Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 11 · 2 years ago

11: Exploring the Creative Process with Monotony: The Musical Creators Sarah Luery and Jared Chance Taylor

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Working on your own side hustle? This episode, featuring Monotony: The Musical creators Sarah Luery and Jared Chance Taylor, dives into how to find your inspiration and discover the creative process that works best for you. It's really fun to sing along with, as well!

Welcome to good people, cool things, the podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. I'm your host, Joey held, and today's guests are Sarah Luri and jared chance Taylor, creators of monotony the musical, which launches as a podcast Tedday. Like you can listen to it right after this episode. We're talking all about putting a project of this hef together, from the creative process to finding the time to work on a side hustle when you have a fulltime job. Of course, we've got plenty of musical recommendations to check out as well, so let's dive on it. What was the inspiration behind monotony the musical? I guess it's started about ten years ago when I was probably my first Job Post College, and I remembered like this phrase just came through my head, this man on you will be the death of me, and I kind of thought and they wrote it down and I kept kind of playing with it and building upon it and eventually it became what appeared to be a song from the perspective of a specific character, and so I kind of kept working in and and accumulating more songs and eventually, I guess I kind of realized it was. It was a musical, but it kind of, you know, took me by surprise to I didn't know what I set out to write when I first arted. That's fantastic. And then how did you connect with Jarret to to kind of get the ball rolling? So we met online. I had just once I had a copy of the script with all the book in lyrics, I had started to reach out to composers and I remember just putting a pitch out, saying hey, I'm looking for music that's kind of along these lines, and jared responded. He's like, I love musicals, and so, yeah, I just it just kind of happened that we were connected and I got the opportunity to meet him and really liked the project. And that was, I think, like five years ago at this point. So we've been working together ever since with their one thing in particular that drew you to monotony specifically, or was it just kind of the whole idea of it? I mean, I I had read the script. She, Sarah, had allowed me to read an early copy of the script and I read it at a time when I had just, you know, had recently left school, was done with like schooling and was trying to like, you know, make a living as a creative, you know, doing music in La and this was I don't know, there was so much about the character, the main character, that I related to and thought, man, I like really identify with this, and so I felt inspired...

...before it I even picked up an instrument to write music for it. I was like, Oh yeah, I'm so and like I connect with this, and I was, you know, immediately sold. It was great. I think that's what the best projects come from, right where it's just that immediate connection. Yeah, Oh, yeah, and I had that. I definitely had that. Fantastic. So can you kind of take us into then, the process of taking this idea, taking the script, and then turning it into an actual musical? What was the the kind of creative process into getting that off the ground? Yeah, yeah, no, that's a great question. I you know, it was a little intimidating at first because I think, Sarah, I think you had been working on the script for for a number of years and here I am now just the composer coming in and I was there. There were I kind of had this pressure on myself of okay, don't ruin it. You know, she's been working on it for years and here I come, I'm gonna, you know, read it and do my own analysis and try to make something of this. And so it I think it took, you know, a little bit to really break the ice and sink my teeth into something that I was happy with musically. I mean we had talked about various just musical sources, of musical inspiration. You know, Fiona Apple is a kind of a theme throughout the throughout the story. So there's summer her and I mean I was kind of pulling on on stuff I liked. You know, I really have a love for kind of older style musicals, kind of like Sondheim or or Andrew, Lloyd Webber even, you know, Leonard Bernstein, and so I kind of wanted to sprinkle some of that in there just because it felt it felt like it could use a warm touch, almost like the way they those those guys would orchestrate. And so, you know, it's it was it almost felt like slow going at first, but once there was like a rhythm, it felt kind of felt like the music wrote itself. It was just it became natural and it became easy and the characters felt like friends in a way, and so writing music for them felt just natural in a really nice way. That's awesome. And Sarah, from the the script perspective, I know at least I enjoyed, you know, little kind of elements of like Oh, I'm gonna do it, oh you're going to eat falafel now, and it's like now I'll take you out to dinner, and just like little elements, as someone that's in a client facing industry, in communication, the marketing, the elements of like Hey, I delivered something that a client and they're mad, so I have to fix this real quick and now they're happy it. Was this all just just based off of real life, or did you consult with other people when you're putting it together? A little mix of both. How did that I? How did that row? That's a good question. I feel like,...

