• Spotted!

    Spotted: Mirek Coutigny – The Stairs

    Today I’m introducing you to the track The Stairs by the Belgian composer and piano player Mirek Coutigny living in Ghent. Mirek has studied classical piano and composition but turned more towards electronic music in the last couple of years. 

    The track The Stairs is taken from the album The Further We Ventured which was released mid February of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track The Stairs!
    “The Stairs” was originally written for a contemporary dance performance, and was set to accompany a very poetic descent from a staircase by the dancers. I imagined it as a staircase in an apartment building, where every door looks the same, but has a different story behind it. 

    Thank you Mirek!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Omar Raafat

    A while back I introduced you all to the track The portrait by the composer Omar Rafaar, and now it’s time to get to know the person behind the song a bit better.

    What are your thoughts on artist names?
    I thought about this for a while but I wanted to use my real name at the end instead of using a generic artist name, just made more sense since the music I am writing is truly from within. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Cairo, Egypt and live in Victoria, BC in Canada. I moved around a lot when I was younger from Europe to Egypt to the US and then finally to Canada.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started out playing guitar at the age of 10 and then at around 13 I switched over to playing drums. I also starting recording and playing around with recording equipment and using a midi keyboard very early on. That allowed me to use the piano a little more and learned how to play because of my writing. I only really started to play piano 5-6 years ago but for me it is more a composing tool than an instrument I am good at. I can play a little bit of guitar, piano and drums just enough for me to be able to express myself with them. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started at a young age and was motivated by watching my father play the guitar. He would always come back from work and play and sing so I naturally followed. I became highly passionate about music and played in a lot of different bands growing up.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Piano music is a recent thing for me, I have always been putting music together and playing around and composing. I write a lot of different types of music but only recently decided I wanted to make a minimalistic album that has only real organic instruments. I also love the sound of a muted piano with the felt on it. It gives it a very intimate sound that really inspired me to write the album with it as its focus. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I started out playing around with recording software and just putting things together. I always had the difficulty of finishing pieces that I wrote and then slowly I got over that and started to really push myself to finish any track I started. I also love hearing tracks in different and new genres that challenge me and inspire me to try and write and learn to make it. That is why I love film music as it is very versatile and brings in a new challenge always. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    These days I am listening to a lot of Olafur Arnalds. His music is a huge inspiration on me and the album I just wrote. He has taught me that you don’t need to over complicate music for it to be impactful. He really knows how to connect and move an audience. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I would have to say the track “Time is Lost’ from my album. I actually don’t know a lot of peoples songs on the piano and usually just use the piano as a composing and inspirational tool. I always sit and play “Time is Lost” whenever I sit at the piano for some reason.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think people are doing a good job of breaking rules in music these days. I also think we are seeing the listeners not really caring about rules which allows a lot more innovation.  Instruments are tools and fuel inspiration even if they are not used in a conventional way. The music that stands out the most is the ones that are doing something really different.

    How do you record your music?
    I record everything at my home studio. I come from the studio background, working at different studios in my career so I have a decent setup where I can record and do everything at my own place.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I like sampled instruments for what they are. I am always impressed with them and use them when writing tv/film work. I do think they have huge limitations and we should be careful using them. They are great for sketching and coming up with ideas. The album “A Way Home” that I just finished was fuelled by me being tired of writing with virtual instruments all the time. I wanted to go the complete opposite and write an album that used zero sampled  instruments. I think it is really important to use real musicians and sampled instruments don’t have the realism and life that real players do. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I am really excited to put out my first solo album “A Way Home” on February 7th. It was inspired by the nature in the area where I live in the pacific north west.  The album is a concept album and is really meant to be heard in order as if it is one long piece. 

    And the usual question my five year old son once asked me:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    That is a great question. For myself, I am inspired by sounds and instruments. I can pick up an instrument and just use it for some sounds that really inspire a piece of music. Different instruments will get me to write very differently and they will fuel the inspiration. Being outdoors with wide open spaces and beautiful surroundings make it easy for me to write as well. I definitely value nature and our surroundings and need to go out often. 

    Thank you for participating in my Behind the piano series Omar!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jacaszek – The Zone

    Today I’m introducing you to the Polish composer Jacaszek based in Gdańsk. Jacaszek has been dealing with music and sound art for past 15 years. An important side of Jacaszek’s art activity is composing film scores. 

    The field of “electro-acoustica” is the main point of my interest as a composer. My work is generally a digital processing of acoustic sources. I am also deeply interested in sounds of nature. 3 of my albums are based on field recordings.

    The track The Zone is released as a single, but will also be featured on the album Music for Film out March 27th via Ghostly International.

    Tell us something about your track The zone!
    The Zone was originally composed for the Estonian film “November” by Rainer Sarnet. The original arrangement contained harp and hammer dulcimer only, the cue was not used it did not function in the scene it was intended for.

    But I loved the piece so much (it is one of my favourites) so I decided to transcript it for piano and include it into the album. No better opportunity to share it with people.

