Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #31: Distilled Harmony
Interview conducted in November 2019
Can you tell me about yourselves and your positions in Distilled Harmony?
Karizma: I’m Karizma, and I am the music director, which means that I run rehearsals and make sure we sound good.
Steve: I’m Steve, I’m the president. I run most of the stuff that isn’t the music. Whenever we have shows it’s my job to do all that organization. I work with the PR director on promoting stuff, and I work on the treasurer on money stuff.
There are a few a cappella groups on campus, can you tell me about what makes Distilled Harmony different?
Karizma: We are one of the three coed a cappella groups on campus. We like to say we are right in the middle when it comes to being competitive and having fun. There are some groups on campus that are highly competitive and other groups that are also incredibly talented but focus more on having fun with the music. We like to be in the middle and do a bit of both. We say DH is like a family. All my best friends are in this group, and we all love making music together and having this common goal, which is why we like to compete.
Steve: If I were to add anything I’d say the reason everyone’s so close and why we are a family is the fact that we are in that middle ground of having fun and working hard. When we’re at rehearsal and are trying to nail down music, people can get emotional at times. It can be tough sometimes if they’re struggling with their part and everyone else around them has it locked down; it can get tricky. But after rehearsal, we go hang out and chill and we can see different aspects of people’s personalities which is what allows us to get so close to each other.
What kind of shows do you put on?
Karizma: A few weeks ago, we hosted our Valentine’s Day show where we debuted our competition set! This year, our competition set is about the state of the world, so it’s a theme we haven’t even thought about in the past, which made it super special to us. Last semester, we put on our biggest show of the year, Spookapella, in collaboration with family and friends weekend. That show was a family friendly Halloween show where we invited guest groups to come and perform: one from Northeastern and one from Harvard. We have one more show coming up this semester called Distillery, where we showcase our seniors and say goodbye to them. They get to sing a song of their choosing and we have a lot of fun with it. It’s definitely our most emotional show of the year. Regardless of the audience turnout, our shows are for us to have something to work towards and find a way to showcase our music.
Steve: We do a lot more shows that we get invited to as opposed to putting on our own. We typically host a few shows a year but it’s a lot to host a show. Last semester, we were invited to about 10 different shows.
Karizma: It can be a lot because every weekend you’re jumping from show to show
Steve: I think those are a ton of fun though. We’re in totally different environments. We do a lot of shows where we don’t know what to expect. Sometimes we get invited to be guest groups at shows put on by other groups the same way we do. Those will be standard, you go to the auditorium and we get to sing a set. Then we do other things like a few months ago, we sang at Block Party here in Curry, and we didn’t have our mics. We also did a show recently at a preschool for the parents. We get a lot of random invites. We also have a retreat every semester and typically on retreat we’ll sing at a restaurant just for fun.
Photo of Distilled Harmony
How can students get involved?
Karizma: We hold auditions twice a year, once in September and once in January. It’s actually a fun process. Some of my best friends today I met through auditions. When you audition for a group if you get called back you learn a piece of music and you get to sing with them. All of the 6 a cappella groups hold their auditions during the same weekend in the same building. We coordinate amongst ourselves when callbacks are so we can all call back the same person at the same time and they don’t have to worry about scheduling. Pretty fun process to go to because all of the groups are all together.
Steve: Getting involved in a cappella is similar to getting involved with sports. If you want to make the team or get involved in the a cappella group you have to put in a lot of work ahead of time. Every year we always get at least 100 people in the fall and at most we look for 7 or 8 people. Typically we look for less. It is pretty competitive, you should be doing your own work outside of this. If you get in it’s so exciting, newbies are always really fun.
How long has Distilled Harmony been around for?
Karizma: We were founded in 2003 in the basement of a rez hall. There are lots of rumors about which rez hall one it was, I haven’t figured it out yet. It started out small, then a few years ago we started competing and made a name for ourselves.
What sort of competitions are you involved in?
Karizma: We do the ICCAs every year. It gives us something definitive to work on and we have a common goal. Last semester, we won a competition at Vilna Shul, which was really fun and different. In a few weeks, we will be competing in Harmony Sweepstakes for the first time which we’re super excited for!
Steve: Next year, we’re also considering competing in BOSS which is definitely the most creative a cappella competition around.
Photo of Distilled Harmony at Spookapella
Where can students keep up with you on social media?
Karizma: Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are all @nudistilled. Facebook and Youtube are both Distilled Harmony.
A lot of a capella groups produce music, do you guys have any albums?
Karizma: We just released an album called High Definition! It’s our first album we’ve released in four years. We’re really proud and excited about it! You can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, and Youtube. We are also trying to record some new music very soon, so hopefully we’ll have even more recorded music on Spotify.
You said you keep the group small, how many are involved?
Karizma: We have 13. The most we’ve had has been 14. It’s hung around 12 or 13 usually.
Photo from a Distilled Harmony performance
What’s one thing you wished people knew about Distilled Harmony?
Karizma: That we like more than just music. We are a group of friends also so we aren’t just about a cappella or die hard a cappella nerds only. If you looked at our list of majors, it’s such a wide variety. I’m an electrical engineering and music tech major, he’s a chem major, and we have people who are communication majors and criminal justice majors. We have music majors too. It’s a diverse group of people coming together to do what they love.
Steve: If there’s one thing I wanted people to know is how much work we put in to what we do. Regardless of what comes out or what happens on stage we all really commit ourselves. You’re here for yourself, you come to rehearsal because you want to be better and you want to sound good. When we left the stage a few weeks ago, I couldn’t get my smile off my face.
What is your favorite show that you’ve performed in?
Karizma: Easy answer is this year’s Spookapella. We got to dress up on stage as witches and vampires.
Steve: Same. This was my first semester as President and that was my first big show I put together. I just thought it went really well musically and logistically. When it was over I was so happy with the results. I had never put that much into it, for me previously all the shows were just show up get ready sing go home. I wasn’t involved in the whole process until now.
Karizma: Spookapella is also fun because there’s always a big crowd because its family and friends weekend. We talk to the audience after and we take pictures on stage, it’s really fun.
What is your favorite part about Distilled Harmony?
Karizma: The people for sure. The passion everyone feels not just for the music but for each other is amazing. We all love each other and care about each other’s well being outside and inside rehearsal. We are a family away from our families and it is so great to find that on campus.
Steve: I have to agree. Coming into college as a clueless freshman, almost instantly I had a friend group of 14 amazing people who all want to be friends and who want to show you the ropes. It made the transition to college so much easier.