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Chris Miller & Nathan Tysen - 54 Below

Composing team Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen perform from their catalogue at 54 Below.

Composing Team Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen on a Ben Vereen Mash-Up, Being 'Pitchy' & Performing at 54 Below

Composing Team Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen on a Ben Vereen Mash-Up, Being 'Pitchy' & Performing at 54 Below
Nathan Tysen & Chris Miller
A songwriting duo shares eclectic musical influences.

Composing duo Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen have played their music everywhere from East Village rock clubs to Sesame Street. Now, they're taking their act to 54 Below for a one-night-only concert on April 7, starring Carolee Carmello and Sadie Sink. The team behind the Broadway-bound new musical Tuck Everlasting will offer a sneak peek of material from the show, plus new tunes and old favorites. Read on to hear Miller and Tysen discuss musical influences, sexy dancing, dream performers and more.

CHRIS MILLER:
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
I went back and forth between Sweeney Todd, Nixon in China, Little Shop of Horrors & Les Miz. I had a Cats/Starlight Express phase I’m loath to admit. You can imagine what kind of child I was.

What concert most influenced you as a performer?
Shawn Colvin solo at Wolf Trap in 1995; huge venue, packed and just one lady and a guitar riveting the audience.

What is your go-to audition song?
I guess I’d say “High Flying, Adored” because it goes low and high in a showy way, in a short amount of time. But I don’t audition for things that require me to sing dance or act, mostly because I’m terrible at those things.

What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
I think the new ones because who knows what’ll happen!

What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
“Martirio” from Bernarda Alba. So simple, yet so deep and wide.

If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
Jonatha Brooke. Or Ani Difranco. Or Shawn Colvin. But I’d be afraid I couldn’t sing with any of them cause I tend to be flat every time I open my mouth. I’m pitchy even when I speak.

What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you could collaborate with?
Recent past: Sara Ramirez. Further past: Susan Johnson

What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Jonatha Brooke Live and David Mead’s Nashville.

What’s your favorite love song?
"Love Song" by Jonatha Brooke & The Story. Also "The Way You Look Tonight" and "What’ll I Do."

What song makes you feel sexy?
I don’t think anything has ever made me feel sexy. "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba?

What is your favorite workout track?
It’s rare when this happens, but when it does, I put on the Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile. It’s aggressive.

What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
Why, Fugitive Songs by Chris Miller & Nathan Tysen! Or Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Favorite break-up song?
"I Can’t Make You Love Me."

What song most makes you smile?
"Teenage Dream."

When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
"Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba for sexy dancing, of course. And "Brown Eyed Girl."

NATHAN TYSEN:
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
Jesus Christ Superstar – Original Broadway Cast (a.k.a. The Ben Vereen version). The pictures on the back of the record were mesmerizing: the Pharisees who looked like cracked-out bakers? Jesus crucified on a giant gold triangle? What?! Imagine my surprise years later, when I got ahold of the classic brown and yellow album and discovered a whole other disc of songs! I had no idea the Ben Vereen version was only highlights. If anyone has an entire recording of that cast, please hook a brother up.

What concert most influenced you as a performer?
I saw Paul McCartney about seven years ago at Madison Square Garden. He played for almost three hours, and never took a break. Never stepped off stage, never took a drink of water, skillfully swapping between guitar, bass and piano. It was out of this world. Clearly he is one of the top five living songwriters, but I had no idea (at that time, he was 64) he was such a virtuoso performer.

What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
We have two new songs that we are debuting on Sunday night. One song is about the current oil boom in North Dakota. Chris and I have been following it closely, and have considered writing an entire piece about it.

What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
“How Glory Goes” from Floyd Collins. Slays me every time.

If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
James Taylor. Brilliant songwriting aside, he has the kind of voice that makes you want to sing. A deceptively effortless vocal quality that fools you into thinking you can do what he does. I love that.

What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you could collaborate with?
Ben Vereen. I want a JC Superstar/Zoobilee Zoo mash-up. It’s not too late.

What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Early 20s: Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies. Late 20s: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco.

What’s your favorite love song?
"Got to Get You Into My Life" by The Beatles. Love is about joy, and this song has it in spades.

What song makes you feel sexy?
Take your pick of anything off Jeff Buckley’s Grace record.

What is your favorite workout track
I can’t listen to music while working out. I need something to distract me from the physical thing I am doing, not enhance it, so I listen to podcasts: "Radiolab," "Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me," "The Nerdist," "Here’s the Thing," etc.

What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod
Chris Miller singing "Send in the Clowns" at age 10. He recorded it at one of those amusement park karaoke studios. Epic.

Favorite break-up song?
It’s a three-way tie. I wish I wrote all of these: "Keep Yourself Warm" by Frightened Rabbit, "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley and "I Can’t Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt.

What song most makes you smile?
"Ooh La La" by The Faces. Three-chord feel-good masterpiece.

When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
There’s a website where you can find the number one song on the day you were born. A decade ago, I discovered mine was “I Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer. I like to imagine my father rushing my pregnant mother to the hospital, and that song coming on the radio. It is disco-fantastic.

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