By Emily Snyder
Victor Grant’s dreams of being a professional musician stretch back to childhood, but it was his newly formed roots in the a cappella world that helped launched his career as a rising singer-songwriter.
The Austin, Texas-based musician, who releases his first EP, “Out of the Dark,” in March, found a breakthrough outlet for his singing talent by performing with One Note Stand, a co-ed college a cappella group, while he pursued a marketing degree at the University of Texas.
“I’ve always wanted to make music professionally, and I think a cappella helped to reinforce that,” Grant said.
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Grant’s time with ONS provided his first glance into the competitive sphere of music and the process of recording EPs and singles. As One Night Stand made a name for itself on campus and in the national a cappella community, Grant’s consistently stellar performances and solos inspired an alternate name for the group: “The Victor Show.”
Despite not studying music in college, Grant soon found a musical refuge in One Note Stand.
“Sharing our love of music was an amazing experience,” Grant said. “You’re surrounded by people who are passionate about music, and a cappella might be their one outlet to showcase that, so it’s a very inspiring environment as an artist. You’re constantly learning from the people around you.
“Every competition, every performance, every audition cycle, you’re surrounded by talent, and it makes you want to work harder in your own music.”
This sort of creative and talent-based competition serves as a driving force for many musicians, even within the often sugar-sweet pop aca-bubble.
Grant has also taken a number of a cappella techniques and transferred them to the brave new world of pop artistry, citing a crowd-favorite ONS warm-up exercise, the Jam Circle, as a method for his songwriting.
“Exercises like a ‘jam circle,’ where you start with a bassline and then build layers of sound until you have a song, is something that I still use to this day to come up with fresh ideas or to help with writer's block,” he said.
After singing at innumerable gigs and concerts, Grant credits ONS with helping him fend off stage fright and become a better performer. If you can rock everywhere from craft stores to hotel ballrooms to mental hospitals (to name a few past ONS venues), what can’t you handle? A cappella also helped him make the leap from group to solo performances less terrifying.
“It can get kind of nerve-racking to perform as a solo artist, but, when you are surrounded by 15 of your closest friends ‘jamming out’ on stage, you develop a comfort for being on stage and performing in front of a crowd,” Grant said.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a singer-songwriter’s burgeoning musical career is recording.
“My first time recording in a studio was for ONS’s first EP, ‘A String of Dims,’” he said. “I was mortified, because I was so unprepared. You don’t have your group to hide behind. You don’t have bad sound equipment to take the blame. It’s just you and if you don’t know your part, it shows.”
He reminisced about his rough foray into the recording realm when getting to work on his debut EP. Although stylistically different from his current work, a cappella recording was a useful foundation for his independent studio sessions.
“I remembered that experience and made sure not to repeat it,” Grant said. “Things went a lot smoother this time around.”
Grant is not alone in making the transition from collegiate a cappella to professional musicianship. From the University of Texas alone, he said “there are several other ‘aca-people’ out there making music, and we’ve played shows together and support each other’s music.”
The a cappella network extends beyond individual groups and universities, providing a supportive and inclusive alliance of vocalists blazing a trail and collaborating as artists.
“The connections I’ve made through a cappella have been invaluable,” Grant said. “My producer, Peter Tissot, was the beatboxer of ONS at one point. Had it not been for a cappella, I wouldn’t have him as a friend or producer and this record wouldn’t exist.”
Other up-and-coming artists such as Courtney Penry, John Pattie, and Tylr Noe all have a shared backgrounds at UT through a cappella.
“It’s amazing to have that sense of community transfer from the a cappella scene into your professional life,” Grant said said.
While his current career may barely resemble his a cappella foundation, Grant doesn’t forget its impact.
“I guess you could say a cappella was like training wheels for me as an artist,” he laughed.
His first single, “Got it Bad,” is available now. Check out Grant’s music and more at VictorGrantMusic.com!
Singer-Songwriter Victor Grant Leans On A Cappella To Navigate Career
By Emily Snyder