Visalia Native Avi Kaplan Has His Own Sound
Jun 30, 2019 11:00AM
● By Enjoy Magazine
Story by John Dillon
Photos courtesy of Avi Kaplan
WHEN VISALIA NATIVE and bassist Avi Kaplan left Pentatonix in 2017, all he knew was that he had to get to a forest as soon as possible.
“Touring was really hard for me,” he says. “In the beginning, it was really exciting. I was in a different place in my heart and in my life and also it was at a smaller level. It was a little more intimate.”
The Pentatonix World Tour was Kaplan’s last. In May 2017, the group released a video on its social media pages where he told the world he was leaving. Now he lives in Tennessee, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
“Visalia is definitely an influential place in my life and in my music. The first thing that comes to mind is just the time I spent up in Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park and all those really beautiful places that are close to our home, but that we don’t always appreciate while we’re there,” Kaplan says.
He grew up in Visalia, attending Mount Whitney High School, where he was a bass vocalist for the school’s a cappella group called Change Up. That’s also where he began writing and composing music, and he would often perform at different venues around Visalia.
“None of the places I used to play are around anymore,” he says. “They’re all long gone.”
Folk music is at the heart of his new sound. Since leaving the group, Kaplan has released two songs independently. “Changes on the Rise” and “Otherside” comment on the immensity of nature and he uses themes of darkness, light and color in his lyrics.
“Life is filled with a lot of darkness and it’s filled with a lot of light and I feel like it’s very important to talk about those kinds of things because everyone experiences it,” says Kaplan. “For me, music has always been something that has been therapeutic for me. When I’m feeling really low, when I’m feeling that darkness, it’s one of the only things that can really get me out of that. That’s one of the reasons I want to do music.”
He says he had a hard time finding happiness while touring at the scale Pentatonix did.
“Whenever we would be off tour, we would be doing other work or other things, so it wasn’t sustainable for me. Nothing is worth not being happy and for me, I knew that I needed to really make a change to be a happy person. If you’re not happy in your life, then you’re wasting it and I don’t want to waste it,” he says.
Kaplan uses noticeably more of his range on these songs.
“Being able to explore my range and being able to explore all these different styles again is really gratifying. This time has been amazing and it feels really good to show people the other sides of my voice and the other sides of my heart,” he says.
Rural countryside and secluded forests are important to Kaplan. He says he writes in nature and that it’s always inspired him. He doesn’t like cities because he feels people often get caught up in society and other people’s problems. Kaplan depends on nature so much that he says he feels a weight lift off his chest when he leaves a city.
He didn’t leave Pentatonix because he didn’t like touring, though. It was the constant lifestyle. Kaplan wanted to be in charge of his own schedule and, as he says, when there’s a group dynamic, it’s difficult to take the wants and needs of everyone into account.
“There’s something extremely special about going out and singing music for people if it means something for them. That’s an experience I don’t want to lose out on for the rest of my life,” said Kaplan.
Kaplan said there’s more to come.
“Right now I’m recording a bunch of songs, and I don’t know how I’m going to release them. I’m definitely going to be releasing them slowly right now. I feel like the industry has changed a lot in terms of how people consume music and I feel like my sound is very eclectic,” he says. •
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California Tour Stops: July 10 in West Hollywood;
July 13 in San Francisco