Behind the piano: April Chung

Behind the piano: April Chung

Today we will go Behind the piano to get to know the piano player and composer April Chung. And I won’t say anything else. I’ll let April speak!

Let’s go Behind the piano!

What’s your name?
My full name is YuYin April Chung.

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I was born in Taipei City and moved to the states to study. I spent years in Boston, Los Angeles, Sacramento. Now I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I started playing piano at age 4, so it’s been 26 years! I also learned violin for 3 years when I was little. Then I picked up French Horn as my minor instrument and a Chinese instrument called Reedpipe.

Tell us about how you started playing music.
I started learning piano just because we got a piano at home for my older brother, but he didn’t enjoy it as much. Therefore I took over the instrument quite young by accident.( It turned out that I loved it so much and even got my bachelor and master degrees in piano performance! My life is a bunch of coincidences. ) I started composing for fun when I was about 8 years old because the Yamaha School has a program to accept original compositions from young children. I went to the auditions and got offers to perform my own works in several venues in Taiwan.

How long have you been making piano music?
I had been focusing on piano performance throughout my music school years. ( about age 12-24 in the conservatories )Then I started composing a lot more since the covid hit the world, which means I had a lot more time trying out different territories.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
When I got the offer to perform my own piece in the Novel Hall in Taipei, I was thrilled. However, the moment I realised that I could make my own songs didn’t really come until last year. The moment when I used music to convey the messages and feelings, it was incredible. It’s like having a magic pen to write down all my feelings that are impossible for words.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I enjoy Nicolai Kapustin, whose music is classical jazz but with the improvised sections written out. I also like Fazil Say and Brad Mehldau, who gave me lots of inspiration!

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?
I play music of Bach/ Chopin etudes to warm up. It has become a habit to me and I play random pieces depending on my mood. So I do not have any piece that I play over and over.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Are there rules?

How do you record your music?
The first album was recorded in a studio with a grand piano in Taipei City, the soon-to-be released one is from my bedroom with a digital piano in Amsterdam.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
Sampled piano is a totally new thing to me, which I didn’t try until a few months ago. Although there are great ones, I don’t feel the same satisfaction as real acoustic ones.

And the last question from my son:
Where do all your songs come from?

The ideas hit me especially when my mind is extra clear or extra disturbed. Lots of them are from taking walks, or moved by special events/movies/books/ scenes etc.

Thank you very much for this April!