Hi Lance, welcome to BWW:UK! How are things?
Things are great. I love the UK. I always feel five hours ahead of the New Yorkers!
As a composer, what is it that inspires you to write a piece of music?
A collaboration. I love to write for someone's voice, someone's character, or with someone. The more specific the request or need, the more enthralling. Also, airplanes. Something about being in a chair in the sky entreats composition. At least three of the songs on First Things Last were written on planes, and one on a train.
Do you write your own lyrics, or do you prefer to collaborate with others on that?
I love working with Debra Barsha, and when we work together, in addition to finishing each other's sentences, we write music and lyrics together. Alan [Cumming] and I love writing together, and when we do, it's generally my music and his lyrics, but we're not picky. I'm waiting for a slew of Neil Gaiman's poems to set as well. I love getting into the mind of another's lyrics. I'm happy writing my own, of course, but it's wonderful to dress in the drag of another poet's pen.
You've just released your first album...you must be pretty excited!
I am very excited. We just went out to dinner tonight and someone ordered a surprise cake in its honour. It feels very much like a birthday. It had been germinating for a decade, but actually materialised very quickly - in about 80 days from decision to produced disc in hand. It's like that line in Working about everyone wanting "something to point to"; this amazing clan has gathered together over four cities and made something that I find so beautiful and moving, both in its execution and message. I hope it goes "bacterial", as Dillie Keene says!
The album was funded in an interesting way, with donations from members of the public...can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes. We opened up the project to the public before a note was recorded - before all the artists and tracks were committed, even - via kickstarter.com, which was an amazing process. Over 200 people came together with support ranging from 5 dollars to 5000 dollars, entitling them to everything from a download of the entire album before anyone else to tickets to this premiere or a private concert in a location of their choosing. We reached more than double our initial goal, which allowed us to produce all of the London tracks in the hallowEd Halls of Abbey Road and actually covered the full cost of producing the album. We weren't frivolous, but it was amazing to be able to call the shots on the album and not feel as if someone was doing us a favour. We ended up with beautiful graphic design - featuring the photography of many of the performers on the album - and had more time to be specific in terms of the mixing and mastering. I've made friends with previous strangers in this process and even have one of their gifted artworks on display in my house now! Through twitter (@xLanceHorne) and kick-starter, we felt we had a home before we'd even built it.
You'll be showcasing your new album at a concert in London soon...what can theatre-goers expect on the night?
The unexpected. Daisy Prince is such a great director - we work together all the time, and we've just done this evening at Lincoln Center last week for the US launch of the album. It wasn't stale by any means and someone even accidentally broke a chair! It belonged to my ex and so I made a joke about it onstage - only to find out afterwards that my ex was in attendance. You can't make this stuff up. I can only imagine what will go down on the West End. We've had some crazy nights out as a troupe, and I really can't imagine this to be sane in any way - especially after the whole crew has now had a night out in New York. Also, last time I was in London was for Julie's album launch, which featured a song of mine, and that night saw us seeing sunrise from Balans. And as for the songs - treat each one like a stranger at a party, I've been saying. Meet them and see if you like what you hear. Chances are they'll be new to you - unless you've been to the night at the Vaudeville or been on an iTunes bender - and that's okay. Come with curiosity rather than judgement and be open to what Emma, Hannah, and the gang have to say. And if you buy a CD, I'll sign it. Promise.
You have a vegetable-related song on your album...please could you fill us in on the story behind that one?!