Today I’m introducing you to the American composer and piano player Jeff Miller, aka. Chamberfield. Jeff lives in northern California and is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He started playing the piano at the age of 12 and started recording his own compositions in his early teens.
The track Aquarelle was released as a single on the 10th of September, 2021, and will also be part of an EP later on.
Tell us something about your track Aquarelle!
This track was originally inspired by some of Van Gough’s lesser-known watercolor paintings, but I also liked the idea of water and colors dancing together like what you see in a reflection. Recorded on a felted piano with some tape saturation, reverb, and subtle delay for ambience.
Thank you very much for this Jeff!
Today I’m presenting you with the track Downstream from the composer and piano player Matthew Paull from New Zeeland. You can read all about Matthew and his music in this Behind the piano post. Matthew is now located in Berlin.
The track Downstream was released as a single on the 9th of September, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Downstream!
This track began as a bit of a musical picture, I had a picture I took down by the river where I grew up, and I tried to write a piece of music to it, hence the name ‘Downstream’. At this river it’s quite common to float down it on a rubber ring, so I had that in mind with the left-hand bass notes, as if someone was bobbing along the river. The cover art is based on that same photo I took.
Thanks for this Matthew!
Today I’m presenting you with another track by the dutch composer and piano player Jacco Wynia, which you can read all about in this Behind the piano post. Jacco started playing the piano at the age of eight and has since then moved around in the world but is now back in the Netherlands.
The track From a dream was released as a single on the 10th of September, 2021.
Tell us something about your track From a dream!
This music literally came from a dream. At the start of 2021 I was on a retreat in a wooden house in the open fields. Lots of instruments, lots of space, and lots of time were there with me. I was making time free to sleep well, and to let the states of sleep and dreams tell me new sorts of things. With time, slowly I got more and more messages in my sleep. Sometimes they made not any sense, but just being aware of the things that happened in my sleep already was something special to experience. Often they learned me valuable lessons.
And then one day it happened: A full bit of music started to play in my dream. I had been aware of some sounds before, but now it was of a different kind: There was a dream where the music was actually saying something about the situation right there in the dream. I was aware and decided to wake up. As much as possible still in a dream state, I walked towards the piano, and between 03H till 05H I played and played.
The result is this song: From a dream. Can you guess what the dream was about?
Thank you very much Jacco!
Today I’m presenting you to the German composer and piano player Kjell Sønksen, from Kiev, and his track Spaceless. Kjell first fell in love with the piano at the age of nine. Besides composing music for the piano he also makes orchestral works and film music.
The track Spaceless was released as a single on the 20th of august, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Spaceless!
My latest release “spaceless” is something to get lost into. For me the passion is all about the harmony. I recorded this tune with my eyes closed all the time to keep the focus on the indefinable of life. There’s a lack of space in this life for it, sometimes.
Thank you very much for this Kjell!
Today we go Behind the piano to meed the Swedish composer and piano player Ruben Fjellner, which I have written about before here.
So, let’s go!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from Sweden! I grew up in a town called Linköping, but now I live in Umeå since four years back.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing the piano for about five years. I also play the guitar, which was the first instrument I ever learned. But I really love experimenting with all kinds of instruments – synths are a BIG favourite as well. Maybe I’ll use some of these instruments on my piano tracks in the future.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
My father is a guitar player, so music has always been a big part of my life. I think I was around seven years old when I got my own little Stratocaster to play around with. Sometime later I got a midi-controller that came with a copy of Ableton Lite which really piqued my interest in music production. Since then in I’ve met a lot of musically talented people who I am proud to call my friends – who have taught me so much along the way.
How long have you been making piano music?
I’ve been making piano music for about four to five years. Even though I had been actively producing music for a while, I had a lot of built-up stress from my day to day work as a film photographer. One day I found myself sitting down by the piano, and felt such a relief. For me, it’s one of the best portals to presence. Seriously, the best thing I know.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
This took such a long time for me. I’ve always been very doubtful about my musical talent as I am usually more on the technical side of things. It’s only really these last couple of years that I’ve allowed myself to experiment and let go of these fears. Working together with other talented composers has helped tremendously as well. So it has been more of a process instead of a specific moment for me.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Olafur Arnalds is my number one. He’s the reason I first started playing the piano at all. Other big inspirations are Nils Frahm and Aphex Twin, to name a few.
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?
There’s this one track me and a friend composed together back in 2017 that I love so much. It’s very simple and minimalistic with beautiful harmonies. Maybe I will make a recording of this someday. But mostly I actually just like to improvise.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
There are no rules.