    Thank you very much for sending me this song!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Matt Koranda – Farewell, Pt. I

    Today I’m introducing you to the German composer and piano player Matt Koranda;

    I live nearby the Lake of Constance, the deep water connection between Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  My zodiac sign is Aquarius. I don’t know, if this is coincidence.

    Matt’s greatest inspirations comes from classical composers like Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven but he also likes to listen to New Age, Rock and mainstream Pop Music.

    The track Farewell, Pt. I is the opening track from the album Desperation which was released late January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Farewell Part I!
    This track is a spontaneous recording of a piano improvisation I performed to the dead of a friends pet named Hunter, a cute hamster. Farewell Part I and the much deeper elaborated Part II work like an embracing to the album “Desperation” with its narrative character about someones sorrow and desperate moments in life.

    Thank you Matt for sending me this tune!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Umeå Bodø – Lonesome Kingfisher

    Today I’m introducing you to Umeå Bodø and the track Lonesome Kingfisher.

    To me, it is not important who is writing the songs, as long as I and other listeners are touched by them, and as long as melodies soothe our souls.

    So thats the introduction you’ll get to the composer!

    Tell us something about your track Lonesome Kingfisher!
    I chose the project name Umeå Bodø because of the beauty of the Nordic countries, which inspires me endlessly. I wrote most of the Umeå Bodø songs a few years ago, but now I invested some time and money to record and release them. When writing Lonesome Kingfisher, in my mind I was flying over the sea, waking up to the beauty of the fjords, seeing the sun come up. That’s all there is to it.

    Thank you for sharing this track with us!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Ascending Everest – Vienna

    Today I’m introducing you to London based composer Stephen Martin and the latest track, Vienna, by his project Ascending Everest. Stephen has been playing piano for as long as he can remember, and for the past years he has also been making neo classical and ambient compositions.

    Vienna is released as a single, but will also be featured on the EP called Islands, which will be released in late March.

    Tell us something about your track Vienna!
    Vienna is about visiting a new place for the first time, with someone that you care about. Each person is exploring and sharing their experience with the other, which I tried to capture with a wandering feel throughout the track. I had the opening five notes in my mind for a while, but it wasn’t until mid-January when I had the inspiration for the shared experience theme. After that, the track came together in the space of a couple of evenings, and I’m really pleased with the result.

    Thank you for sending your track to me Stephen!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Erez Aviram – Rechter

    Today I’m introducing you to Israeli composer and piano player Erez Aviram and his track Rechter. Erez started playing the piano at the age of six and immediately started making his own compositions.

    After releasing an album with a progressive rock band, I started to compose music for films and the concert stage.

    Th track Rechter is featured on one of two Piano Solo EPs, the first was released on February 6th 2020 and the second is set to be released later this year.

    Tell us something about your track Rechter!
    Rechter is an instrumental tribute piece to a musical father who guided me (spiritually) throughout my childhood years as a kid playing the piano. It is named after the Israeli songwriter Yoni Rechter, who forged jazz and classical music elements into mainstream music and children songs. 

    Thank you for sharing this with us Erez!

    For more information and updates, go to any of these pages:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: We dream of Eden

    A while back I introduced you to the track Walk on Water by the American artist We Dream of Eden, and now it’s time to get to know the person behind the name a bit better!

    What is your real name?
    Kirk Kienzle Smith

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I love the idea of Eden. The beautiful abundant garden we were given to live in, and enjoy, and take care of. I wanted to make music that sounded like what I thought Eden looked like. I wanted the music to give people a sonic landscape to have hope, to think and pray and reflect…to dream of what could be. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    Originally I’m from a small town in Massachusetts, but when I was a teenager I moved with my family to Memphis TN. So I am half Yankee and Half southern boy I guess. : ) 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing piano on and off since I was 5 years old. I have recently started playing the Bass and the Guitar but piano is my first love. I also play the computer. Meaning I use software to record compose music. I look at the computer as just another instrument. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    My Grandfather was a piano player, really amazing and I think seeing him play started it all. I remember my teacher teaching me the blues scale and I would run that scale up and down for hours. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever!

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been composing and writing ideas out since I was a kid. Even writing some “blues” tunes when I was 8 or 9 years old. I got into music production after college and that has been my main creative outlet for year. I have only recently started releasing music as an artist since last year. Its a whole different world but I am really enjoying it! 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I remember it well. I was probably 18, in this empty room of old church with a 100 dollar yamaha keyboard making a “beat” on it. An older man was walking by and heard the music coming out of the keyboard. He stoped and asked if I had made it. I said yes, and he said “That’s great, keep at it you never know where it will take you.” I think his belief in me gave me permission to believe in myself. Its always stuck with me, and I try to be like that with my students. Because its true!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I think my favorites are guys like Thomas Newman and James Newton Howard. I love there approach to harmony and the openness and space they give to their music.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I don’t really have a song that I play over and over… unless I’m practicing! But recently I have been trying to learn some of the main jazz standards, it really helps me develop more complex chord voicings. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    If a rule gets broken often enough it will eventually become a new rule. Someone will figure out what the rule breaker did and make a rule out of it. I think thats fine and probably helpful to move art forward. To me rules are not always meant to be broken they are meant to be our teachers. If you look at Jazz music for example, they really were taking classical harmony and moving it forward. Not breaking the rules so much as extending the vocabulary. To me rules are recipes. If you want a really good “carrot cake” and someone has rules to make it.. great! No need to break the rule. But…. its not illegal to try and use sweet potatoes instead of carrots. (as long as you think it tastes good) and thats the key for me .taste… no need to break a rule just for the sake of breaking a rule… Its about an artist expressing themselves with intentionality and taste. So whatever rules they need to follow or break to make that happen is great. 

