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Auto-tune stars dish on fame

Kayla Byler / Lantern photographer

A lot of musicians become famous for their own singing. The Gregory Brothers are famous for making other people sing.

The group is made up of siblings Andrew, Michael and Evan Gregory, along with Evan’s wife Sarah Fullen Gregory. Since 2008 they have become well-known for their Internet videos which feature auto-tuned versions of real-life events and news footage.

The Gregory Brothers refer to the subjects in its videos as “accidental singers.” Sometimes they will even go so far as to call them “co-writers.”

The Gregory Brothers sat down for an interview with The Lantern before its performance Monday night at the Ohio Union’s Performance Hall.

Evan describes the process of creating an auto-tuned viral video as a collaboration between their computers and the voice of the accidental singer.

“There are many potential approaches,” he said. “The one that we choose is to listen attentively to the natural cadence of our co-writers’ voice. We simply help release the melody that the universe has already placed there.”

Andrew said that they were never more excited than when they first discovered the potential singing voices of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. He described them as the Beyoncé and R. Kelly of the unintentional singing world.

The Gregory Brothers first gained prominence with its series of “Auto-Tune the News” videos, which added auto-tune to everything from congressional debate to pundits on cable news. Eventually, this has resulted in videos such as “Double Rainbow Song,” “Winning – A Song by Charlie Sheen,” and their most well-known creation, “Bed Intruder Song.”

Creating amusing videos is not the only important thing to the group. They said they truly want to use the material to create great pop songs. Sarah said that people are attracted to their videos because they sound like popular music.

“I think it goes to show that people are ready for a different subject matter in their pop songs,” she said. “Singing about love is all well and good, but singing about legislation and breaking news is obviously what the people want.”

Famous musicians have gotten in on the act as well. “Auto-Tune the News” videos have featured cameos from such famous acts as T-Pain, Weezer and Joel Madden.

“T-Pain is a neat one because what we’re doing is highly employing a style that he pioneered,” Evan said. “It’s like you’re learning how to pilot a giant sailing ship, and then all of the sudden here comes Christopher Columbus.”

One of the great challenges for the Gregory Brothers is to keep its fans entertained. As each video grew more popular, they felt increased pressure to top themselves.

“YouTube can be a tough audience, for sure,” Andrew said. “If you phone it in, you’re going to get some serious hate.”

There was a time when the Gregory Brothers were excited to see one of its videos get more than 1,000 views. These days, videos such as “Bed Intruder Song” have been viewed on YouTube more than 80 million times.

Michael said that the key to achieving and maintaining Internet fame is to keep putting out a quality product as often as possible.

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