's why we’ve been a little quiet. And yes, that's a lame excuse.

As you may know, we only started this band of misfits in 2012, but we're a bunch of people who've been making music for years individually. So we know what needs to be done, it just takes time to get everything lined up.

Now everything is lined up!

That means you can expect More from Eh440 in 2013 including:
1. more tweets like this one: "It just occurred to me that U.S. Presidents have always worked from a home office. #easygig ;)"
2. more videos like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ (except with us in it)
3. more music – a CD or EP
4. more shows – hopefully in your general area of the blue marble
5. more pictures on Instagram and Facebook like this one:

So, keep in touch (we answer every email personally at band@eh440.com ) & stay tuned.

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Fly Away

Eh440 had a really fun show exactly one week ago today!

Last Monday, we performed at the Toronto Harbourfront. For those who haven’t been - Toronto’s harbour looks somewhat like the harbour of any of the cities along the Great Lakes like Chicago or Detroit - but last weekend there were stages of all sizes set up with different types of entertainment and activities. And it was elbow-to-elbow full of people!

We performed under a tent showcasing vocal talents for the next SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival ( torontovocalartsfestival.com ). The last one in 2012 headlined some pretty big names in vocal music like The Nylons & Swingle Singers.

So there we were with Toronto acts such as Freeplay Duo, Darbazi, After Hours, and Human Record (which is our very own Luke Stapleton’s stage name when he does solo beatboxing) layin’ down acappella tunes for the good people of Toronto.

Thanks to everyone who came along for the ride. It was hot out but we hope we got your mind off of the heat for just a short while! :)

This was our closing tune: Fly Away

Hope you’re enjoying your summer so far!

Stay cool.

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Starting A New Group

We got a Mention a couple of days ago on Twitter from @alleycatalto asking: “how did you start up your group? I'd love to form an a capella group but have no idea where to start!?”

Obviously an answer to those questions can’t fit into 140 characters so we’re putting our response here!

We thought about what we did and came up with this 3 Step process.  We don’t know if this is the best way or if it will help at all, but you never know.

Step 1 - Begin with the end in mind

Step 2 - Self-assess and find partners with different skills than yours

Step 3 - Network & audition / jam

STEP 1 – BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

So yeah, begin with the end in mind, but leave things as open as you can.

That means that you should first figure out, in general terms, what kind of acappella group you want to be a part of.

Don’t go in with a strict viewpoint on anything, like for example, “we must have an awesome beatboxer or it’s a no-go”, because something like that can be learned or one might show up down the road, and there’s no point in hinging your future on any single aspect of the group.

So, here are some things to think about…

Musical Style / Genre? Saying you’re an “acappella band” usually isn’t enough to explain what you want to do.  So, you could want to be a “folk acappella” group, or a “jazz acappella” group.

Figuring out the genre of your future group doesn’t mean that you can’t change or sing other types of songs in the future, but it will help dictate the people you want to work with.

For example, if someone LOVES hip-hop music and doesn’t want to sing any other type, and you LOVE choral music and don’t want to sing any other type, then that probably won’t be a good fit.  It’s an obvious and exaggerated example meant to illustrate a point, but basically, you need to find like-minded people musically.

So……. Folk?  Jazz?  Rock?  Reggae? Pop? Hip-Hop? Doowop? Glee-Inspired?  Gospel?  Choral?  Blues?  Dubstep?  Yankovic-esque Comedy? Barbershop / Sweet Adelines?  Here’s more:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_popular_music_genres

It is possible to be a group that is a de facto acappella group and does a bit of everything, but that’s actually more difficult to pull off than picking an angle or two that you’re comfortable with and that your voices suit.

No group likes pigeon-holing themselves but it’s a good place to start.  Again, you can always change or branch out later.

Image? Are you looking for guys, girls, or opening your group up to both?  Will you have a beatboxer?  Beatboxers traditionally have been male, but that’s changing.  The Boxettes from the U.K. are all-female and their beatboxer is really good ( http://www.theboxettes.co.uk/ ).  Are you going to wear crazy costumes on stage or be a casually dressed act?

