Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Johan Famaey

Today we get under the skin of the Belgian composer and piano player Johan Famaey!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from Belgium and since 2012 I live in Hamme. 

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing the piano since age 10. I play many instruments, but those are the instruments that I can play at a very decent level: keyboards, accordeon, clarinet, pipe organ, trombone, trumpet, drums, double bass, salterio and electric and acoustic guitar and bass guitar. Nowadays I play mainly piano, drums, salterio (an Italian baroque hammered dulcimer) and double bass

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
I started playing music at around age 4 when my started teaching me the accordeon. My father played the accordeon I was very interested. I started playing on a small Horner accordeon which he used to play when he was a child.

How long have you been making piano music?
I have been making piano music since I started playing piano: I have been constantly creating my own tunes, next to playing repertoire.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I took it really serious to create my own music when I had to make music for my own band when I was 16 and when I was 17 to compose for the school orchestra.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
My favourite artists in my style of piano music are Michael Nyman, Wim Mertens, Yann Tiersen and Ludocivo Einaudi. But I also have the cinematic style which has resemblance in the music of Ennio Morricone and James Newton Howard.

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? 
Usually I play my own music and I often get ideas which result in new compositions. Besides that I often play music by Chopin with a very special personal feeling for his Ballade Nr 3. My other favorites are definitely Debussy and Rachmaninov.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Rules can be broken and should be broken if it serves the music. If the music demands unorthodox techniques it should be possible. I have used those in my more classical compositions. But again, only to serve the music, not because one knows how to use them for the sake of using them. 

How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
My recordings are a mix of being recorded and mixed by myself, others were recorded at Motormusic in Mechelen.  In the near future, very likely January if the situation is under control, I will have recordings done at the Galaxy Studios in Mol, which is the best studio in Belgium. 

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I make use of sampled instruments depending on the context and situation: when I have to play at a gig in a band or to accompany for more popular and musical music, I may play on a digital piano.For classical repertoire this is not done: I will always play on a acoustic grand piano. 

Anything else you want to share? 
What I’d like to share is that I (moon) wish that my music could (moon) touch people’s feelings because music should be felt. 🙂

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 
My son is 5 years old now. 5 years ago, when he was I think about 2 – 3 months old, I started playing piano music for him. The first one that came out was Dream Flight. I didn’t have a title at that time but the music really originated to let him fall  asleep. Not long after that I came up with the idea of Moon Touch and the title is Moon Touch because I created this when the moon was really shining and I was imagining that my boy would fly to the moon and touch the moon, imagine that ;-)All of the other piano works have been composed by night. I sleep very late, like about 2 am, and somehow, those nighty hours are my most creative hours. I love the peaceful nights and when all is quiet, some melodies start lingering in my head and that’s what you hear 🙂 

Thank you for this Johan!

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