Yet another track from one of my favorite composers, producers and sound makers! I’m of course talking about Richard Labrooy! Richard comes from Australia and lives in Melbourne, and you can read about (and listen to) a lot more of his songs here!
The track Imperfections is released as a single and came out on the 27th of September, 2020.
Thanks again Richard for writing music!
Today I’m presenting you to the latest track by the Australian musician, producer and piano player Richard LaBrooy. Richard was one of the first people who reached out to me to be featured on the blog, and we have also managed to make a track together a while back. If you want to know everything about Richard and his music, I suggest you check out this Behind the piano post!
The track The witch was released as a single on august 22nd of 2020.
Tell us something about the track The Witch!
Writing The Witch has been incredibly fun for me. What I ended up writing was fairly different to my previous releases, but I think what I took from it was another step in unexplored territory for myself. The piece plays with a duality between bittersweet innocence, and that of a darker and somewhat fantastical persona. Production seems to be playing a larger role in the neoclassical genre, and that’s exciting for me. Some purists tend to stick to the solo piano, and I there’s definitely a place for that. But the blending of organics and machine is often the source of inspiration for me, and The Witch was definitely another step in that direction.
Thanks for this buddy!
Today I’m presenting you to the first song taken from the collaboration EP With which was released last Friday. This tune is made by me and the Australian composer and musical magician Richard Labrooy!
I remember how this song started out clearly. I was sitting by the piano in a house in Falsterbo, Sweden and playing some nice chords. One of my sons improvised a melody and sang to it, and that’s how I found out how musically talented my oldest son is! Of course I didn’t remember or use any of what my son sang, but I recorded the chords and sent them to Australia. After a couple of weeks I got this track back by Richard and I was ecstatic to hear what he had made out out these chord and short melodies!
So Richard, tell us something about the track from your point of view!
Well, I can definitely say that the collaboration with Johan was very much overdue. Having known each other for a while now, and being a huge fan of what Johan was doing for the industry, I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on a track.
I’m usually a little cautious when approaching a new collaborator, but Johan and I were very much on the same page. Basically, he sent me a couple of short ideas and snippets that he had been working on, and I knew exactly where I wanted to take it. I’m a very melodic writer, and I think what he started out with, very much complimented those tendencies.
I already had an idea for a string arrangement that I had been sitting on for a while, and I experimented with fusing it in with Johan’s ideas. It blended perfectly. Once I had the harmonic base I was looking for, I then played around with a little sound design. But the piece didn’t need too much. I like how simple it is, and it really didn’t take long to complete. Although that never stops me from overthinking it…
I very much enjoyed the process of playing with fragments of ideas and seeing how they play off each other, and fuse together. It’s very much like sampling. I think that’s one of the directions music is going, whether it’s hip hop, or neoclassical. There’s a real process in it. And I think that’s one of the best reasons for collaborations like this.
Nothing new here. Just another awesome single by Richard Labrooy which you all have met here, here and here. For those of you who doesn’t know him; Richard is an Australian composer of neoclassical/ambient music.
Tell us something about your track Blink!
Similar to Bloom, this was a reasonably organic sounding track. There are some subtle electronic elements, as well as being augmented by a chamber orchestra towards the end. But it’s essentially a piece of solo piano, which is where it began. I’m not sure how other pianists prefer to compose, but I find beginning at the piano can be rather boring, and can often lead to predictable and overused patterns. It’s a problem that commonly arises from muscle memory. Which is why I usually tend to approach sound design first, which to me, can inspire the piece to go somewhere I wouldn’t usually take it. But for “Blink”, I was getting back to basics, which was just two hands on ivory keys, and seeing how I could make it different.
Do you have more music coming soon?
“Blink” is another in a string of releases that I have coming in 2019. They all revolve around slightly similar themes, such as memory, nostalgia and a bittersweet optimism. However, I’ve been attempting to find different perspectives with each track. For “Blink” it was much more melancholic and subdued, especially in comparison to my previous work “Bloom”. It was a deliberate shift in tone. As is the shift for my next single!
Thank you for this Richard! Looking forward to hear more awesome music from you soon.
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m currently based in Melbourne, Australia.
