Set in Bristol’s Student Union cafe and bar, I met Catt, the manager of Pitch Fight, an all female identifying a cappella group who sing about strength and resilience (but also enjoy the odd cheesy pop song – who doesn’t?).
It’s a lazy but sunny morning as Catt and I sit down to start talking about their upcoming performance for International Women’s Day on 2nd March, and what it means to the group. As soon as Catt starts talking about the message behind their performances, I can see her face light up – her enthusiasm and energy is contagious.
Here’s our conversion on the power of song, and why you should definitely catch Pitch Flight’s performance at Bristol’s International Women’s Day.
B: So, to kick off – what sort of performance is it?
C: The sort of a cappella we do is competitive collegiate a cappella – so we take a pop song, someone in the group arranges it into seven parts and then we learn it. The thing that makes a cappella different (other than the lack of instruments) is that, since we perform live, we really get to think about the meaning behind each song, and that’s the most special part of our performances; conveying the emotion of each song.
B: Do you have a message?
C: There’s never really an overall message in our performance as each set we perform is different – it’s usually just song by song. As a group we like to sing songs that are about independence, and strength, and want the audience to come away with something to think about.
B: Why International Women’s Day? To perform at such a celebrated event seems like a pretty big message.
C: Last academic year, we performed at the Bristol Women’s Voice AGM (Annual General Meeting). Because they liked our performance and what we stood for, they asked us to sing for International Women’s Day last year. After they presented their awards, we sang a song to the women which was a really special moment. Bristol Women’s Voice had asked us to arrange Quiet by Milck for this occasion and we loved the arrangement so much we went on to use it in competition. If you listen to the song, it’s everything we’re trying to support.
B: Wow, that sounds amazing! So, is there a call to action of your performance? Are you singing to celebrate independence or are you trying to inspire people by your piece?
C: A bit of both really. Last week we did a performance of four songs, and the last one is Fall in Line by Christina Aguilera. The central message of this song is about fighting back against societal expectations of women such as how we should dress and act, which is something we very much support. Through the choreography and the emotion of the song, we try to get that across because it’s a really important message. Every field you go into there’s some element of gender imbalance; we’re all passionate about combating that and passionate about performing so we try and marry the two.
B: Do you have any big inspirations you use?
C: A lot of the time, if we like a song and we know can perform it we’ll just get it arranged. At the beginning of the year, we don’t have a set concept, it’s just whatever fits and whatever works and what we’re going to enjoy.
B: So your choreography – is that unusual in the a cappella world?
C: In a cappella it’s usually movement as opposed to choreography, but the standard is getting very high. Over the last year, we’ve won outstanding choreography at a number of competitions, but there’s really stiff opposition from other groups. With new people coming into the a cappella scene and pushing the boundaries, it’s forcing the level to go up. As the group’s choreographer I really enjoy it because I’m not the strongest musicality wise but I get to put into the group what nobody else can. Part of the nature of being in the group is appreciating each other’s strengths and the different benefits we can all bring to the table.
B: So what’s in for the future? Will you continue competing and taking part in events?
C: Competition wise, we have the UK finals at the beginning of March, because we qualified from our first round in Exeter earlier this month, so we’re hoping to do well there. Then we’re going to the Fringe again this summer, and hopefully doing more and more gigs along the way. We’re also hoping to record an EP later in the year and potentially release a music video. Watch this space!
B: Is there a favourite moment in your performance we should watch out for?
C: Well I think the whole group would agree, the last song Fall in Line is the moment where we all come together and believe in the message and the performance so much that we all get so excited to perform it. And I think that definitely comes through, you know, when you enjoy watching people who enjoy performing. We’re very excited to sing it in a context where the people around us are going to get the message.
B: Well I think we can conclude there, thank you Catt and I can’t wait to catch you guys at International Women’s Day!
If you just can’t wait until their performance on 2nd March, you can get a sneak preview on their YouTube, Instagram and Facebook (@pitchfight). Also, check out their website pitchfight.co.uk.