Breaking it Down: The Downbeats Set to Release Their First EP

photo by Justine Newman

On April 25, 2016, The Downbeats (one of Northeastern’s student a cappella groups) rounded out five months of fundraising when they reached their goal of $6,000. What makes the Downbeats stand out from a vast landscape of Pitch Perfect inspired student groups isn’t that they now had the funds to produce a professional quality EP, but the fact that “people join [them] for the music, and they stay for the friendship,” said third-year computer science major and Downbeats Music Director, Charles Zheng.

Everyone on the Downbeats brings some form of musical talent to the table. Zheng, who started his singing career in his high school chorus, has since gone on to win Varsity Vocals’ 2016 ICCA Best Arrangement. Downbeats Manager and second-year communications media and screen studies major, Josie Pettigrew, along with Jack Mazzeo, third-year bio-engineering major, both bring a cappella experience from their high school days to the diverse cast that makes up the Downbeats. However, for former Downbeats member and second-year mechanical engineer, Justin Metz, it’s what he got out of the group that really mattered. 

photo by Justine Newman

photo by Justine Newman

“I’m still friends with them … no one leaves this group on bad terms, even people who do leave this group on bad terms don’t really leave this group on bad terms,” said Metz.

Before Metz left however, the group was able to reach a significant milestone by raising $6,000 on While the group has historically focused on live performances, self-funding allowed them to branch out and try recording without having to significantly change their repertoire.

Recording their music allowed the Downbeats to work with new dynamics that completely changed and enhanced their sound. They were able to work time into their regular schedule that they would dedicate to individually recording and listening to their parts, which were later edited, remastered and combined by the recording studio to create the finished product. More simply put, “when you record it, it completely changes it and it becomes so much cooler,” said Zheng.

Along with their regular fall performance (which this year will be taking place on Nov. 11 at 7:30 in West Village F room 020), and the previously mentioned ICCA competitions which happen in Feb., the group has the added bonus of being able to release their first EP (due to be out in early November) which will be available on Spotify. Until then, they have already pre released one song off of the EP which can be listened to on Soundcloud.