• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Khyaam Haque

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I originally grew up in Northbrook, Illinois. However, I spent most of my childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico. I moved back to Illinois when I was fourteen years old and then moved to Chicago for college. Now I own a condo about a half-hour away from the city. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Realistically, about 5 years now – I always had some type of keyboard around when I was growing up but never had great coordination to play classical piano. When I started to feel more inspired by piano music, and started listening a lot of film music, I wanted to become a better pianist and it became my main instrument.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes, I originally was and am a guitar player. I have played guitar since I was 11 years old. When I was in high school and the early years of college, I was involved in a lot of metal bands and post-rock bands. During college I started to broaden my horizons to other styles of music. I started to make music with synthesizers, midi controllers, samples and beats. When that began, I was less interested in guitar and more interested in learning how to write music in different ways. There are so many tools to create music now, why not use them?

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I heard the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen. Simultaneously, I bought Daft Punk’s album “Discovery” at a local music store in Guadalajara. Queen and Daft Punk were the main reasons I wanted to start playing music. I asked my mom if I could start taking guitar lessons. Truth be told, I didn’t like taking lessons much and became self-taught later. I managed to stick with it after all these years.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I released my first piano album in 2016 called “Sonorous Laments for a Future Past” – I wrote most of the material for that in 2015. I wouldn’t say that anything I wrote prior to that would be considered piano music. It was the first time I ever wanted to create an album with piano as the main instrument.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I don’t recall a specific moment, but some of the first moments I realized I could make songs was when I got my first electric guitar. It was one of those off-brand, Stratocaster starter packs. In my old house in Guadalajara, we had a small building attached to our front gate that my sister and I called “the band room”. My sister started playing drums when I started playing guitar, and we wrote a few songs together and had our own band with a couple friends from private school. Looking back, I would consider them pop-punk songs or something along the lines of Blink-182 or AFI. We also covered “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. With practice, I got better at writing songs from that point on. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    The more you get into this piano genre, the more you realize that there are so many talented artists and composers out there. The fact they’ve gotten great exposure or not means absolutely nothing – the music is still just as good. It’s very hard to choose favorites after discovering that. 

    It definitely started with artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto. I loved the music I heard in the film “Babel” and always wondered, “Who wrote that?” After I figured out who he was, he became one of my favorite artists. 

    When I wanted to become a better pianist and write my own piano music, artists like Philip Glass, Nils Frahm, and Ólafur Arnalds were the first artists I gravitated toward, and will always be favorites. Jean-Michel Blais has been a favorite recently, too.

    I’ve also always been a huge fan of the music for video game series like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Silent Hill. Those games always had such beautiful piano music in them – I even went as far as buying the soundtracks for them when I was younger. To this day, I find a lot of inspiration in Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, and Akira Yamaoka’s compositions. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
    Not necessarily, but I do have a lot of ideas that never become songs. Those ideas ended up turning into warm-ups or things I play over and over again whenever I sit at a piano. I have a feeling someday they will become actual songs, every year a little bit more gets added to them. One would rarely, if ever, catch me playing someone else’s song, simply due to the fact I don’t know how to read sheet music. 

    How long is your shortest song? 
    My track “Hand in Hand” off my first album “Sonorous Laments for a Future Past” is only 58 seconds long. It’s actually the same melody as the track “We Were Infinite”, but more simple, shorter, and played an octave higher. I didn’t have the heart to take it off the album for some reason. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I wouldn’t say that I’ve found a specific rule that needs to be broken when making music. It truly depends on the song and if the rule being broken actually draws the listener’s attention to that moment in the song for the better. The best reason to break a rule in a track is that the song won’t be as good if you don’t break it. If any artist finds themselves in a position where breaking the rules is their best bet, embrace it.

    Where do all your songs come from?
    I believe it’s a mixture of music I’m inspired by, life experiences, and things I see in the world, art, and films. All these facets have some way of adding depth to my personal life. I could be doing anything, and the music I’m listening has the ability to make moments of my own life experiences more cinematic and memorable. Somewhere in that space is where the inspiration lives, and somewhere in that space is where a song is created. 

    Thank your the the talk Khyaam! Please check out these social links for more information:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Website

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Stefan Vereen – All I Have I Carry With Me

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Stefan Vereen from Berkeley, California. He has been playing the piano since he was three years old and has since then made music in different kind of genres;  folk music, blues, hip-hop and jazz.

    This is his very first piano single. Good job!

    Tell us something about your track All I Have I Carry with Me!
    All I Have I Carry with Me is a solo piano record representing the my contemplation of creative solitude. My solo piano work is an investigation of ‘self’ and the musical expression that follows is my focus. The title comes from my interest in antiquity, philosophy, and Latin. This song was composed in a somewhat spontaneous manner, late one evening, in solitude. 

