• Spotted!

    Spotted: Cheryl B. Engelhardt – Earthshine

    Today I’m introducing you to composer and songwriter Cheryl B. Engelhardt from New York in the United States. Cheryl has written music for films, ads and has also written score for about 60+ clips of College Humor (which I personally enjoy very much).

    The song Earthshine will be out on February 7th, but can already be pre-ordered from Cheryls Bandcamp page; so please go ahead and pre-order!

    Take me there!

    Tell us something about your song Earthshine!
    This song is special – I wrote it while at a residency in a tiny half-abandoned mountain town in Crete, Greece. The piano I had in a stone room has a beautiful sound that echoed around the stone room. There was an energy in the room as well as a peace. The song is designed to keep the mind present while finding that calm. The bells and the vocal effects, all completely organic when recorded, were altered to fill the track up, the way the space filled me up. You’ll hear low notes, those are piano strings that I plucked, altered as I edited the composition later. Everything you hear is simply a piano, a bell, or my voice. It reminds me that we are the source of our own power and our own light. Which is why the record is called “Luminary”.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    For more information, please go ahead and click any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Natalia Johansson

    I have recently written about the first two tracks (ever) by Swedish composer Natalia Johansson, and I thinks it’s about time we got to know the person behind the name a bit better.

    Where are you from? And where do you live? 
    I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I was four me and my family moved to Sweden. I’m now living in a small town named Bollebygd, a few miles outside of Gothenburg.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I began when I was three years old, and when I was nine I lost interest, unfortunately. At the age of 23 I picked it up again. I don’t play any other instruments, I wish I did though. Cello is another favorite instrument that I wish I had learned. I would like to buy one someday but I don’t think my neighbours would be so thrilled about that. Maybe an electric cello? 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    It all began with a piano that my family had at our house, I just started picking out melodies by ear and so it went on. At an early age I was highly interested in music, especially film music so I think it just came natural to play the piano.

    How long have you been playing piano music? 
    I’ve played regularly since i was 23, so it’s been approximately 11 years now. 

    Tell us something about that moment when you realized when you could make songs yourself! 
    11 years ago I was learning new songs (covers) on the piano and there was this song that was really hard to learn, and I have a bit (or maybe a lot) of bad patience so I just found myself improvising something completely else instead. I used to say that I accidentally composed my first song because of that, because it was never intentional. This may sound like a cliché but when i realized I had composed a song I immediately felt that “this is what I’m supposed to do, I’m a composer!”

    What are your favorite artists in the piano genre? 
    The first artist that inspired me to start playing piano again was Yann Tiersen, and a short while later I also discovered the beautiful works by Olafur Arnalds. Other favorites that I’ve discovered along the way are Fabrizio Paterlini, Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Dustin O’Halloran and my latest discover is Joep Beving. 

    Is there any song that you can play over and over again? Your own or someone else’s?
    I’t would be one of my upcoming releases called “La Morte”. It’s a tune that is really special to me because it is the first piece that was composed as a direct result of a particular tragic event. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    First I would need to declare that I don’t know much about rules in the piano genre because I haven’t been trained in music theory or piano techniques. But I think that you should not be discouraged by that, just go and do your thing since music is a very personal experience.  I guess I have broken a number of ”rules” but it’s not something that I think of, I think more in terms of expressing a certain feeling and making other people feel that too.

    How do you record your music? 
    At the time I have a little studio in my home, and a digital piano that I record with through Logic Pro X and a piano plugin. I would love to have a real piano though and that’s what I’m aiming for to have in the future.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments? 
    There are really good samples out there, and since I don’t have a real piano I use them a lot. I have also composed a number of pieces for piano and strings and used samples for them as well. However I still don’t think it’s the same as using the real thing so I will try to make live recordings instead for my future releases. I think it’s really hard to get the same warmth and presence with a sampled piano as you get on a live recording with a real piano. 

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    That was a really tough but great question! I think it comes from a deep and hidden space within me, that only gets in the light when I sit in front of the piano. It’s an intimate space full of thoughts, questions and answers regarding everything about life, but at the same time the calmest place in the world to be in. That’s what I think at least!

    Thank you for sharing all of this with us!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Erik Slättberg – Safe Here

    Today I’m introducing you to another lovely song by Swedish pianist and composer Erik Slättberg based in Örebro. More about Erik can be found here!

    The song Safe Here was released as a single on the 18th but is also featured on the compilation Uto’pians by Blue Spiral Records.

    Tell us something about your song Here!
    ”Safe Here” was recorded together with other tracks last summer, were I happen to press record on one of these quite, rare and magic days where everything just clicks fine. The entire tune is an improvisation that happened just once, and where I did not try to project any forehand meaning, but where the meaning just happened by itself. It’s funny how I often create my most musical tracks in the mood of having no plan at all. You can here part of that jazzy kind of freedom where the parts are kind of the same but not as orderly as in most of the neoclassical music. Nonetheless, it reflects a very calm, light and meditative kind of emotion. It felt warm to me, which is why I named it the way I did. This track is released not only as a single, but also as a part of the collaboration album Uto’pians by Blue Spiral Records.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Erik!

