A while back I wrote about the song Afon by the British composer and piano player David Pepper. Today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the song a bit better!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from Fishguard, which is a coastal town in West Wales within the County of Pembrokeshire which is home to the Uk’s only Coastal National Park. After studying at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England and also living abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland I am now back and based in Fishguard where I work as a musician, composer, pianist & curator of cultural events.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing since around the age of 10 and also learnt the Trombone as we have a really good Brass Band locally. My main instrument is very much the piano now and I don’t get much time to play brass much but it was very influential growing up as it enabled me to play in large ensembles which was not often the case with the piano in earlier years.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
I started to have piano lessons outside of school and also learned various brass instruments with the local Goodwick Brass Band and also individual lessons within School for the Trombone. I then started to take music more seriously and choose to focus on it as a career and decided to study Music at a College of the Arts.
How long have you been making piano music?
I have been making piano music from a very early age but I am only starting to release my piano music now.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
As I was learning the piano once the technique developed and I learnt more complex harmonies & Scales it came to naturally to go on exploring these myself often through improvisation. From then it is a questions of sketching down some of the better ideas and forming a score and then recording.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I admire what Olafur Arnalds is doing by merging organic and electronic sounds through some really exciting use of technology. I was really into a lot of late classical and Romantic era also, with composers such as Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin. Philip Glass is also another bug influence.
Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Over the last year or so I have been spending a lot of time performing, composing and improvising a project I am working on called Finisterre which Afon is the first track to be released. Other composers would be Metamorphosis by Philip Glass.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think you have to try and make music that you feel inspired by yourself. Structure is important in music but that does not have been created in the conventional form, there have been so many interesting ways of making music over the last 100 years. Many of which are yet to brought into the mainstream or fully accepted.
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
I record sketches myself and then I record at studio in Pembrokeshire called StudiOwz which is a converted chapel in rural Pembrokeshire that is very peaceful and they have a lovely Bechstein Model C Semi Concert Grand Piano 7’4
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I have not used samples on my latest recordings but I am open to this in the future and as I mentioned I do admire the work of Olafur Arnalds and also the Berlin Composer Nils Frahm. I think the use of sampled instruments are relevant and connected to today’s sound world and society and I would definitely like to explore this especially in live sets and bigger venues to create a more multi dimensional sound world.
The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Songs come from my environment and experiences
Thank you very much for this David!