BWW Interviews: Lance Horne
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?!
That's one of my favourites. I tend to say yes to anything I've never done, and a friend asked if I'd provide a number for her documentary. I, of course, said yes, and then she told me it was about Asparagus. I was en route to Berlin at the time, and luckily, the 'spar gel' I ordered came out white. An animated variety show number sprang to life in my head and I wrote it straight through on manuscript I'd luckily packed. I try to have some kind of paper on me at all times - like musical tissue in case my brain sneezes! Sondheim needs his yellow pad and I've even gone shopping with him for it, but I'm fine with any old scrap. I still have the one The Little White Asparagus Blues was written on! End of story - it was cut from the film, but it made this album!
Are there any plans to take your concert elsewhere in the UK after the London gig?
I'd love to take the concert up to Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, down to Brighton - all the festivals I've managed to play this year. I'm definitely open to it - get in touch! For now, Neil and Paul are my London home and it feels great. This night at the Garrick will be one-of-a-kind.
Do you have any shows you'd particularly like to see while you're here?
I must see Grandage's production of King Lear - it's been my absolute dream to work with him since I saw his masterful Guys and Dolls. I want to see Greenland at the National, Becky Shaw at the Almeida (Gina and I worked together in NY last year), My Trip Down the Pink Carpet at the Apollo (which I missed in NY while I was touring), and whatever's on in the basement of Freedom, the National Portrait Gallery, and Ducky! I also have to stop by Elliot Rhodes to ogle their belts and Pose to grab a new shirt for the Garrick - fashion in London can be a show in itself!
What's next for Lance Horne?
I'm co-music supervising Prometheus Bound directed by Diane Paulus and written by Spring Awakening's librettist Steven Aster and System of a Down's lead singer Seri Tankian about to head into previews in the States. I'm touring Australia and curating the Late Night Lounge at Sydney Opera House for Mardi Gras, then launching First Things Last in L.A. and hitting the road with Alan-- which may even involve a cruise. We're lining up a production of my musical Pictures of Dorian Gray for the States in the Fall, and something really fun is in the works with Macy's (our Selfridge's?) for a flagship marionette show. I swear, you can't make any of this up. And, first and foremost, I'm hunting for the director and producer for my dance musical The $trip. It's ready!
Find out what some of the artists featured on First Things Last have to say about the songs they recorded:
Julie Atherton: "When I was first given my song, I cried! I had only just fallen in love with my better half and the thought of losing him broke me so I never thought I'd be able to sing it live! Lance's music is honest, highly addictive and will be running round in your head for weeks!"
Alexandra Silber - "Lance and I have known one another since I was in high school, and our friendship and artistic affinity in recent years has been informed, shaped, and made all the more poignant by coming from the same artistic roots. There is nothing like seeing your best friends succeed, but nothing can match the experience of beholding that success when you also know that their music, message, their art is on a truly stirring, if not outright magnificent level. To sing Lance's music is far more than singing some of the best songs currently being written, it is to be a part of both the traditional emergence of a trained and finely crafted artisan building upon the illuminations from the past, as well as being present in the centre of the visionary ground-breaking making way for new forms. So, to say that ‘Anyone Who's Ever Been in Love' is beautiful, penetrative, and deeply personal to hear and to perform is true. But to sing it, and to have been asked to by Lance himself? That is an honour."
Paul Spicer - "'Six Hours' is the only song I have ever felt parental about! I feel like the orchestration and arrangement had evolved and Lance and I have evolved with it, encouraging it all the way like the proud parents we are."
Emma Williams - "I first met Lance at Birdland Jazz Club, New York, when I sang there 6 years ago. Over the past few years, as we've become friends, I've had the pleasure to demo material for Lance and I had no hesitation when he asked me to sing on First Things Last. There's a refreshing honesty to his music. It gets into your soul and settles in for the long haul. I love 'Leap' for its autobiographical feel and passionate positivity. No matter who we are, there will always be moments when we need to take a deep breath and push beyond our comfort zone, break free from conformity and risk challenging ourselves. Put simply, to 'Leap'."