On Thursday, June 12, Must Match returns to 54 Below. 15 composers are paired with 15 singers they've never worked with to create a night of new music. All benefits of the evening go to the charity ZARA AINA. Use discount code MUSE5 for $15 cover, which is virtually one dollar a song! Follow Muse Match on Twitter @MuseMatchOrg. Now's your chance to get to know four of the artists before the big event!
Name: Joel B. New
Hometown: Bellevue, Nebraska
Education: MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from Tisch @ NYU
Who are you collaborating with for Muse Match 2?: My muse is Ryan Speakman, a terrific musical theatre performer.
How did you get involved in Muse Match?: Bill and I met through a mutual friend a few years back, he became familiar with my work, and I'm so flattered that he asked me to participate.
What inspires you as an artist?: I love visual art, watching other artists make choices and take risks, learning how other artists develop their craft, and I listen to as many genres and styles of music I can, soak in whatever I respond to, and let that into how I approach my art.
How did you go about creating your piece for Ryan Speakman?: We had a really nice coffee date where we talked about our artistic strengths and challenges, as well as where we're both at in our personal lives. Based on that talk, I felt the impulse to write a love song that felt contemporary, lush, and conversational. Oh, and an uptempo!
What can we expect to see (and hear) at Muse Match?: So many wickedly talented songwriters and performers, all assembled under one roof with the common goal to show something that wouldn't have existed otherwise. How cool is that?
Why should we check out Muse Match?: Amazing artists creating new work and all proceeds going to Zara Aina, a great organization. It's going to be an inspiring evening. I know I can't wait to see what everyone's come up with! Plus 54 Below is such a gorgeous venue. It makes me feel famous and fancy.
What’s up next?: My musical theatre podcast, SOMETHING NEW, is having its Season 2 finale in the form of a live concert, happening later this summer. Date and venue TBA! Please visit www.joelbnew.com for updates.
Name: Nick Luckenbaugh
Hometown: New Oxford, Pennsylvania (right next to Gettysburg)
Education: BM in Vocal Performance from NYU
Who are you collaborating with for Muse Match 2?: I'm working with Chris Ware, an awesome actor who also performs in A Band Called Honalee - a folk trio that's inspired by the music of Peter, Paul and Mary.
How did you get involved in Muse Match?: When I heard that the first MuseMatch was happening earlier this year, I was so pissed that I couldn't be there. But fortunately for me (and everyone else in the world), the show's producer Bill Coyne was smart enough to put up some awesome videos. And they were fantastic. So I pretty much instantaneously emailed Bill and asked if he might consider me if there were plans for another concert. Turns out there were, and here we are. I really couldn't be more excited. I love the idea of having the opportunity to stretch myself and write a song specifically for someone. Plus, it's all for charity, so you can't beat that.
What inspires you as an artist?: There are definitely a bunch of artists that I look to for inspiration: Jack White, The Civil Wars (I'm still nursing the wounds caused by their breakup), Craig Lucas, Melissa James Gibson, Woody Allen, and Alan Menken to name a few. In general, though, I love fantasy - especially the kind that brings the fantastical into our everyday world. And I've got to admit I'm a sucker for sad, depressing stories. There's something truly amazing about a book or movie or theater can touch you on such an intimate level and reduce you to tears. Definitely a goal of mine - to make people cry. But in a good way.
How did you go about creating your piece for Chris Ware?: Chris and I had never met before Bill paired us up for Muse Match 2. So we spent some time chatting about anything and everything... hopes, dreams, frustrations, whatever. Out of that, we found a topic - slowing down in a world overrun with technology - that really resonated with both of us. And from there, I went off and wrote - sending Chris lyric ideas and drafts to get his thoughts as I went along.
What can we expect to see (and hear) at Muse Match?: Well - from me, you can expect some new musical theater infused with a good heavy dose of guitar-driven folk. But in general, I think the whole evening is going to be pretty eclectic. There's such a range of writers and performers represented, and I think that's what makes this evening so special. So many very different people being compelled and inspired to create new work.
Why should we check out Muse Match?: Like I said, it's going to be an awesome mix of great new work - all being done for charity. But it's also about supporting new musical theater and getting to know new writers that you've never heard of before. For me, there are few things more satisfying than having someone who's never heard my music come up to me and say that they enjoyed it or were moved by it. I think most writers would agree with me. So this is an opportunity to make 15 writers' nights - and hopefully have a pretty kick-ass time yourself.
