TV

How to Watch and What to Expect for the "Steven Universe: Future" Premiere

With four brand new episodes premiering Saturday at 8:00, you'd better make sure you're ready

It's finally here!

After the announcement, the trailer, and all the teaser art, the anticipation was killing us. But now December 7th is upon us, and the premier of the first four full episodes of Steven Universe: Future is about to deliver some sweet escape from dull dark reality with a glimpse into Beach City and a new era of peace and liberation, thanks to Steven and the Crystal Gems. What new enemies will arise to threaten this hard-won stability, and what lessons will Steven have to learn to take them on? Also, did they ever bring back Cookie Cat? Because Lion Lickers just aren't cutting it.

Steven Universe - Toon Tunes: Cookie Cat Rap www.youtube.com

All these questions and more are finally about to be answered…for those of us who have cable. Unfortunately for the millennial cable cutters who make up a big portion of the Steven Universe fanbase, until next spring rolls around, there isn't really a great way to stream Cartoon Network content. You could always find a source to pirate the episodes, but apart from the legal issues, you'll have to find a way to sleep at night while knowing that you stole the hard creative work of Rebecca Sugar and all their collaborators.

rebecca sugar, zach callison, deedee magno, and michaela dietz You monster!

If you have it in your budget, and know you're going to watch these episodes over and over, Amazon already has a "season pass" available. If you don't, then you might want to find a friend with cable, and just watch it with them. And if you're reading this with 8:00 PM approaching, and you're scrambling for an option, there are a number of Live TV services with Cartoon Network access that offer free trial periods. Just don't blame me if you forget to cancel…

If you aren't convinced, and think you might still wait for who knows how long to watch these episodes when they finally come to Hulu or Netflix, here are the episode descriptions for Saturday's premiere, along with a first look clip of Steven being a sort of social worker for a restored Jasper, just to whet your appetite:

Steven Universe Future - First Look (Clip) www.youtube.com

"Little Homeschool"

Welcome to Little Homeschool, a place on earth where Gems from all over the universe can come learn how to live together peacefully! But there's one Gem who refuses to attend.

"Guidance"

Amethyst has been helping Little Homeschool Gems find jobs on the boardwalk, but Steven isn't sure about her approach.

"Rose Buds"

Steven gets a surprise visit from some old friends, and an even more surprising introduction to some new ones.

"Volleyball"

Steven is determined to help Pink Diamond's original Pearl heal the scar on her face.

MUSIC

Zach Callison, and the Pitch Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak

You know him as a kid's TV star, but he's about to show you A Pitch Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak

You probably don't know the name Zach Callison off-hand, but you've likely heard of him tangentially.

If you've ever listened to friends rave about Steven Universe, they're talking about him. He is the titular Steven. The show is great, and he's great in it. If you're a fan, you know that it often features well-produced, energetic, authentically good music. Callison's voice is often leant to these songs. You may have wondered what music that voice would produce if left to it's own devices. If that's the case, you need look no further than his his first solo album. It's a bizarre, majestic, other-worldly, rock-opera in the mold of 2112, The Wall, or Quadrophenia, and… well… let's listen through and describe what we hear.

Subtle pianos intrude on silence.

Callison's voice's creeps over it, singing lyrics that flirt with being pretentious, but the more you listen, the more you can't help but listen. The sound is poppy, but with a quirky rock sensibility. Almost a Rocky Horror feel. From his past work you'd expect something childlike, but this is indelibly mature, maybe with an edge of teenage angst but in a Panic! At The Disco vein that hits all the right notes. Suddenly he's rapping, at increasingly rapid tempos, and though every fibre of your being wants to find a reason to fault… you can't. This is really interesting music.

An interlude comes in, laying in to the concept album feel this piece takes on when listened to as an EP. A cacophony of teenage voices intruded in upon by the screams of our hero. He gets increasingly metal until his voice turns in to a scream.

She Don't Know starts, it's bouncy, with hints of darkness. Jumpy, but rocky in all the right ways. The instrumentation is just excellent. Edges of 90s rock, but with a modern sensibility to the lyrics. There's a sense by which you feel that Callison is fighting his childlike image in the music, but the mix is so intricate and his voice so g-darn cool, that you buy it, and don't care that you're buying it.