How long have you been playing the piano?
I come from a fairly musical family, so my Dad being a jazz drummer got me started on the piano when I was five. To him, that was the instrument that he believed would give me the most range as a musician. I think he made the right call. Although, I’m constantly seeing more piano based and neoclassical acts, that have backgrounds coming from everywhere. From the bass to audio engineering. With the implementation of computer technology, I don’t think it matters what your musical background is anymore.
Do you play other instruments as well?
I can play a little guitar, but nothing to write home about. I’ve also dabled with the drums. Once I began to take music seriously though, I transitioned more towards learning the electronic side of things. Synthesis always fascinated me, as well as the intricate detail required in audio engineering. That said, learning multiple instruments, even to the most basic degree can have a profound effect on the way that you write. For me, guitar taught me different tunings and voicings. The drums taught me odd time signatures. It depends on what you want to get out of music, and how far you want to push yourself creatively.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
Like many kids, I took lessons until I was in my late teens, all the while joining and starting a few bands. As you can imagine, nothing came of them, but they did teach me how to collaborate, as opposed to sitting in the studio by myself. The more you collaborate, the more you realize how little you know. So it helps to learn from as many sources as possible, and never be guarded about your own shortcomings.
How long have you been making piano music?
On and off since I was around eleven. I remember writing a short waltz on manuscript paper and showing my teacher. He was actually the one who encouraged me to begin composing and eventually led to me applying for music school. At the time, I never expected to actually get into music professionally, but after writing music for a few short films, I was approached by my manager, and things snowballed from there. I think regardless of your industry, you should always follow whatever opportunities are offered to you.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I’m still not sure I’ve had that particular moment… I mean, listening to my own pieces is about as fun as listening to paint dry. But I think that goes for most artists. But to your question, I think I gained a bit more confidence once I learnt how to actually produce a track myself. How to mix and master it. I mean, that’s a superpower right there. Because you’re no longer reliant on others. You can do everything inside your own self absorbed little box. And while I would encourage musicians to collaborate as much as possible — how else do you learn? I think it’s important in the beginning to be able to release as much as possible, without waiting for others. Do it on your own terms. It’s a productivity thing.
What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
Where to start? I admire artists that blend and experiment with different ideas and sonic landscapes, and then they use the piano as an emotional hook. What Johann Johannsson was doing really epitomizes that in my opinion. His writing was incredibly melodic and delicate with his use of piano work and orchestra. But he always had another foot firmly planted in sound design, with these incredibly evocative landscapes.
Another composer that is rooted more in my upbringing is Ryuchi Sakamoto, for his use of jazz harmony. And of course; I don’t think any artist in this genre could avoid noting the fact that Max Richter and Olafur Arnalds have both moved mountains for the genre, reintroducing classical music to audiences that would otherwise have forgotten it. Also, while they’re not strictly piano, bands like Stars of the Lid, and A Winged Victory for the Sullen (both of which involve Adam Wiltzie) have really pushed the ambient and neoclassical genres. I’m also a huge fan of what Jeremy Soule is doing in the gaming world, with his blend of ambience and orchestra.
Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Johannsson’s ‘Flight From the City’ was an instant hit for me. I had to immediately sit down and figure it out. So it’s definitely a go-to these days. Also anything off of Richter’s ‘The Blue Notebooks’ which I listened to religiously while in music school. I’ve also got a soft spot for playing Zimmer’s ‘Where We’re Going’ from Interstellar.
What’s happening next? New releases etc. (remember this is gonna be posted the 28th of March).
I’ll be pushing out a fair few new releases out during 2019. I can say for certain that I haven’t written this much before, or so quickly. My music professors always told me I was a prolific composer, so I guess I’m now trying to live up to that.
I’d also like to attempt my first album later on down the line. Although that sounds like a much larger task. I’d only commit to it if it had a strong and grounded concept behind it. I do have a few ideas… But we’ll need to see which of those comes out on top. I think the hardest part of being an artist is choosing which of the endless stream of ideas should actually be pursued.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think the only rules that should be broken are those restricting innovation. Especially towards purists who put up their nose at artists who root their ‘classical’ music in electronic genres. And I do think it’s grown a lot better in the last few years, but there’s always room. Many people still discount computer technology as a musical instrument. But if you look at a piano or a violin, aren’t they still technology, just of another time?
