BWW Interviews: Vocal Coach Steven Luke Walker About THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Hi Steven! Welcome to BWW:UK! How are you today?
Hi Kathryn! I'm good, thank you. The other weekend saw the launch of the music video to accompany the release of my musical parody 'Self Indulgent Ballad', written with and performed by Scott Garnham. I was so excited to see the final results, as I hadn't seen the video until then, so I'm a happy guy!
Congratulations! You've currently got an exciting new musical production running in Oxford...can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yes, it's my new epic musical adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, running at The North Wall. It's a big deal for me because this year marks the bicentenary of Lewis's death, and my adaption was approved by Douglas Gresham (Lewis's stepson) on behalf of Lewis's estate especially.
That's awesome! What is it about the Narnia stories that inspired you to write a musical?
The magic! The heightened suspension of disbelief that ANYTHING is possible and could be waiting around the corner or in a wardrobe! And the epic grandeur of Lewis's parallel world to our own. I grew up on these stories and I still love them now, for their simplicity, yet ever-relevant and poignant messages.
What is your work process? Do you write the lyrics, and then set the music around those, or does the music come to you first?
For me, there really isn't a fixed formula (I wish there were!), but generally they come 'as one', initially while I'm stood on train platforms or walking the dogs, and from there I go into the studio. However, it does differ from project to project - if the piece is driven heavily by the narrative, then lyrics first, but if it's more rousing or driven by mood or atmospheric, always the music.
I know that you've also written some music for a musical based around the Harry Potter stories - can we expect that to come to a stage near us sometime soon?!
Ha ha! Yes, I have written a concept album based upon the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I would love to be able to say yes, but with such a huge project there are rights and such all fiercely protected and tied up in red tape. And as J. K. Rowling has recently announced a further novel, it's unlikely to be sometime soon. However, she has it, so who knows, maybe. But until then, people can view one or two of them on my website.
As well as writing musicals, you're also a vocal coach and have taught some of the big names in the industry - I imagine that's quite a challenging job, as everybody's voice is so different?
It's the best job in the world and very rewarding. I am very lucky to have a good ear and find it very easy to diagnose any issues, or to hear what needs developing or habits need breaking. Over ten years now I have developed my own system of training (never method!), and it's allowed me to help actors (ones in training through to stars) achieve things they have sometimes been told they will never be able to do, and have helped them completely change the course of their careers. This inspires me to understand and know more about the voice, so I'll never stop researching. I'm a voice geek!
Sounds great! After Narnia closes, where will we next be able to hear some Steven Luke Walker originals?!
I have a concert coming up in March which is a little under wraps at the moment which I'm very excited about (so watch this space!), and this year will see the world premiere of a full-scale production of my adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women in London in association with GSA (The Guildford School of Acting where I am Head of Singing), so I am of course extremely excited for 2014 and whatever else it may bring.
Thanks, Steven! Best of luck with everything!
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe runs until the January 4 at The North Wall, Oxford. You can purchase 'Once More' from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe performed by Gina Beck (LES MISERABLES, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked) from iTunes.