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
This differs a lot. It’s mostly myself, but I have a network of a few good friends who helps me out with feedback and recording. I have one of my pianos at a place called JAQ Studios here in town, a collective composed of several great artists working in different mediums. The other piano I have at home, but oftentimes I find myself doing most of the work inside Ableton.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I find them to be incredibly useful and beautiful in their own way. I quite like the complete control you have of both the sound and performance with these instruments. As a complete MIDI-nerd they’re so useful. Sometimes I program entire tracks using sampled instruments (all of my solo releases so far has been) – but I’ve recently just now begun to make acoustic recordings which I am really stoked to release.
Where do all your songs come from?
The present moment.
Thank you very much for this Ruben!
Today I’m introducing you to the project Magnetic Vines; a project between the two composers Ross Garren and Erik Miron. Ross and Erik met in downtown LA in the early 2010s. When the world closed down in 2020 they started to record ambient electro-acoustic sounds together.
The track Silver Creek Spring was released as a single on the 6th of September, 2021, and will also be featured on an album in December.
Tell us something about your track Silver Creek Spring!
Each piano is unique, but the one-in-a-million quirks and qualities of the Beckwith centenarian nestled against the wall of Jens Kuross’s Boise studio proved the perfect conduit for the Magnetic Vines’ first solo piano release. While in Idaho to work with Jens and artist Ray Little, Magnetic Vines’ pianist Ross Garren was so intrigued by the possibilities of this instrument that he came to the studio early one morning to spend some time exploring and familiarizing himself with the piano. This session of free improvisations, inspired by the natural beauty of Idaho and the back-and-forth exchange of musician and instrument reacting to one another are documented on the Snake River Improvisation, the Magnetic Vines’ sophomore album (December 2022). Silver Creek Spring is the first single and was the first thing played that sunny Idaho morning.
Thanks for sending this in Ross and Erik!
Today I’m introducing you to the composer and piano player Fancois Mathian, from Australia, and his track Tout Doucement. Francois started playing the piano as a child and later switched to violin as his main instrument. He is classical trained but later embraced many styles as jazz, pop, rock and so on. I have previously written about tracks featuring Fransoafran, which is the very same person as Francois!
The track Tout Doucement was released as a single on the 10th of September, 2021, and will probably be on an album later on!
Tell us something about your track Tout Doucement!
My main instrument is violin, and I have mostly been composing piano and strings pieces so far, which tend to be on the stronger emotional side and more cinematic. That being said I have been increasingly drawn to the piano as a main composing vehicle to express calmer emotions, usually starting with improvised melodies I play on the keyboard and then develop . “Tout Doucement” in french means “very softly / gently”, therefore for this song the preference was to record it on a large upright felt piano to capture the emotional, intimate and tender tones of a gentle sunrise. There is also a piano, violin and cello version of this track currently in mixing, collaboration with the wonderful cellist Eva Brönner, to be released in a few weeks.
Thanks so much for this!
Today I’m introducing you to the American artist Isle’r and the track The Day We Left. Isle’r’s first memory of music is of Mozart:
I was in my parent’s living room listening to music from the ‘Amadeus’ soundtrack. I was just a little kid, but somehow I remember everything from that moment – where I sat, the look of the room, the smell, the light, the air. Music has this incredible power like that – it connects us so deeply to memory. I’ve always loved that connection, and I started writing music shortly after.
The track The Day We Left was released on the album Memoried which came out on the 3rd of September, 2021.
Tell us something about your track The Day We Left!
This track “The Day We Left” is from my debut album “Memoried”, which just released on September 3rd.
‘Memoried’ can describe a place, a time in our life, a day, or even just an afternoon – it means ‘full of memories’. For “The Day We Left”, I sat down and ‘scored’ my memory of leaving home. I tried to capture the feel of it all, the beauty and sadness that coexist when we leave and remember somewhere we love.
Thank you very much for sending in!
Today I’m introducing you to yet another track by the Swedish composer and piano player Ruben Fjellner from Umeå. Ruben has been making music for quite some time and has a background in EDM. When making piano music; he had to learn how to take a different approach in his music making.
It’s limitations made me go deeper into the composition side of things. Since then, I have not been able to stop.
The track Alicia was released as a single on the 6th of September, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Alicia!
This piece is inspired by my friend Alicia. An amazing person whom I’ve known for quite some time. She’s one of those friends who you can go years without talking to, only to find the friendship to be just as enjoyable once you both meet up again, as if no time had passed at all. On the production side of things, I really put a lot of space echo (RE-201) concentrated to the high frequencies, that for me gives the track kind of a silver sheen in terms of coloration.
Thanks once again for sharing your music with me Ruben!
Today I’m presenting you with the track Inverno by the German composer and piano player Saniet Baladi from Hamburg. He started playing the piano at the age of six and later went to LA to study music at the Musicians Institute Hollywood. Saniet also makes film scores using the name Sani Baladi.
The track Inverno was released as a single on the 10th of September, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Inverno!
I usually compose a piece in a very short period of time in my bedroom in Hamburg, that’s why all my pieces are very personal and speak from my heart.
Thank you for this Saniet!