LYONS & PAKCHAR
peanut butter and jelly. pancakes and syrup. lyons & pakchar. what do these three pairs of things have in common? not only are they super yummy, but they just fit perfectly with one another. but let’s focus in on that last set though, shall we?
lyons & pakchar. no. this is not the name of a law firm. it’s the name of quite easily one of the most commandingly beautiful musical writing pairings of our time. young, fresh, and charged with honesty and life-experience these two powerhouses have collaborated to stake their claim in the pop, r&b, and music theatre worlds. i wanted to know more about them, so i asked. here’s what they had to say:
the story: lyons, you are currently in the cast of ‘beautiful: the carole king musical set to hit bway in the fall of 2014. what has been the most exciting thing about working on the project and what can you tell us about the show? why should we come and see it.
lyons: being a part of ‘beautiful’ at this specific moment in time in an example of art imitating life. ‘beautiful’ chronicles the coming of age story of carole king from her beginning as a novice composer through her marriage and into her solo career. everyone knows carole’s songs but not everyone knows her story. if you love her songbook, this show will keep you intrigued and thoroughly entertained. the most exciting part for me in this show is the opportunity to recreate the 60’s group ‘the drifters’ and sing solo on their hit ‘up on the roof.’
the story: …and pakchar, you previously studied with composer/librettist mark adamo and julia wolfe. you’ve played for ‘book of mormon,’ ‘wicked,’ ‘newsies,’ duncan sheik’s off-broadway production of ‘the aeneid’…with all of that happening, was broadway/musical theatre what you always wanted to do?
pakchar: having the classical composition background was a great foundation to work in any genre i think. doing the orchestrations and working with doug on form, messing with harmony and creating the overall product felt very natural. working as a guitarist for those shows was and is a great learning experience. the theatre is a very open-minded and accepting community and that was, or course, very attractive.
(so then i got curious. here are these two talents who know a lot. so…)
the story: in this freshly-minted, hot-off-the-press duo called lyons & pakchar…who’s the brains behind this operation.
l&p: we split the brains behind the operation. we both have very distinct skills and experiences that we bring to the table. lyons handles lyrics and music and pakchar brilliantly orchestrates and adds addition music. we truly collaborate.
pakchar: yeah, and sometimes we don’t agree…
lyons: we are both very stubborn…
pakchar: but we have a mutual respect for each other’s work and love for music always brings us to a compromise.
lyons: plus, we respect the hell out of each other.
(as you should!)
the story: there are a lot of performers who perform and are really happy with athat and may have have some desire to step out and do a little more (i.e. produce, write, direct…) what would you say to those people?
l&p: DO IT! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?!
(i ususally write in all lowercase, but l&p were adamant about getting that point across so i kept ‘em in there. pakchar adds…)
pakchar: as an actor i’ve learned we spend quite a bit of our time attempting to fit into someone’s box or needs. but what about the needs and stories in our own lives that we what to express? the only thing i believe that keeps us from trying to share our own talents is fear. i’ve decided this year that fear was out the door and i felt collectively we had something to share with the world.
(be still my creative and expressive heart. )
the story: balancing personal life with your careers (lyons you’re working on bway right now and pakchar you’re the go-to guy for music) and lyons & pakchar is difficult, i can imagine, but you seem to be maing it work without the help of a personal assistant. knowing that there are tons of details involved in making something like this work successfully, how do you keep from pulling out your hair? or in your case, lyons, how do you keep your head shaved? does your personal life tend to bleed over into your work?
l&p: working remotely is very tough.
pakchar: indeed. i’m still on tour so we do a lot of phone calls and e.mails. plus, doug is a social media beast.
lyons: i am. and we know it’s not permanent. organizing the brand and promoting the music is a lot of work. hours on the phone per week, pitches that go unanswered…but in the end it’s all worth it. sometimes theres stress and in those moments we stop. we pause. we sit down and listen to the music and check in with why we are working so hard. [speaking on a more personal level,] an “i love you” goes a long way. my personal life is on the back burner right now. but i’ve got a ton of family and friends supporting me right now.
the story: your music is a mix of theatre, r&b, pop, funk, gospel, rap, folk…a milkshake is what you call it (which i think it really amazing, by the way.) some people say “you have to focus on one.” what do you say to those people who think you may be “confusing” your audience?
pakchar: you make us sound fickle! haha!
the story: naw, i’m just hoping that you’d just tell people how awesome you are and how they should just enjoy your music, but i’ll just do that at the end. right?
l&p: i think that music is evolving. when you produce one style of music, i think you put yourself into a box. mixing our styles broadens our audience.
pakchar: we all have influences that affect our sensibilities and overall music. it’s more like a wink or illusion to a style with our tunes. the beauty in theatre is that it can accommodate and digest the different genres and produce something unique.
lyons: [we want our music] to relate to the heart of theatre-lovers as well as fans of the top 40.
