• Spotted!

    Spotted: REW<< - Sonoran

    Today I’m introducing you to the latest release by American composer Ryan Weber (REW<<), born in the upper mid-west, but now located in Washington DC. You can find previous posts about Ryan here!

    The track Sonoran was released as a single, but will also be featured on the upcoming EP Kuruvungna.

    Tell us something about your track Sonoran!
    I was in California dodging the winter for a few weeks last year and sketching out these tracks. The name of the EP in the Tongva language means “a place where we are in the sun.” I learned about this as there’s a spring not far from a friend’s house named this, so I thought it was a great title and word that captured how I felt writing the pieces. 

    Thank you again for the music Ryan!

    For more information and updates, please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Stories

    Spotted: REW<< - Salix Amygdaloides

    A while back I introduced you to the track Swimming with Kawatora by Ryan E Weber (REW). Ryan its from Lake Michigan, USA. After being part of different musical projects in different styles, REW<< is now heading in another musical direction focusing on the neo classical piano genre.

    Tell us something about this latest release of yours!
    Following on from my 2018 EP Conversation ArctiqueSalix Babylonica is another series of neoclassical miniatures which I have the great fortune of releasing with the always outstanding label Hidden Shoal. Each of the five tracks is centered around the piano, with the spaces around each note coloured with strings and synth. The full release will happen May 14th and the single and video for Salix Amygdaloides is out now.

    Tell us something about your track Salix Amygdaloides!
    So I had this weeping willow tree in my backyard growing up. It was fun to swing and play on, but I was horribly allergic to it and would break out with rashes any where I touched it, so I’d have to avoid it. Sometimes, however, despite knowing I’d be in for problems, the allure was too great and to have a swing or climb on it. I was thinking about this and that melancholy funny looking tree when working on the EP Salix Babylonica (which is the scientific name for the weeping willow), so I explored and researched it and took pieces of its history and science related to inspire the songs. 

    Thank your for this Ryan! I was about to ask you about the title, but you gave me that answer without me asking about it. Nice 🙂

    For more information and updates, please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: REW<< - Swimming with Kawatora

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer REW<< (which is the initials for Ryan E. Weber). I guess Swimming with Kawatora would be considered a single, since it’s only two songs. But to me, and maybe even to Ryan, this is just a really short EP

    Rather than force a disjointed EP I thought it’d be fun to just release them together

    Tell us a bit about yourself Ryan!
    I originally hail from the snowy western shores of Lake Michigan. My musical pedigree includes roles in indie bands: Camden, The Promise Ring, and Decibully, and I am also one half of the dream-pop duo Eric & Magill in which I sing. Working on various releases while living in both Kenya and Armenia, I had the great fortune of collaborating with a host of notable contemporary indie artists as well as an array of local musicians. These days, when I’m writing and producing music, I can be frequently found drifting through subterranean tunnels under and around the US capital. 

    Tell us something about your release Swimming with Kawatora!
    So I took inspiration from some Japanese folk-lore for these tracks. The Kawatora or “River Tiger” is an amphibious Yokai or imp often depicted with webbed feet and a turtle shell. They like to eat cucumbers and engage in Sumo wrestling. Their habits were fascinating to me, so I was compelled to write a piece fo music I thought might capture these traits. Then, apparently an ancient Zelkova Tree in the Autumn of 1817 was struck by lightening revealing a chamber inside where mythical creatures governed themselves and created their laws, like a parliament. This seemed like an important event for which I should write a piece of music. Typically when I write collections of pieces they stem from some research I’m doing or something that fascinates me. 

    Thank you for sharing this with us Ryan!

    For more information, please check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Logan Nelson – Lost In Translation

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer and piano player Logan Nelson. Logan grew up in Kansas where he studied piano and viola and played in orchestras. He’s parents had a big collection of movie soundtracks which also became an interest of his; so much that writing music for movies became his job!

    The track Lost in translation is released as a single, but will also be featured on the album Lavender Echoes in January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Lost In Translation!
    When I was in the studio working on Lost in Translation, a lot of the string writing had already been deliberately composed in advance for the musicians, but a lot of the tracks elements came unintentionally though collaboration and experimentation. When working to produce out the track, I discovered a tiny toy piano in the corner of the studio (Lucy’s Meat Market). We dusted it off and mic’d it up – eventually improvising a lot of the plucky toy piano stuff that starts and ends the piece. Another unintentional moment of the process was the very end. I was originally hearing a sort of fade out at the piece’s conclusion, but mixer Nick Taylor ended up running with that and pulling the track deep into these nebulous reverbs that consumed the entire existence of the piece. That became one of my favorite moments on the track.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Logan!

  • Stories

    About the song: Lundellsgärdet

    This song was written and recorded during my Christmas vacation in Arvika 2018. I sat by my piano in my old room in the basement of my parents house, looking out over my old neighborhood. The neighborhood is called Lundellsgärdet, so this is my theme for my old neighborhood in Arvika where I grew up. 

    Right befor Christmas, I was listening a lot to Erik Slättbergs album Growth, and especially the song Tybblelund, so I guess you can say that the song is very inspired by that particular song with the time signature changing between 4/4 and 3/4, and has a rather jazzy feeling to it. 

    Enjoy!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – Equanimity

    Today I’m introducing you to Rob McAllisters new song Equanimity with his project Music Within. I have, of course, written about Rob and his music before, which you can find here! And there will also be a Behind the piano post about Music Within if you’re reading this close to when it was posted.

    Long story short; Rob is a Canadian composer who currently lives in Toronto. He started playing the piano when he was about four years old, and started making music about eight years ago.

    The song Equanimity is taken from the latest album by Music Within, which was released only two days ago (Friday the 8th of November). The album holds the same title as this tune.

    Tell us something about your song Equanimity!
    The string part that you hear in this track is a combination of violin played by my friend Drew Jurecka, and my electric guitar played with a violin bow! I had already been experimenting with the sound for another track (a collaboration with SØLYS called Aerial Dreams) and was enjoying the result it produced. I fed the guitar through my amp with a reverb pedal on it and bowed the part. Fun times!

    Thank you very much for this Rob!

    For more information, please click on the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Thomas Hewitt Jones

    I have previously written and forced you to listen to the fantastic music by British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. And now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into out knowledge about this man!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Dulwich, London and my family came from Gloucestershire. Many of my relations are still there and it feels like home, in some kind of way. I currently live in Bickley, near Bromley.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano and cello from when I was about 4 years old. I also play the organ and keyboards in general – and odd instruments which lie around my studio. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Many of my family are musicians, and so I grew up around it. There was also science in the family, but music won me over!

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been writing as long as I remember, and from a young age found myself interested in writing down and structuring my own music, as well as enjoying performing and communicating it to others. Without sounding overly pretentious, the ability of music to communicate that which words cannot is a lifetime’s fascination for me.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was given an old tape recorder with a microphone. I initially used it to record pretend ‘radio programmes’ as a kid, but quickly became interested in recording music which I had written. My school also had a printer and binding machine, so I started printing my own schoolboy music as well!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I love listening to all kinds of performers and pianists. The ones which really speak to me make whichever music they are playing incredibly fresh and appealing, as if it has just been written.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Playing Bach at the keyboard is something I do to relax, and I absolutely love it. His music is contrapuntal as well as just vertical, and so it is a feast for ears, eyes and brain.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Music would be boring if everyone wrote in diatonic harmony all the time. That said, our musical ancestors have evolved music to the point it is at, and so to compose music today without at least being aware of the basic rules of harmony and counterpoint is not only disrespectful but limiting. This is why I believe we need to deliberately break the rules in our own ways to achieve an individual style, rather than totally disregard them. In the 1960s and 1970s musical composition went as far as it can ever go away from any sense of order, and I personally feel that human emotion can now be expressed in all kinds of creative ways through music without totally throwing out what came before.