Image may not seem that important to you now but having a bit of an idea of where you’d like to see things go will help you articulate more clearly what you’re trying to accomplish to prospective bandmates.

Level? Pro? Semi-pro? Hobby?  Whatever it is, your potential bandmates will want to all know what they’re getting into.

Song Source: Covers or writing your own tunes or a mix of both?

$$$: Have you thought about the costs of having a website designed and hosted, maybe doing a photoshoot, or some recording?  If you have these skills or have talented friends that can help, great, but if future bandmates are going to have to kick-in $5K each because you absolutely need to make a full-length CD on Day 1, they are going to want to know.

It’s great to have paid gigs to pay for everything but at the beginning, gigs tend to be sparse.


STEP 2 – SELF-ASSESS AND FIND PARTNERS WITH DIFFERENT SKILLS

It’s tough to look at your musical skills (and organizational/business skills) from the outside but you have to.

A bass singer probably doesn’t need another bass singer in the group, unless one or both of them are comfortable also singing other parts.

If you’re going to write your own tunes and never have, you may want to consider people with songwriting experience.

Not everyone in the band has to have a lot of music theory knowledge, but someone in the group should have a good understanding of chord structure and chord progressions.

It’s honestly not that difficult for most people to learn music theory if they are patient and put some time in.  You can even find some resources online ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gHEIF0rT2w ) to start you off.  If you don’t have a musical theory background, then you may want to consider that in potential bandmates.

STEP 3 – NETWORK & JAM

So, once you’re at this point, it’s just a matter of filling in the pieces of the puzzle, and this means networking!

Eh440 was built on networking.  The networking actually started over a decade and a half ago!

The first relationship between eventual Eh440 bandmates was between Janet and Stacey.  They used to compete against each other in Country singing contests around our home province of Ontario.  Stacey was just 8 years old and Janet was 12.  They became friends and kept in touch over the years.

You can network though the largest acappella networking organization in the world at http://www.casa.org.  They have Ambassadors all over the world, and a local one, may know people in your area that like this type of music and are looking for a group.

Also, contact your local chapter of http://www.barbershop.org/ .  Even if barbershop isn’t your thing, what’s the harm in calling and asking if they know of anyone in their choir, or an ex-member, that might like to join a different type of acappella group?

Check out local choirs, both collegiate and community.  Even if you’re looking for post-collegiate people, the director may know of recent graduates in your area who might still like to sing.

Back to our story - also through networking, Jo3 met Janet over 3 years ago, and the two of them met Luke about 2 years ago.  Both Luke and Mike were winners of Toronto Independent Music Awards and Jo3 has judged some of the awards, so everyone kinda-sorta knew some of the others.

But this wasn’t the only line-up of singers we considered.  We literally scoured the internet for singers in Toronto.  We looked at over 300 youtube/websites of local Toronto-area singers.

We narrowed our list down to about 40 people and then looked at those people even more closely and ranked them.

We went out to clubs to hear dozens of candidates sing, sometimes unbeknownst to them.

We put ads on craigslist and kijiji and in local music magazines and held open auditions.

We told our colleagues in the music industry what we were looking for, and some suggestions rolled in that way too.

Then we jammed.  We jammed with different singers.  Some of them brought an instrument and played songs they wrote.  Others sang their favourite cover songs acappella.  We jammed with boys.  We jammed with girls.  We jammed with people with a lot of harmony experience, and some with none-at-all but had the potential.

One day, we were having one of our jam sessions and the configuration that day was Mike, Janet, Stacey, Luke, & Jo3.  In record time, we knocked out a song and liked how it sounded.  Also, the personalities in the room mixed well and we laughed like long-time friends.  So, that was the line-up.  Jams turned into rehearsals, and we started learning more tunes and went from there.

It was an exhausting process but it’s important to leave no stone unturned when choosing people you’re going to spend a lot of time with.

Of course, that is just the beginning.  Getting rehearsals and shows together is no easy task too!

Good luck to you @alleycatalto and to anyone else looking to start something up!

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Settle Down, Pam

We’re really pumped about the Burlington Sound of Music Festival this Saturday.

