With the bulk of its active membership consisting of college students, it was truly only a matter of time before the world saw its first recording-only a cappella group.
Russell Kamp, a co-founder of Mind the Gap at the University of Oregon, put together a small ensemble called Side Project with that very purpose in mind – to pull together some of the best voices in the community, regardless of timezones and geographical lines.
The group’s premiere release features two very different mixes on a cover of The Rescues’ “Follow Me Back Into the Sun.” Gabriel Mann, a member of The Rescues, offered feedback and assistance to Side Project throughout the creation of their cover.
Enlisting the aid of arranger extraordinaire Tom Anderson – who has also lent his a cappella prowess to many a Peter Hollens track – the project got underway. Heavy hitters in the community, such as Hollens and Bill Hare, also lent their expertise to “Follow Me Back Into the Sun.”
“The idea of doing two mixes was Gabe’s idea,” Kamp explained. “After listening to the arrangement he thought it could be really awesome to have a version with no percussion and less production so that people could appreciate the beautiful job that Tom did.”
All in all, not too shabby a start for a group whose name indicates the ensemble’s recreational nature. The basis for Side Project was a brainchild of Kamp’s for a long while.
“I had actually been toying around with the idea of starting a recorded-only a cappella group for about two years, and finally decided to do it at the beginning of [the 2011-2012] school year,” Kamp said. “I didn’t want to just put out another multi-track recording – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just wanted all the different tones and textures of peoples voice’s.”
From those principles, Kamp put together four other singers with which he had worked before, creating a five-part ensemble that covers all ranges of voice from top to bottom – offering the group a world of possibilities.
And Kamp, who aspires toward future collaborations with as many talented folk as possible, the possibilities could be endless.
“The whole idea of [Side Project] is to get different and great people on good songs,” Kamp said. “Long story short, I wanted to make good music with amazing musicians.”