‘It’s Just Been A Dream’

‘It’s Just Been A Dream’

Matt Sallee brings new groove to Pentatonix


Last year, Matt Sallee was singing in a wedding band. Though he had been in a cappella groups since high school, including professionally, he recalls the days of “singing in bars to five people.”

This summer, Sallee is performing for tens of thousands across North America as the new bass vocalist for the group that has arguably become the biggest name ever in a cappella: Pentatonix.

“It’s been a dream, honestly,” Sallee says from California during the tour’s first week. “And to have everything happen and move so quickly, I hadn’t really had time to reflect on anything until really February. I was like, ‘Wow, so much has happened…[and] this is just the beginning.’ And it’s been so cool because the fans have been so accepting and loving of me, and it’s just been a dream.”

When the quintet’s original bass, Avi Kaplan, announced last year he would be leaving the band, Sallee joined the group in the fall following an audition process. In the whirlwind of the next few months, he recorded a few numbers for the group’s deluxe version of 2016’s “A Pentatonix Christmas” before embarking on their holiday tour, recorded and released Pentatonix’s sixth studio album, “PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol I” April 13 and set out on the group’s longest tour yet — not to mention all the music videos and prep work in between.

“You know, you hear about groups and [people wondering] whether groups actually care about each other or actually really like to be around [each other] or if it’s all for show,” Sallee muses. “And it’s really cool to come into this group and know that they are truly … great people, and they are who they portray themselves to be on social media. They are that 100 percent. And they treated me like family immediately, so I felt very comfortable coming into the group. It’s honestly surreal to me that people can have this much influence and still be such amazing human beings.”

A video introduction to Sallee posted to the band’s Facebook page in March shares the other four singers enthusing over Sallee’s work ethic and joyful energy he brings to the group. On stage, Sallee is excited to share a bit of his own flair with the fans he calls the best in world.

“Any time you change a member of any group, the dynamic of things will change. But it’s a lot bigger with a cappella because it’s a new voice and a different sound,” Sallee shares. “I bring a different kind of sound to the group that’s a little more soulful maybe. … That’s a thing I can add in a different way.”

Looking to the future of the group, a new project coming early next year may be bringing the quintet, known for their covers, mashups and medleys, back into the realm of original content, Sallee teases.

“We’re excited, I think, to move in that direction. It’s going to be something the group has never done before. So, there’s still goals to accomplish.”

For the moment at hand, though, Sallee and his fellow performers are enjoying celebrating their new music and new show with 10,000-plus of their closest friends every few nights on their summer tour. The setlist, Sallee slyly promises, has some of the most popular tunes the band has covered through the years — whether on an album or in a YouTube video — sprinkled through picks from the new album as well as a few special surprises.

“My favorite song that I recorded was ‘Feel It Still’ because it’s really groovy; it’s me in a song,” Sallee reveals. “I love to groove, I love to chill, I love to feel the music — and be in a pocket with (vocal percussionist) Kevin (Olusola) — and all of those things culminated at once. And that was one of the first songs we recorded, so it was one of the first times we got to hear me as a bassist and what I would contribute.

“My favorite moment of the live show,” he goes on, “is Kevin and I have a little moment, I don’t want to give it away, but Kevin and I have a little impromptu thing during show. There’s no way to say without giving it away, but look out for it. It’s really fun; it’s a really cool moment. That’s my favorite moment of the show — that or a medley of songs that we do of an artist I also don’t want to give away!”

Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider
Global a cappella phenomenon Pentatonix performs July 25 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers with special guests Echosmith and Callum Scott.

Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider
Matt Sallee is the new bass vocalist for a cappella group Pentatonix, filling the spot left by original member Avi Kaplan when he announced last year he was stepping away from the band.


Not All In The Family

Echosmith joins forces with friends for summer tour

Alt-pop band Echosmith will be opening for Pentatonix as the sibling trio comes off their own massive headlining tour across the U.S. The band’s catchy new single, “Over My Head,” continues climbing in streams and attention and is described as infectious — a word just as easily used to characterize lead singer/keyboardist Sydney Sierota.

“I’m really excited,” she begins the conversation — and many of her sentences. “We’ve met [Pentatonix] a bunch of times, and I’ve hung out with Kristin (Maldonado) a bunch, so it’s really cool to go on tour with people you actually know and are friends with and hang out with on purpose in your off time. It’s the first time we’re going to get to do that with another band. I think it will be a lot of great chemistry between all the artists.”

Trimming their set from 75 minutes on their own headlining tour to just 30 for Pentatonix’s summer tour wasn’t easy, but Sierota is ceaselessly upbeat. She explains by phone on the very first day of the tour that they plan to keep the set loose and interactive to introduce the new crowds to their style.

“We want everyone to leave feeling happier and feeling better about their life. We want them to just be in the moment and feel love from the stage. So that’s been our goal with music,” she says of her often noted crowd interaction.

“Our whole goal is to connect, and that can be in a lot of different ways. I love taking videos on my phone from the stage, and I think it’s so fun to watch those while waiting to board my flight the next day. I love documenting with my phone, and having that memory on my personal device.”

Shot into the spotlight with their 2013 debut album “Talking Dreams” — with singles “Bright” and “Cool Kids” going Platinum (the latter 3x) — Sierota and brothers Noah (vocals/bass) and Graham (drums) grew up as best friends and are enjoying the ride together.

“I think that’s what makes it so special and so fun for us is that we actually want to be together,” she shares. “And when we’re on stage interacting, and I run over to Noah and we share a mic for a couple lines, it’s actually a really sweet moment for us.

“There’s sometimes, even if we were fighting that day, over something stupid usually, it feels like it’s kind of healing in a way. I’ll go over to him, and we’ll sing together ,and then I look into his eyes and I’m like, ‘OK, I do love you.’ I think it’s really fun singing with our family for so many reasons.”




WHEN — 8 p.m. July 25

WHERE — Walmart AMP in Rogers

COST — $35-$129.50

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org/AMP

BONUS — Echosmith and Callum Scott will open.

Categories: Music