What could be better than a festival for music?! A ribfest you say? Well, ok that may be true, but after ribfests, there’s nothing better than a music festival. ;) (we kid, we kid...we don’t need yet another angry phone call from Pamela Anderson)

Because Eh440 just formed earlier this year, we’ve only done a couple of gigs so far. For us, that’s hard to believe because we’ve spent so much time together in rehearsal and in the recording studio. It feels like we’ve been together forever.

But now our live schedule is starting to fill up a bit more (the website will be updated in a few weeks) and that’s really exciting for us. Don’t get us wrong - we love connecting with people online too, we’ve made some great friends on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram already - but there is something special about being close and connecting with a live audience. That is the truest musical experience - face to face.

So, if you’re near Burlington, Ontario area this Saturday, check out our schedule here and please drop by and say hi. For future gigs and audio/video releases please sign up for our email list on the left side of Eh440.com because Twitter and Facebook are grand but tweets and status updates can be missed!

Stay cool.

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Frying Plantains? Here's a tip...

We've been hard at work over the last month, rehearsing new songs in anticipation of some upcoming live shows.

As you can imagine, when there are 5 musicians in a room, there are 5 different strong-willed opinions on song choices and the vibe and direction of a song. So we've had our fair share of "friendly musical debates" but it’s the "friendly non-musical debates" that are much more entertaining and usually result in side-splitting laughter.

Here are some of the non-musical things we’ve discussed in great detail with many mini-debates contained therein;
1. the preferred oil to fry plantains in (Mike trumped everyone's ideas with two words - coconut oil - the room just fell silent after he said that)
2. the best way to walk barefoot on red hot coals
3. the health benefits of garlic pills versus real garlic cloves
4. if Stacey should leave her Christmas tree up all year long (it’s still up, and yes, it’s May)
5. whether you should only brush the dirt from a mushroom or actually wash it prior to eating
6. the real sun versus tanning beds
Anyway, through all of the discussions, we are getting a lot of work done and are motoring along quite well. We’re actually pretty excited to share our new songs with you!

For a little sneak peek of a tune we've been working on this past week, featuring a customized rap by Stacey – which she wrote in literally 5 minutes using the content of a Twitter profile – check out this personalized video we made on an iPhone for our 440th Twitter Follower, Carlie Bradley from Illinois: http://youtu.be/J8DOpiDCQOw

Stay tuned!

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How to Remove Pizza Stains From Your Wall

We’re just a few days away from launching our website.

It’s an exciting thing. Although we had our first gig in February, this will mark the birth of our online presence. And anyone who’s under 97 years old knows that an online presence is necessary for any band these days.

So we’ve been busy getting pics and music together amidst a crazy rehearsal schedule.

We met with some cool photographers – Stephen Cullen (Raptors game shots) and Andrea Bouchard (outdoor shots). We thank them and give them both a lot of credit for pointing and clicking at just the right time.

We also hit the studio to record some songs for our website.

Thanks to Greg Arnold for pointing and clicking at just the right time too (but with a computer mouse, not with a camera). And thanks to Brian Pickett for providing his advice with the in-progress mix and the good people at Voodoo Highway Music & Post for helping with the delicate final touches involved in the studio and for letting us invade their space for longer than we said we would. By the way Greg and Brian, those pizza stains will come right off of the wall by sprinkling baking soda on a damp cloth and then rubbing gently. We’re pretty sure that might work.

We decided to record a Beatles tune, Blackbird, to get things going and a Jessie J song, Price Tag. We liked the lyrical meaning, melody, and flow of each of these tunes despite them being from very different eras.

Blackbird is a song that Paul McCartney wrote as a response to escalating racial tensions in the U.S. There still seems to be a lot of tension in the world, racial or otherwise, so the song is as important now as it ever was. Janet loves this song and has been singing it since her college days.

Price Tag is a song with a cool groove and an interesting message. Stacey wanted to change the rap part of the song, and so we did. We’re our own bosses so we can do that sort of thing.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the website and the music (there are snippets of Price Tag and Blackbird on the site but the entire tracks will be available mid-month). You can download the tunes and bring us with you on your daily adventures.

Now it’s time to amp up the gigs. We’re working on it, and hope to see you soon.

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