You won’t find Robin Alice on the credits for Pitch Perfect 3, at least not under that name. But the individual members of Robin Alice—a band, not a person—are there. And for fans of the movie eager to spread the word about the Austin/Los Angeles duo birthed from it, some simple choreography could help clear things up. “I often find myself doing a bird gesture, because initially everyone thinks it’s ‘Rob and Alice,’ because we’re a man and woman,” says Kelley Jakle. “So I have to be very clear, and that ends up manifesting in me flapping fake bird wings.”
Jakle met Jeff Hortillosa in Atlanta while filming 2017’s Pitch Perfect 3, the final chapter of the popular franchise following the fictional a cappella group the Barden Bellas. Hortillosa and the four other members of Austin’s punked-up bluegrass outfit Whiskey Shivers were cast as Saddle Up, one of the three other acts in the movie competing against the Bellas for the chance to open for DJ Khaled. Jakle, a California native who had real-world experience in the a cappella circuit, has been a Bella since Pitch Perfect’s debut, in 2012.
Although they competed on-screen, Hortillosa and Jakle found musical common ground after the cameras stopped rolling. Shortly after meeting for the first time off set, they teamed up to open for Whiskey Shivers at a dive bar in Atlanta, piecing together a three-song set in the course of an afternoon. Hortillosa is accustomed to finding vocal melodies in a group through his time in Whiskey Shivers, and Jakle is a self-described “harmony geek.” The chemistry was immediate.
Since filming wrapped, the pair began to workshop songs from their respective outposts, helping each other flesh out individual projects and imagining how to fuse their individual styles along the way. “There’s a large breadth of style between the two of us,” Jakle says. “We’re still figuring out what makes a Robin Alice song. That’s a lifelong process.” Jakle made several trips to Austin to demo out songs and write, and a band was officially born. With a fully funded Indiegogo campaign, several gigs around Austin, and an album’s worth of songs under their belt, they’re nearly ready to introduce Robin Alice to the world.
Whiskey Shivers’ aggressive touring schedule, which includes several European runs this summer, and Jakle’s acting career mean that the world will need to wait for Robin Alice’s yet-unnamed debut. But Texas Monthly has an exclusive debut of “Greed,” the first song to premiere from the upcoming album. The song, which Jakle and Hortillosa described as a critique of the global supply chain and consumerist tendencies of the United States and Western civilization, is carried by Hortillosa’s deft guitar lines and Jakle’s dreamy soprano, both adding levity to heavy subject matter.
“[‘Greed’] is an important example of our philosophical unifying,” says Hortillosa, who wrote the bulk of the song before meeting Jakle. “It was natural for Kelley’s voice to replace my voice. I didn’t feel any protectiveness over this song, nothing like, ‘I need to sing this, I need to say this.’ We agreed so much on the content of it that it was natural. Plus, her voice sounds great on it—better than my voice.”
In that way, “Greed” highlights an important creative quality for Robin Alice going forward: the ability to work together, even if you aren’t in the same time zone.
Robin Alice will play with Bob Schneider and Black Pumas at Austin’s Nutty Brown Amphitheatre on May 26.