• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Judson Hurd

    Another name that came up over and over again when I was starting out with my playlist hunting was Judson Hurd. So of course I wanted to talk a bit with him as well! Please introduce yourself, Mr. Hurd!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in North Georgia but when I was a year old my family moved to Paraguay South America and I lived there until I was 15. I currently live in Wilmington, NC with my wife, son, two dogs, and two cats. We are a big family! Wilmington is a vibrant beach town with a great arts community in the South. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I was self taught until I turned 13 where I started attending a music conservatory in South America.

    I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I was self taught until I turned 13 where I started attending a music conservatory in South America.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    Piano is my first instrument but I do play some guitar, bass, organ, and I sing. You can hear some of my guitar parts on the track The First Step is the Hardest.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    When I was around four years old I encountered a cassette that had the Windham Hill Piano Sampler. I fell in love with the piano and started playing on my mother’s old upright. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making music over thirty years since the age of four. 

     Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I realized at a young age that I could improvise and create new music. In my spare time I really enjoyed playing the Bach inventions and creating new melodies over the pieces. I began seriously composing in my teen years when I began playing for different groups and projects.  

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have created music in many different genres that include Ambient, Film, and Neo-classical. I’ve also collaborated with musicians and songwriters in Urban, Rock, and other styles. I am always looking for new projects and interesting challenges to push boundaries in my art.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    My biggest inspiration would be Montana composer Philip Aaberg. I remember hearing his music when I was a child and falling in love with music. Over the years I’ve started to listen to more free jazz and experimental music. Some big inspirations are Jóhann Jóhannsson, Thelonious Monk, Olafur Arnalds to name a few.  

     Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I really enjoy playing the music of Chopin on piano. His Nocturnes and Preludes are some of my favorite pieces to play.  

     What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    This is a really hard question. I truly try not to listen to other music that is in the similar genre to avoid getting in the way of my creativity. I would say to get my creative juices going I listen to experimental composers like John Cage, Arnold Schoenberg, or Steve Reich. 

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    My latest release is the original film soundtrack for the film Trouble Will Cause. The soundtrack is available on Amazon, iTunes, Bandcamp, and other digital stores. The film is about the Lawson family murders in North Carolina in 1929.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I am releasing a new single with the very talented Kyle McEvoy on the Sonderhouse label. I also plan on a full length release this year of new ambient, electronic, piano driven music. It’s amazing to see my music listened to all over the world and I really appreciate your support in streaming and downloading my music. 

    Thank you Judson! Please check out these social links to learn more about Judson Hurd and his music.
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: 86plot – Identity

    Today I’m introducing you to the song Identity by 86Plot, a.k.a. Bob Benson from Iowa in the United States. The album Identity crisis by 86Plot is not a neo classical nor ambient album. The genres varies a lot throughout the album, but the song called Identity is definitely a beautiful piano tune.

    I strive to push the boundaries of traditional genres and blend elements of cinematic scores and experimental compositions with conscious hip-hop and commercial pop.

    Bob Benson

    Tell us something about your track Identity!
    Identity is the only instrumental on Identity Crisis, and is intended to be an introspective breath of fresh air following the heavy thematic content of the other tracks preceding it on the album. There were many thoughts that could only be conveyed lyrically, but I find as much (if not more) pleasure composing instrumental music — I’ve always felt that it inherently enables the listener to connect with art on a deeper, intimate level. 

    Identity actually started out as a random session in Propellerhead Reason, which is typically used for electronic music production, but I enjoy using it to sketch out musical ideas. One feature in Reason allows you to conform notes to a specific scale, a limitation that I found ironically liberating while experimenting with what became the primary chord structure of this piece. It ultimately opens up and ventures into a more free-form arrangement, and in retrospect it’s a fine example of how integrating technology into our creative processes, even solo or minimalist compositions, can be a huge inspiration and lead us in directions we may not have otherwise found.

    Thank you for this wonderful song Bob! It’s interesting to hear about another way to compose piano music than the traditional one I think most people use.

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – A Moment of Symmetry

    A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Rob McAllisters project Music Within and his song Julicha’s Theme. Basically, Ron has done it again. On Julichkas Theme there were three versions of the same song: Solo piano, Sting quartet and music box, and this time he has used the very same instruments to perform his song A moment of symmetry!

    Tell us something about the recording of the piano version of the song A moment of symmetry!
    For this recording, I really wanted to use a ‘felted’ piano because of its soft, warm and beautiful sound. (For anyone who doesn’t know: a foot pedal on the piano literally moves a piece of felt over the strings so that the hammers hit the strings with much less force, muting and significantly softening the sound). So, I was over at a friend’s studio on a quiet Sunday afternoon to record. I’d been there before and had played around on his upright piano so I knew that it would be very nice to play. We were all set up and ready to get going when I realized that the foot pedal which normally moves the felt in place wasn’t working. After checking it out it was clear that this particular piano simply didn’t have the felt piece! 🙁 … 
    I wasn’t ready to give up on the sound I was envisioning just yet though, so I hurried out to a fabric store and bought a big sheet of green felt. After cutting it into several smaller pieces we were able to rig up a system where the felt hung down from the top of the piano and stayed between the hammers and the strings. We held the pieces in place using a bunch of guitar pedals as weights! So I hope you enjoy the sound of the piano, I worked hard for it. Haha!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Anna Yarbrough – Éire

    Today I’m introducing you to composer and piano player Anna Yarbrough, originally from Belfast in Northers Ireland, but now located in Brooklyn, New York. Her song Éire is released as a single, and came of early march.

    If you recognize the cover art it might be because this, as many other releases on this site, was released by the New York label The sonder house.

    Tell us something about your track Éire!
    I wrote the track over the Christmas season (maybe I was feeling nostalgic) as a nod to my home. I love infusing quirky elements into my work so I wrote the opening melody with an interesting time signature, and had the piece fluctuate between major/minor resolutions. Something about the melodic and harmonic choices felt mysterious to me, so I thought it reflected by homeland well. The cover art features a photo I took in the Mourne Mountains at Christmas in 2014.

    Thank you for this beautiful piece of music Anna! And good luck with your song!

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

  • News,  Stories

    New song: Old as I

    Today is another great release day! It’s 14 degrees celsius outside, and spring is here!

    This song is released in collaboration with The Sonder House and is the first single from my upcoming EP called The trip.

    Old as I is an instrumental version of a song called Gammal som jag, which I wrote for my band Rimstad Rockerz, and you can listen to it here. Anders Wiking wrote the words and I wrote the music. A theme for the entire album where Gammal som jag is featured is seeing your kids grow up and become as old as we are (well, kind of).

    When I was writing songs for this upcoming EP I just started playing this song, and eventually I pressed record and afterwards I don’t regret it. It even became the single for the EP, right?


  • 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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Bhaveek N. Makan

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Durban, South Africa. I later immigrated to Canada, and I currently live in Vancouver.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Been playing for a few months, and only recently started to really get into it.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    I do not, but I’ve always wanted to take drumming up.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started back in 2009, but only started to seriously get into it in 2014. I have a background in hip hop, but always wanted to try out classical music. It all started with me wanting to make songs for short films I would produce.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Around 5 months.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Probably back in 2014, I realized it was a possibility, and it felt amazing. Music to me is therapy, and I usually get a lot of anxiety sharing my music, just because its so personal to me, and I have a fear of my music being heavily judged. I’ve composed many tracks that have never seen the light of day….but it will come out eventually!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds, August WIlhelmsson and Allan Ellis are simply amazing. Their music got me through some dark times, and showed me that I can find peace in solitude.  

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Not really, I sort of just improv, and try playing 90’s Bollywood vocal melodies on the keys. That always gets me in the zone!

    How long is your shortest song? 
    Around 1 minute!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    The idea that you need to know music theory to be a musician. I never understood sheet music, especially in school. I thought I can never be a musician. I just loved listening to so many music genres, and realized so much of it is just feeling.

    Thank you for these wonderful answers. Pretty impressive knowing you’ve only played piano for a couple of months. Wow!

    Check out these links for more information:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Justin Hunter – Drown

    Today I’m introducing you to Australian composer Justin Hunter and his latest release Drown. Justin lives in the Blue Mountains in Australia and apart from being an amazing pianist and composer he also runs ultra marathons and is a part time photographer.

    This is a first taste of an upcoming album coming out sometime 2019. But first; a couple of singles.

    When I asked him about the song he responded with something that looked and sounded like a poem. It wasn’t, but I’ll keep it poem like!