...to some extent, sort of the same way dared described that, it seems like as they got to know the characters better, the writing came a little bit easier from their various perspectives, and so it kind of felt like I was, you know, chipping away at a block of marbled to see if I could get to know them better so I could kind of hear what they were saying. So I'm sure that my own experiences have ended up in there, but it also kind of felt like at times I was just almost recording, you know, conversations that I felt like I started to be able to hear. And then I would say that jared's music also helped immensely. I felt like that just gave the script like a really full life that I don't think it had before I had heard the music, and I think that also helped me to like go back and get to know the characters better, because, you know, it's kind of one thing when you hear them in your own head, but then I felt like jared sort of also understood them and helped me see further things. So just us going back and forth together and later on when we went on to do table reads with the actors, it just became more and more clear who these people are. Do you have a favorite character? Goodness well, felt like asking a favorite child. I know it asked all of the actors to kind of respond like Hey, are you a herbert or a Theo, because I feel like a lot of the characters sort of represent you know, played up facets of all of us. I would say my favorite characters probably Herbert, and it's probably because, you know, I, like Herbert, run anxious and, you know, kind of have to get out of my own way. But I think you know that the other characters, like Theo, for me is a very aspirational character who I've always wished like I could live, you know, bravely and freely, and so, yeah, I think there's something about all of them that I love, but Herbert's probably the one I most identify with. How about you, Jared Oh man? Yeah, that's that's definitely a hard one. I think I it's just kind of the way I think I've always been. Just there's a lot about theo that is just like, oh my gosh, that's totally how I would like handle this situation or that's totally how I would act in this scenario. And it's like funny, you know, until it's like to a fault and you're like Oh yeah, like, yeah, I see myself there too, in some of the not so great things about the character. And Yeah, I don't know, it's just something you kind of have...

...to learn to accept and invite and yeah, and laugh at so I definitely identify most with the OH. I mean as far as like a favorite goes. I think like I think, and this is based on just the just the performance and and watching it. I think it's so entertaining to listen to Mr mcguiver. That presence is just so funny in any scene. From an entertainment perspective, he's probably my favorite to experience. Very Cool, wonderful and Sarah, you had I touched on this, that the inspiration came about a decade ago and it's been years in the making of putting this together, and I would imagine at least part of that is that you have a full time job and jared has several clientss that he's working with. So how did you find time to create an entire musical when you're when you're working on other things? I think that's like the ultimate question that I face and that we end up exploring in this as well. So I know for me, the the writing ended up getting confined to a lot of nights and weekends and a lot of our characters have like a kind of similar set up, and so there's even like a song that we wrote called five to nine, which is essentially implies that, you know, once your day job is finished, like that's kind of when you get to finally do you know, the thing that really makes you tick, and of course it's often not the thing that, you know, pays the bills. And so I think, you know, for a really long time I struggled with the you know, kind of inherent divide within myself of on one hand I, you know, need to have a job to pay the bills and I also enjoy what I do for for work, you know, in academic settings and like data analysis. So there is like a facet of me that's just like very analytical and I kind of love doing that stuff. And then, like there's a part of me that's always wanted to be writing, and for a really long time it felt like those parts were at odds and that, you know, if I was doing one, I couldn't be doing the other. And what I sort of discovered through this writing process, and you know, learning somewhat from the characters, is that it's kind of okay to work from like where you're at and to embrace things as they are. And so, you know, I am like a parttime writer and also academic and you know, a bunch of of other things, and all of those things are fast facets of me that, you know,...

