Margo Seibert (Photo:Alexandra Dewez)
Broadway has its go-to ingénues by way of Jessie Mueller, Laura Benanti, and others, but it also occasionally finds room for equally talented but perhaps less conventional performers like the wide-eyed Margo Seibert. Making her Broadway debut in 2014’s short-lived musical Rocky, Ms. Seibert returned to the Great White Way last year in the a capella In Transit. This fall she makes her Playwrights Horizons debut in The Thanksgiving Play. All the while, Ms. Seibert has pondered personal creative endeavors, which come to fruition with the October 22 digital release of her debut album 77th Street, a release concert at Joe’s Pub that same evening, and CD release on October 26.
Ms. Seibert describes the album as “an homage to the in-betweens of life” and discussed her inspiration for the album with The Broadway Blog’s Matthew Wexler:
What do you mean by “the in-betweens of life?
On the whole, we do really well with goal-setting, knowing where we’re going, checking things off lists. “This is who I am.” or “This is what I do.” But there’s so much time as an artist that you’re not necessarily working, and you don’t know what the next step is going to be. It’s active waiting, but it is an in-between. I was spending a lot of time in between gigs and felt like it’s an incredibly important time – time to tune in to who you are.
The album includes both original material as well as covers. What was the inspiration for some of your own songwriting?
One of my sisters passed away in a car crash in 2012. “Whitman” was a song that was inside of me for a while in bits and pieces. It was the last phase in grieving — I needed to get this out of my body. I was inspired by a line from Whitman’s poetry collection Leaves of Grass:
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
Maybe we’re looking at this in the wrong way. Maybe death is something luckier than we imagine. We don’t know. I love Whitman and I love that song.
I also love “77th Street.” It’s such a jam! It was the location of my first apartment in New York. I lived there with my best friend and had so many amazing adventures (and heartbreaks and heartaches!). [It’s] an expression of some anger — somebody that I was holding onto who was continually disappointing me. I grew up listening to so much 90s music. I love grunge, and it felt like there was the rocking 90s anthem that needed to come out.
I’m a huge Tears for Fears fan and was excited to see “Head Over Heels” covered. How’d you get hooked on this song?
Mostly it was my parents’ musical tastes. My mother listed to Miami Sound Machine, Genesis, The Police, and Tears for Fears and I loved it. I love a synth and the magical quality of Tears for Fears. It’s epic. It felt like this moment of not knowing what’s happening. “Something happens and I’m head over heels.” And it’s also thematic with the album.
My father had a cover band when I was growing up. He played the saxophone but he also covered Pure Prairie League, The Eagles, and The Doobie Brothers. (My husband and I love “What a Fool Believes” — it was our first dance!) I do feel like there’s a good amount of retro influences on the album.
What was your creative process regarding the reimaging the covers in your own style?
Tedd Firth, our musical director, was a huge part of that. He does so many new arrangements and is an insanely amazing player. I knew that if I was going to restructure songs and add a new flavor that he’d be able to do that.
Especially for “Something’s Coming,” there’s a whole new meter and structure to it that invigorates the song with a new kind of energy. Then when we were in the studio in the editing phase with producer Michael Croiter and sound engineer Matthias Winter, I wanted to add in some electronica elements, playing with sampling and looping, and create a musical through-line that you might not otherwise expect.
Confession: I’m an area code cell phone stalker. Tell me about Baltimore.
I grew up about 30 minutes west of Baltimore in Howard County, Maryland. Out on a farm in the boonies. And I’ve always kept my number!
I thought of you when I saw the new version of A Star is Born, as Lady Gaga’s character transforms the further ahead she gets in the music industry. I’ve witnessed your theater career trajectory from Rocky to Ever After at Paper Mill Playhouse and back to Broadway in In Transit. And now you’re appearing in a new Off-Broadway play. Do you feel an internal battle as if the industry doesn’t know what to do with you?
This is such a good question — I was just having this conversation with my husband because I’m now talking about the album and this thing I’ve made. People want to know what it is and why it is.
I’ve known from doing press in the past that it’s easier for people to palate things that they can package well. I get it. It comes back to that “in between,” where people think, “I know exactly who you are and what to do with you.” Especially if I go in for a revival, people are like, “What?” I’ve gotten, “she seems too smart” or “she’s too contemporary.”
I love it. I want to do all of it. Also, so I can tell what feels the best for me. These are all incredibly fun and diverse skills to tackle. Whether I’m doing something on TV or a play or musical, and now to embrace being a writer, which I never thought I could be. It was easier to say, “I’m an actress, that’s what I do.” I’m challenging it. I want a career for the rest of my life. I don’t need to be just one thing. I’m just so excited to share this music, and hopefully, people will feel things and keep coming back.