What's up next?: Right now, I'm hot and heavy into revisions on a new musical fantasy called Unbound that I'm working on with singer/songwriter Amy Molewski. And this fall, Libra Theater Company and The TRUF Theater will be putting up a full, three-week production of my new song and dance cycle Royal Fables in the city. The show had a workshop earlier this year at NYU, and now I'm pretty pumped to be moving onto the next step. I'll also be showcasing some of the tunes from the show in a bunch of concerts around the city this summer, including one coming up on June 28th at The West End on the Upper West Side. Visit http://www.nickluckenbaugh.com for more!
Name: Kate Steinberg
Hometown: Great Neck, NY
Education: BM in songwriting from Berklee College of Music
Who are you collaborating with for Muse Match 2?: Matthew Schatz
How did you get involved in Muse Match?: Bill Coyne was on the hunt for new songwriters to throw into the mix and the MD for this event (who is a frequent collaborator and good friend of mine) connected us.
What inspires you as an artist?: As an artist, I'm inspired by media that strikes a chord with me whether it be a new style of music I check out, a film that moves me, or a freshly released album from a favorite artist. I'm also very inspired by events that happen to me and around me, and by the creativity and passion of my friends.
How did you go about creating your piece for Matt Schatz: Matt and I got together a few times and talked about different things we are passionate about and have been pondering in the past little bit. Following our first meeting where we covered a large range of topics, my sister graduated college and the senior class speaker spoke on a topic relating to one of the topics Matt and I had discussed. The speech moved me which proved this was a topic that I felt strongly about and would be centering our song around. Matt was completely on board and we drove the song forward with that in mind.
What can we expect to see (and hear) at Muse Match?: My style as a songwriter is sometimes a quirky/folk indie style, and other times is more contemporary pop/rock. For this event, I went the contemporary pop/rock route as I thought it would showcase Matt's voice well and be very digestible for those attending. Matt rocks it so at least I had good instincts on that front!
Why should we check out Muse Match?: Muse Match is an awesome event because it showcases so many different writers and singers working towards eachother's strengths instead of focusing inward on themselves. It's about a collaboration to create a piece of art that both parties are eager to share. This happens so often in the creative world and for me, a lot of my collaborative projects have been some of the ones that have been the most successful and fun for me. It makes me excited to see what the other teams have come up with.
What’s up next?: Rescue Rue at NYMF which is a composing collaboration by me and Joshua Zecher-Ross who is the MD for Muse Match. (Book, direction, and producing by Stacey Weingarten).
Name: Whitney Maris Brown
Hometown: Miami, FL
Education: BFA from NYU TISCH
Who are you collaborating with for Muse Match 2?: Joel Waggoner
How did you get involved in Muse Match?: Bill Coyne has always been a huge supporter and friend. He reached out to me with an invitation to be a part of Muse Match because he simultaneously knows how much I want to do it and how much it scares me.
What inspires you as an artist?: I am SO inspired by fearlessness, whether from an actor, writer, director, musician, etc. I think we are so enslaved by our fears ("I'm not good enough," "I have nothing to offer," "they'll think I'm a joke," etc), but when there's even a moment of the fearless spirit set free, it gives me hope and helps to pull apart my own jail bars.
How did Joel Waggoner go about creating the piece for you?: Joel Waggoner created "You" for me when he stopped me mid- sentence as I was peppily cheerleading about a book I had recently read called "The Ethical Slut." I continued on to shake the Pom Poms (so to speak) and share with him how I believe that love is abundant and that I want to be a part of changing the conversation about how we can relate to each other. So he gave me a conversation starter in song.
What can we expect to see (and hear) at Muse Match?: Well, I know there will be a lot of badass writers and singers sharing their hearts out. From me, you can expect a bad- ass bluesy/pop number by the amazing Joel Waggoner. Oh, and I'll talk a bit about sex too.
Why should we check out Muse Match?: Everyone! Listen with your ears and your hearts and turn off your noisy minds!
What’s up next?: I am leaving next week to perform in June Moon on the Mainstage at the Williamstown Theater Festival.