    For more information about Erik and his music, check out these links!
    Facebook / Homepage / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: William Ogmundson – Eleanor

    Today it’s time to introduce you to yet another track by the ever so productive composer and piano player William Ogmundson from the United States.

    The track Eleanor was released as a single in January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Eleanor!
    This song was improvised on the spot, (a one-take wonder, so to speak) on a Steinway Grand Piano at CedarHouse Sound and Mastering in North Sutton, NH, a couple miles from my home.  I fell in love with this piano when I first played it in 2005, and have been recording on her (yes, she has a gender) ever since.  Her name is Eleanor, which is really quite a nice name, especially considering some of the other popular names from the 1890s, when she was born (Gertrude or Maude for example).  The piece is simple yet sweet, and hopefully will hold up through the years as well as its namesake has.  

    Thank you again William for your music!

    For more information; check out these two links!
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: John True – One

    Today I’m introducing you to the San Diego based pianist, composer, producer and audio engineer John True. John has played piano since he was a toddler; he doesn’t even remember NOT playing the piano.

    In 2020, I’m taking my skills with modern production and classical training and fusing them together to create my own take on piano composition

    I actually don’t remember ever not playing the piano! But all that led me to a degree in piano performance and composition, and then into music production after I graduated.  , and I will be releasing a new collection of work each month throughout the year!

    The track One is featured on his January EP – January (Piano Vol 1) on January 24th of 2020. 

    Tell us something about your track One!
    To be honest, I’m not sure I even have a clear idea of what this track is about! Whatever meaning it has though, I know it brings me to a meditative place when I play it, which is one of the reasons I’m doing this whole project. I wrote it mostly in one sitting in early December. It was the piece that made me decide to begin my 2020 piano project, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I wrote the piece at the piano, and once I had a good idea of what it needed to be, I sat down to record it into pro tools.

    A few days later, I came back and added the production elements – the reversed delays, the shimmer reverbs, and some of the other effects you hear. That’s become my workflow for this entire piano project throughout the year – on one day I’ll sit down and compose the piece, then a few days later I’ll come back, listen to what I wrote, and do the editing, production, mixing, and mastering in that second sitting. It’s an efficient workflow that keeps thing moving, and helps me avoid the artistic second guessing that can happen when you start to over-analyze everything you’re doing!

    Thank you very much for this John!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: DeLange – San Vincenzo

    Today I’m introducing you to the composer and pianist Frank DeLange from the Netherlands. Frank was raised in a family with classical music, surrounded by piano music growing up.

    the music that was in my head -the echoes of my childhood- needed a way to come out. This project is exactly doing that. I had to turn 46 before I had the courage to record it

    The track San Vincenzo was released in January of 2020 as a single, but will also be part of an album in the near future.

    Tell us something about your track San Vincenzo!
    This is a composition about that one time – when I was very young- I spent the night on the Italian beach with my best friend, woke up in the middle of the night and heard the San Vincenzo church bells chiming in the distance. I was the only one awake and experienced a moment of blissful solitude. 

    Thank you for sharing your music with us Frank!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Sarah Coponat – Gleam

    Today I’m introducing you to Sarah Coponat, a French composer and pianist. Sarah studied math and physics in an engineer school and then went on to study law and got a degree in business law. Now she has shifted focus again ans spends all time on making piano music.

    The track Gleam is released as a single today!

    Tell us something about your track Gleam!
    I recently discovered felt piano, and fell in love with the intimate vibe and sounds. Gleam, is a felt piano piece I composed for a friend, who used to be a violoniste, but is slowly becoming deaf. I decided to feature gleam in my debut album because he says this song is like a gleam of hope for him, I wanted to honor him by releasing this track.

    Thank you for the music Sarah!

    For more information, please go to these following pages:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: André Luiz Machado

    A while back I posted about the tune Sonnet by André Luiz Machado and Manos Charalabopoulos. Now it’s time to get to know the first of the two composers a bit better!