    How do you record your music?
    I have a small home studio where I do all of my work. I record, mix, and master everything right there in a little 10-14 space. It quite amazing what you can do these days!

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I absolutely love sampled instruments I have a real piano but I also have a midi controller. This thing I love about sampled instruments is that I can have access to a thousand different textures and rooms all with leaving my house! Its amazing and the quality of the sound and feel just keeps getting better. I have recently started recording my upright for some projects. Its a little noisy and a bit out of tune, the keys click a little so it not really “idea” but for what I do sometimes thats where the magic is. I really like the imperfect tones that come from old pianos. Its not always the appropriate thing for a composition and sometimes it can cause problems later on but as a person who makes most of my music inside a computer I am rediscovering the joy of a piano vibrating in a room, even if its a little out of tune. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    If you are reading this and you ever felt like you wanted to play the piano.. you should start. If you play the piano and always wanted to write music..you should start. If you write music and always wanted to record and release music…. you should start. It’s never too late! Don’t spend time in regret of what you haven’t done yet. Just start now, its ok to just start now. Who knows where it will take you!

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    They come from everywhere… from a picture, from a movie, from something my son said to me, from something I read in a book, from a conversation with a friend, or just from stopping and taking a really slow breath in the silence… a song can come from there too. They’re everywhere if you are listening! 

    Thank you for this Kirk!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Sion Trefor – Engleby / Nightdriver

    Today I’ introducing you to the track Engleby / Nightdriver by British composer Sion Trefor living in Cardiff, Wales. Sion has been touring Europe since he was twelve years old; from classical solo piano concerts to electro clubs. Recently he has settled into a life of blissfully reclusive composition and production. 

    The track Engleby / Nightdriver is released as a single but us also featured in the EP Fallout, which came out late January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Engleby / Nightdriver!
    The track Engleby / Nightdriver is released as a single, but The track itself is rooted in my experiences with insomnia – not cool David Fincher insomnia – but a chronic insomnia I’ve wrestled with since I was a kid. As soon as I was old enough to be behind the wheel often I’d cope by heading out into the night and driving for hours on end, usually until sunrise, with reams of manuscript and cigarette papers shuffling around in the passenger seat. So on one level it’s a love song to insomniacs, on another it’s a piece that expresses how my creativity and sleeplessness are inextricably linked. 

    In terms of how it was composed – I’ll write a piece in my mind first (usually away from the studio), then once I’m in and at the piano I’ll run with it for a few takes until I land on something that feels most honest. Same applies for the string work – I’m a fan of leaving strings sounding a bit restless and raw, so the recording process is usually pretty swift if I’m in the right frame of mind; I’ll take a rougher take that’s true to how I feel over a blander, but technically polished rendition any day. 

    Thank you Sion for sharing this with us!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jeisen – Born

    Today I’m introducing you to the American composer and studio musician Jaisen (pronounced like the more common spelling, Jason). Jaisen grew up playing classical piano

    I have been inspired the likes of Richard Clayderman, Yiruma, Nils Frahm, Ludovico Einaudi, and George Winston for decades and often listen to their music when driving to calm my nerves and focus on the road. 

    The track Born is taken from the EP with the same name, which was released on the 14th of February.

    I also love the pun of the album title (Born) and my name (Jeisen), which also happens to sound like one of my favorite movie characters, Jason Bourne. 

    Tell us something about your track Born!
    Last year, a good friend was involved in two car accidents, neither of which were her fault. She knew I listened to solo piano music when driving, and asked if I had ever composed and released some of my own relaxing solo piano music, in hopes that it may also help her and others on their commutes stay focused and calm while on the road. So, in late November 2019, I decided to do just that.

    When not in the studio with other musicians, I regularly play solo piano gigs, at which I often find myself improvising, instead of solely sticking to a predetermined setlist, so I felt it natural to have my debut EP be fully-improvised. When I arrived at the studio, I just sat down at the grand piano, and had the engineer record whatever flowed through my mind and out my fingers. None of my playing was edited, and everything was recorded live–one-take of each improvised piece, without any tweaks or punch-ins. Upon listening,

    Thank your for sharing this with us Jeisen!

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