ACB Interview: UC Santa Cruz Cloud 9

Cloud 9 is a mixed group out of the University of California at Santa Cruz. The group’s leader, Ian de Borja, took the time to answer questions from The A Cappella Blog.

The A Cappella Blog (ACB): As a mixed group, what advantages do you enjoy? What challenges does the nature of the group present?

Ian de Borja (ID): The best (and most obvious) advantage to being a mixed group is the wider range of songs we can choose to sing. We are never confined to strictly male or female solo songs (not that that stops a lot of single sex groups) but it helps being mixed. The biggest disadvantage in my opinion would be that blending can get difficult between the males and females of Cloud 9. Also, things get ugly when the boys don't let the girls in our special treehouse because they don't know the password.

ACB: Describe a typical Cloud 9 rehearsal. How often do you guys practice and what do you do to achieve such success by the time you hit the stage? Do rehearsals change before a big show? Before you guys go into competition?

ID: The typical agenda of our rehearsal goes as follows: Warm-ups, announcements/voting, rehearsing/learning our songs. We normally try to add an extra practice before big shows or competitions, but we never want to overdo it and jinx ourselves.

ACB: What is the audition process like for Cloud 9?

ID: Our auditions have typically been held over 2 days. The first day consists of having each auditionee perform a short solo followed by some ear and rhythm training exercises. That night we e-mail everyone telling them whether or not they made it to our second round of auditions. Round two starts off with the auditionees learning a portion of a song from our repertoire. We then have them individually sing with one member from each section of the group to check if they can hold their own and blend. It's a very exciting and fun process for all of us.

ACB: How does your group go about deciding which songs to add to its repertoire? Who is responsible for arrangements?

ID: We decide the songs to learn and add to our repertoire based on majority votes, nothing too special. Anybody who wants to arrange songs for the group can; we don't have a designated arranger, but most of the time somebody ends up taking charge of arranging anyway. For example, ex-Cloud 9er and legend John Hardcastle arranged tons of songs during his 4 years with the group, and recently I have started arranging lots of new songs for us to learn in the future.

ACB: What drew you, personally, to collegiate a cappella in the first place?

ID: In all honestly, USC's Reverse Osmosis' video of "Sugar We're Going Down" on YouTube is what got me addicted to collegiate a cappella. I remember watching that video for the first time and being completely floored by it, I knew I had to be in a group like that in college.

ACB>:Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of
The A Cappella Blog?

ID: Dear Readers of "The A Cappella Blog", WATCH OUT FOR CLOUD 9! We've got huge plans this year and promise to impress. Keep your eyes and ears out for videos of us on YouTube and for shows if you are ever in the Santa Cruz area.

If you would like to learn more about Cloud 9, you can visit the group’s official website at here.

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Mike Chin

Mike Chin co-founded The A Cappella Blog in 2007. He continues to share leadership responsibility for the site, overseeing columns, reviews and features as the content manager. He currently lives in Baltimore, MD.