    Thanks for the music Stefan!

    For more information, please check out the links below!
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Prof. Lacasse – Lost and Found

    Today I’m introducing you to Serge Lacasse (aka. Prof. Lacasse); a Canadian music producer, songwriter and musician. In addition to having accumulated a catalogue of instrumental and vocal pieces of music (e.g. for museum exhibitions, advertising, etc.), he has collaborated as producer/songwriter/musician with artists signed to majors and national labels in Canada.

    Prof. Lacasse is a multi-instrumentalist: not only does he play the piano, but he is also an accomplished drummer and guitarist. He has been writing piano music since his early teens but only recently decided to propose it to the world. His first piano solo album, entitled Piano Evocations, features 13 intimate pieces exploring a variety of emotions in the post-classical style. The track Lost and Found is taken from this album.

    Tell us something about your track Lost and Found!
    This track was inspired by Olafur Arnald’s piano music. Actually, I wanted to be able to compose a melody that would be as touching as some of his music, for example “Saman”. I don’t know if I attain my goal (LOL), but I’m very happy with the results. Something else about this pice: I’ve produced a video of it that you can see here.

    There’s an anecdote about another piece of the album, “Debussy” (composed when I was 16: I’m now 56), that I’m recounting in the video above.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Serge! For more information, please check out the links below.
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jordane Tumarinson – réminiscence

    Today I’m introducing you to French composer and pianist Jordane Tumarinson and the song Réminiscence taken from the album L’envol. Jordane has been playing piano since he was 19 years old, and has gotten most of his piano skills “by ear”.

    Jordane was one of the artists featured on the Minimal Piano series 2 by Blue Spiral Record, and Blue Spiral is the record company behind this album as well.

    Tell us something about your track réminiscence!
    “reminiscence” is part of the album “l’envol” which is a quest for meaning. From introspection to action, it is a call to the realization of his dreams.
    “Reminiscence” evoques something abstract that sometimes come to us 
    like a perfume, an feeling, an image and that can leave some nostalgia which can be an inspiration.

    Thank you Jordane for this wonderful track!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Kevin Stahl – Everlasting peace

    Today I’m introducing you to American film composer Kevin Stahl based in Philadelphia. He usually makes music for movies and video games.

    Like many others, Kevin has a lot of unreleased material laying around. And like many others Kevein goes through this old material every now and then.

    After re-discovering all these tracks, I realized that many of them contained a common thread and would work nicely together as an album.

    I hear you Kevin.

    Tell us something about your track Everlasting peace!
    Everlasting Peace is the calmest and most serene track on the album. It is a Thomas Newman-inspired track that, upon hearing it for the first time, Denis DiBlasio struggled with what to play. In a single take with no edits, he recorded the most beautiful melody line that became a cornerstone to entire Circadian Rhythms album.

    Tell us something about your album Circadian Rhythms!
    When the world-renowned jazz musician, Denis DiBlasio, expressed interest in collaborating on an album, I began work re-composing, re-orchestrating, and recording these tracks. In the most un-intuitive fashion, Denis came in about halfway through the composing process and laid down improvised solos and melody lines on top of the incomplete works-in-progress. He played a variety of instruments including the rare and hauntingly beautiful bass flute. With his parts laid down, I finished composing and orchestrating “around” his parts. And, in the end, Denis’ solo lines, the orchestrations, and the rhythm section met in the middle and came together to form the album Circadian Rhythms – an eclectic jazz / classical crossover album, featuring lush orchestrations, subtle grooves, and virtuosic solos.

    Thank you for this album Kevin! Truly wonderful music!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Javi Lobe – Infinity

    Today I’m introducing you to Spanish composer and pianist Javi Lobe from Zaragoza, Spain. Javi has always been a musician, and the interest just keeps getting bigger. He got his first piano lesson from his older sister and then went on to study piano at the Conservatory. He doesn’t just make piano music, but also makes arrangements for strings.

    This song, Infinity, is released as a single and a part of Piano Storys; a series of songs; another song every other week. The full album is released in June of 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Infinity!
    The point behind Infinity was to get a simple work at an easy pace, however with a special, haunting sonority. This is done by means of a set of chords chosen thoroughly in order to build up an atmosphere that will carry you away; your mind will go blank and you will have a vacant stare, staring into infinity.

    Thank your for this wonderful piece of music, Javi!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jacob Pavek – NOME

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Jacob Pavek and his latest album NOME. Jakob lives in Minnesota and mainly composes for piano and strings, and has a pretty big collection of pianos (11 pianos is a lot, isn’t it?).

