TaiwaneseAmerican.org’s Ho Chie Tsai takes a moment to catch up with composer George Shaw, who he interviewed back in 2009. Since then, George has continued working on musical scores for film, TV, and new media. Best known for his collaborations with YouTube stars, George has composed various music that has been featured in videos by NigaHiga, Kevjumba, Wong Fu Productions, Michelle Phan, and Mystery Guitar Man.
Now, at the close of 2012, George has two major releases: The Christmas Album, a charity CD collaboration with the Irvine Young Concert Artists, and Spoiler Alert, a 28-track album of his original works.
G: Busy and tired. Really looking forward to spending the holidays catching up on sleep!
H: Just in time for the holidays, you produced this recent Christmas album with some talented YouTube stars and young musicians. Tell us a little bit about how this project got started?
G: I was talking to Albert Wu, the executive director of the Irvine Young Concert Artists, about ways to get his students excited about music. And of course a lot of the YouTube singers are really popular amongst the teens, so we wanted to get them involved. I suggested maybe they do a Christmas album and invite some singers to perform.
H: It’s so cool that you pulled in some well-known YouTube stars, including Jason Chen, Clara C, David Choi, and others. How did you connect with them and get them involved?
G: They’re such great people, and I think what really hooked them in, was the fact that this was raising money for charity, and it was a chance to inspire young musicians. Plus, who doesn’t like Christmas songs, and the opportunity to record with a live orchestra a Capitol Records?
H: Awesome! And all this benefits good causes too, right? I see that proceeds will go towards relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and CD’s will be donated to the families of victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
G: Yes, we really poured a lot of time, effort, and talent into this project! I barely slept from Thanksgiving till the day we released this album on December 15th. I’m just happy we finished it just in time to share with everyone for the holiday season.
H: Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered this past year. You and all the talented folks involved are doing such wonderful work. We’ve always been amazed with the quality of your musical scores, which leads us to this next question: How did your latest album Spoiler Alert come about?
G: It started with orchestral suites that I created for some of the scores I composed for some of the popular YouTube videos that I’ve done with Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and Michelle Phan. Then I started to realize I had enough material that I’ve composed over the last five years, including lots of demos and cues that were cut out of movies, to compile a full orchestral album. So I raised some of the funds on Kickstarter, and was able to go into the studio to record the album.
H: Looking at some of these individual tracks, I’m curious as to how you are inspired to compose for a certain movie or scene? What’s the process that happens?
G: I would say I just watch the scene and imagine what I would hear if I was simply sitting in a dark movie theater and watching the film. Sometimes, it’s a happy accident, where I run the scene and improv on the piano and just see what happens. If it’s something I like, I will go back and refine it until I get something that really works for my tastes.
H: Thanks for the insight. That’s so interesting! Music definitely makes the movies we watch feel that much more complete, and I certainly appreciate your work. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to update us on your latest projects.
G: Always a pleasure to share!
Visit George Shaw’s website at: http://georgeshawmusic.com
Purchase the Christmas Album at: http://irvineyoungconcertartists.bandcamp.com/
Purchase Spoiler Alert at: http://georgeshaw.bandcamp.com/album/spoiler-alert