I think kind of add to one another and make me who I am. And so it doesn't it doesn't feel so at odds anymore, but certainly, you know, when it when it comes kind of putting in the work, it just becomes a very long, sort of disciplined day worker. You know, you go to work in the morning and I know I used to bring my laptop on the bus and, you know, use my commute time to be writing and then in the evenings I'd rite and the weekends I'd write and you know, sometimes it feels like a very isolating and lonely experience because there's a lot of you know, social things that you missed out on and just, you know, kind of life opportunities. But in the end, like I'm okay with the sacrifice because I'm really happy and feel like I needed to create this thing in order to to feel really good. I just need to get this out. So I like that. And Jared, how about you working on multiple projects at once? How do you prioritize and kind of decide this is what I'm going to be working on now? And while still giving attention to everything else that you've got going on. Yeah, so it's I feel like that's something I've learned to navigate better with trial and error, as like more time goes by, as I like do this more, you know, in my head there's almost like there's always been the hierarchy of like, you know, it's a spectrum of different projects you might be working on and there's a varying degree of enjoyment, you know, depending on the project. You know, some some stuff you do is going to be like, you know, it's just sort of like it's a job and you muscle through and you and you do it, but then there are other projects that are just man, you enjoy him and and went and working on it just feels timeless. You know, you can kind of get lost in it, and this, this project just writing music for monotony, was definitely one of those where it just that like it was easy to make time for, it was easy to really invest in it, even in the midst of juggling like, you know, writing music for other things. This was just almost like a an escape to just something that was like really enjoyable. I know there was like a you know, there was a period of time, while writing music for this, I was doing some like music for these like little like kids educational videos, and they all kind of like sounded the same and you know, after you do like ten of them, they're kind of soul sucking. You're like like I'm over this, you know, but it was it would be nice to like leave that and then dedicate time to like fleshing out.

Okay, like what's what's Theo's theme? You know, like what can ring true? Like what can he sing throughout the musical or what can herbert come back to and say, you know, like if developing musical ideas and in the context of this story was just so it was such an enjoyable experience and so I don't know, it like the the planets kind of aligned for this. It was it was an easy thing to set aside time to write music for this project, even in the midst of so much. That leads me to kind of a related question. I think you've both touched on it a little bit. If and more so, I guess, with the the projects that aren't, is Cathartic and you know it's as fun to kind of dive into. Do you have any kind of productivity tips or things that you found very helpful maybe when you are working on I don't know if necessarily if everything has to be soul sucking. That is really difficult to get through, but just things that maybe aren't, you know, are necessary to get done, but aren't number one on your like heck, yeah, I want to do this list. Yeah, it's it's difficult because I think when it comes to something that's supposed to be creative, it's hard to like force inspiration to happen at a schedule time sometimes, but I find myself kind of doing that. I mean I'm someone who I've learned this about myself. I have to be like very organized and detailed. Like okay, like Tuesday morning, from like eight am till like noon, I'm going to work on x project and then I'm going to take a lunch break and then from one to four that's for this other one, you know. So I've kind of learned to just compartmentalized thinking and creativity with time, using time instead of and sometimes I'll use space. Sometimes I'll like very, very intentionally go to a different studio and work on a certain project at a certain studio and then my head space can be there and it doesn't like blend with like working from home or something like that. Does that make sense? Yeah, for sure, I agree. Even just when I am working from home, any kind of like if I'm if I pull my laptop out and kind of like hop on the bed, chances are I'm not going to get anything done for sure and easily get distracted. And Yeah, I do think it makes a difference being in a set environment. Like right now I'm in my podcasting studio. So when I want to do things related to podcasting, even beyond recording episodes, I'll come in here just because that's the mindset. My brain goes, Oh, I'm in here, it's time to get some podcasting stuff done, and I think that does help a lot more than people generally tend to think. Yeah, I think when you, if especially to, if you like go to college, you're used to like the dorm experience. You you homework into the dorm and then you sleep in the dorm. So it's easy to just kind of blend like...

