During a two-month break in the a cappella group Pentatonix ’s world tour, baritone Scott Hoying became a newlywed. He also went out on his own, with his most personal music to date.
The 31-year-old Grammy winner sings from the heart about falling in love and losing his best four-legged friend in his seven-track solo debut “Parallel,” which is out Friday.
Other members of Pentatonix have released solo albums before, and going at it alone is something Hoying has thought about for many years, but with much hesitation. Still, the process of finally doing it has been therapeutic. It’s given Hoying an opportunity to fortify his creativity and build confidence.
“I have always been a little bit scared to be vulnerable and kind of put myself out there as a solo act,” Hoying told The Associated Press. “And I feel like this timing is just so perfect because I’m entering this very beautiful era of my life, like producing and making music and being more motivated than ever. And then I’m in love … and I’ve just had a lot of personal growth over the past couple of years.
“It’s just like this really big new chapter that’s starting. And it feels kismet and amazing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was an underlying reason for the project. Because Pentatonix couldn’t record together due to social distancing, the five-member a cappella group laid down tracks separately, having learned how to use digital audio technology. Once Hoying became comfortable with the process, he was captivated by it. He constantly watched tutorials on YouTube and it led to a flurry of personal songwriting.
The pandemic process “was super energizing and inspiring, and I ended up writing hundreds of songs,” Hoying said.
Produced by Jon Levine, four of the seven songs are about love, including the title track “Parallel,” which was released as a single in June.
“Parallel” is about Hoying’s relationship with his husband, Mark, their shared qualities and being in sync with one another. It recalls a time when the couple was supposed to attend an event but ended up laying side by side on the floor of the kitchen talking long into the night. Hoying directed the song’s video, filmed in Iceland after Pentatonix had performed the last show on its European Tour there in June.
Mark Hoying appears in the videos for “Parallel” and “Mars,” a single released last September.
Scott Hoying also pays tribute to his dog that passed away in “Bubs.” There’s also “King Kong,” about personal growth and finding confidence, and “Trust Fall,” which “is about diving into the scary, unknown parts of life. It’s only scary because we don’t know what’s to come, but exciting. More like a nervous butterfly,” he said.
And just like that, Hoying will be back on tour with Pentatonix when it starts a North American leg of their tour in August.
The group has been together since 2011. It began with Hoying, tenor Mitch Grassi and mezzo-soprano Kirstin Maldonado as high school classmates in Arlington, Texas. They added bass Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin Olusola prior to competing — and winning — on the television competition program, “The Sing-Off.” Kaplan left Pentatonix in 2017 and was replaced that year by Matt Sallee.
The group’s popularity is as strong as ever. Pentatonix sang the national anthem at college football’s national championship game in January and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February.
“I think with any genre of music, if it’s bringing emotion and bringing joy to people, it’s going to stick around,” Hoying said. “And so, I think that if we keep pushing the limits of a cappella, and if we keep doing interesting things that makes people feel, I think that we can do it for a long time.”
Hoying and Grassi formed the group “Superfruit” several years ago for a comedy YouTube channel. The pair produced a couple of albums, including the popular upbeat song “GUY.EXE.”
Hoying currently is working with others to develop “The Life of Death,” a musical about the Grim Reaper and his daughter. Hoying says is right up his creative alley.
“It’s so fun writing a musical because there’s no real rules,” he said. “My wild brain just has a field day.”