DA MAN: I heard you recently returned from a music tour in the Philippines, how did it go?
DARREN CRISS: Fun! It was nice to be back there. It was certainly different circumstances than in the past, but it was very nostalgic because three years prior I was there the same time of year in the same downtown area for my cousin’s wedding. It was still a lot of fun but this year it was all about work.
DA MAN: So you are part Filipino, right?
DARREN CRISS: I am part Filipino. My mother’s from the Philippines, it’s obviously a very mixed bloodline because of the many different colonizers over the years, like Spain, China, etc. But yes, I associate myself as being half Filipino. Sometimes, I wish I was more than that, they are amazing people.
DA MAN: Do you find that your Asian heritage has helped your career at all?
DARREN CRISS: Any person in the position I’m in I hope would know that having a distinct heritage like being Filipino is a tremendous blessing in a global market. I don’t know if it’s directly responsible for things that have happened, but I know for StarKid Productions at least, every time we’d get the schematics from YouTube or any other sources, the Philippines always made up a really strong percentage of our pageviews. Did they somehow find out I had Filipino blood? Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised. Still, I’d love to think they’d have loved StarKid Productions no matter what, even if I were from Mars.
DA MAN: What can you tell us about StarKid Productions’ most recent show “Starship,” out in Chicago in February?
DARREN CRISS: It has been the bane and joy of my every breath for the last few weeks. It opens in February and it’s the biggest thing by far that we’ve ever done. We have our own personal ‘spiderman’ on our hands; it’s really very difficult stuff. “Starship” is our first foray into a more professional world. We have a little space in Chicago and we’re trying to legitimize ourselves with entirely original stuff: it’s a show that focuses on elements of things that are in popular science-fiction. We use many popular motifs, but it’s definitely an original story. It involves very high-level production stuff. I try to streamline my writing efforts into my own album. I have so many songs, that it’s just a matter of deciding which one’s I want to put on it.
DA MAN: How much of your musical knowledge was gained through formal training versus personal study?
DARREN CRISS: Violin was actually the only instrument that I received any formal training on, everything else I learned by myself. But, I would have loved to have some kind of training; I would love to take lessons now. My friend Masu always said to me, ‘If you want to get to Oakland, you just have to walk in that direction long enough, and you’ll get to Oakland. But if you just have to ask one person for directions, you will get there quicker.’ I guess I didn’t ask for a lot of directions. I might get there much quicker if I did, but I know I’m on my way!
DA MAN: Your Oscar pick for best movie of 2010?
DARREN CRISS: “Toy Story 3!!!”
DA MAN: What’s the potential of StarKid Productions? Could it turn into a full-blown production company that deals not only in theater, but with films and television?
DARREN CRISS: Our doors are open to everything. I have a strange juxtaposition with StarKid Productions where on one hand we’re really just kids having graduated form college trying to figure all this out, and on the other hand, I have this well-oiled machine that is TV acting. We’re all actors, performers and screenwriters. We all have an interest in turning our passions into projects, but it all depends on what opportunities people give us. The actual success and fortunes are the last concern on our mind. All we can hope for is to carry our original work to another level. Again and again and again.
This feature spread, of over a dozen pages, appears in the February/March 2011 edition of DA MAN. To see all of the full high-resolution images and the entire interview, pick up a copy of the magazine or subscribe to get it delivered to your door.
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