The Dodecaphonics’ new EP features new and ‘iconic’ pieces

by Savannah Miller | 9/26/17 12:00am

In August, coed a cappella group the Dodecaphonics released their new EP entitled “DDX.” “DDX” is the latest in a long line of albums released by the group since the early 1990s.

The Dodecaphonics, founded in 1984, is Dartmouth’s oldest coed a cappella group, according to the group’s website. The group currently has 21 members and two full albums on Spotify and iTunes, one of which is its  most recent EP. 

According to Dodecs president Tara Joshi ’18, the goal of “DDX” was to highlight the group’s personal sound in a new way and focus on each member’s talents. 

“The biggest goal of the album was to showcase everyone in some way,” Joshi said. “It’s our own sound, our own personality, our own voice.”

Current musical director Justine Goggin ’18 said the group paid for the expenses associated with recording the EP using earnings from its winter break tours and its on- and off-campus concerts. The Dodecs recorded the EP in the Hopkins Center for the Arts for over a year, beginning during the winter of 2016 and finishing late in the spring of 2017. The group went through three musical directors during this time, the most recent being Goggin. Goggin was in charge of listening to the recordings as they came back from the studio and ensuring they represented the Dodecs well.

“I focused on really trying to make sure they sounded like us as a group,” she said. “We wanted a product that we would be proud of and people would listen to, and ultimately that’s what we put out.”

“DDX” is a collection of 11 songs from across multiple genres, including pop, country and rock. Most of the pieces were arranged by the group itself. 

Goggin describes many of the songs on the album as crowd pleasers that listeners will recognize and enjoy. She also recognizes that many of the songs that made it onto the album were some of the group’s personal favorites, sentiments echoed by Joshi.

“A lot of it is for us,” Joshi said. “We love the pieces that are on this album. They’re some of our absolute fan favorites.”

Two specific songs cited by Joshi were “Boondocks” and “Unwritten,” the latter of which Joshi described as “iconic” to the group and its members.

According to Dodecs business manager Daniel Shlien ’18, the Dodecs decided to release a new EP partly because they felt it had been too long since the last album, “Hooked on Dodecaphonics,” released in 2012. The group wanted to feature the seniors in their group, as well as showcase their new skills and sounds.

“We felt like we needed this,” he said. “It’s new, modernist and sleek.”

While songs on “DDX” are all very personal to the Dodecs and not really inspired by other groups or artists, Shlien does believe the group felt a certain amount of pressure to constantly improve their sound.

“There’s been a big upsurge in a cappella,” Shlien said. “Pentatonix, if anything, has caused people to try and raise their game.” 

Shlien cites a master class with Paris-based a cappella group the Swingle Singers as something that helped them grow as a group.

“They really pushed us to do things in a more interesting way, to blend better with each other and work on these really interesting contrasts,” he said. “That’s featured on a couple songs on this album.”

Goggin believes the experience has only made the Dodecs grow in ability, referencing the differences between recording in a studio and performing live on a stage.

“We’ve learned how to adjust to different venues,” she said. “It only benefitted us. We had to be more precise in our parts than ever before.”

According to Joshi, the experience of recording an album was one that brought the Dodecs members closer together as well as made them excited about upcoming performances and tours.

“We’re a family group,” Joshi said. “Whenever we get to do something like this, it’s a big deal for us. It’s a huge morale booster.”

Joshi also knows that the EP is very personal to many of the Dodecs, including herself. 

“When I graduate, that’ll be a very distinct thing I’ll have to take with me from this group that meant so much to me,” she said. 

Shlien also believes that “DDX” is something he can take away from his time at Dartmouth, citing it as a way for him to leave a mark on the College.

“I really feel a part of the group’s history,” Shlien said. “People will look back at this album and be like, ‘Yeah, these were my Dodecs.’”