SDCC 2016: A Roundtable With Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar And Estelle

Credit: Tumblr
Credit: Tumblr

The Steven Universe roundtables certainly proved to be enlightening. It was always interesting to see where the conversation would turn next.

Our table’s final interview was with Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar and Estelle, who voices Garnet. Estelle, in true Garnet fashion, was wearing the biggest sunglasses imaginable.

While the interview was a little more lowkey after the whirlwind of Deedee and Michaela, it was still very interesting and a nice note to end things on. It makes sense though since Garnet is kind of the chillest gem.

That is when Ruby and Sapphire are on the right terms.

Estelle doesn’t see much difference between Garnet and herself. In fact, she joked that she wondered how Rebecca knew her so well whenever she got the newest script. It seems Garnet reflects what Estelle has gone or is going through at various times in her life. It helps elevate her performances on the show. She loves that she can be a part of show that “normalizes us all”.

Relating to her gem is easy to Estelle, voicing Garnet though?

“Physically, it’s challenging. Because Garnet is a one vocal note person. It’s challenging to stay level when I’m used to be up and down.” Estelle said.

An interesting challenge was in “Keeping It Together” where Ruby and Sapphire, who fuse into Garnet, have a fight. Both Rebecca and Estelle found it an interesting and fun challenge performance wise and writing wise for the level character to not be so level.

“And I was like what does crazy and calm sound like?” Estelle said of the episode. “It’s almost like singing two different harmonies.”

Sugar talked about how Garnet’s gem placement reflects the character’s physicality, but also a sense of taking control. While Ruby actively does so, Sugar also sees Sapphire in taking control of things in a more passive sense. It’s another part of the balance that Ruby and Sapphire have with each other that works really well.

“They really make the most of this when they’re together, but that’s the nature of Garnet.” Sugar said.

The conversation slowly turned toward the music of the show of which Sugar writes the lion’s share. Sugar is a huge believer in the power of music, and that song can often times say things that can’t be express in just words. 

Sugar had absolutely always plan the show to be hugely musical. It was no accident that Steven was a son of a musician and a fighter. The writing of the songs and stories tend to be organic to each other. If Sugar feels like she needs to write a song, then it will end being a center of an episode. The bigger numbers are planned in advance and there is a lot of effort that goes into them.

“But that’s my favorite thing is when a song progress a character,” said Sugar.

Naturally, the conversation took a turn toward the truly excellent number “Stronger Than You”, which Estelle thinks is her favorite song. Sugar also has a lot of love for it as well.

But, seriously, doesn’t everyone?

Estelle was delightfully surprised by how excellent the rapping was in “Stronger Than You”. Estelle trusts Sugar to know what she’s doing as a songwriting and a creator of the show.

In the music world, other performers recognize and love Estelle’s work on it. It crosses all lines and, apparently, takes her friends awhile to realize that she is voicing Garnet. Musicians also go up to Estelle and tell her about how they would love to work on the show.

Which yes.

All the yes. I would love to see more musician Gem voices.

Steven Universe is airing new episodes through July and August on Cartoon Network. You can read our previous roundtable interviews here and here.

Bec Heim
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