Our immersive theater experience in an envelope experience, Yours Truly, recently concluded its second run. One highlight of Yours Truly is original music by APTP teen artists. In this interview, Gabrielle (Gabie) Reyes, a junior at Von Steuben High School, talks with APTP Resident Director Devika Ranjan about serving as co-music director for Yours Truly.
Devika: What did it feel like to be asked to music direct Yours Truly with Steph Paul, APTP’s longtime resident director?
Gabie: I felt like it was my calling to do it. I do a lot of music stuff on my own, and it gave me an opportunity to apply what I’ve been working on and what I’ve learned. I love film scoring and taking apart musicals and musical themes. So I was excited to get a role in the team where I was able to not only participate in that, but actually come up with the ideas and try to execute them and build a narrative within this weird medium of telling a story through a series of letters audience members receive in the mail.
Devika: Tell me about the Music Squad that created the music of Yours Truly.
Gabie: So the Music Squad is Geraldine Fonseca, Teddy Morco (who goes by Iza as a musician), Phong Nguyen, and me. They’re all beautiful and talented and unique. In Summer 2020, we developed this community of making music in APTP. We worked to build ourselves as artists with what APTP teaches us. A lot of this was learning from each other and sharing the same love of music that everyone in the music squad had.
When we started to create music for Yours Truly, we decided to split up the letters, with each of us composing music to go with a different letter the audience receives from Tala. And then the last letter would be a combination of everything in the previous letters for all of us to work together.
The coolest part was hearing the composers’ different takes on the letters, and what they sent me was so cool. Iza’s singing and playing the piano from a low-res audio recording isn’t something I would think about doing. Phong’s lyrics are so good. Geraldine got out of her comfort zone in composing something that was atmospheric and playful.
Devika: What challenges did you encounter?
Gabie: We were in an online environment. We created Yours Truly when everyone was still in isolation. We couldn’t bounce ideas off of each other as smoothly or effectively as if we were in person. My teammates were handling their own worlds and I couldn’t really connect to them because of this online thing. It’s hard to be in a Zoom room and see if they’re struggling or not.
And it was down to the wire, like a good old TV show. As the episode airs, the track is being completed.
Devika: How was it to work with Misha Fiksel, APTP’s Resident Music Director, who assisted with the music production in Yours Truly?
Gabie: A goal of mine was to get better at mixing. I mixed and Misha mastered each track. That means I adjusted all the levels – I could turn up the violin a little bit and turn down the guitar so that it sounds cohesive, and add the final effects to make it sound full and good.
I did a first run through of all of that myself and then Misha helped me critique it. It was a learning process, and I’m really grateful that Misha was able to help me with that. I’m polishing my skills to be a little more professional, so I got to work with Misha, who’s a professional musician and producer, to get that experience so that now whenever I create something it’s more clean.
Devika: What did you learn from the process of leading the Yours Truly music team?
Gabie: It was really a process of learning while I work. I love that kind of process. Once I got the tracks from everybody, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it sounded amazing. That was something that this project taught me, that the work can be awesome even when it’s not exactly how you imagined it.
Whenever I got stuck or whenever one of the others got stuck, we were able to push each other past the little bump, the perfectionist, and redirect to a new perspective.
Devika: What are your dreams for the future? Is this something you want to pursue further?
Gabie: Maybe film directing, maybe TV directing, audio-wise would be great. Maybe just directing in general. I think if I just had anything to do with music or art in general, that I’d be fine doing whatever that is. I actually am hoping to create an album by my 18th birthday. So that’s my dream right now, to finally get something out there on my own.