Another interlude. This time more mellow. Quirky and suggestive. A bluesy piano riff jumped on by creepy lyrics dealing with mortality in the contra-point to the previous song. You ask yourself, "Where is Callison going with this?"

Nightmare opens with a rap. His meterage is fiery and quick. On a first listen you feel like you need to listen to this several more times to get it. But you know something is going on. He mentions a waking nightmare, and the track begins proper. It's croony, self-critical, exploratory. He is angry, but in an introspective way. It's cool. So cool that a guitar solo grows out of his words, a solid 80s ballad solo that makes you picture cliffs and waterfalls.

A further interlude. The concept of heartbreak is now palpable. Still murky. The shape is there, but the specifics are as confusing as they are intriguing.

Curtain Call plays with peculiar harmonies, interstitial blasts of rock, and an existential painkiller. Sweet violins counteract the idiosyncrasies of the piano, fighting it out for some sense of order as the vocals search for an intermediary truth. Eventually the song drops in proper, hitting a steady beat and an early 00s vein of rock. It almost feels like an Evanescence B-SIde.

A final interlude features a ticking clock, a feeling of isolation, of forced resolution, and a lyrical conflict searching for an objective truth. The meter echoes Lin-Manuel Miranda's, and is acted as well as it is performed. It builds to a beginning.

The resolution, War!, feels like the start of a new disagreement. A wiser, better internal conflict, arrived at in and through blood. It's rap rock, but not as we have seen it before. It fringes on self-indulgence, but in the same way that The Who's Tommy does. If it weren't so well put together it could be pretentious, but with the obvious skill on display you can't dismiss it. It's infuriatingly good to listen to. There are so many markers that make you want to turn it off, but Zach Callison has made something objectively good here. You finish it and you want to listen again, find the parts you missed, pick up on the subtext, dig beneath what's beneath the surface. It's a journey… but then it's meant to be.

Callison has shed the skin of childishness and grown in to something bigger, badder, and more interesting. Now, this is not to say that his other work is about to lose all interest for you, but you leave this album deeply interested in his own voice. A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak asks more questions than it answers, prompts you to think more deeply of him as an artists, and, most importantly, makes you want to listen to the album again. It's hard to think of a more ideal way to strike out independently. Callison is a genuine force in his own right, and he defies you to listen to this album and think differently.

Follow Zach Callison Online!

Web | Facebook | Spotify | Instagram | Twitter


Thomas Burns Scully is a Popdust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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" I love being able to be entrepreneurial at my own pace."

Packed with unstoppable energy, big band sounds, and a whole lot of attitude. The Debut single, "War!" introduces Zach Callison with a sprawling, epic chapter of an intense Hollywood love affair. Produced by Chase Ryan, Anthony Mazza, and Callison himself, the single is a dynamic fusion of sounds that incorporates inspirations from blues rock, theatrical storytelling, and fast-paced rap verse. The unapologetic revenge track introduces Juanita as the feuding lover of the protagonist, who despite his vengeful promise to outshine her music career, is still the object of his obsession. A big band symphony of horns rages beneath Callison's alchemical control of rhyme and diction, spitting lines alongside wild piano (played by Callison) and fuzzy electric guitar.

The Los Angeles-based musician, voice actor, and actor is known for his work as the voice of "Steven" on Cartoon Network's hit show Steven Universe, his on camera acting as villain Chuck for Amazon Studios' Just Add Magic as well as guest appearances on ABC's The Goldbergs and CBS's NCIS: Los Angeles. Music has always been a huge influence— as a kid he watched his father play rock music in the blues bars of St. Louis— an experience that lives on in the sounds he creates today. He's been featured on a number of soundtracks including the Emmy-winning Sofia the First and Steven Universe Soundtrack: Volume One, the latter of which hit the number one spot on the iTunes charts. No stranger to the stage, he's performed in massive musical theater productions at the St. Louis Muny Theater and cover bands throughout venues in Los Angeles, eventually shifting his focus to songwriting.

