Monday, January 7, 2013

Swing it! Songs of the Andrews Sisters

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I bring you a very special interview with three wonderful ladies from across the globe!  Erin, Phoebe, and Rosie are here to bring back that wonderful swing sound with Swing it! Songs of the Andrews Sisters.  Thank you ladies for joining us today!

Erin: Thanks so much for interviewing us, James!  We’re really excited to get the word out about “Swing It!”
Rosie: Absolutely we’re thrilled to chat to you.
Phoebe: Ditto! I’m always excited to talk to people who are interested in our project!

Now I have to admit when I saw the Andrews Sisters name being brought up I immediately clicked on your project.  Can you tell us more about it?  

Sure!  The three of us met working as singers on a cruise ship and at some point stumbled onto the topic of the Andrews Sisters and thought it would be fun to put some songs together with the band for a little cabaret.  We never knew that it would turn out to be such a hit!  Unfortunately it was the end of our contract and we were all headed home to our separate continents.  But we really thought we had something great, so we continued to develop it across the oceans.  :o)

It was important to us to make sure that “Swing It!” was going to appeal to all types of audiences.  We, like you, know how amazing the Andrews Sisters were, and we want to share that with younger generations who might never have heard of them.  So we threw in a lot of cheek and a bit of sass, but “Swing It!” is full of classic charm, too!  It really does have something for everyone!  I hope you’ll have a chance to see it sometime soon!

I think we all have a real passion and of course huge respect for The Andrew Sisters. Anyone can listen to them and enjoy it, they have huge mass appeal. Even 70 years on the music is still fun, interesting and fabulous!
The best way we can pay homage to them is to bring their music and talent alive again.

I love that despite how much music has changed over the last century, this genre of music still makes me want to dance! It’s also always wonderful as a performer to perform something that is challenging and fun at the same time; and the close knit  harmonies of the Andrews Sisters certainly provide that challenge, with a brilliant pay off when the sound comes out just right.

So what brings you to Kickstarter?  It sounds like you already had a great time performing.  

That’s exactly it.  We had such a good time performing our short cabaret show, we want to continue doing it!  When we did our research, we figure out that we needed a longer show, so we extended it to include 16 songs.  That’s 9 new songs...and having them written for a 6-piece band is really expensive.  (I’m not sure if we should be saying this, but in our video we mention that $20 writes another 8-bars of actually only writes about 2 bars!  But everything gets us closer to our goal!!!)  We also were fortunate enough to borrow Officer uniforms for costumes onboard our ship.  Obviously we can’t use those anymore, so we are having new costumes designed and created from scratch.  Its very exciting, but again, a big expense.  And then with the additional material, we need to get together to rehearse and put together the finished product.  So, as far as we’ve come in the past year, we just need that final financial push now...and that’s why we’re here on Kickstarter!  

Kickstarter is a really fantastic website especially for a project like ours. Unfortunately we don’t have access to the sort of money that would enable us to finance ourselves so we need a bit of help. The generosity of everyone that’s donated so far has really blown us away. Not only friends and family but even a few people who have stumbled upon our show and liked what they saw! It’s incredible.

It’s also such a brilliant way for us to simply let  people know about the show! Even if people are not in a position to help us out, the site tells you everything you could ever need to know about our project, and just getting the word out is really important for the show to be a success.

As someone who regularly works with people on the other side of the globe as well as marrying someone from Oz I know how hard it is to deal with time differences.  How have you dealt with coordinating this project, heck this interview, across three different parts of the globe?  

With difficulty. (Laughs) It’s involved a lot of Skype calls and emails. Luckily I’m working with two other fantastically talented and committed girls. It has been tough but we’ve all persevered because we really do love what we’re doing and as soppy as it sounds we love each other.

Its true.  It is now engraved in my brain that at 8am my time it is 1pm Rosie’s time and midnight for Phoebe!  That is how I figure out everything else...and we did find that that was the best time for us to do a 3-way skype.  
But something that I’ve found really exciting about being on Kickstarter is that it is always daytime for one of us, so while I’m sleeping, people across the world are pledging and I wake up to amazing new donations!  

Yes! I love checking Kickstarter every morning, its so encouraging to see wonderful and generous people pledging each day, its heart warming. But as for the time difference, it has a been difficult. But we made it work, because when you love something you will always find a way to make it work... and we did!

Why New York to meet up and work?  Was it because it was “in the middle” or because it’s New York?

A little bit of both perhaps. But mainly our costumes are being made in the States and our management company Accent Entertainment are based in New York also.