    How do you record your music?
    I usually record large orchestras in central London in studios designed for the task, and smaller projects and overdubs at my home studio. I do sometimes mix myself, but tend to get mastering done elsewhere as a separate pair of ears (of a mastering engineer you trust) can help a record.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I use them, but usually write away from the computer first and record as many live instruments as the budget allows, because writing music straight into a sequencer to make samples sound good can be extremely limiting.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Every human on this earth should have access to music as it helps us communicate – cavemen knew this! It has an untold number of benefits to people’s lives, despite governments’ unwillingness to allocate enough funding for a proper musical education which should be a birthright. 

     I would add that writing music is an obsessive, tiring, wonderful, addictive, intense, fulfilling occupation.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    God knows…I don’t think any creative really knows!

    Thank you very much for this interview Thomas!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Luke Duffy

    A while back, we listened to Luke Duffys tune Telltale signs together. Now it’s time to have a deeper conversation with Luke to learn more about the artist behind the song!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland, but have been living in Iceland for the last three years. Met a lovely Icelandic girl when I was in Dublin and I followed her to the icey North.

    Oh, Iceland! Have you learned the language yet?
    Yes, well, I’ve learned it enough to get by. I teach music in a school here and I use it everyday!

    Did your move to Iceland have an effect on your music making? I mean; many of the great ones comes from there.
    It did have an effect I suppose. I was already listening to a lot of Icelandic composers: Johann Johannson, Soley, Olafur Arnalds; so it was a soundworld I enjoyed. Although I don’t go out of my way to write programme music based on landscape or places, on some level everything is an influence and the natural beauty here is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing piano, or at least learning to play piano since I was around 5 years old. I can get away with a few chords on guitar and I was always an avid singer, but piano is my passion. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Well, I, like many children, was put into piano classes from a young age. It’s a bit of a gamble I suppose because I’ve seen young students who end up resenting their instrument because their parents forced them into it, but thankfully I was one of the fortunate ones who grew to love it. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    My interest in writing for piano didn’t come until I was half-way through my undergrad degree in Music Education. There was an option to try out composition and thanks to some encouraging teachers I ended up realising I had quite a liking for it. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It’s hard to pinpoint a particular moment, but the first year or so when I began exploring my own voice on the piano was a really interesting one. When you have spent a long time learning to play pieces from other composers, you’re really sponging up all of that influence. Although it sounds like the ultimate freedom, it can be a daunting task to sit at the piano and think about coming up with something ‘worthy’ of being written down or played. Getting past those insecurities is something I think every composer has to come to terms with. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Hmmm, that’s a tough one. The issue of putting music into these little genre boxes is a conversation in itself, but in terms of composers that use a lot of piano, there’s a long list. I’m a fan of Dustin O’Halloran; his own early piano releases are really beautiful and melodic. Craig Armstrong in a similar way has some very chorale-like pieces which I listen to now and again. They both walk that line between melodically-driven and more ambient soundscapes. My list of classical influences would be an essay in itself but to be honest. Iceland has a whole bunch of inspiring composers, both for piano and otherwise, so it’s a good creative atmosphere to be in. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Whatever I’m working on at the moment takes precedence, I can find it hard to juggle multiple things so often I’ll keep ironing out the same piece until I’m satisfied. But besides that, I’ll play through a lot of standard repertoire that I have picked up over the years if I need a relaxing evening: Schumann, Grieg, Mendelssohn, the Romantics. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I’d have to get back to you on this one. I would like to think it’s less about breaking rules necessarily, but at the same time when you take things to the extreme end of the bell curve you can learn a lot about your own music making. 

    How do you record your music?
    If it’s piano music, then I am happy recording myself. Otherwise you kind of have figure out your own way. Recording music for larger ensembles is not a cheap endeavour if you’re undertaking it alone, so I’d rather write music knowing it can be heard rather than writing for a massive orchestra without it having been commissioned.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I think they are a great tool to composers. I use sampled piano software called Pianoteq quite a bit, and although not perfect, I think it’s fun to have something that you can manipulate a lot easier than if you’re recording acoustically. That said, there’s no replacing the real thing. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Well just a definite thank you to you and other small independent bloggers for doing what you guys do. It’s a lot of work and often a lot of thankless work. 

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    I’ll have to ask them one by one, they must be floating in through one of these open windows. 

