• Stories

    About the song: We Won!

    This song is probably one of the happier ones I’ve written under the name Sleepy Songs. As you will see (read) in upcoming posts about the other tracks I will release the next few moth they have kind of a common theme. And the theme might be kind of strange… I wrote some of the songs during the Ice Hockey World Cup, and this particular song was written when Sweden played Norway. 

    I am from Sweden, as some of you might already know. And for those interested in the result I can only say this:

    We won!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: William Ogmundson

    I have spotted a couple of Williams piano tunes before; the touching story behind the song I will return being my favorite.

    Now its time to get to know William a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from rural New Hampshire, and still live there, in a little town called New London.  We’re part of New England (yes, everything is “New”) in the NorthEast corner of the U.S., north of New York City and south of Quebec, Canada.  Everything here is quite old, by American standards-many houses date back to colonial times and every village has a center with a town hall, a library and a white congregational church.  There are lots of lakes and trees and is rather cold most of the year.  

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano since I was three and started lessons at age five.  I play other instruments badly.  I got a guitar for $35 at a flea market recently and I’m determined to learn to play it properly.  I played a shruti box (a middle eastern drone) when I was recording my latest album “La Vie en Couleurs”, and I’ve also played hammond organ, marimba, orchestra bells and the wine glasses for other recordings.  

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started picking out Icelandic (my dad’s family is from there) folk songs on the piano when I was maybe three. “A Sprengisandi” I think was the first song I learned by ear-it’s about herding sheep and watching out for elves.  I guess everyone starts somewhere, right?  Not a bad song actually.  

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Hmmm…well, I recorded my first album in 2006, but I didn’t take it seriously until about a year and a half ago, after I went to a Piano Whisperings event in Seattle and got inspired.  I was still a full time musician before that, but mostly focused on other things.  I wrote quite a bit of musical theater, taught some lessons, music directed at a church and performed locally.  

    Something clicked though when I went to the Whisperings event.  Maybe it was looking around and realizing how happy and fulfilled all the people there were, and thinking, “Wow!  I think this is what I’m meant to be doing.”  So I kicked it into high gear-I recorded three full-length albums and four singles in a year’s time and here I am now. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I used to play in pit bands and would entertain the other musicians by messing with the music, especially if I didn’t particularly like it. I think I played the whole score of Annie as a cha cha cha once-it was a big improvement! And you can ruin any song by making it a stripper number, with big octaves in the base and heavy triplets.  Hahahaha  At some point though someone suggested to me that maybe instead of making a mockery of other people’s music, my time might be better spent creating my own.  

    I wrote a lot of bad music-a whole show in fact before I wrote what I consider to be my first good song, “Dance of the Fairies”.  It was written to be sung during the Shakespeare play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  I still remember the ecstatic feeling I got hearing it performed on stage and thinking, “Hey, this is really good!  I could get used to this.”.  

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    So many….Greg Maroney stands out.  Rachel Lafond is quite good, I don’t know-there are so many good ones-it gets daunting when one thinks about it too much.  

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    A few.  “Someone Else’s Story” from Chess is one.  “Hold On” by Sarah McGlaughlin.  Someone about the chord patterns and melody of those two just gets me every time.  

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Parallel fifths and octaves for sure!  Are there any other rules?  I never took composition so I was spared having to learn a long list of “thou shalt nots” for a budding composer.  

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I use a studio.  For my last two albums I’ve gone down to Pennsylvania to record with my friend Greg Maroney.  I love going to the studio-it’s like being a little kid in a candy store.  I almost always discover some instrument that I decide, spur of the moment, just has to go on my recording.  

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    A qualified “like”.  I was hired to write songs and background music for a half hour TV show a couple years ago, and for the most part they liked what I did.  They sent back one of the background pieces I had written though, and asked if I could write something that sounded as if it had been put together on garage band.  So I basically sewed together what I considered a horrible Frankenstein of a song (I actually called it the Frankensong) using sampled sounds and beats on garage band, and of course the TV people loved it!  

    To this day I’m not sure what to make of it, honestly.  Sampling brings the ability to compose to the masses I suppose, or at least gives them that illusion, but there will always be a place for real sounds created by real people.  

    Anything else you want to share? 
    We’re all on a musical odyssey.  I just want to keep traveling and creating as long as I can.  I’m so very fortunate that  I get to do something I love all day, every day. 