...work and living until one thing and then when you're out of school, you, I mean you know, your brain, without even realizing it, could be like yeah, no, this is I can I can keep it the same when like, no, the like. It's nice to have just like spatial separation of like work and leisure. I think you know, that's good. That's good that you do that. That's awesome. Yeah, try to at least. Sometimes I'm still unproductive in the other rooms, but at least at least a little more saying yeah, Oh, yeah, well, yeah, fantastic. So Sarah, the the musical, is launching as a podcast on tax day, although now I guess with the the extended tax day, it's like the first round of tax day and then there's also July fifteen. So with this always the plan to to debut it as a podcast, or did that just kind of come along during the process? Yeah, so, up until about a year ago we were still developing this as like a traditional stage musical and, you know, we had done a number of table reads and I'm not I'm not exactly sure sort of why the inspiration arrived, but I know that some of the feelings behind it were that even if we were to have this on the stage, it ends up having kind of a limited run at, you know, a local theater, and then that's kind of it. And so we really wanted to create something that eventually could have a life on the stage, but would have its first iteration, you know, in a very like public and accessible way. We thought, you know, let's just get it out there. I know I listened to a ton of cast albums like throughout the day, during my work day, and so I just thought, you know, it would be really cool if we could listen to this musical that's takes place in an office and it is about kind of work life balance, you know, if you could listen to that while at your own office or well, going through your own day, and you know, we thought this could be kind of a really cool way to get something out there, just allow everyone to hear it and then, you know, eventually it could be developed for first age and other medium but at least it would kind of be like a proof of concept and be out in the universe and something that people could check out right now. And then, I guess the you know, the timing and everything, especially with, you know, Corona and it ended up being, I guess, kind of an interesting time to be releasing a an audio only theaeder medium, and that, you know, all the theaters have closed and so a lot of the publications that probably...

...initially wouldn't review, you know, off off Broadway, which is what we're called, started to take interest in us and it you know, that kind of added another layer where it started to feel good that this thing that we've been working on for a really long time could ultimately be like the source of entertainment and joy during really tough times and also something that, you know, people can experience in their own homes where, no, when we're not really supposed to be outside and out and about. So, yeah, I guess the date formally known as tax day, April. Fifteen of them. That's been in the works for a while, but it definitely took on like a whole new layer of meeting with everything that's going on. Yeah, I think it's I know I've just been seeing people ask for podcast recommendations or like Hey, I've never listened to a podcast before, which always blows my mind to hear. But there are many people out there like that and and just looking for recommendations, and so I I think it is unusual time. But for all the reasons you talked about, this is a really accessible way to get like a theater quality musical while still being at home and not having to risk going out into the wild. Yeah, for sure, good deal. And of course, both of you, lots of you know musical background. You you're both fans of musicals, and so this is what I was going to ask anyway, even before you suggested it, Sarah. But what are each of yours top three musicals? We can go back and forth. Sarah, you can give your your first one first, and then jared, you can hop in and then we'll have everyone vote at the end and see who has the better list. I want to hear yours to Joey, oh boy. Okay, so my number one kind of always is Sunday in the park with George. I love it because it's about, you know, this exact same thing, like the work life balance, being creative and kind of what are the repercussions of devoting yourself to your work? Lovely, jared, what's your number one? Yeah, you took my number one. That's I was going to say that was my number one. Yeah, honestly, that musical was like so, I don't know, it was so helpful for for monotony and for kind of framing, framing, you know, this musical musically like you know drew a lot of inspiration from it. It's again, yeah, work life, balance, being accessible and just the idea of community. Like you know, it's just such a good story and my dad's an artist, my dad's a painter, and I just there's there's so much of my dad I see in George and it's just like yes, you know, like it's cool, it's super cool. Yeah, I would in that as my favorite as...

...well. Henice fantastically. Oh goodness. Yeah, I feel like my my musical knowledge is far more basic than the both of yours. I I am gonna say this is perhaps just inspired by my love of s music, but I always enjoyed the four seasons and when Jersey boys came out, getting to go see that and just kind of see the story of how they they formed and became this massive supergroup, just like these hooligans from New Jersey. It was I mean the soundtrack, obviously, is phenomenal. There's a nice little cameo from the angels with my boyfriend's back. Obviously not the real singers, but here the traditional ones, I should say, but I just I thought that was, you know, a really a really solid soundtrack, obviously, which is important in any musical, but just an interesting story too. And getting I never saw it in its Broadway run. I believe I saw it in Chicago, but still still a great time. And just the harmonies of the four seasons are always so impressive to me as someone that is in a band, but it is not a great harmonizer, like we're not singing, you know, acapella style, barbershop quartet songs, and I'm always like very impressed at people that can just naturally kind of pick up a harmony and like join in a song like that. So, Kuda, are so nice. It was so good. Yeah, good answer. Thank you. Thank you. I hope it doesn't go downhill from there. All right, sorry, what's your number two? My number two is cabaret, and I just think that musical is so brilliant with, you know, the way that it tells a story completely in metaphor and it's so poignant and so shocking and heartbreaking and yeah, it just I've seen it in several different iterations and every time it just I'm left, you know, completely speechless. Brilliant, brilliant. Yeah, I love the mcy in that in that musical. That's like such an interesting character. Yeah, and it's amazing how people play it like really differently. Oh Yeah, I I love how it for interpretation. They leave it yeah, like so purposefully ambiguous. Yeah, that's a good answer. My second favorite is it's so funny because I kind of go back and forth. They'll probab I'd probably say something different tomorrow. But I really love Jesus Christ superstar. I think that is like so oh my goodness, talk about such like a cool, disruptive take on something so traditional. I just love that. Like you've got like Jesus and Judas like just Belton and doing runs four...

