Over the month of October we'll be introducing you to the incredible team of artists who composed the music for our show! Meet our fifth composer set, Shannon Deep and Scott Wasserman!
Learn more about Shannon and Scott at their website: http://www.songsaladpodcast.com/
Oh hey! Who are you both? Answer in any order.
Shannon: Well I’m Shannon
Scott: and I’m Scott
Shannon: and together
Both: We’re Shannon and Scott!
Shannon: Deep and Wasserman respectively.
Well that happened! So Shannon, who are you? When did you start lyricizing things? Is that a word?
Shannon: Not even a little, but sure. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. But I only started writing lyrics when Scott made me a de facto lyricist our freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University. Scott was in choir and for his composition teacher he had to write a piece for the choir, or something like that. So he looked through some of my poems, picked one and set it to music. He did a four-part arrangement of a poem called I Miss You. It was really cool and rewarding. After that it just became a good fit to try and do composer-y lyricist stuff together. I’m also a playwright and write the books for our projects.
Scott, when did you start composing?
Scott: I started really composing in high school. My earliest memory of composing I always think of a piano lesson that I had when I was probably in fourth grade, maybe fifth grade, and I changed the ending of a Beethoven song to something I thought sounded better. My teacher was like “you can’t do that...” and I was like “why not? It sounds better.”
Shannon: Dude, putting Beethoven on blast...
Scott: Well he wouldn’t be able to hear it anyways. So then I decided to go to college for composition and I studied classical composition in a conservatory setting, and as Shannon just described, I met her and we started collaborating. We’ve completed a full length musical from scratch that we are still trying to develop and we have a podcast together called Song Salad where we take a random genre of music and a random article from Wikipedia each episode and we create a short song using the two.
Well that’s fun, what was the impetus for that?
Scott: Shannon really wanted to do a podcast.
Shannon: I really, really wanted to do a podcast, and I was gonna force someone that I loved to do it with me if it was the last thing that I did. I don’t remember how we landed on Song Salad. We knew a podcast needed a structure, and therefore could be repeatable. We eventually landed on a random music genre and a random topic that would come together through our ridiculous process to be a short song.
How’s the podcast going? How long has it been running?
Shannon: We’ve been doing it since the last couple weeks of January of this year. We have 35 episodes at this point, I believe? One a week with a couple exceptions for like holidays and extreme travel schedules.
Scott: You can find out more about it on www.songsaladpodcast.com or on our twitter @SongSaladCast.
Do you have any other projects planned?
Scott: We have a lot of ideas for musicals and would love to have the time and resources to actually work on them and see what sticks.
Shannon: Let’s be clear it’s because Scott has been busy with Hamilton for like two years.
Busy with what? Thank you Shannon for working that into the conversation.
Shannon: No problem. I told Scott that if I’m riding his coattails to fame, he has to let me put the jacket on him.
Scott: (laughs) I am the Ableton programmer for the musical Hamilton: An American Musical. Ableton is a software used in DJing and Hip-Hop to play electronic tracks. So I’ve been setting up the Broadway Company and now the touring companies of Hamilton.
So I approached you guys back in June about writing a song for this crazy concept of a web series. What was your reaction to that pitch?
Scott: Well after working with Charging Moose Media on other projects, including Give My Regards to Broadway: Classic Showtunes Reimagined, I was excited to bring Shannon onboard this team to collaborate. How did that conversation where I brought you in go for you, Shannon?
Shannon: Well I’m always interested in meeting new collaborators, so getting a chance to meet all of the other people working on this project was a really exciting opportunity for me.
What was your guys’ approach to when you sat down to writing “Shine On” and “My Best Friend”?
Shannon: Usually we do lyrics first.
Scott: Yeah, we talk about the overall themes and structures of the songs that we want to accomplish and then from there Shannon will write the lyric and I’ll work on barebones elements of the music. So I knew that I wanted it to be like an upbeat rock song, and then Shannon came back with the lyrics, and we sat down and edited it all together.
What was it like to write a song and hand it off to be arranged and orchestrated by a separate team?
Scott: I love it. I think it’s exciting. I put some basic orchestration ideas into my demo recording, but I knew that Marcus (Bagala, Co-Founder of Charging Moose Media) would get his hands on it and he is a much more proficient guitarist than I am so I was excited to hear what he would do with the arrangement.
On October 31st we release The Hunted: Encore. What is your hope for the show, and your songs?