We did have a big discussion about rehearsing in NYC or London, but the costumes were probably the biggest factor.  We just felt like we’d have a few more resources available to us here.  

It’s New York. Any excuse is a good one!

Have you ladies heard of the Puppini Sisters?  They seem to do the exact same kind of performances as you, then again there’s tons of room for similar acts aren’t there?

Absolutely it’s such a great style the more the better I say. Although we are different. The Puppini Sisters base themselves purely on the style of that era, where as with “Swing It!” we want to bring back The Andrew Sisters in a more focused way. I think it’s important that people not only love what we do but realise where it came from as well.

Of course the more the merrier! I love that they have had such great success with this genre, it allows the space for shows like our to develop a wider audience.

So lets get a little personal, I’ll start with Erin:  What got you interested in the Andrews Sisters and Swing music in general?  What caused you to arrange the music for the three of you?

Haha.  That last one is a great question!  We were stuck on the ship, and were so lucky to have Ron, our band arranger, but no one was really available to help us figure out the vocal harmonies.  We sat in my tiny (although not as tiny as Rosie’s) cabin for days and just listened to the Andrews Sisters recordings over and over and over again...and figured them out that way.  I’d say “Ok, Feebs, you remember this line...” and on like that.  Their harmonies are so interesting, though...they jump and cross all over the place and the melody hardly ever stays in one vocal part...I feel like a crazy person and a genius at the same time while I’m working.  

As far as your first question, I’m not really sure.  Since I can remember, I have always been drawn the harmonies in music, not simply the melody, and The Andrews Sisters’ harmonies are just awesome!  

How long have you been singing and performing?

I started taking dance classes when I was 3 years old, and after seeing a community theatre production of Oliver when I was 9, my parents enrolled me in acting and singing lessons because I wouldn’t stop talking about it!  And I guess I still haven’t.

Now on to Phoebe, how much fun/how difficult is it to set-up the choreography for the three of you?  How long have you been creating choreography?

Dancing is so much fun! I always danced before I sung when I was a kid, and even now it’s still definitely my first love. However, creating choreography without the two girls beside me is slightly difficult. I’ve been playing around with ideas since about mid-December and hope that what’s in my head will look great on it’s feet, but that’s what rehearsals are for!

What got you singing?  When did you start doing swing singing?

I don’t know when I decided I wanted to be in Musical Theatre, probably about the age of 5 when I saw Beauty and the Beast on stage. So it was a natural progression.

So Rosie, when did you get involved in the Swing scene?  Are there a lot of swing performances over in jolly old England?  

Well old chap, I’ve been listening to these fantastic ladies since I was very young. My father was an opera singer but had a real love of jazz and these fantastic ladies, which he passed on to me. So I’ve grown up listening to them I guess and as a singer even if you’re not a huge fan you can’t help but be blown away by the complexity of their harmonies and the way they sang and worked together.

How did you end up becoming the third to this wonderful trio?

Well as Erin mentioned earlier the 3 of us were singing together on a cruise ship and we got to talking. I think originally we were interested in doing a song from the musical ‘Company’ (just for fun) that has an Andrew Sisters style to it. Then we started talking about the ladies themselves and how much we all loved them and would love to sing their music. One thing led to another and here we are!

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

Well we have a number of thank you gifts for all the people that donate to us. We’re also hoping to compile a mailing list of anyone and everyone who may be interested so that we can keep them updated of all that’s happening with “Swing It!”

I’m most excited about the personal videos we get to make for our $500 backers!  

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to help things along?

We are all trying to get the word out through our hometown newspapers, but I’d say most of our success has come from our emails and Facebook posts.  We each use our individual accounts as well as our “Swing It, Songs of the Andrews Sisters” fan page to update people on what is happening with Kickstarter and any other progress.  We also have a management company, Accent Entertainment,  that is actively selling the show to different venues.  (

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Go for it! If you have something you believe in then give it all you got!

I second that!  Our Kickstarter experience has be wonderful so far.  Its a really great idea and I’m glad that a site like this exists!

I am constantly astounded by the success of this website! The scope of brilliant projects and generosity of so many backers is truly inspiring. A perfect way to let the world know what you have to offer!
Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you so much for having us. Please stop by our page and even if you’re unable to donate but are interested in our show, feel free to leave your email address and we can add you to our mailing list!

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Thanks, James!  All the best to you, too!

Thanks James, its been a pleasure! And thanks again ladies for another successful collaboration across oceans!

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