A Lewiston High School graduate is set to perform on “The Sing-Off” two-hour premier Wednesday night at 9 p.m. as part of a cappella group, a. squared.
Nimal Eames-Scott may be just another Yale senior taking final exams in December, but as part of an a cappella/techno production group, he plans to compete for a $50,000 grand prize while performing before millions of viewers.
Eames-Scott said the group was formed about two years ago, and “basically, the four singers in the group were all in an a cappella group together here at Yale,” so they knew each other’s voices.
That’s when they met Jacob Reske, a musical mathematician who dabbled in music production.
“He sort of came up with the crazy idea that you can take the same technology that you would use for electronic music and apply it to music that is just voices — combine it with a cappella.”
Reske wasn’t much for singing himself, but he thought Eames-Scott, D.J. Stanfill, Jackson Thea and Paul Holmes would make the perfect vocalists for his technological experiment.
Stanfill himself has Maine roots as well. His mother, Valerie Stanfill, is a judge for the Augusta District Court.
Eames-Scott said a. squared’s sound comes from the Ableton Live software Reske uses.
“It allows us to loop our voices and add effects to them,” Eames-Scott said, “but it all happens live, in real time, on stage. We’ll sing, and whatever we sing will get recorded into a specific loop. Different effects will be added to the voice to make it sound like different sounds.”
Eames-Scott said the effect is that of building layers, “like a cake or an onion or an ogre,” he said. “Building all these layers of voices with different effects on them to create fully produced songs with all kinds of layers of instrumentation — but it’s all happening live.”
Working with this new technology offers the group constant opportunities for experimentation, and since the idea is their own, they aren’t held back by traditional ways, like much of his Yale experience, Eames-Scott said.
“We’re really making it up as we go along,” Eames-Scott said. “Every moment is a risk and a new discovery.”
Eames-Scott naturally wasn’t able to give away any spoilers, but he was able to comment on his time in the spotlight.
“Oh my God — it was nuts!” he exclaimed.
“Up until that performance, we had only been together for two years, and we had only performed for the first time a year ago,” Eames-Scott said. “Even before the show, we had (only) done four performances ever.”
Eames-Scott said that last year, he could count on one hand the number of people who had even heard of a. squared. Now, he said, the group had gone from performing for about 20 people to 7 million overnight.
He described the Dolby Theatre, where they performed as the “most beautiful and magnificent room I’ve ever been in.” The Dolby Theatre is also where the Oscars are held, and Eames-Scott said all of the theatre’s 3,400 seats were full.
Eames-Scott described the whole experience as “pretending to be famous for a little while,” while they walked the streets of Los Angeles, worked with production people and got fitted for wardrobes.
Dancing, however, was not in the plans.
Eames-Scott laughed and said he hopes he and his fellow singers, none of whom were modern dance majors, come off as adept dancers on television as they deal with singing, mixing the music and choreography simultaneously.
“We all see a bright future for a. squared,” Eames-Scott said, envisioning a time when the group can post a video on YouTube and expect exposure that goes farther than their mothers.