I first ran across John Anealio when I saw a tweet about a free song download. Since I love free things, I followed the link and was instantly hooked on his music. Because seriously, is there any way to keep my geek credentials and not love a song with the lyrics:
"Is that Wil Wheaton on a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten again?
Holding a blood drenched spear in his hand
Is that Wil Wheaton on a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten again?
Wreaking havoc across the land"
How did you get started writing this kind of music? What was your inspiration?
I've been writing songs and reading Science Fiction and Fantasy since I was a teenager. About two or three years ago the thought hit me that I should start writing songs about Science Fiction and Fantasy. I wanted to connect with people more. I had wanted to start a blog or a podcast. As I was spit balling ideas, the notion to write songs about this subject and release them for free as a podcast through a blog just made perfect sense to me.
You announced that you had a song commissioned by Pyr Books for Mike Resnick's Starship series (which song was included in the back of Starship: Flagship), but you don't say anything else about it. How did this come about? What was the experience like?
Lou Anders, the Editorial Director of Pyr Books, was an early supporter of my work. He asked me to write a song that encapsulated the story of Mike Resncik's Starship Series of books. I wrote out the sheet music and Pyr included it in the appendix of the final book in the series: Starship:Flagship. You can read more about it here and download the Ballad of Wilson Cole for free here.
It was an amazing experience. When I started Sci-Fi Songs, I never imagined that one of my songs would actually be published in a novel, especially one by someone as legendary as Mike Resnick. One of the benefits of completing that project was getting to know Mike Resnick and a ton of other awesome authors and then having them as guests on my Functional Nerds podcast that I co-host with author Patrick Hester.
We often ask writers if they listen to music when they are writing, or if that throws their muse off. Do you find that the opposite is true for you? Do you have to be careful about what you read when you are working on a song?
Not really. If I'm reading something that inspires a song, I can usually write the song pretty quickly. Recording it takes forever though. Usually by the time I start recording, I'm on to reading something else.
What music do you like to listen to when you're not composing?
I am an obsessive music fan. I have lots of old favorites, but I'm always checking out new music as well. I organize my music through iTunes and create all of these different playlists that refresh themselves everyday. Depending on the time of day, and the task that I'm working on, I'll listen to pretty different things.
Band of Horses, Bloc Party, Broken Bells, Calexico, Death Cab for Cutie, Freelance Whales, Grizzly Bear, The National, OK Go, The Shins, etc.
Progressive Rock Playlist:
Rush, Yes, Genesis, Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings
Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Bill Frisell, John Fahey, Leo Kottke, etc.
I can really go on forever with this question. :-)
Do you have a favorite author? Have you ever written anything for that author's books?
Oh, I like so many authors. Hard to pick a favorite. I've written songs that were inspired by George R.R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Gregory Frost, Brandon Sanderson, and Kay Kenyon.
You're still new at this. Where do you want to be 10 years down the road? What are you hoping for from your musical career?
Well, I'm just getting into performing this material live. I've performed at a few Sci-Fi Conventions, House Concerts, and libraries. I'd like to continue booking these types of gigs and my ultimate goal is to play events like w00tstock, PAX Prime & PAX East, and perhaps some of the bigger Sci-Fi conventions.
Are there many people composing this kind of music? Are there any other artists you can recommend to our readers?
There are lots of other great Geek Musicians out there. I'd recommend checking out Jonathan Coulton, Marian Call, and Kirby Krackle.
Songs & Musicians: John Anealio
Books & Authors: Starship:Flagship, Mike Resnick
George R. R. Martin