Catching Up with Peter Hollens (The 2018 Edition)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

I truly enjoy every time Peter Hollens visits Jake’s Take. Peter has been at the forefront of bringing A cappella music to a mainstream audience. Throughout his career, he collaborated with a plethora of performers including Brian Wilson, Home Free, Jackie Evancho, Lindsey Stirling, Sabrina Carpenter, and Sam Tsui. 

Since he launched his YouTube channel on January 6, 2011,  Peter’s videos have been viewed over 360 million times.  This year, he covered a plethora of songs from “The Ultimate Harry Potter Fan Theory Medley” and Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” to “Loch Lomond,” his duet with David Archuleta and The Greatest Showman’s “Never Enough.” He did something incredible this year as Peter invited members of his fan base, The Hollensfamily, to participate in the recording process for The Greatest Showman- A Cappella.

He also decided to teach the next generation of content creators through Creator Education.  Creator Education (formerly the Hollens Creator Academy) is an online educational video series that gives creators the chance to learn key entrepreneurship skills and strategies that they need in order to pursue their life’s passion.  

In this edition of Catching Up, Peter opened up about the decision to include the Hollensfamily on The Greatest Showman- A Cappella, why he decided to rebrand Creator Education, and teased fans on what they can expect from him in 2019.

Jacob Elyachar: How have you grown as a musician since the last time we spoke?

Peter Hollens: I have been fortunate enough to build a more solid team. Also, my production has increased both in quantity and quality. I have been very fortunate to be blessed by, by that. Kind of just… God, as a musician. I do not know, I have kind of been more, more eclectic with my musical choices and tastes and opening up to other possibilities regarding different genres and stuff that I used to kind of scoff at, I am like, “Why not? “I have not tried that, that sounds cool.” You know? Just like, breaking any rules that I thought were things that I should not do. Because, really, there are no rules anymore. What are rules?

Jacob Elyachar: This year, you decided to release two albums: Legendary Folk Songs and The Greatest Showman-A Cappella. Why did you choose to release two records this year?

Peter Hollens: I have always wanted to do a folk song album. That was something I had the goal to do even way back in 2012. Then, I got sidetracked doing the major record deal and so I finally got back on track, accomplished that, you know, and it was really well-accepted and so I was really excited about how people received that. And then, I just love The Greatest Showman. I thought it was superb writing, really, really, really just loved the whole thing, so I was like, why not? And truthfully, my goal next year is to release four albums.

Jacob Elyachar: So next year, we are going to be talking four albums next year?

Peter Hollens: Yes, that is my goal. In 2019, I hope to do an in-depth Disney album. I have recorded so many already and I want to release as many Disney songs as possible in one collection. Disney is something that all ages can enjoy. There is not enough positive, uplifting, family-friendly content, so super stoked to do that.  I also want to release a duet album. Evynne (Peter’s wife) might be on half of the album, plus I plan to talk to my friend, Tim Foust, about doing more collaborations. He is the bass of Home Free and we sound really good together.  He has a lot of parts of his voice, register, and tone that I think really round out my sound.  I just love the guy, he’s so easy to work with and he’s hilarious.  In addition to Disney duets, I thought about other options. I thought about doing an entire country album, which totally against everything I have ever done, I was just like, “But I want to do it because it would be fun.” Then, I was also thinking of doing an entire hymn album. Just trying to get everybody something that they like. The thing that I find the most difficult is just working on completing those things without saturating my audience too much with one thing. It is like I almost needed to be calculating and embrace the idea of creating two albums at the same time, so when I am releasing singles I do not tire people out in one specific sound.  I know my audience really is very diverse, both in age, sex, and, and their taste range, so it is very interesting for me to try to balance the needs and desires of my audience. Honestly, I make music for my community, I definitely have an itch to scratch but I am just stoked I get to make music in general, so I do not really need to specifically do one thing over the other. I have my people working on the next two years is actually doing a completely original album. Which I have at least a third of it written. And so, that will be fun.

Jacob Elyachar: Awesome! I cannot wait for your next chapter. However, we got to get back about your 2018 work. On Legendary Folk Songs, you collaborated with Anna Gilbert, David Archuleta, The Hound + The Fox, and Tim Foust. How did these collaborations come about?