...days like insane. It's so cool. I just like the first time I saw it I just immediately fell in love with it as just like what a what an awesome idea for a musical, and they what they accomplish with it and just kind of the human drama, you know, bit between like specifically between them, between like Jesus and Judas, is so like you. I don't think you get that from just taking a cruise for the Bible so much, but it's just like, I don't know, it's the cool interpretation of the story. I love it. I completely concur. I agree for like two seconds I was thinking Joseph and the technicolor dream coat and I was just like Huh, and then it's just when it I was like, nope, no, totally, totally on the wrong with Wrong Bible Story. Yeah, but stylish, both of them, very stylish, very stylish. Oh yeah, so good. My I agree that. I feel like if you ask me this like next week, that I'd probably have different answers for all of this. But it's the the same with, you know, favorite songs and artists so much. But my number two just because this is one of the first musicals I remember seeing in a theater. So I don't know if this is gonna this might be cheating, because I like I actually have seen it as a musical, but the or at least like a I've never seen one live. I feel like I mate. I mean, I guess that would be a bootleg copy, but maybe I haven't seen it as a musical. But in any case, the producers, which I think is just a very entertaining storyline, just of like, you know, the accidental, like Nazism. That's just good, kind of rampant throughout it. So just a very like kind of bizarre sort of plot obviously you know mel books, being involved in the the writing of it is always going to lead to some some weird roundabout little ways of presenting things. So it's on the list to actually go see live. But that's just one of the earliest musical memories I have, so I've got include on my list. I recently learned that he like fled. I don't know if he he like fought in World War Two or if he had fled Europe, but he was like he was involved and I didn't know that. I didn't. I had no idea. I didn't know that about Melbourne. But and then he went on to write that and I'm like, oh my gosh, talk about taking like a traumatic life experience and putting it into something I don't know, like something like the producers, like what a a, I don't know. That just that left a profound effect on me. I was like wow, that's that's interesting, noth incredible. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I didn't know that either. Yeah, but I'm cool. All right. So I guess rapping up the list. My third...

...although I became slightly swayed by jared saying Jesus Christ superstar, I'm going to say fiddler on the roof. It just every time I see this show I'm look like gob smack by how perfect it is. And you know just the way that the themes, like the same theme of tradition just like resonates throughout the entire story and all the implications of that. And I remember watching a documentary about musicals, I think, and they're talking about the making of fiddler and how at first they're kind of struggling to pull the whole thing together and someone was asking them like you know, what is this about? They're like, well, it's about tradition, and so the opening number ended up being kind of like one of the last things that they wrote. And I don't know, it's just I just think that is like one of the tight and beautifully told stories. Yeah, that's it. I love that. I love Filler on the roof. Can't go wrong with that. Can't go wrong with that. Yeah, third and finally, I probably I don't know my first favorite musicals go. I I'll go with that. Man, I love the music in west side story this you just can't beat the songs, I think when it just comes to just stuff that's so memorable and timeless, and I mean that music just gets stuck in my head all the time with and it'll it's been months since I've listened to any of it or heard any of the songs, but I'll just I'll find myself just humm and stuff from it all the time. And I mean it's a great story too, but I think just musically, like, oh my gosh, Leonard Bernstein is Bernstein Bernstein is incredible, incredible. That's like I will also I'm going to this is not my third choice, but I will say as far as Karaoke performances go, out tonight from rent I I have seen a couple different people do like a fantastically well. So if you're ever in need of a Karaoke song and you're like it has to be from a musical, that would be my recommendation. have to see this. And Joey's an amazing karaocust. Oh Yeah, Sarah, Sarah and I have a terrific duet of D twelves my band that is requested high and low across the land. Yes, Oh my gosh, let me know when the next performance is on there. Yes, I am do another La visit, which will probably be postponed for at least a little bit, but maybe in the fall when it's little less hot anyway, because it gets I mean, if you've ever been, we're going to have a shout out backstage and Culver City. It gets pretty hot and jam packed in there pretty quickly. So I definitely definitely nicer to go not in the summer, so it's you can step outside and at least rejuvenate yourself a little bit.