The sound born from his unique background is a surprising mix of rock hooks, energetic theatrical instrumentation, and hip-hop rhyme schemes that already has his fans excited for the full record. On " War!," Callison presents a preview into the storytelling experience he's crafted throughout his debut EP, "A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak," due out later this year.

INTERVIEW

What did you listen to growing up?

Nothing but rock until I was ten or so, that was my dad's influence for sure. He showed me a lot of old and new...Beatles, Zeppelin, Styx as well as early 2000s Maroon 5, Linkin Park and Incubus. To this day all these acts remain favorites, and have made their mark on my music.

How did you start writing music?

I putzed around and wrote a couple little things around twelve or thirteen; one was a nice Christmas song for my grandmother, the other a political rock song about overthrowing dictatorships with my old band. Between those two set I was pretty much set for a while. I only started seriously writing music a few years ago when I broke ground on this EP. I didn't intend to do a record from the beginning...it was more of a personal side project that I took up after I finished a couple songs at home on my piano. Nowadays I'm constantly writing, almost daily.

How did you start voice over acting?

By accident, really. I came to LA for on-camera acting, as the market back in St. Louis was pretty small. At a certain point, my agents started submitting me for cartoon auditions...it had never really occurred to my and my parents that voice acting was something I could pursue. When I was eleven, I booked a radio show called Adventures in Odyssey that ended up being a five-year gig; I got to do a bunch of ensemble records with incredible veteran voice actors like Jim Cummings, Jess Harnell and Will Ryan. It was an invaluable learning experience, and it set me up for work in a field that I didn't even know I could be in.

How are the two different outlets unique for you?

I think the biggest difference is that in my acting, I'm constantly switching gears and playing different parts all the time because I'm a hired gun on all these different projects, and new auditions are coming in every week. On the flip side, my music is all self-made and entrepreneurial as that's the nature of the business. Both outlets have elements of the other, but I'm really enjoying being able to have both in my career at the moment; every month is wildly different and that keeps me engaged.

What inspired "War!"?

A girl I used to know, that isn't actually named "Juanita" like I scream in the song. We didn't part on good terms, and there was a lot of shade being thrown from her and her friends...I wrote "War!" to clap back where I knew it hurt. She's a singer, and has been working on the same album since long before we ever got together; this song is me dropping into the music scene with a loud message by asking her where she's been all this time. I wanted something very theatrical and soaked in flair to punctuate that question, and that's where the grandiose feel of the track comes from.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

So far, the biggest challenge has been growing up normally and figuring out who I am while working on building my career. I was homeschooled from fourth grade to the end of high school, and always had major work responsibilities from the time that I was ten. Everything awkward about growing up is magnified when it's under the lens of Hollywood; acne becomes much scarier when you have an audition the next day, and your voice dropping two octaves can be the worst thing that's ever happened when you're banking on playing eight year olds in cartoons. This was reality for me and all my friends that came up together. Nowadays, we're trying to find time to have our crazy college years and go see the world while also grinding out as much of a climb as we can here in LA. I'll never regret coming out west to do what I do, but it definitely gives as much as it takes away.

What has given you the most fulfillment from your experience in the business?

There's so many things...the industry has given me so much so early in my life, and I love being able to be entrepreneurial at my own pace. I love being able to make my own projects now, like this record. I think the biggest reward, though, has been the circle of people I came up with that are just now getting into adulthood after years of child acting and performing. We're a unique and quirky group of kids, and we all understand each other very well because few others can relate to our upbringing and circumstances. Most of us are born creatives and have stayed in the field somehow; once we were all just actors, and now I'm surrounded by writers, musicians, composers, cinematographers, and producers. They're all extraordinary somehow, and for that I'm very grateful.

What's next?

I'm taking off to Canada when I finish the record, just for fun this time. Then, I'm releasing the album, finishing some new video content, recording for some new cartoons, going on tour eventually, and getting the brakes in my car fixed. They're squeaky.

Follow Zach Callison on Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


Dan Victor is editor of Popdust and producer of Popdust Presents. He is also a music producer, bassist for Low Profile (live hip hop) & The Coldpress (indie rap) and front-man for Ductape Halo (indie rock). Follow on Youtube.


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