Peter Hollens: I think collaborating is awesome, both in the way that the music turns out and in just the fact that I am really tired of my voice and it’s nice to have other instruments to work with, so to speak. I heard Anna working on a rough version of a folk song of hers and I told her: “I want to add on to that with you,” and that is how that collaboration turned out. It was pretty similar to the way it worked out with the Hound + the Fox. I encouraged both of them to do folk songs because I wanted to be able to share it with the audience.  On Facebook, my audience adores folk music and I wanted to introduce my Facebook audience to them. I always want to try to help out other artists.  Then, just the fact that I love working with Tim and David. I would sing with them any time.

Jacob Elyachar: During the recording process of The Greatest Showman- A Cappella, you incorporated the Hollensfamily into four songs (“This Is Me,” “From Now On,” “Come Alive,” and “The Greatest Show”). How did you come to that decision?

Peter Hollens: There are multiple reasons. I think that those four tracks are so epic because of what the original orchestrations did and because of how grandiose it was, that it was not only necessary, but it was so absolutely helpful to the sound and then the community loves it.  My community is actually pretty darn talented. For whatever reason I do attract some really good singers.  It was a win-win overall. It made my community happy, it involved them, which I care about the most, it helped the song choice overall and it lent a more unique offering visually. Even though from a production standpoint, it was hell on Earth, a little bit from a time-intensive and rendering perspective. I think it turned out great. It made them happy, and that is why I make music.

Jacob Elyachar: What were some of the challenges that you faced this year? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Peter Hollens: On a personal level, I had a total hip replacement, and that was incredibly difficult, both in like just, keeping my steady release of content done and also just like, having major surgery for the first time. So, it worked really hard before that surgery to get enough content out to be consistently releasing content.  That surgery was back-to-back with the birth of my second child, Saylor.  I would say just from like balancing health, family, and work, this has been the most challenging year of my life. Definitely have learned a lot from the both in appreciating my health, my body, and my family. Also, welcoming a soul into our family is the best thing in the world. I really appreciate my team and what they bring to the table.

(Photo courtesy of Peter & Evynne Hollens)

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about the Hollens Creator Academy. This month, the Academy celebrated its one-year anniversary by rebranding into Creator Education.  Why did you decide to rebrand? How have you seen your students grow over the past year?

Peter Hollens:  That’s a good question. Well, how about I ask you, do you like the name Creator Education more than Hollens Creator Academy?

Jacob Elyachar: Since you asked, I believe that Creator Education would probably attract more people to your work.

Peter Hollens: That is one of the reasons I rebranded. I do not want it to be about me. I want Creator Education to be always able to become bigger than myself. I do not want to create a company that’s built on my name and my face. Both from the perspective that it can only grow to a certain potential. But I do not want to be the person, the only person educating. I want to be able to bring in my peers, I want to be able to maybe one day create something that I can then give to someone else to do more good with it. I do not want Creator Education to have anything to do with me and my face. Truthfully, I would love to take my own name and my own brand out of all my music, so I can eventually turn it into something that allows me to release my own content in it, but also release other people’s, so that I can help them find a way to make a living doing what they love. I think it is an excellent reason to wake up in the morning.

Jacob Elyachar: Recently, you launched The Creator Education Podcast. When did you get the idea to start this podcast? 

Peter Hollens: The podcast has been a huge learning experience because it is something that I do not know a lot about, so I have been learning a lot with very little time. Given what I already told you I had to overcome this year. We are always still figuring out the workflow. How to record people remotely, edit it, and release the podcast. The reason why I do the podcast is to allow more education to be distributed worldwide for free for anybody. This podcast is for people cannot afford to take courses or be part of the other stuff that we are creating for a more highly-engaging and interactive group of students.  if they cannot be part of it, then they can at least listen to me speaking to people who are unreachable and ask them lots of great questions that could they could learn from.

Jacob Elyachar: It sounds like 2019 is going to be a big year for you, Peter. In addition to the four albums that you previously mentioned, what else can my readers expect?

Peter Hollens: I want to create more education material and be able to promote more artists. Hopefully, God-willing, there is enough time and revenue in which to do so. I want to try to pull off releasing one music video a week in 2019. I also hope to help my wife with a musical that she’s writing. I hope to help the musical develop more of a following as well.

For more information about Peter Hollens, visit his website. Click on the hyperlink to learn more about Creator Education.

You can also connect with Peter on his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar