• Spotted!

    Spotted: ABBOTT – First Steps

    Today I’m introducing you to the latest track First Steps by the dutch composer ABBOTT, which you can read more about here. Abbott lives and works in Hamburg, Germany and makes music for film and “commercial music”.

    The track First steps was released on the album Somnia on the 15th of may, 2020.

    Tell us something about your track First steps!
    Even though ‘First Steps’ is the second track of the album, it is the real beginning. It represents all the colors I’m using in terms of instrumentation and orchestration. The song is about the story of life. From our first steps to our last, how life picks you up slowly and carries us through. From first steps that are taken alone and first steps that are taken together. This all puts us through a melancholic narrative with a warm and a nostalgic feel. I wanted to create a soundworld where you immediately fall into and what carries you through this story. I wanted it to be melancholic but overall hopeful and positive.

    Thank you very much for sending me this track!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Justin Hunter – Faroe

    One of the people I always get back to on the blog is Justin Hunter, the Australian composer and piano player Justin Hunter, which you can read all about here!

    I’ve been playing piano since before I can remember. Just really tuning into the keyboard to make sense of my world.

    The track Faroe was released as a (double) single on the 15th of may, 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Faroe!
    Last year I traveled to the remote Faroe Islands halfway between Norway and Iceland. It was the most majestic and stunning place. I wrote 4 songs for an EP I’m simply titling Faroe and this track is the title track and the second track off the EP so far.

    Thank you for this Justin! 

    For more information and updates, please check out any of these links:
    Facebook / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Karl Thesing

    I have previously written about the German composer and piano player Karl Thesing, and today we’ll go deep!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Cologne, Germany

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    The Piano was my „last“ instrument. I started with drums when I was 6 years old or something- but I was never really good at it 🙂 My main instrument was guitar and bass- I also sang a lot. I can not really remember when I started playing piano. I did not had a teacher and just always played Piano when I saw one. It was just always something I liked but never had in mind. I intensively started playing about 13 years ago.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I always listened a lot to music. When I was a kid I was singing along to operas and musicals, I heard on Cds my parents liked to hear. I really started playing with my first band, what now seems more like a joke, because we were more then bad. I played drums and sing in this group.I wrote my first solo piano composition with 16.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I really started making piano music or neoclassical music at the age of 16.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    My mother told me about a scrapbook I used when I was 6 years old or something. I had a little cheap Casio keyboard. I did not know how to play, but I invented melodies using my own pretty dumb notation system and wrote them in that scrapbook.I am pretty curious how it did sound. Unfortunately I do not have it anymore. Otherwise I may could make some nice rework 🙂

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    It often changes. Right now I would say it is Niklas Paschburg. I can’t get those melodies out of my head 🙂

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I can’t really play other songs unfortunately and I don’t see the fun in it as well. I am always playing the songs I am writing at the moment over and over again.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I never felt like there are rules at all. When I started playing guitar, a kid from school said I am not good at all, especially my songs, because I did not stay in the right key. When I got my first teacher (an amazing guitarist) he said I can do whatever I want when I write my own music. I believed him since then.

    How do you record your music?
    I always start just by myself, with my piano. Then I change over to Logic and cheaply produce the song with MIDI. When it comes to production, recording and mixing I always work with the same Producer and the same studio. Lennart Damann from High Tide Studio in Hennef (its near by cologne). I can’t do what I do without him. He is the sound in my music. We often spend 10 days mixing the same song together- not because it is always necessary, but we enjoy going really into every possible detail. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I used to job a bit in that section and sampled just a few instruments myself. I often changed my mind about them. I think it is a great way to work and it opens a lot of creative opportunities. I don’t want to miss them. But when it comes to my songs and the final production, all sampled instruments have to go.There is not a single sampled instrument in it.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I just want to say hi to my friends/team and I hope I can soon replan our tour. Lenn, Tobi, Linus, Linda, Dominik, Raffi, Marco, Tommy, Marcel! 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    I am dreaming of the songs. When I wake up my fingers are itching. Then I sit down at the piano and my fingers show them to me 🙂

    Thank you Karl for your participation!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Florejan – Watching Clouds Disappear

    Today I’m introducing you to the Belgian composer Florejan and his track Watching clouds disappear. Florejan has been passionate about music ever since he was knee-high to a grashopper, and has been roaming the city and Belgium with numerous musical projects, in different styles.

    The track Watching clouds disappear was released as a single on the 15th of may, but will also be part of an upcoming EP.

    Tell us something about your track Watching clouds disappear!
    It’s a song of hope , with confidence in the future. A song of trying to put things into perspective.

    Thank you Florejan!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Mattia Cupelli – Intimacy (Rework)

    Today I’m introducing you to the track Intimacy by the Italian composer Mattia Cupelli from Rome.

    The track Intimacy was released as a single on June 11th of 2020, but is a reworked version. The original track was released on the album After the rain back in 2018.

    Tell us something about your track Intimacy!
    The song is about the intimate space with your most beloved person. I tried to let the sound flow these feelings with the slow soft piano I recorded in my home studio during the pandemic emergency. I think my emotion about this situation and the needs to stay with my loved ones took me to this sound. Also, the track is a Rework of the original 2018 track “Intimacy” focused on a more ambient sound, different from the new one with is only played on the piano.In the remake process I simplify the sound removing all the sounds around, digging in the melody idea and focusing on it, amplifying it through a deep bass piano overtones and a really really absorbed violin in the background.

    Thank you Mattia!

    For more information and updates, check out some of these links:
    Facebook / Website / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Shane Thomas – Without A Lion

    Today I’m introducing you to the track Without a lion by the British composer Shane Thomas. Thomas started playing the piano at the age of seven, and began composing his own music a few months later.

    This is the title track from the EP ‘Without A Lion’, out 11th June of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Without a Lion!
    Without A Lion’ is a minimalist composition dedicated to Marjan the lion, who lived in the Kabul zoo in Afghanistan. Marjan was injured in a grenade attack, rendering him blind, deaf and struggling to walk. A zookeeper named Sheraq Omar took responsibility of feeding a caring for the injured lion, and developed a deep human-animal bond. When Marjan ultimately died peacefully, it left the zookeeper feeling lost and without purpose.

    ‘Without A Lion’ conveys Sheraq’s loneliness and loss of purpose. His contemplation about the new life he must now forge. I find that the muffled felt piano mimics the texture of Marjan’s fur. The prolonged diminuendo the track ends on reflects the peaceful nature of Marjan’s death, in contrast to the violence he endured.

    Recording anecdote:
    There are actually up to 5 piano parts happening simultaneously. We had a hard time syncing the parts up! I got quite frustrated with myself, so I listened to some RY X to calm myself down.

    Thank you Shane for sending me this track!

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

  • Spotted!,  Stories

    About the track: Elder

    Elder is the third time I collaborate with my buddy and fellow piano player Rikard Mathisson (the first two being Rowan and Hawthorn). And as you can tell by these three titles, we have kind of a theme for the songs we make together.

    This track started with Rikard sending me the higher pitched piano and I started playing around with what to play below his part. Usually the melody is higher than the chords (at least when I play). The right hand plays the melodi, kind of. If you have four hands playing, you have to get creative!

    My favorite part of the tune starts around 2:00 where I get the feeling of two birds (or pianos) having a conversation with each other.

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: William Ogmundson – The Dove

    Time again for another track by the most posted about composer an piano player on this blog; William Ogmundson! You can read a lot more about him here, but here’s the short intro:

    The track The dove was released as a single on may the 29th of 2020.

    Tell us something about the track The dove!
    I wrote “The Dove” while in Palestine last spring.  We saw the wall between Israel and Palestine up close, with tear gas canisters littering the ground and barbed wire everywhere.  Two opposing sides, with no hope of reconciliation in the foreseeable future.  One thing that struck me though, was that wildflowers were flourishing amidst the barbed wire, and birds flew freely over the wall.  For a brief moment, it suddenly occurred to me that the natural world continued on, despite disagreements among humans, and that maybe there was hope for us as well.  Thus, the song was conceived.  The melody (representing the dove) is simple and plain, with a some somewhat dissonant chords beneath (the wall).  

    Thank you Will for this track!

    For more information and updates, check out these following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Mattia Greggio – Where Are You?

    Today I’m introducing you to the track Where are you? by the Italian composer Mattia Greggio from Verona. At the age of six he convinced his parents to sign him up for piano classes by lying to them (intriguing!). It all worked out and he started to take piano classes shortly after.

    The track Where are you? was released as a single on the 15th of may, 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Where are you?!
    “Where are you?, I can’t find you, but what am I really looking for?”.

    This is a song that tries to reach the depth of our thoughts and our soul.  We are always looking for something, we spend our lives trying to achieve increasingly important target. Sometimes the road is easy, other times it is very difficult. Very often one fails. The important thing is not to lose yourself and always find yourself in everything we do every day. This will give us the strength to keep going and will help us overcome the obstacles that life places before us.

    Thank you very much Mattia!

    For more information, click on any of the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Alstad

    A while back I wrote about the track When we lost it all by the composer and piano player Alstad. And today; we go behind the piano to get to know the person behind the track a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    My name is Cory Alstad

    How did you come up with your artist name? 
    When I started producing instrumental piano-music, I decided to separate my other music (mostly singer/songwriter stuff with full band, studio recordings, etc) from this particular music. So under ‘Alstad’ at this point, the music will all be instrumental and will feature piano as the main instrument.

    Where are you from? And where do you live? 
    I’m a Canadian and have always lived in Canada. I grew up in a few different places, but spent most of my early life in Winnipeg, MB, which is in central Canada. Years later, my wife and 3 kids moved to where we live now about 14 and a half years ago. We live in a city called “Langley” which is basically kind of a suburb of Vancouver. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I’ve played piano for many years…I started lessons when I was 7 years old and have played ever since. My parents forced me to take piano lessons, even later on when I begged them to quit! Now I’m thankful that they wouldn’t let me, but we had lots of fights about it…I can play a few other instruments as well, but not at the same level as the piano. I can play guitar, a bit of the drums, bass guitar and can ‘fake it’ on a few other  instruments. I’m also a singer. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.  
    I grew up in a home where my dad was quite musical, on the piano and with vocals. I took lessons from a young age, on. I did the whole classical “Royal Conservatory of Music” route and actually ended up going to the University of Manitoba School of Music, where I completed a Bachelor of Music. But from the very beginning I was drawn to songs that I heard on the radio and loved. I have a good ear for music, and so I would often  learn the songs by ear and focus on that in my practicing, much to the annoyance of my piano teachers! I would also often ask them to play a piece that I was supposed to learn, so that I could have a head-start in learning the piece by ear! As I grew older and developed as a musician, I began to write music as well and that quickly became a real passion for me, which it continues to be, today. I also grew up attending church and was very much involved musically in that context, as I continue to be. 

    How long have you been making piano music? 
    Probably for 30 years or so.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself! 
    I think that I was writing/making music from very early on – writing all sorts of terrible songs on the piano at a young age! But, they got better as I got older. I think that one of the turning points for me was when I was attending a college near Winnipeg (before my university days) and I showed my music professor a piece that i had written. He loved it and was super encouraging to me and urged me to continue down that path. i think that was a really good ’nudge’ in my life and I started to take it more seriously after that. Having someone believe in your music is such an important thing in any musicians life, I think.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I would have to say that Olafur Arnalds is one of my favourites. He’s fantastic. I also really love the music of Joep Beving, Peter Cavallo, Nils Frahm – and many others!

    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? 
    Hmmm. I made up a fun arrangement of “Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson a few years ago with a guitarist friend of mine, so I often will jam to that!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think that it’s good to know the rules before you break them. But I think there are lots of rules that can be broken. Of course, part of the challenge is, depending on what genre you’re in, the rules change 🙂 If you’re writing a piece in the baroque era/genre, you’re going to have to be careful about sticking to their rules, or else you’re not going to actually be making baroque music. I’m drawn to chords that have dissonances to them. Like a suspension 4 chord (say a Gsus) that still has the third in it – so you’ve got that beautiful tension of an 11th chord (without the 7th and 9th necessarily). So maybe you’d call that a G add 4…lots of subjectivity around chord labels. I think that anyone who claims that there are hard and fast rules about what can be included or not included in music isn’t correct. It can all be music – it may just not be great music 🙂 

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    With my Alstad stuff (piano instrumental) I started out collaborating with a friend, but for the last little while I’ve been doing it all on my own in my little studio in my garage. So very much a solo thing.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love sampled instruments! I use them all the time. There are so many legit sounding instruments out there right now and it’s never been easier to have a great sounding piece/album without needing to do it in a big studio with a real piano, etc., which costs a lot of money.  Obviously, using a real piano is ALWAYS ideal – sometimes just for the feel of it (which of course affects how you’ll play the piece) if for nothing else. But there are lots of great sampled instruments out there.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I appreciate the chance to be part of this blog! If people are interested in my music they can definitely check me out on Spotify, Apple Music, or any other music platform. Also, I curate a great little playlist called Chill Evening Music that’s filled with beautiful and reflective instrumental music. 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year oldson
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    Ha ha – beautiful question! I think that my songs come from my heart. I really believe that we’ve all been made to create and it’s one of the ways that we speak about the things of the heart and the soul. Words often don’t do a good job of articulating what is going on in our inner lives and so music can really help us there. There’s an old, obscure passage in the Bible that says that God has placed eternity on the human heart. I think that when we make music, we are reaching for that eternity – we’re made for it and can’t help ourselves. So, I think that my songs come from a deep place of longing and of reaching towards the Divine! 

    Thanks for participating Cory!

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