    And the last question from my five year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    Everything I do, every conversation, every book or movie that I absorb, everything gets taken in and influences the next composition somehow.  I like to give myself parameters when writing.  Stephen Sondheim said it very well, and I paraphrase.  “If someone asks me to write a song about a guy that’s sad, I freeze up.  But if someone says to write a song about a white poodle wearing a pink hat, that’s easy.”  We’re all intimidated by a blank canvas.  I drew notes out of a hat to form the melody of “Pharaoh’s Horses”.  Sometimes I read poetry and recite it to get a rhythm, and then the melody springs out of that.  Or it could be a horn honking, or a dog barking, or the way a dragonfly’s wings sparkle in the sun.  Inspiration is everywhere you look.  

    Thank you for this talk William!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: centrl – Hyacinths

    Today I’m introducing you to Canadian composer Gennadiy Rakov from Toronto. Gennadiy recently released the debut album Oceans where this track can be found among other songs of different genres; mostly electric and melancholy music.

    The (artist) name was inspired by a song of one of my favourite artists John Frusciante. His lyrics “I’m central to nowhere” have a liberating effect in their own way – we might think that we’re the centre of the universe, but we’re all just floating somewhere in space.  I think once you detach yourself from that feeling of importance, it’s easier to create.

    Tell us something about your track Hyacinths!
    The track Hyacinths came about spontaneously when I was recovering from an illness and I wasn’t able to leave my house for a couple of weeks. That day I was working on a guitar track that wasn’t quite shaping up to be what I wanted. Somewhat frustrated at the end of the day, I sat behind my keyboard and Hyacinths just came out organically. All the piano parts were recorded in 1 or 2 takes (which is far from what normally happens when I’m trying to record). It felt like I was just there to record the music rather than to actually compose it.

    Thank you for sharing with us!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Martin Brice – Monterey’s Coast

    Today I’m introducing you to Martin Brice, an American composer from, and currently based in, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Martin Brice’s real name in Sean Hannan, and Martin Brice is what he calls himself for his solo piano project. A fun fact about is that both the artists name and the titles of the songs is taken from the movie Sneakers from 1992.

    The song Monterey’s Coast is released as a single and came out in the beginning of august 2019.

    Tell us something about your song Monterey’s Coast!
    The first few tracks I had written for this project were major key, positive vibes piano pieces, and I wanted to switch it up and write something a little more melancholy. Adding to that moodiness, I refrained from smoothly flowing arpeggios and opted for more of a push/pull rhythm which lends to the track a certain tension. As it was coming together, I kept picturing this large musty attic with shafts of light breaking through missing slate tiles, so I leaned into that atmosphere on the production side with a more percussive piano tone and spacious reverbs.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Martin/Sean!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Ragnar H – Musical Dream

    Today I’m introducing you to Estonian composer and piano player Ragnar Häide. Ragnar is not only a contemporary classical composer, but also plays in the Estonian pop-rock band Maria Stuart.

    Musical Dream is his first piano track, and that one was released as a single on July 24th.

    Tell us something about your track Musical Dream!
    Musical Dream is a story about my musical journey. Road has been difficult and bumpy, but I still keep dreaming, that someday people will hear my music.

    Thank you for this Ragnar!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Biba Dupont – 6 Bullets

    For recent visitors of the blog Biba Dupont is nothing new. The spanish duo (consisting of Helga Blanco & Xalo Gayoso) is very productive and releases new music all the time. So far, everything sounds so wonderful so it’s hard to decline them a spot here.

    The song 6 Bullets was released as a single mid July 2019.

    Tell us something about the song 6 Bullets!
    This song is inspired on a Mircea Cartarescu’s tale, (Ruletistul). We tried to mix the timbre of the piano with electronics and soft processed acoustic voices, resulting in an ethereal and dreamer track. This song is one of the latest singles of our upcoming album, with will go live mid-summer. 

    Thank you again Biba Dupont for sending me these wonderful piano tunes!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Christopher Colaço

    A while back I wrote about the piece The brightest point of light by Christopher Colaço & Philipp Schaeper. I had a talk with the pianist of the duo. Here it is!

    What´s your name?
    Christopher Colaço

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Bavaria in southern Germany, where life is good and easy and now living in Berlin since 10 years.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I´m playing the piano since I was 5 years old and I sometimes play the clarinet, which I started quite the same age, but I had to focus on one instrument. That’s what my piano teacher told me back in the days.