    “Drown” was written in a small cafe high up in the Blue Mountains.
    By actual fluke, the first time I sat at the keys to continue writing the piece the keys and notes all perfectly meshed into one.
    It sounded so beautiful, like everything was just falling around me.

    It struck me that if the ocean was only made up of musical notes,
    then I would absolutely not have the strength to swim. I would be overtaken by the melody and “Drown” ..

    A perfect representation that there are in life, memories and experiences that are so perfect, that the moment we sit back and soak it all in, we are actually in fact, being so thrown into an ocean of emotion, almost as if we are drowning in the moment.

    Music is totally that.

    A trigger for memories, that consume and allow us to linger and drown in the moment.

    Thank you for the music Justin! Looking forward to hear the album!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Elijah Bisbee

    Today I’ll be introducing you to American artist Elijah Bisbee. Here we go!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois and moved to Los Angeles for a few years. I currently live in Cleveland, OH.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I took piano lessons when I was very young, but didn’t stick with it. At different points in my life I’ve messed around on piano, but only over the last 1.5-2 years have I taken it more seriously.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I do! I consider myself first and foremost a guitar player. I’ve been playing guitar for about 15 or so years. I play/tinker with a lot of other instruments, too, but guitar and piano are my main focuses.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    My family has always been really musical. My dad owned a music store in our hometown up until he passed away in 2001. I had been playing guitar for a few years when that happened, but it was really the inciting event for translating emotion into music.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve only been making piano-centric music for about a year. I’ve always admired and enjoyed musicians and composers who can convey such strong emotion with one (or very few) instruments.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    This was fairly early on for me – but on guitar. I can’t say I remember the moment of realization, but I do remember having tremendous pride when playing songs I’d written for other people.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Probably all the neoclassical standards… I am a long time fan of Nils Frahm – his piano music and his other outlets. Olafur Arnalds, of course. Some recent finds that I’m enjoying quite a bit are Blurstem (Chris Bartels is a ridiculously talented, all-around musician), Klangriket, and Kyle McEvoy (I’m releasing a single with his label, Sonder House, in February).

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Impossible. Right now, though, “Sunson” by Nils Frahm always gets me in the headspace to work.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Such a hard question to answer concisely! Everyone has their own rules and barriers that constrict them from being their truest self – as a musician and otherwise. I think, then, that the rule that needs to be broken is that there’s not time to explore a sound and that you have to release your best music all the time. Create, iterate, release, learn, repeat. I think that’s a pretty good model. And don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t hold your work too preciously. That is, if you want people to hear the music. I know plenty of people that create for themselves and get plenty of enjoyment and fulfillment from that. This feels more like advice than breaking rules, sorry!

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    To put it shortly – from within. 🙂

    Thank you Elijah for these answers! Please check out these social links for more information!
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Philip G Anderson – Along the Forest Floor

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Philip G Anderson based in Atlanta. The album Wilderness was created as a way to escape the “small, claustrophobic, and dark room” where he writes and records his music. And the song titles reflect the theme of the album; Mountains, Along the forest floor and Lakes being two of them.

    I seek to tell a story and convey feeling with the music I write and in doing so, connect with the listener.

    The album was released the 1st of march.

    Tell us something about what inspired to for the songs on the album!
    I was inspired early on by imagery of the vast wilderness in the Pacific Northwest of The United States.  I wondered what the dense, lush forests, flowing rivers, and vast mountains would sound like musically.  And so, I composed 10 pieces to reflect what I felt that would sound like.  A soundtrack for exploring the wilderness.  

    Tell us something about your track Along the forest floor!
    When writing this track, I specifically imagined walking through a dense, misty, and overgrown forest.  I wanted to capture the peacefulness and calm of that and the feeling of the cool mist in the air and the soft moss underneath my feet.  I started off by writing the piano part which is the driving force in the piece.  I spent a lot of time crafting the melody so that it flowed well and didn’t become too repetitive.  After that, I felt that slowly evolving string textures layered underneath the piano part would give the track the sense of space that it needed and would help transport the listener into the place and the feeling I imagined when composing it.  I wanted to the end the piece on a bit of a mysterious note to underscore the idea of the vast wilderness and not entirely knowing what’s out there.  So, the piece undergoes a transition near the end where the piano drops out and delicate string textures come to the forefront of the piece ending in a subtle crescendo.

    Thank you for sharing this enchanting pice of music with us Philip!

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