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

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