    What’s your name? 
    André Luiz Gomes Machado

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    My artist name is almost the same as the real one. I’ve just removed the middle section, nonetheless it was too late when I realised there were so many André Luiz Machado’s in other professions while searching on google, but at least, not a second composer or musician.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Brazil and currently live in my hometown called Goiânia, centrally located in the heart of the country, in the State of Goiás. I have lived for two years in the UK where I met Manos during our master’s degree at the University of Bristol, and in 2020 I’m heading further to the West, moving my home studio to Vancouver, Canada.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 14, but I don’t consider myself a pianist, but a very passionate composer who use these magical keys to write music for film and games, and concert music for great performers such as Manos. So, it’s been 23 years since I started studying piano. I also studied classical guitar and my main performance instrument is the voice; I’m a Classical singer, too.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing music when I was 10, studying Classical guitar and dreaming about becoming a famous rock star on a great heavy metal band and afterwards, on a top progressive rock group. Prog rock music brought me to the world of Classical music, and believe it or not, my first contact with Debussy’s works was through a 70’s prog group called Renaissance. Debussy’s prelude La cathédrale engloutie opened one of its songs and absolutely amazed me, and there I started to be influenced by an impressionist aesthetic. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since the beginning of my piano studies I loved to improvise on the instrument, but my first written and complete work for piano solo dates from 2003 I guess.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It is funny to mention that. When I was 13, I was already playing in rock bands, but my taste was being driven towards a Classical music approach present on some melodic heavy metal bands and progressive rock groups. I started feeling rejected on the band I was playing for some of these individual differences in taste, and so I started foreseeing me in the long future sitting alone in a room, playing the keyboard and completely writing music on my own. So I got a keyboard, and music has started to flow. However, only some years later that I decided to become a Classical and Film music composer, and joined the university to the study composition and singing.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Debussy and Villa-Lobos are my favorite composers for the genre, followed by Eric Satie, Ravel, Chopin, Liszt. Currently, I am very impressed with the works for piano by Tigran Hamasyan as well. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    The songs I have not put down on paper yet… : ) Actually, the piano score to the film Atonement by Dario Marianelli, one of my favourite film scores from all time, is set on the piano for a month already, and I love to play some of its music these days before my studio work time. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Many people is eager to fit their own music and from others on a particular genre or style, and many times they even get lost when they are not able to classify them. Sometimes this needs to be broken, in my opinion. Studying and understanding the rules are also of extreme importance not to be strictly followed but to guide oneself to find and polish his/her own voice.

    How do you record your music?
    It depends on the work and budget for each project. We had a great recording and production team for the album Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror (Works for Piano Solo), which was recorded in a theater in my hometown in Brazil using a great German Steinway, too. Next year I will also be releasing the soundtrack for a lovely game called Josh Journey: Darkness Totems that was recorded on a great studio with a Medieval and Baroque musical group playing post-modern music with some Celtic and Brazilian folk influences. But there are many low budget short-films and documentaries I worked on that I needed to rely on samples, mostly, such as the music present on the album Dialogues Between the Sound and Moving Picture (2015), which most of the tracks I recorded and produced myself. Actually, this album is a compilation of music I had composed for film, media and games by that period. I have also written music for the label The Library of the Human Soul in the UK, in which a beautiful result is achieved while mixing a live strings quartet recorded in Vienna with other sampled orchestral library. There I only compose the music and perform the sampled instruments, not making the final mix myself. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    It is a very important tool that can convince a live performance really well when it is greatly produced, but it lacks the organic feeling, spirit and fine touches by a real and great performer. If the project budget allows, I always opt for live recordings but since this isn’t always the case, I truly love my sampled friends and treat them well.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Thank you, Johan and all the team at Behind the Piano, for this interview. I hope everyone enjoys our new album Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror (Works for Piano Solo) and please, follow us on social media and on Spotify to keep updated with future releases. Also, Manos and I will be presenting the album on a launch tour in the UK in March 2020. So, come and join us in London, Manchester or Oxford. Dates available on Manos’ Spotify profile.

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

    Tricky one. Each song has a particular story, but sometimes it emerges from the sound of the ocean, from an abstract concept, from a book, a film, or even from a mathematical idea. Some nights, there are musical voices that wake me up and whisper on my ear strange musical suggestions. It’s all there on Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror to check out.

    Thank you very much for this interview! And by the way; the team behind this blog is just me 😉

    For more information about André and his music; check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Piotr Wiese – Somewhere Behind

    Today I’m introducing you to Polish composer, pianist and producer Piotr Wiese. Piotr have played the piano since the age of 8 and started composing music when he was about 14.

    At that time I inherited an old piano that my grandmother used to play. I never meet her though, as she passed away a long time before my birth. Anyway, the great and noble sound of the instrument enabled me to compose piano miniatures in a style similar to old masters such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and beloved Chopin.  Later on, I developed my own, subtle piano style deeply connected with modern way of piano playing with the use of felt between the strings and hammers.

    The track Somewhere Behind was released as a single in January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Somewhere Behind!
    Once I discovered a very specific piano sound, produced by putting a felt between the strings and hammers, I immediately fell in love with its ethereal quality. This fascination and love for my old Petrof upright piano that I have in my home studio, inspired me to record this piece. I tried to give the music some of its deep, intimate, and noble character. 

    Thank you for sharing your track with us Piotr!

    For more information, please go to any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Synchronicity

    Today I’m introducing to to the latest track by Thomas Hewitt Jones, the British composer which I have written about before here!

    This track is taken from the album Neoclassical, which was released late 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Synchronicity!
    This was written with the idea of two moving objects, perhaps two fast cars or two competitive cyclists, travelling alongside each other in gentle competition. It was based around the idea of built and sustained momentum.

    Thank you Thomas!

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