Totally sign me up. I'm in, I'm there. Excellent, we will make it happen. I love it. But my actual number three answer I have to give a shout out to my home town, well, near I'm town, a Jason of Chicago, which I think it's just like a kind of an interesting based on a true story crime of you know, the the crime that was running rampant in Chicago back in the now I'm blanking on what what decade it's said in, but back in the eighteen to to S. there's lots of good, you know, Shenanigans going on Chicago during that time. So that'll that'll be a nice blanket way to cover it. But I'm also probably a little bit biased because this is the musical I've most recently seen during a trip to New York last year and saw that one wanted to see the temptations one as well. That was all sold out for the days I was there. So devastating. But maybe, yeah, maybe, next year I'll have a new, new replacement for Jersey Boys. I can just replace one s group with another, Bill Battle. Yes, yeah, I'll just add them both. They'll just both be good, because you can never have enough all these. I think that would make a good musical. Just have them to get up. Yeah, is that kind of like what pitch perfect? Oh yeah, Dang it, they beat us. Yeah, absolutely. That's funny. I'm always blown away by how good pitch like everyone on pitch perfect is able to just immediately like join in on a you know, they have like choreograph dances and the perfect like harmonies, and when everyone comes in, just like set on these songs that are supposed to be completely off the cuff. So those are truly the most talented for formers work like Holy Co that's so true. I also had this idea to do like a west side story spoof based off of like spin class versus like site outside cyclists, and I don't know exactly how that would go down, but that's just one thing I thought of, like wall in spin class. That, yeah, that would be a fight. That would be fierce. I can see it. Can definitely see it. It's marketable. Thanks. What side would you be more on? Oh Man, like probably, unfortunately, the spin class side, which I'm sure it is like the actual arks, you know that actual sharks like. I think that spin class is probably like the side that we're...

...not supposed to root for. I don't know, I don't know what they're I don't know what the statistics are. Are they're more? Are there more spin? Are there more spin cyclist than there are actual bicyclists? I feel like in California at least. Yeah, we have a biased population. Yeah, I don't know, go for it, run after it. Yeah, it's a good idea. Yeah, I like it. I'm on board. I'd probably be more on the the outdoor cycling side, but it's more just because I feel like I like my butt gets more painful in this the spin cycle classes and outdoors I can like kind of stand up and float down a hill or something. You're a classic jet there. It is magical. Well, y'all, are almost off the hook, but if people want to find monotony the musical learn more about it. Where can I go? Well, take a good to Mantney the MUSICALCOM and we're also on Instagram, same handle. Manann need the musical. And then you can actually subscribe. Twist. Right now we have fully a thirty second teaser up. If you go to your favorite podcast APP, just search for Mon monotony the musical. There's a colon in there which may or may not be needed. I'm not sure. But yeah, you can subscribe now and then come April, fifteen full magically appear in your feet. But it's the most magical thing when I get a new podcast episode. Yes, awesome. Will Sarah and jared, thank you so much for taking the time to hop on here and chat all things monotony and musicals. Yeah, thank you, Joey. It's been awesome. Thanks so much, showy, for having us, of course, and as astute listeners at this podcast now, I always like to end with a Corny joke, so let's make it. I it's not. It's not really musical themed, but I it's music themed at least, and I just heard it the other day and I thought it would be fun for sure here. But why did the pirate buy a PAVARATI album because he loved the high seas. Good after today, people, oh my gosh, I'm going to use that so good, I'll credit you. I don't need the credit, just go for let's go. He's like, I don't want to be associated with that.

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