Pop Quiz: Duncan Sheik

Aidin Vaziri | Broadway saved Duncan Sheik from a fate worse than VH1: becoming a one-hit-wonder. After the sensitive singer-songwriter’s 1996 single “Barely Breathing” spent 55 weeks on the pop charts, he quickly discovered that there was no way to compete with all the racket on the radio, let alone his own past. So, after meeting lyricist Steven Sater through a Buddhist group in 1999, he started composing music for “Spring Awakening,” a rock musical based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 coming-of-age play of the same name. Seven years later, the production hit Broadway, earning Sheik multiple awards, critical acclaim and a whole new fan base. The 39-year-old’s latest album, “Whisper House,” features songs from his next original stage musical, due later this year.

Duncan Sheik
Q: Instead of writing new songs, why didn’t you just turn your old songs into a musical like that one by Queen?
A: I’m not a huge fan of jukebox musicals as a form. You’re taking these disparate songs that are narratives in their own right and structuring them into a larger story. It seems like the wrong way around. You need a great story and then to write songs to deepen the emotional resonance of that story and its characters.
Q: You met Steven Sater through your Buddhist group. Do you think that’s how Elton John met Bernie Taupin?
A: I don’t think either one of them is Buddhist. I don’t know how they met, but they wrote so many amazing songs together, so I would be curious to know.Continue reading.


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