Interview by Laura Ng
Lisa Sniderman’s Independent Music Awards-winning, quirky folk pop brings an element of youthful enchantment to all her work. Read about how a singer/songwriter who goes by the alias of “Aoede” goes from environmental scientist and graphic artist (who also records music videos and composes for TV) to adapting her musical audiobooks into full stage plays.
|TBA featured member Lisa Sniderman.
Tell us about your artistic path and process.
I chose Aoede, muse of song in Greek mythology, as my artist identity in 2006 to remember to inspire and be inspired. I create and record full-length fantasy musicals on audiobooks featuring dialogue, narration, character voices, songs, sound design and full instrumental score, and adapt them to musical theatre stage plays. I also create for young adults—teens and tweens. I’m drawn to young adult stories and adolescent struggles, as well as Greek mythology, and my musical stories reflect them. My journey bringing my musical and theatre worlds to converge has been a roller coaster, filled with artistic growth, accolades, industry recognition “ups,” and “downs” and the darkness of battling a rare, debilitating auto-immune progressive muscle weakness disease.
I have been battling dermatomyositis since 2008. I had an obsessive compulsion to get my music into the world from the time I left the hospital. During years of therapies and treatments, I’ve used music and art as a healing path. Unable to do live shows for several years, I’ve focused on writing, recording at home and licensing my music for film and TV. My story is persevering through this darkness through the creative process. Telling stories, creating recordings and turning them into theatre productions makes me feel most alive and deeply connected to others.
I began writing and recording musical stories in 2012 as a way to keep my songwriter’s dream alive and connect my brand of bright, quirky folk pop with young adults. My producer encouraged me to make a children’s album after the debut of my music video for “Fairy Tale Love.” I decided to record a fantasy musical story for tweens/teens called Is Love a Fairy Tale?, melding magic, mythology and music, focused on adventures of a protagonist—Aoede—in a magical kingdom called Wonderhaven.
I’ve found my niche and voice in the world of original musical theatre! I’ve recorded three award-winning full-length musicals on audiobooks, adapted two of them to musical stage plays, held two staged readings, and received more than 35 awards for my songwriting, audiobooks, music videos and stage plays. I absolutely love the process of conjuring characters and music, writing book and lyrics and collaborating on musical elements.
Favorite project/production that you were part of or inspired by?
From March to May 2014, I worked with San Carlos Children’s Theater (SCCT) to conduct a 10-week workshop, and held a staged reading performance of my second musical, What Are Dreams Made Of?. During Q&A, 14 dynamic sixth- through 12th-grade actors shared how being in my original musical and doing their first staged reading affected them. Most kids act in mainstream musicals (Annie, Little Mermaid) that have been done many times before, with character and music templates to follow. What was so neat about introducing them to WADMO? was their reaction to being part of something new and different, from being first to create their own characters to being in an “alternative” musical. WADMO? inspired my next musical, Do You Believe In Magic?, which I’m hoping to produce as a musical stage play in 2017. I’ll be conducting workshops in the fall in San Francisco modeled after my SCCT workshop.
What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?
[It’s] thriving, vibrant; something for everyone! [TBA’s] newsletter, networking, community and online resources. Completing ATLAS helped me craft my career map and introduced me to playwrights and directors, helping me feel more immersed in the Bay Area theatre scene. Attending TBA conferences keeps my finger on the pulse of the Bay Area theatre world.
What off-resume skills or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?
Graphic art and design! My illustrator’s images sparked me to create Aoede products and marketing materials (e.g., bookmarks, ribbons, posters, postcards and lunch boxes). Living with a chronic disease: my path shifted from a dual career as environmental scientist and singer/songwriter to using art and music as a healing path, creating musicals to connect with and inspire young adults.
Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?
Conducting a 10-week original musical theater workshop for teens/tweens: “Bringing Magic to Musical Theater!” at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center from September 15-December 1, 2016. My vision is to involve, inspire and connect with participating teen/tweens as performers and crew, providing them opportunity to help shape a developing musical and give me feedback.
Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.