Scott: I hope that the show gains a cult following online. I think the ultimate triumph for this would be if we walk past Times Scare and they have a poster up for “The Hunted: Encore: Live”
Shannon: I think it has a real possibility because of the broad shoulders that it sits on with the original show, The Hunted, to reach a wide audience. And I think it’s going to appeal to nerdy internet pockets, not just musical theatre people, but sci-fi people, fantasy people, vampire people, it’s got a lot of draw for a lot of different groups. As far as our songs go, I hope we can use this to find other collaborators who want to work with us on their projects, because I loved this process and would love to do it again.
Over the month of October we'll be introducing you to the incredible team of artists who composed the music for our show! Meet our fourth composer (and lead villain), John Gardner!
Learn more about John at his website - http://www.commonjackmusic.com
Yo! Who are you?
My name is John Gardner and I am playing John a vampire in The Hunted and I also wrote one of the songs for it.
When do you start getting into writing music?
I started writing music kind of as a hobby when I was in high school but it was something I never really started pursuing until I was probably 22 when a world tour of a Broadway show called Once and that show kind of encouraged me to take it a little bit more seriously.
How long were you with Once?
I was with Once for almost two and a half years. We started in August of 2013 and we just finished this past December, end of 2015.
What have you been up to since then?
I’ve kind of been hitting the ground running here in New York with my band, I found some musicians that I really click with and I started playing the club scene here in NYC. We successfully crowd-funded a second full-length album and recorded that in the spring/early summer and just recently released it on September 9th. So that’s kind of been the focus point of all of my energy.
What’s your band called? I can’t believe you didn’t say that.
Oh yeah, I totally forgot. The band is called Common Jack. I’m very good at these things.
What musically influenced the creation of Common Jack?
Ironically one of my biggest songwriting influences and inspirations in high school was Glen Hansard who wrote the music for Once. I’ve always had a good laugh about just the nature of things and how that worked out. But besides him a lot of the music I grew up listening to was that old, southern-influenced rock and roll. Bob Dylan, some of the later George Harrison kind of stuff. So I’d say you can hear some of the southern roots in Common Jack’s music, but it’s not certainly just limited to that. I would say especially in terms of song structure and lyrical influences, Bob Dylan is hands down the top of the pantheon.
Was that what you listened to all through High School or did you shift somewhere in the world?
The first album I remember my Dad putting on for me was a Bob Dylan record when I was 7 or 8, I don’t really remember. But I do remember him putting on Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album. I always liked it, but I never really got to the kind of obsessive place that I am now until probably 4 years ago. I have a bit of an eclectic taste. In high school especially I was really into classic rock and punk rock...really any and all things rock.
Over the month of October we'll be introducing you to the incredible team of artists who composed the music for our show! Meet our third composer (and intrepid director), Ryan Gibeau!
Learn more about Ryan at his website - http://www.rockitfilms.com
Whoa, Ned! I didn’t see you there.
What a total coincidence that you happen to be on this call and are the person I need to talk to! What’s your background compositionally, musically, human being-ly--
That’s not a word.
Shut up, what’s your life?
Well, I always knew when I was young that I wanted to sing and entertain, so I got into musical theatre at like age 11 to like age 20. And when I left musical theatre to go film school, there was no musical accompaniment left for me, and no songs written for me. And I realized if I wanted to continue singing and performing I had to learn an instrument to accompany myself. So that’s kind of the beginning for how I got into playing music. And then sometime in college I went I’m gonna try and write my own song and I worked on it for like 5 months and you know what, man? It was bad. I mean It was awful. And I tried and tried for probably like 3 or so years using chord progressions from other songs that I had learned until one day it just clicked for me and I started to find my voice.
What was your very first song about?
It was about a girl, it was about a tricky situation with a girl and I remember like the first lyric was “Why do you leave me here standing all alone?” or something like that. And it went (sings the phrase). And then all my friends would say “why did you just rewrite the buttercup song?” And I was like, “Why do you build me--“ “Why do you leave me--“ Okay. Yup. That’s exactly what I’ve done.
So you’ve released music in the past, do you have any coming up?
Well I’ve released live videos of my songs but I’ve never actually released anything officially as a musician. Right now, actually, is the time where I’m releasing my first single, late fall, and then I’m going to release come spring 2017. The whole 8 song album.
That’s awesome, congratulations!
Yeah, it’s done! I’ve been saying “oh it’s gonna be done” for like 3 years. But legitimately the website’s designed, it should be up next week, I’m putting everything onto iTunes and Spotify now. It’s all real stuff happening.
So this is your first album?
Yeah! Before this I was always sort of winging it as an artist, going off of my ear, I was sort of theoretically trained as a kid on how to read music but not really how to write music. I was just sort of going off of what felt right and I liked how it sounded. And I learned to trust that. When I play at shows and people tell me that they like a certain song, then it reinforces that what I am doing is somewhat right to other people, but definitely to me.
