Behind the piano: Charley van Veldhoven

Behind the piano: Charley van Veldhoven

Some time ago I posted about the tune Vortex by the composer Charley van Veldhoven from the Netherlands. Today, I put her again in the spotlight to let all of you get to know her better!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from the Netherlands. ‘Holland’. And I live in Utrecht! A very cute city in the center of the Netherlands. 

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
From the age of 7 I have had piano lessons but I know I started playing a bit before. From the age of around 8 I started composing and entering composing competitions for kids which was really fun! I also sing a little bit and I play the accordeon! And a little guitar, but not yet as good as I want it to be. 

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
My parents had a big old upright from some bar with really yellow keys etc. but I remember always being drawn to it and playing on it trying things out. 

How long have you been making piano music?
Since I was 8. I have a recording from a piece I made for a competition that was then performed by professional artists which sounds AMAZING! But probably mostly because they made it sound nice, haha. 

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I think this realisation came quite quickly as I always kind of improvised on the piano and I was always looking for ways to alter songs in a different way. So if I had a song that I had to learn for pianolessons that was in a Major key I would transform it to a minor key. Stuff like that. 

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I am a big fan of Hiromi Uehara and Chick Corea. I love their playing and their style! Listened to them bigtime. 

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? 
Not really… I often start someting new immediately. I have a couple of chords I wrote a while back that I use often because I really like them but don’t really know how to make a composition of it just yet. 

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
All the rules and also no rules! I think whatever sounds good sounds good and a lot of it depends on how you play it. You can make even the ‘strangest’ chords sound good if you play them in the right musical way. I love to go to the most crazy places when I am improvising and I have composed a lot of atonal music in the past. However I also love pieces that might be a bit more ‘conventional’ with melodies that come from old classical music. I do think that  exploring the instrument a bit more could make very interesting music. 

How do you record your music?
Always myself! And usually with a little help of my friends that also work in music production. For my latest album I recorded it on 3 different pianos and eventually chose the recording I liked the most!

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I think a lot of it depends on what you do with it (how you mix it) and how you use it. In lots of electronic music a  sampled instrument might even sound better. However for solo piano I do prefer when an artist has a great recording of the piano. But I also know this is not always possible for anyone. 

Anything else you want to share? 
Thank you for interviewing me, haha! And also I want to encourage pianists (especially classical pianists) to experiment with their instruments, find new sounds! You might get to crazy places with it you never thought you’d make!

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

My songs come from a very dreamy place in my mind! ❤️ I always go here when I feel emotional or sad and then I play and make new music. 

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

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