On the eve of her Vegas show, Idina Menzel, the voice of Frozen's Elsa and "Let It Go," chatted with us about her latest album, touring the country, and who she dreams of doing a duet with.
A star was born when Idina Menzel landed her breakout role in the original Brodway run of Rent. From there, the singer nabbed roles in the hit Broadway show Wicked, the TV series Glee, and later, in Disney's animated movie Frozen as Elsa. Her latest endeavor, Idina, is a solo album she hopes fans will love as much as she does now that she's taking music from it on the road. Menzel sat down with us to talk about American branch of her Idina tour, who she dreams of singing a duet with, and why she loves to work with new writers and composers.
You'll be performing in Vegas this Saturday at The Pearl, but you've gotten a chance to travel all over the country to promote your latest album, Idina. How hectic has it gotten? IDINA MENZEL: Pretty hectic, but I travel with my eight-year-old son, and we’re travel buddies—that’s what we call each other—and we look at it as an adventure. I know what to expect, and I plan it around his school. So, we went to Japan over spring break and then we went to the UK when school was over, so there have been a couple of breaks in between. And I have a band and a group of musicians that have been with me for many years, and because of that we’re super tight, personally and professionally. We’re just having the time of our lives, you know? It’s exhausting, but I just feel really good about the music we’re playing, and the show we’re putting on, and it’s been probably my most favorite tour so far.
I hear your son has a pretty good impression of you, no? IM: Yeah, he has an impression of me. He is not overly impressed by my Elsa or Frozen, and he likes to make fun of mommy sometimes, and sing "Let It Go" in a very high C, and sometimes dress up as Mommy, and sort of—well, for lack of a better word—mock his mom. And that’s okay. I think he’s appreciating what I do more and more the older he’s getting.
But the important question now is whether that high C was in tune... IM: Yes! [Laughs] Of course! He’s got perfect pitch and great rhythm. He’s just not taking it seriously yet. I think he’s resisting that side of himself right now because I think he thinks mom and dad do that, and something about that he’s just not getting into. I’m trying to figure out what that is because he’s very artistic and creative. But I don’t know if he resents it because it’s that creative part that takes mom and dad away from him. It’s our job, so maybe that’s his little dilemma at this age.
We've seen you on stage with Taylor Swift, Kristin Chenoweth, and even Michael Bublé, but is there someone you find most complementary to your style of music? Maybe there's someone you'd still like to duet with? IM: It’s hard for me to answer that because my all-time dream duet would be with Bono. I’ve been saying that forever and that’s just because I think he has this one of a kind voice, he’s sexy, and he’s this amazing force. And, I don’t know, I think I could sing with all different kinds of singers. I guess I would just say somebody that’s not stuck in their own thing, that’s improvisational, that’s willing to be spontaneous because I like to fly by the seat of my pants and work in the moment.
I thought it was extraordinary when I found out that you sit down sometimes for new writers and read for them. Is that because you like to originate characters, or hope to maybe find the next Rent, or Wicked? IM: Yeah, it’s the process in writing a play or a musical where there’s only so much they can do, the composers can do, at home by themselves, you know? Obviously, they need to hear it. So early on, when they write the first act or something, they’ll bring in people to read through it, and they use you, hopefully, as a muse. And that’s something I feel so honored to have experienced with some of the greatest composers out there. It also makes my job easier when, three years down the road, we are ready, and we’ve built something together. I’m inside of this character because they’ve been inspired by the things that I brought to the collaborative experience, and I’ve been inspired by them, and little by little we’ve developed this new character, and it’s there for us. And so it’s just something I, you know, I really enjoy. I enjoy being a fly on the wall, and watching them do their work, and then coming in and saying, “You know what? I totally re-did that song last night. I scrapped it and I have a new idea. Can we work on it today?” And it’s just, that’s such an honor, you know? And so I try to put myself in that position as often as I can. And a lot of times it’s just a bunch of genius amazing people in the industry that I’ve always wanted to work with, and they don’t even have to have much written; they could have the phone book for all I care. It’s about putting yourself in the room with them and watching the whole process happen.