(i see. versatility. this makes sense. ‘motown’ and ‘rock of ages’ have done this. and ‘once’ and ‘a night with janis joplin’ can also be categorized in this way. creating music that everyone loves? hm. i think these boys are on to something. next question…)
the story: ‘#love’ — you debut album — is set to be released in december. how long have you been working on this project and were there any roadblocks?
pakchar: we worked a whole year on the project [in which time we encountered] many roadblocks. i was working on the arrangements/orchestrations while on tour, and at the same time doug was working with singers in nyc. we just really wanted this to happen and so we were working hard for it. and things have definitely morphed in way throughout the year…
lyons: [totally true] but we have also received an overwhelming amount of positive response. and hopefully in 2014, we’ll break that long-distance things.
(i can imagine it’s like trying to make a long distance relationship work.)
the story: for whom is lyons & packchar?
lyons: for everyone. back to what we were saying earlier about the variation in genres. our music is intended for the radio and the stage.
pakchar: [i would further add that] lyons & pakchar is for the new generation of theatre-thinkers and radio-listeners. with theatre storytelling,, it’s our goal to capture those who grew up on stevie wonder, nancy wilson, and judy garland and still deliver the pop sensibility of beyonce and adele.
the story: it’s the year 2017. where is lyons & pakchar?
lyons: our first musical ‘’79’ would be produced worldwide and lyons & pakchar would be a household name in both theatre and the pop charts.
the story: okay, boys. let’s pretend that today is your birthday. for your present, you can get two phone calls from any two people in the world for five minutes each. these two five-minute phone calls will consist of them (obviously) wishing you a happy birthday but you also get to ask them one question each. who are the people and what are the questions?
pakchar: trey parker and neil degrasse tyson. both heroes of mine. trey, i’d ask to work with us [and since it’s my birthday he’d have to say yes]. he’s one of the creative minds behind ‘south park.’ and degrasse (who is actually a leading astrophysicist) i’d ask him his favorite movie and how to incorporate science into art more.
lyons: viola davis = can we talk about your journey? beyonce = you wanna sing lyon & pakchar’s ‘kinda over you?’
(what you don’t know is that i’ve been typing this whole interview listening to lyons & pakchar…and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. click here –> let go and have your musical taste buds thank you.)
lyons and pakchar began collaborating while touring with ‘the book of mormon.’ lyons, who handles lyrics and music, is a broadway actor who currently appears in ‘beautiful: the carole king musical’ and has performed in ‘rent’ and ‘dreamgirls.’ pakchar, a guitarist and composer who has played for the broadway productions of ‘wicked,’ ‘book of mormon’ and ‘newsies,’ provides orchestration and additional music. the two are developing a musical entitled ‘’79,’ inspired by the score of ‘#love.’
lyons and pakchar recorded ‘#love’ live at their aug. 19 concert at ‘the cutting room’ with a cast that included warren (‘bring it on’), Afi Bijou, Eric Michael Krop (‘godspell’), Raena White, Cedric Neal (‘after midnight’), Christine Dwyer, Melody Madarasz, Anastacia McCleskey (‘priscilla queen of the desert’), Corey Mach (‘godspell’), Ben Roseberry, Mykal Kilgore(‘hair’), Rashidra Scott (‘sister act’), Anita Welch and Darius Harper (‘the book of Mormon’ national tour).
“#love” — an 11-song album that will be released digitally dec. 9 –mixes pop, R&B and theatre to explore “the good, bad and awkward roller coasters in human relationships.” the release of “#LOVE” will be celebrated in concert dec. 9 at rockwood music hall at 9pm. the full cast of the concert will be announced shortly.
(in case you’re wondering, i — corey of ‘the story by corey’ — will definitely be there.)