    The album NOME was released earlier this year.

    Hi Jacob! Tell us something about the album!
    After my previous album Illume, I was involved in a number of various music projects that occupied most of my time. I wasn’t focusing on writing an album until I had the opportunity to open for Johann Johannsson, where I realized I should have some better pieces to play at the show. In particular, the track Love/Marriage came from this catalyst. I ended up writing about 15 pieces over the course of a year and whittled it down to 8 for the album. I performed the piano on the same Steinway I used on the last records, located at the University of Wisconsin. However, I did something a little different on this one by sampling my wife Katy and my best friend Travis’ vocals and including them. I had them sing each note of a scale in the largest range they could and ended up using them to help texturize the music. You can hear Travis on 2040 and Katy on Pulse.

    Tell us something about one of the tracks from the album!
    I wrote NOME about 3 years ago, kind of by accident. I was brushing my teeth getting ready to go to bed and I walked by the piano, laid my right hand down and played that beginning theme. I stayed up and wrote the chord progression and knew it would be perfect with strings. I wrote the parts for violin and viola, performed by Joshua Misner. As the origin of this piece was mainly from the sub-conscious (or just luck), I focused on keeping it void of any particular subject matter so that the listener is free of bias and can feel whatever they want from it. The title NOME itself is purely for aesthetics.

    Thank you for this wonderful record Jacob!

    Please check out these following links for more information:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jon Winterstein

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Germany, and I currently live in the far southwest of the country in a town called Freiburg.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I played my first notes at the age of ten or so, but never really got into it at that time and chose the guitar instead. Two years ago, I gave the piano another chance and realized how much I actually enjoyed playing it.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing guitar for close to fifteen years now, and occasionally I do some singing as well. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I don’t really remember, to be honest. It just happened. I recall being part of a school band, as a lead guitarist, and we covered Green Day, The Offspring and suchlike. I guess, once you succumb to the fascination of making music, there is no going back. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started composing my own piano pieces as soon as I was able to play some chords.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I must have been fifteen or sixteen then. It was a feeling beyond description, refreshing, liberating and redeeming. The songs were horrible, of course, but it makes you incredibly proud to know you have created something that just hadn’t existed before.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Well, obviously there’s no way I cannot mention the classical masters, particularly Grieg, Debussy and also Erik Satie. Aside from them, I enjoy listening to a lot of modern artists, for example Jon Hopkins, Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. Just recently, I discovered a guy called Elliot Ziegler, who writes amazing piano music.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
    I love playing the piano part of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Timeless classic.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?Anything else you want to share? 
    There is only one rule: If it sounds good, it’s good. Everything else can be ignored.

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

    If I could answer this question, I would likely be able to write tons of songs every day – which is not the case. I feel like one half of the song is in the artist and the other half is in the instrument, and it takes the right time, the right attitude and maybe the right person to combine both halves and complete a song.

    Thank you for sharing Jon! Please check out these links to learn more about Jon and the music!
    Instagram / Spotify


  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Felix Martinz – Sunne

    Today I’m introducing you to Swedish composer and piano player Felix Martinz. Felix lives in Stockholm and mainly makes music for film, games and commercials but also plays (jazz) vibraphone.

    I was pretty happy when I got sent this song, since Sunne is a town not far from my own hometown of Arvika in Värmland, Sweden. It made me think of home just by reading the title. I was even happier when the song was great!

    This track is released as a single and there are more singles coming (the next one will probably be out when this is posted).

    Tell us something about your track Sunne!
    The track was recorded in my living room on my black Yamaha Upright piano. It was just the time when many great memories from the Swedish town Sunne were surfacing, a place I have visited many times. The quiet large forests, the lake Fryken… The area is very beautiful and I tried my best to paint it in music.

    Thank you Felix. for this wonderful song!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Heim – Motif

    Today I’m introducing you to Swedish composer Jonas Anderson, who release music using the name Heim. Heim means Home in the north of Sweden.

    Heim is my refuge for meditative piano with a cinematic touch along with a true love for the vast cold landscapes of northern Sweden.

    This is his debut on Spotify, but he has been making music for many years, mostly for his own pleasure. There’s more singles coming; one every month. So keep a look out for more Heim-music in the near future! 

    Tell us something about your track Motif!
    The idea came to me one day from out of the blue when I wasn’t around my piano, so I sang the rough progression, recorded it on my phone and hoped I would still understand what I was doing when I came back to my studio. Luckily I did! As Motif is my first track I wanted it to sum up everything that is Heim so that the listeners now what can be expected from me in the future.

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