In what might become a pattern, Joss Whedon has balanced out production on his last two Avengers films with smaller, independent, decidedly non-superhero projects. In 2012, it was Much Ado About Nothing, shot at his house. This year, Whedon digitally collaborated with a singer-songwriter whose Kickstarter page wooed him—and they’ve never actually met in-person.
The result was the song “Big Giant Me” (out now), just one of the songs on his and Shawnee Kilgore’s forthcoming EP.
Turns out that another side project of Whedon’s during production on Avengers: Age of Ultron was donating to dozens of Kickstarter campaigns. It was Kilgore’s first time trying a crowdfunding site, despite being a working musician for over a decade. He was so struck by her music and voice that he backed her campaign with one of the largest donations, which entitled him to an original song.
When the time came for Kilgore—whose game designer boyfriend was freaking out about her celebrity backer, by the way—to fulfill her Kickstarter rewards, Whedon actually asked if it wouldn’t be too presumptuous to send her some lyrics he’d already written. She sent back a demo within a day, and they worked together until they created the final single that’s now available on iTunes.
“Big Giant Me” is rather different from “You Can’t Take the Sky From Me” and the Once More, With Feeling soundtrack. Kilgore brings a peaceful melody to his words; more a children’s song than anything else. Whedon says it’s “about the idea of change, and how much someone will accept you for yourself and what you are and what you’re going to become.” We like to think it’s an ode to a Totoro-esque childhood friend.
Whedon and Kilgore felt that they meshed so well creatively that they both carved time out of their schedules to collaborate on an EP. He would shoot Avengers: Age of Ultron during the day and then devote his evenings to their album. Calling the experience “a little bit magical,” Whedon also likened writing the songs to working out tiny puzzles while walking through the workday.
It wasn’t all fun, though: “The songs are very personal,” he said. “It opened up a lot of stuff. It was actually a kind of painful experience to write some of this stuff down, as simple as it was. Which is also very exciting, because, you know, at this stage of The Avengers, as much as me as there is in it, it’s less pain and more math.”
Amazingly, they’ve never met—not even over video chat or phone. Their collaboration has been solely over email. What’s more, Kilgore has avoided engaging with her new friend’s public persona; it took some coaxing from her boyfriend to finally watch the first Avengers film and Much Ado. (They’d already seen Firefly.)
Now that production on Ultron is wrapped, however, Whedon is planning a trip down to Austin to join Kilgore in the studio. You can read the full story of their meeting on Buzzfeed, which also hosts a clip of the song “Big Giant Me.”
Photo: Shawnee Kilgore