    Thank you very much for this Luke!

    For more information, check out any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Kirke – Meet Me at Sunrise

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Kirke Bech, or just Kirke! Kirke started playing guitar as a child, and went forward to making electronic music as a teenager.

    the piano was always something i used as a compositional and production tool, but i never considered myself a proper piano player, per se. but simply from writing so much music on the piano and listening to so much piano music, i’ve naturally gravitated towards the piano more and more in recent years. 

    The song Meet me at sunrise was released as a single on October the 15th of 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Meet me at sunrise!
    I was living in Berlin this summer, and the flat i was renting had a beautiful old, white upright piano in the living room. While my girlfriend would be writing at the desk, i would play the piano, mostly just as something to do to clear my head after spending hours making beats and producing songs. It was the last morning before i was to leave on a flight to Copenhagen, and i came upon this melody. Right away i knew it was something special so i started recording it. The chord sequence and ostinato came out basically as an improvisation. I had some of the other accompanying melodies in my head, and as soon as I got to Copenhagen i fleshed out the rest of the ideas. It feels lovely to have written this in my last few minutes in Berlin, sort of as a farewell to a city i love, and that i will return to soon.

    Thanks Kirke for telling your tale about Berlin!

    For more information, check out Kirke’s Spotify!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jacob LaValle

    A couple of months ago we all listened to Jacob LaValle and his tune Night walk. Today it’s time to get to know Jacob a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I live in Nashville, TN in the US, but I grew up in the state of Florida. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano since age 7, and am 31 now, so many more years on the piano than off. It often feels like an extension of my self. I do also play the guitar and drums some, but not on a professional level.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started playing music as a 2nd grader taking piano lessons, but I was always the student who never practiced what I was supposed to. My mom used to make me stay at the piano for 30 minutes every day, but we had a digital piano so I would wear headphones when practicing. I rarely practiced as I was supposed to, but would just messed around with the keys instead, basically trying to play songs I knew and liked. This is largely how I learned to write.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    A moment I realized I could make my own songs was one day when I was at that same keyboard, I think I was around 12 years old, and my first little two hand composition just kind of came out. Although I’ve never recorded it or written it down, I can still remember it to this day.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I’m really enjoying all the exploration that is going on taking from the influences of both classical and popular genres. Some of my favorites doing this today are Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran, Joep Beving, Alexandra Streliski among others. I think it’s an exciting time for piano music, there’s a lot of tasteful things being done that reach the modern listener in a deep but relatable way. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Usually when I sit down at the piano, I will usually have a few chords that I’ve been playing around with recently, which I’ll start with and just kind of see where the inspiration flows. It acts as a kind of springboard into playing and composing, but those chords are constantly being changed out for other ones. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Great question! I think any rules which stand in the way of the communication of a certain sought after feeling are the ones that need to be broken. I know that is a pretty philosophically approached answer, but I think it’s also how innovation in music happens. When the set of current rules, or toolbox, is lacking in it’s ability to communicate a feeling effectively, new things will begin to be created out of necessity.

    How do you record your music?
    I record my own music in my home studio on my Yamaha U3. It is acoustically treated and is able to produce the sound I desire for a softer upright tone. When I want a grand piano sound though, there are some great studios in Nashville that I like to rely on.  

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I think they are tools, just like anything else. They can be used well or they can be used poorly. That being said, there is an emotional component that I believe cannot be fully reproduced by samples, as you have the full dynamic between a human being, their instrument, and the music they’re playing coming together for full resonance of all those emotional subtleties that make music, music. It’s hard to top real musicians for emotional expression.

    And, as always the question my five year old son once asked me:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    Great question from your son! Well my belief is that we are all created in the image of God. So that makes us like him in certain ways, like creativity. I believe the songs I make are just small recreations of what God has already made. Small reflections of the beauties in his original design. That’s part of what makes it so much fun to create, I know I’m just a very small participant in these beauties that are much grander than myself. 

    Thank you Jacob for your answers! Now we know you a little better; as planned!

    For more information, check out these following sites:
    Instagram / Website / Spotify