    Tell us about how you started playing music?
    I basically started with straight forward piano lessons in my village and quite quickly got into a music based college, where I had the opportunity to meet a lot of like minded people. My teacher there, was a Jazz enthusiast and that’s how my love for Jazz music started. Therefore I founded some local jazz bands but even reached my hand out to funk and reggae music. I decided to dedicate my life to music and applied for music studies at the university of arts in Berlin. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since the age of 5 where I started playing. By the end of my jazz studies I focused more on neo-classical piano tunes combined with strings.

    Tell us something about the moment you realized that you could make songs yourself!
    It was pretty romantic, haha. At the age of 16 I composed some piano pieces for a girl to like me, which worked out pretty well 🙂

    What are you favorite piano artists in this piano genre?
    Of course I’m influenced by the great jazz masters like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly but as well as modern classical piano pianists such as Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds and all these beautiful players out there.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Usually Chopin brings me in the mood.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    What, are there any rules?

    How do you record your music?
    I have a basic setup to catch some ideas in my home studio. When it comes to music production I choose one of the great studios Berlin has to offer.

    What´s your take on sampled instruments?
    I think there is a hugh variety out there which sound beautiful, but I think mixing them with real instruments is the way to do it.

    And the last question from my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    Your son seems to be a philosopher. If I only could answer this question!

    Thank you very much for this Christopher!

    For more information about Christopher and the music he makes (together with Philipp Schaeper) please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Edward Delsing – Suncatcher

    Today I’m introducing you to Canadian composer and piano player Edward Delsing. When he was young, his parents bought him a piano, which quickly became his favorite thing in the world. Edward has written many styles of music, but his current focus is on writing instrumental contemporary classical music. 

    As a child, I developed a love of nature from spending a lot of time on farms and playing in fields, lakes and forests with friends in rural Canada. When I’m composing, I find myself inspired frequently by memories of outdoor scenes. Listeners often say my compositions conjure various natural scenes in their mind’s eye – places they have either been to or have seen in movies.

    Suncatcher is the title track of Edwards debut album which was released in July 2019.

    Tell us about your track Suncatcher!
    As I composed the music for Suncatcher, I held an image of my beloved grandparents and great grandparents in mind. I never got to know them well because they had all passed away by the time I was little, but their memory has been preserved through photographs. The “Suncatcher” track and the album as a whole represent a nostalgic reflection on people and places that are dear to us. I hope that listeners will find themselves on a soothing and relaxing journey of spirit and mind throughout these 14 tracks, one that allows them to rediscover some forgotten memories and experience a range of positive and heartwarming emotions.

    Thank you for sharing with us Edward!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Hugar – Logn

    Isn’t the internet and it’s algorithms fantastic? And also a bit scary… The day after I got sent Hugar’s latest song Logn, they magically appeared on my facebook wall. Apparently there’re coming to Sweden (Stockholm) to perform in September. I won’t be able to go, but maybe you are?

    Oh well!

    Hugar is an Icelandig duo consisting of Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson from Seltjarnarnes (just northwest of Reykjavík). They formed a band after meeting in a friends recording studio, where they recorded their debut album, namned Hugar.

    The song Logn was released as a “double single” on the 19th of July, but will also be featured on the album Varða, which will be released on the 23rd of august.

    Guideposts adorn the path of every journey, no matter the distance. 

    Historically, such markers signaled progress for Icelandic travelers in the past. Given the country’s extended daylight, journeymen couldn’t rely on the stars, so they followed the Varða. Translated to “cairn” in English, these tiny rock towers heralded the way as the next cairn would always be visible from its predecessor.

    Similar to those piles of rocks, the songs are like small cairns on the album. It’s not about the destination though, but rather this never-ending journey, which the whole record represents.

    Tell us something about your song Logn!
    Recording at night in the summertime when it’s bright is an energy that doesn’t make sense. As a human being, you’re supposed to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. When the sun is out all day, you get this weird energy. You’re tired, but you want to keep going. Iceland is an anomaly in general. We have earthquakes, glaciers melting, and avalanches. It’s a ridiculous place to live for man. At the same time, it’s so beautiful that you can’t escape it. 

    Logn was composed in these circumstances similar to other songs on the album. Logn translates to calm in Engilsh.

    Thank you very much for sharing this with us! And too bad you’re not coming to Copenhagen (or Malmö for that matter). Next time!

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