Fourteen-year-old rising singer/songwriter/actress Schuyler Iona Press has captivated those of all ages with her deceptively simple melodies and introspective lyrics. She is now entertaining audiences every Wednesday and Saturday at Off-Broadway's 13th Street Rep in NYC (50 West 13th Street) with her new musical experience What I'm Failing To Learn through June 15th only! Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a singer/songwriter/actress? I don't recall a specific moment when I decided that I wanted to be a singer, a songwriter or an actress. I have always been inspired by music, of many kinds. I fell in love with the music of Janis Joplin and Judy Garland when I was very little and tried to sing every one of their songs. Over the years I have found more and more musicians and writers who inspire me in many ways. In fact, I feel like I am constantly being inspired by someone. Last year I discovered Tracy Chapman and Rush. I love Sting and Eric Clapton. Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon and Bob Marley. And then I am inspired by people who are not actually musicians or actors themselves but just fascinate me. People I meet who make me laugh or cry and people I don’t know but who I wonder about because I catch a glimpse of their lives. I can't think of one particular actor or actress who inspired me although I love many. I'm inspired more by interesting people I see in real life I think. I guess my inspiration is a work in progress.
2. Who are you hoping to work with in your career? I guess I'm hoping to actually work in my career. That would be nice. I haven't really thought about this. I love actors who bring humor to their characters, even really tragic characters. I really love Julie Delpi, I'd like to work with her. And her dad too! I'd like to be on a stage with Paul Simon. That would be crazy and amazing.
3. What made you want to create What I'm Failing To Learn? While I am really passionate about writing music and I love concerts, I also love theater. My mom and I talked about combining the two and creating a theatrical world where my songs could exist as part of something bigger. It was a challenge we made for ourselves and seemed like a lot of fun. It was also a chance to collaborate with my mom who wrote the video pieces. I had worked with my mom on a film that she wrote and co-directed called Theresa Is A Mother. I was an actress in that film. But this was different because we were really collaborating on the whole creative process.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope audiences are surprised and entertained and I really hope they feel they saw something that inspired them to talk or think about things in a new way. I guess I hope they come away feeling they had a lot of fun and that the music and characters made them feel things.
5. At 14 years old, what is like to gain the success you have thus far? How do you handle it all? I haven’t thought of any of this in terms of success, just doing the work that makes me feel good. I work very hard and I love writing and making music. I also love acting and collaborating with other people as a musician and an actress. So, it doesn’t feel like much to handle in that sense. I do put a lot of pressure on myself to do good work because it means so much to me, but that’s good pressure not bad pressure.
6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in writing a song? That’s tough because every song has its own creative process. Sometimes I write words first, sometimes a melody comes to me first. I think the best part is when suddenly a melody finds words or the other way around and I see it come together, that’s pretty exciting for me.
7. What does it mean to be the youngest artist to play NYC's famous The Bitter End? I don’t know what that means actually. It feels really good to share my music in a place like the Bitter End because of its history. I definitely loved thinking about and feeling all the amazing artists that have played on that same stage for so many years while I was playing there. To me being the youngest doesn’t mean much, but being a part of something bigger, like the history of an iconic folk and rock club, does mean a lot to me.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/songwriter/actress? I think the thing I’ve learned about myself that makes me the happiest is that my ideas and the music that I create can actually speak to other people and I can make connections with many, many people through it. That’s really important to me because in my private life I am very shy and I never found it that easy to make lots of friends in school and things like that.
9. What's the best advice you've received so far? That being "weird" because you are being honest and true to who you are is a perfectly good option in life. Look at people in the eye when they are talking to you, that’s important. And don’t always try to win an argument, especially with a three year old or a religious fanatic on the subway.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Just one? I want a lot of super powers. I thought once that I would like the power to read people’s minds, but I think that would actually be terrible. I definitely want to fly. Super hearing would be good because eavesdropping is one of my favorite hobbies. I’d like the power to make people doing mean things to other people suddenly "get it" and stop. That would be a good power. And if I have super powers I want a really good costume to go with them. Maybe with go-go boots.
Schuyler is a 14 year old singer/songwriter from NYC now living in the Hudson Valley. She is the youngest artist ever invited to participate in the prestigious Singer/Songwriter Sessions at NYC’s iconic Bitter End. The music video to Schuyler’s 911 tribute song "Playground Museum" which is a first hand account of Schuyler’s experiences at 3 years old and includes a combination of home video of Schuyler shot on 9/11/01 and 9/11/12, had its premiere at the International Film Festival Manhattan and is a winner of the prestigious My HERO International Film Festival Music Video category in Los Angeles. "Playground Museum" is also a 2012 finalist for the Ron Kovic Peace Prize.
At 13 years old, Schuyler wrote the score and main theme song "Summer Child" for the 2012 indie feature film Theresa is a Mother winner of Best Film awards at the Orlando Film Festival, Washington DC Reel Independent Film Extravaganza, and International Film Festival Manhattan. Schuyler also co-stars in the film and was nominated for a 2012 RIFE Best Supporting Actress Award.
Schuyler has opened for singer/songwriter Ellis Paul and performed in many 2012 summer music festivals including Black Potatoe, Block Island, Utica Music, Boston GreenFEST and more. She was featured in the 2012 Spring issue of Avalon Magazine with photos by rock photographer Rebekah Blu.
Schuyler is a prolific song writer and is constantly adding to her large catalog of original songs. She wrote and recorded her first single, "I Am Today" at age 10, 100% of her proceeds from "I Am Today" go to pediatric cancer research. A poet at heart, Schuyler is inspired by life around her and continues to develop in front of audiences as a writer, guitarist, and humanitarian.