INTERVIEW: George Shaw, Star Wars the Musical
Do you love Star Wars? Do you love Disney’s animated musicals? Ever thought you’d see the two combined? It’s the mash-up video you didn’t know you needed until right now.
Star Wars the Musical was created by musician, George Shaw and if you watch Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop with Will Wheaton, you’ve probably heard some of his music. George answers a few question for us and he talks about how he got into writing music for the geek community and what inspires him.
Watch the video and then check out our interview with George after the jump!
Tell us about your superhero origin! How did music become a big part of your life and how did you get involved with the geek community today?
I grew up in the world of the 80’s and 90’s, when Saturday morning cartoons were the highlight of my week (where I would watch 5 hours straight from 7am till noon), and I would go to the comic book store every Sunday after Chinese school to pick up new issues of Spiderman, X-men, Superman, and whatever other superhero I was reading at the time. I especially remember reading comic books and then catching episodes of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman on those Sunday evenings.
Then in middle school band, I was introduced to John Williams, and realized how his themes were still echoing in my head from the movies I had grown up with, like E.T., Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park. That’s when I started obsessing over soundtracks and began to aspire to be like John Williams and become a composer so I could one day write iconic themes for my favorite movies.
More recently I became the composer for Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop (hosted by king of geeks, Wil Wheaton) and Spellslingers (hosted by Sean Plott) shows on YouTube. At the moment I’m about to complete my 2nd year as the music director of the Geekie Awards on August 17, 2014.
What was the inspiration behind Star Wars The Musical and combining it with Disney music?
It came from the announcement of Disney buying Star Wars, and I saw it as the combining of two worlds from my two favorite composers, John Williams and Alan Menken.
Do you have a favorite song that you really enjoyed writing for it?
My favorite Disney song ever is A Whole New World from Aladdin, so that was the first song I started with. I began with the idea of calling it A Jedi World, and eventually that grew in to the full musical telling of A New Hope.
Was it a challenge to not only compose the music but to also produce the video? What did you learn during the experience?
The music was the easy part, I already create music for a living, so it’s my area of expertise. But to become a producer, even though I’ve worked on many films, was a big challenge. Fortunately the idea for the project was enough to generate interest from the amazing people who helped make the project a reality. I did learn some amazing things, one of the most shocking, was that Threepio has a silver leg in the original trilogy! All these years I had no idea, and when you go back and look closely, you can just barely tell it’s silver and not gold.
Could you imagine turning the entire Star Wars trilogy into full-blown feature length musicals?
I don’t know if it would work as a full feature length musical, though I’d be open to the possibility of trying. Though I actually imagine condensing the full trilogy into a 20-30 minute live show that could be performed on stage, or even at a Disney park.
You are the musical director for The Geekie Awards! Are you excited? What is it like to direct music for an award show?
The Geekie Awards will be exciting because we’ll be honoring Gale Anne Hurd, legendary producer behind Terminator, Walking Dead, and many other amazing movies, and Levar Burton, whose Reading Rainbow show helped turn me into a huge nerd who loved to read as a child.
As it’s only the 2nd year, we haven’t quite grown into a big enough show to have lavish musical numbers like the Oscars, but we do get to create some really fun video sketches that will be seen throughout the show, especially a big opening skit that is both epic and hilarious. I’m currently busy composing music for the opening, which is not easy, because I have so little time to produce something that has to rival the epic sound of something like Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft.
What are other projects are you working on now?
I recently completed a feature film called Baby Steps, directed by my pal Barney Cheng and produced by Li-Kong Hsu, who’s most well known for being an Oscar nominated producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I am also composing music for an upcoming webseries called That Cosplay Show, which you can find on the Schadenfreude Industries YouTube page.
I’m also toying around with the idea of doing an album of classic video game music arranged for orchestra, similar to some of the stuff I’ve been posting on my YouTube channel, but it’s definitely still in the idea stage, so you’ll just have to follow me on my website or on social media, @georgeshawmusic on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, for updates.
Any advice for musicians who want to share their music online?
I wish I could say create great music and people will discover it, but in today’s world, where there are so many people able to release their music online, there’s just too much material for music fans to wade through to find your music. You just have to find the best and most creative way to tap into fans of similar but more well known artists, that’s the best way to begin building a fan base.
Lastly, if you could choose a super power, which one would you choose and why?
I’ve always been stuck between having the power of flight verse teleportation. Flight would be super fun and exhilarating, but teleportation would be really convenient and I’d never be late to a meeting because of traffic. But if I have to choose, I’d go with teleportation, cause then you could stop at your favorite restaurant across town and be back in an instant, and sky diving would be a snap. Also you never know what bugs or things you might fly into while flying around.