Anything else you want to share?
I’m amazed by the new resurgence of classical music, which we’re now calling neoclassical. It’s giving way to some amazingly talented artists blending ambient, cinematic and electronic genres, and I think it’s thanks to bloggers, and promoters like you, that it’s happening. I believe there’s going to be a significant shift in music as a whole over the next ten to twenty years. The ambient, chill and atmospheric waves are giving music a chance to breathe. And I think the neoclassical niche is a part of that.
Thank you so much for sharing Richard! I’m glad that someone else mention Flight from the city as a big inspiration. That was the first song I heard by Johann Johannsson as well, and it really got me going too!
For regular readers, Richard LaBrooy is nothing new. He constantly releases ner music, and you can read about his previous single here! Richard is a musician and composer from Melbourne, Australia. This is one of many singles coming our way this year, and what I think is different with this one is that the song is pretty happy. When I first heard it, I even called it “a bit silly”. Most music I present to you here is either laid back or at least quiet.
But on this one Richard didn’t hold back!
Tell us something about Bloom!
I’ve found that Bloom has been my most simplistic piece to date, both texturally and compositionally. To be honest, I hesitated for a while on releasing it, as I didn’t think it would stand up to the more complex pieces I hear out there. But I think that it’s simplicity is what makes the piece what it is.
In terms of how it was written and produced, I always write my piano parts first. The very first nugget of an idea formed was that opening rhythmic arpeggiated pattern. Something about it just sounded prettier than my usual melodies, and I was curious where it would go. I liked that it didn’t sound like me.
A lot of the soundscapes and beds you hear underneath the piano are from recordings I have taken, as well as patches that I’ve programmed into various synths. But most of the organic instruments you hear are virtual instruments.
One day I’d love to record a live chamber orchestra, but right now, due to workflow and money, it’s a little difficult. I also think being reliant on players can hinder your output, so right now where I’m at, I actually prefer to use virtual instruments. However, I do get great joy out of manipulating sound sources and sound design. I think it’s my favourite part of writing and producing a track. One reviewer told me that ‘Bloom’ sounded like ‘Springtime’. So take that for what it’s worth.
Thank you for sharing this music with us Richard!
Today I’m gonna introduce you to one of my biggest fans! Eh, well. Not really. But Richard have been sending me songs for a couple of months, and I always enjoy hearing them! A couple of them have been featured on my Sleepy songs by others playlist (but since I’m trying to keep it to one submission per artist there might be only one of them on there now). When he sent me Flicker it was no doubt I wanted to feature it here.
Short introduction! Richard LaBrooy is from the land down under, Melbourne to be more specific!
I’m simply trying to push some of the boundaries of the current neoclassical language.
Tell us something about your track Flicker!
Flicker revolved around the idea of static memory. I wanted to try and find harmonies and melodic fragments that evoked a sense of lonely optimism. I went through a barrage of ideas, finally landing on what I have now. There was something about those chords that felt distant, yet bittersweet. I eventually decided to augment it with chamber orchestra, which always helps to push the emotion. I’m not sure if it translated how I intended, but it was definitely fun to write and sat very close with me. I don’t really believe that an artist’s original intentions should matter in the end. I think that once a piece of music is heard by someone — from that moment on, it belongs to them. It’s theirs. It means whatever they want it to mean.
Will Flicker be featured on an album or EP soon?
This is a single, so it’s a stand-alone release. However, there is are a line up of tracks coming over the next few months all under a very similar theme. They’re the first string of releases that I’m actively releasing, so it’s an incredibly vulnerable and exciting time. If only a few people get a chance to listen to them and see something in them worth listening to again, I’d be happy.
Well. I’m listening! Thank you for sharing this wonderful track with us Richard!
Today it’s release day for the latest Sleepy Songs EP called With!
This is a collaboration EP I’ve made together with Anders Wiking, Richard LaBrooy, Rikard Mathisson, Erik Slättberg and Merrill Crissey.