Over the past five years boy bands have come back into style with groups such as One Direction. They’ve revived the dormant genre and made it popular again after groups such as N’Sync and The Backstreet Boys fell out of popularity in the early 2000s.
While each of the above acts has achieved major fame, none of them are quite like boy band The Filharmonic. The Los Angeles based group consists of six young men of Filipino descent who can pull off an a cappella performance that is just as riveting as Boyz II Men.
Much like One Direction was formed for “The X-Factor,” The Filharmonic originally formed specifically for the fourth season of the televised singing competition “The Sing Off” in 2013. Since then the band has found much success, taking their live show across the country.
This past March, The Filharmonic came to UT Austin to perform at GoodPhil (also known as The GoodPhil Games), an event put on by Filipino Students Associations (FSA) at twelve universities and colleges in Texas. Usually held around spring break, the games are broken down into four parts: Cultural Dance, Spirit Competition, Modern Dance, and Sports. After the points are tallied, the top three schools are recognized in each section, and the college with the most points wins the GoodPhil trophy. The band made a guest appearance at the event and sang current pop hits such as “Levels” by Nick Jonas and “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber.
A few weeks before their performance at UT, we chatted with members Niko Del Rey and Trace Gaynor over the phone from Los Angeles to get details on the band’s career, their time on “The Sing Off,” as well as their current plans.
We started off our discussion by asking how each of the members got into music. For Del Rey and his family, music was a way into the American lifestyle. “A lot of our families immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. in the late 80s and early 90s, so our older cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents really submerged themselves into the American culture at the time through music,” Del Rey said. “Personally, my family listened to a lot of music as a means to learn English faster.”
While music was used as a lifeline into their new culture, music was also a part of their lives outside of the adjustment to starting over in a new country. “In my personal upbringing, my family would play music like Brian McKnight, Biggie, and even Backstreet Boys during leisure time also ,because that is what they were into. So I feel like I can safely say that I wasn’t just “born” in the 90s, I was raised by it. Thus reflecting in the sound our group puts out today,” he tells us.
When asked about how each of the group’s members met, Del Rey tells us that a few of the members met in college, as well as in singing competitions. While they did music on the side, each member always had a passion for music that developed into a desire to sing professionally. In 2013, the friends found an opportunity to hopefully achieve their dream. Del Rey tells us that “the opportunity to do “The Sing Off” was really a dream come true, as it was an opportunity to do this professionally.”
While the friends had no plans to audition as solo artists, their only option was to audition as a group, thus naming themselves The Filharmonic, a tribute to the group’s Filipino heritage. Despite being eliminated from the competition at the end of the season, the band pressed on, finding popularity on YouTube and eventually releasing the group’s first original song “Get Up and Go.”
When watching the band on stage during their time on “The Sing Off,” it’s easy to notice not only their amazing talent but their fondness and love for older vocal groups such as Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men. Being familiar with the more modern male groups of the present, we were curious to see how music fans (who watched the show and afterward) responded to The Filharmonic’s music due to these influences. Despite being eliminated from the competition, they would still end up being received well. The younger half of the Millennial generation who were born after the height of N’Sync and The Backstreet Boys seemed to particularly like them, as the format of these groups have come back in to style.
Del Rey spoke about that the group’s warm reception by saying, “it’s been really good. I think you can see that with the resurgence of female groups like Fifth Harmony and 4th Impact or male groups like One Direction and The Wanted, the music industry is wanting boy bands and girl bands. And I think our niche of 90s inspired vocals sets us apart and is being well received by the millennials who didn’t grow up with superstars like Boyz II Men or N’Sync.”
In today’s digital age, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are an absolute must, though many artists have used specific websites such as YouTube and Vine to promote their music. Canadian performers Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes were discovered on both of the above sites, both going on to achieve massive success. For The Filharmonic, YouTube has been essential to their industry climb, as new fans can watch the band perform starting at the very beginning of their career as each of the group’s performances on “The Sing Off” can be viewed on the site, as well as their original performances on YouTube.
When asked how they picked the songs to cover for these performance videos, Gaynor tells us “we like to choose Top 40 songs that we think we could twist to cater to our own sound. For instance, we took the song “Treasure” by Bruno Mars and added an R&B break down section to put a little Boyz II Men feel on a current pop tune.”
With the band’s time on a reality competition under their belts, the group has become popular enough to headline their own tour called The Get Up and Go tour, named after their first original song. The tour is currently visiting colleges and entertainment venues across the United States, and it’s the first time The Filharmonic has gone on the road. According to both Gaynor and Del Rey, “the tour is going great. We are about 33% of the way done and have traveled from Seattle to New York and everywhere in between. We are having a blast hitting up numerous venues and colleges. We can’t wait for the rest of our upcoming shows!”
While it’s never quite clear exactly what path a band can take once they have been discovered, The Filharmonic has a bright future ahead of them as a unique vocal group that can pay tribute to bands old and new without sounding like their time has come and gone.
Watch The Filharmonic’s gorgeous cover of “All of Me” by John Legend below.
To read more of Lauren Gribble’s features you can head to her website Listen Here Reviews.