GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - How does an engineering major become a pop star? Ask Joshua Huslig. He's the founding member of an award-winning a cappella group, Mo5aic. And when he started out at Mesa State College back in the '90s, he didn't stick with his declared major for very long."Why would I try engineering when I don't know what could happen with the music thing?" he said, as he sat several rows back from the stage in the Moss Recital Hall at Colorado Mesa University while his group prepared for sound check.Huslig had always been a singer. He graduated from Mesa in 1999 with an opera degree after changing his major from engineering. He then went on to form Mo5aic, a five-member vocal group which at first glance might look like yet another boy band, complete with v-necks, hair gel and styled photo ops. But unlike other boy bands, like NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys, Mo5aic doesn't use synthesizers or a backing band. It's a completely vocal ensemble, and they make all their music with their mouths. This includes the sounds of the guitar, piano, and even the flute. If you walk in on one of their performances with your eyes closed, you would swear otherwise. To create the sound that Mo5aic makes in their performance, one doesn't simply mimic the sound of an instrument, Huslig said. Emulation is key."I think it boils down to too much free time," he added about the practice necessary to emulate the sound of various instruments. "Jake (Moulton) is our beatboxer. He's literally one of the best in the world." Huslig spoke about band mate Moulton's ability to vocally produce everything from the bass drum, to the snare and even the flute. "He realized he had a gift for emulation," he continued.
Mo5aic has been featured across the pop music circuit. They won MTV's Top Pop Group competition and were semi-finalists on America's Got Talent."My least favorite (judge) was Hassellhoff." Huslig said. Huslig's band mates - Moulton and Roopak "Roo" Ahuja - were vocal consultants on NBC's "The Sing Off." Aside from their success on those shows, the band regularly performs at the V Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.Finding success hasn't come easy, however. And after 10 years, Huslig remembers how he got his start.After graduating from Mesa, Huslig pursued a theater career, which nabbed him a job with Disney World in Orlando, Fla. After working with the company and making connections in the industry, he started Mo5aic. "The a cappella world is a very small community." Huslig said. "Once the project started forming, (I) started getting interest from other talented players." He said finding the right members for his group was a long process, and it's changed over the years.So, what brings Huslig and his band back to Grand Junction? He moved to the Grand Valley when he was 3 and is a graduate of Central High School. "I wanted to do a concert for my hometown," Huslig said. "We've had a lot of success over the years, and I thought it was time to bring this product back to my hometown."Aside from their performance Wednesday, Nov. 14, at CMU, the band will be playing a number of private shows at local schools, as well as two sets at the Avalon Theatre Friday, Nov. 16. "We want to reach out to the local schools (and) give a bit of an educational approach to what it is we're doing," Huslig said about their local shows and showing students that "there are possibilities of going out there and doing the music thing."To see everything that Mo5aic is up to, check out www.mo5aic.com or "Like" them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Mo5aic. For more info about their show on Friday or to buy tickets, visit www.monumentalevents.com/event/mo5aic.