The Exchange are an American vocal harmony group formed from NBC’s The SingOff.
Since forming in 2012, The Exchange has toured the globe repeatedly, reinventing pop music with a cappella vocals while teaching music in schools worldwide. Named after their mission to exchange music, culture, and phone numbers, the quintet ignites on stage with infectious energy and the candid power of rock and pop.
The Good Fight - 2014
The Exchange is a 5 piece American Vocal Pop group that formed in Los Angeles in 2011 on NBC’s competition show The Sing-Off Season 3, involving 16 a cappella groups. The members of The Exchange were involved in the competition cast, production, and recording of the show. In the vanguard of contemporary a cappella with the use of beatboxing, studio production, and modified vocals, The Exchange formed a power pop group driven heavily by high energy performance and harmony.
After over a dozen different configurations during the first few months of existence, The Exchange was officially registered and formed with 5 members. Aaron Sperber and Jamal Moore were members of The University of Rochester Yellowjackets, an all-male collegiate group from Rochester New York. They competed against Richard Steighner’s hip-hop group Urban Method from Denver, Colorado. Christopher Diaz, a vocal producer on The Sing Off, arranged music and coached contestants on the 13 episode season. Alfredo Austin recorded studio tracks for the show’s theme music.
In the early months, The Exchange sang cover songs a cappella of top radio hits and recorded a full length album Get Ready. The album includes the single “See You Soon” written by Christopher Diaz. This marks the groups departure from cover music and the beginning of song writing to include instruments. Since the album, the group has released a number of covered radio singles and continues to garner an online video presence with a wide range of videos.
The Exchange has received 3 CARA Nominations for it’s self produced album “Get Ready.” The group was also awarded best lead vocalist, best percussionist, and best stage performance in their debut performance in China, placing as runners up in the a cappella competition.
December 2011 – August 2012: Before The Exchange
The Exchange began under the name Yellowjackets and Friends as an amalgamation of members from The Sing Off and The Rochester Yellowjackets in a touring a cappella troupe. The first performance was in Orlando, Florida in October of 2011 between the taping of The Sing Off and the final live episodes. Members also included Avi Kaplan from Pentatonix and Layne Stein from Voice Play.
Aaron Sperber began to develop a vision to tour the world, perform high energy music for big audiences, and most importantly, reach out to local children at tour stops to teach music and encourage creativity in schools. This was the driving force for developing a solidified cast, finding strong performers who shared a similar interest.
Spring 2012: Formation
During the spring of 2012, the group toured Hong Kong, South and Central America, filmed a commercial for Kraft Foods, performed in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Baltimore. While the YJs and Friends experienced a successful growth period due in large part to charisma and candid performance on this first world tour, it became evident that the touring and recording would require a permanent cast and in favor of the early revolving lineup. The group also began to separate from the Yellowjackets monicker and develop its own brand as The Exchange.
Summer 2012: Early Touring
During the summer in 2012, The Exchange visited a myriad of places around the world to develop a widespread and avid fan base. After a performance in Washington DC, the group began to see rapid growth from show to show, solidifying the cast along the way. The summer of 2012 began The Exchange’s official run touring around the world from Orlando, The Virgin Islands, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and China before returning to the US after over a month of the group’s second world tour. The tour also included an a cappella competition in China called Vocal Asia where The Exchange was granted last minute visas to compete in Shen Zhen. The group took 2nd place and was awarded specific prizes for best lead vocalist, best percussionist, and best stage performance.
In the early fall of 2012, The Exchange completed a short US tour from Atlanta, to Alaska, and New York with 6th member Jordan Pharoah Garrett Williams, marking the last time the group performed with anything other than the permanent lineup. From that point on, The Exchange lineup was set and heavy video and song production began after a short break. After long discussions, the entire band agreed to move in together to write music, film video, and create a better group.
September 2012: Members and Living Together
By September 2012 nearly all of the members of The Exchange and videographer Dan Petracca had moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a music retreat. During that time, the group produced a weekly video, wrote songs, recorded a full length album, and planned a massive 6 month tour in 2013 (mostly by the work of Aaron Sperber). The band decided to engage the service of long-time friend Matt Lukasiewicz as tour manager and song-writer. Lukasiewicz traveled to South Carolina and helped plan the upcoming tour while the band continued their self-production of the album Get Ready. Lukasiewicz wrote a few songs the band sang live and helped to develop and produce videos.
The Get Ready album is the first full-length release from The Exchange, including 1 original song written by Christopher Diaz, earlier released as a holiday single. The album covers include Domino, Lonely Boy, Payphone, Home, I Feel Good, Where Have You Been/Thriller, Take Me Away, Sexy Free & Single, See You Soon, and Can’t Hold Us. The songs are re-worked to have an up-beat, danceable driving rhythm section with a mix of natural vocals and heavy EDM style production. Most of the songs were recorded in the South Carolina home and edited by the band before mixing by 3rd parties.
The album, intended for physical sale on the upcoming tour, completely sold out halfway through the tour. The group scrambled to re-order 2 more times while on tour as venues saw record sales in several places The Exchange performed. The album can be purchase on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/get-ready/id594330526
January 2013 – June 2013: Get Ready Tour
From the start of 2013, The Exchange began to see incredible success around the world. The Get Ready tour was independently organized by The Exchange, and primarily Aaron Sperber. With the band, tour manager Lukasiewicz, and videographer Petracca, The Exchange performed over 100 shows from the US to Europe to Australia to Asia. Along the way, The Exchange conducted workshops for school children, choirs and groups, and general audiences to continue the mission of the group.
Along the way, The Exchange worked with Universal producer and writer Tat Tong in Melbourne and Singapore to write new content that included vocally driven but instrumentally backed songs intended for later release. The group appeared on numerous television and radio outlets and released a series of viral videos performing in subway systems around the world.
This 3rd world tour for the group honed in a specific sound and helped develop a more refined presentation. The group developed a reputation for high energy sound and performance, rakish charisma and candid humanity, and a more cohesive sound than ever. Shows were often added on tour after visiting a location due to fan response, album sales, and online activity. The Exchange was asked to open for Olly Murs and Sonne Mannheims at Europa Park and performed as an a cappella act-an almost unheard-of feat for a top-10 pop act. The tour concluded in June when the group recorded and released a spoof video on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” performing with ship passengers.
Collaborations and Songwriting
During the Get Ready tour The Exchange began production of a series of original songs. While the group continues to write their own music, they also collaborate with Tat Tong, a song-writer and producer for Universal based in Singapore. They also garnered attention from and collaborated with other artists and groups, like Asian pop star Jonathan Wong, duet Robynn and Kendy, Kraft, and Europa Park, to write new music and create new videos.
Members of The Exchange
Aaron Sperber is known for his high, pure tone with a contagious energy and undeniable optimism. He sings first tenor in The Exchange. He is credited as the founder of the group, orchestrating much of the group’s early and ongoing activity at home and abroad, membership, and financial operations. Aaron is a classically trained cellist and vocalist and songwriter.
Alfredo Austin’s uniquely raw voice and classic R&B presence have earned him a prolific portfolio of studio recording. On stage, Fredo’s high-energy delivery and versatility make him a go-to for many of The Exchange’s leads as the group’s second tenor. He was the final member to join the group but brings an unmistakable magnetism. His consistency comes from vocal training in college, development of multiple groups, and TV and radio experience.
Christopher Diaz brings a mountain of soul to The Exchange. His caring demeanor and unmistakable presence come alive as the lead on many of the group’s most expressive songs. As the bass singer in the group Christopher also acts as The Exchange’s music director, arranging most songs for vocals and serving as the touchstone for musical development within the group. He is classically trained vocally and his propensity for language has earned him most of the group’s non-English leads.
Jamal Moore’s charming, rich baritone and calm stage presence come from a history of classical vocal training and hopes to be an opera singer. His early singing life started with aspirations of a rap career have blended to become a specialized force in The Exchange. He is known for his fashion and for his vocal technique and writes many of the raps that The Exchange performs.
Richard Steighner brings an intensity to the stage that comes through as the primary percussionist and as a gritty rockabilly lead. He specializes in crowd participation and song adaptation, orchestrating many of the moments in the group’s arrangements. Richard studied Architecture and Psychology but has a background as a guitarist, playing and recording rock music through college and studying theory and composition.
The Exchange’s notable appearances: The Backstreet Boys 32 city European tour support act (2014), Olly Murs support act (2013), Lou Bega closing act (2013), CoCreate Hong Kong (2013), and London A Cappella Festival. Furthermore they have recorded the Europa Park Theme Song (in German), collaborated with Hong Kong pop stars Robynn & Kendy, performed alongside Ivana Wong (in Cantonese), and remixed and rewritten a traditional Taiwanese song (in Mandarin).
Appearing on television: NBC’s The SingOff (individually as competitors, coaching & arranging, studio recording – 2011), Live Nationally Broadcast Miss Germany Closing Act (2014), Immer Wieder Sonntags (Germany), MTV Sri Lanka, M21 Taiwan, ChannelTen Australia, ToDou (China).
Pursuing their mission: The Exchange have sung and taught music to kids on every continent (but Antarctica), worked musically with Fortune 500 companies, and developed music programs around the world.