Tell me who you are.
Hi, I’m Danny K Bernstein and I am a composer, lyricist, book writer, everything maker, director, pianist of/for musical theatre.
Oh damn, that’s a lot. Where’re you from?
I’m from Westchester, New York. So I’ve lived around the city my whole life.
How did you start getting into composing and when?
I started getting into composing I think in high school, but I started really taking it seriously when I was at Cornell University and neurobiology and psychology was really hard, so I decided to go down the far less stable career path and started writing musicals.
I’m sorry, you started in neuroscience and psychology?
Yeah. I was really--I remember when I was deciding where I wanted to go to school it was between Northwestern for Theatre, and Cornell for like, science-y things--
Because that’s a choice normal people make...
(laughs) and I was probably like “okay I’m probably not going to do theatre with my life, because I’m probably not that good, so I’ll just go to Cornell pick a career to make money.” And I went to Cornell and wound up doing theatre.
What was the first show you composed? Was it at Cornell or was it in High School?
The first full-length show that I did was called Far From Canterbury, it was my thesis at Cornell. I had no idea what I was doing. But it turned out well, it wound up being a mainstage through the department and then it wound up winning something in LA, and then it went to the fringe and it won the fringe so we wound up off-broadway for a week. We went through fringe encores, At Soho Playhouse. We got really great reviews, throughout pretty much the entire run.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new show called The Bishops, and it’s about a family of two dads, a daughter, and a son, and the son is a competitive American chess champion, and a news story about their family goes viral because of it, and the family becomes sort of this national epicenter for political discussion on family and their entire family is broadcast across America.
Over the month of October we'll be introducing you to the incredible team of artists who composed the music for our show! First up, Rebekah M. Allen.
Learn more about Rebekah at her website: http://www.rebekahmallen.com/
So Rebekah Allen, who the hell are you?
I am a princess. No, I am a musical theatre writer in New York slash Entertainment Journalist. I’ve been here for 3 years, as of last week. I moved here to do my show called We Are The Tigers, and that went very well. We had a production last year in Los Angeles at the Hudson Backstage Theater. Now we’re looking at developing that again in the spring.
We’re gonna have a little developmental workshop at the Gallery Players in Brooklyn. So yeah, we’re excited about that. That is my baby and I now have more babies and they’re all great and I love writing musicals. (Laughs) It’s really cool.
What other babies do you have?
A: I have Remission, too. Remission is my newer project that is kicking along quite nicely. We did a reading this summer at NYMF and it looks like we’ll be having some more movement on that in the future. It’s very different in tone from Tigers. I think it very much sounds like me, but hopefully it’s a little bit different than Tigers. Tigers is like...girl pop? But with a lot of r’s and no vowels. So grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl pop? (Laughs) Remission is a little more folksy, a little more grounded. Tigers is more like a standard show and Remission is right now more like a concept album. It’s a much quieter show, a much quieter show.
So are you actively working on Tigers or Remission?
A: Actually, I’m actively working on my parody musical The Rage: Carrie 2. After Remission I was like “okay, I need a full switch for the next couple months. So I’m gonna do this parody musical.” I got an October 28th at 1130pm slot at 54 Below, and I’m working with a lot of cool people. That’s been really fun because the show is purely silly, purely pop punk, and I’m working with friends.
Where did you start all of this?
I was a performer in high school. And when I got into college I was a musical theatre major in performance at Columbia College Chicago. I was in a class with a bunch of really, really talented people, and I was like, “Okay, I’m writing a show, I’m really into it, I have no desire to perform in this show I’m writing, I think I want to reevaluate my musical theatre major.” It seemed like what I’m leading to was doing Tigers. I’m super happy with it, and I’m super happy with my choice to drop my performance major and be a writer.
On September 13th, 2016, we met up with our good friends of Common Jack for a live recording session on a rooftop in Queens. We recorded three songs of their new album Strange New State at sunset on a beautiful day with the New York City skyline behind us.
Common Jack performed She Don't, Fine Line, and Spanish Bird with a reduced band that featured John Gardner (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Joe Carroll (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Alex Nee (Bass/Vocals), and Aaron Drescher (Percussion).
Gardner, Carroll, and Nee are all alums of the tony award winning, actor musician Broadway show, Once.
Watch Spanish Bird below, and Click Here to watch the whole session!
Here we will keep you up to date with all the Charging Moose Media happenings! Stay tuned for behind the scenes information, project announcements, and more!