Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Arttu Silvast

A while back I posted about one of Arttu Silvast’s track on the blog. And today it’s time to get to know this Finnish composer a bit better! Let’s go Beghid the piano!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m originally from a small seaside town called Hanko in southern Finland but I nowadays live in Helsinki, Finland. 

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I’ve been playing all my life starting at a very young age. Besides the piano, I play string instruments in general (guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele etc.), some flutes and wind instruments, drums (set), different percussion and lately I’ve been trying to master the Finnish Jouhikko. In general, I’m very curious about new sounds and instruments and I’m constantly trying to learn more. I don’t really master any instrument, for me, it’s enough if I can play it and create sounds with it on my own tracks. 

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
We had a piano at our house and my older sister played classical music. I was very keen on hammering the piano so my parents put me to a local music school. Later on, I played in bands but also started producing music.   

How long have you been making piano music?
I’ve been making music for maybe twenty to twenty-five years, I guess it includes piano music as well since it’s my main instrument. 

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I don’t know if I can remember the actual moment, but realising I could make my own music felt liberating and opened a new world of expression for me.  

What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
I have several which tend to change from time to time, but if I had to name one I’d probably say Philip Glass. 

Is there one song that you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
Lately, I’ve been playing my own songs Clouds Over Tynemouth and Polarity. 

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Now, this is a tricky question, but I think bending the rules leads to more interesting results than breaking or ignoring them.  

How do you record your music?
I have a studio at our house where I mostly record. I use the handheld recorder to record nature sounds and soundscapes outside. 

What’s your take on sampled instruments?
I use a lot of sampled instruments and orchestral libraries. I mostly prefer Spitfire Audio. In one sense, I’d prefer collaborating with real players with real instruments, but then again, I’m also afraid of losing control and giving my own composition to someone else. I think if you use sampled instruments as they’re supposed to be used as real instruments, I don’t think there is much of a sound difference between a sampled instrument or real recordings. What’s missing is the real emotion and expressiveness of the performance. Also, if you’re writing for sections it is not that easy to “code” real interaction between the players. 

Anything else you want to share? 
This might be more of a note to myself, but in this time of endless possibilities in making music, it is restrictions where you’ll find the most interesting and creative ways of creating new ideas and sounds. 

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 

My music comes from a combination of musical concepts that I try to combine with my own emotional memory. I usually think of events or how I deal with situations and reality emotionally and then try to write it down inside a musical concept or a given setting. 

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