A while back I wrote about the track In the half light by the amazing piano player and composer Laura Christie Wall. Since today is a Thursday, let’s do a Behind the piano post about her!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m from Wales, UK and have lived here all my life. It’s a very inspiring landscape for music!
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I’ve been playing for about 17 years, though I took a break in my early twenties. I don’t play any other instruments at the moment, but it is a goal of mine to learn the cello one day.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
I wouldn’t say that I come from a particularly musical family, I only began playing experimentally on a small keyboard I was gifted one Christmas as a child. I would play around with different melodies and try to recreate my favourite pieces by ear, such as Einaudi’s ‘I Giorni’. I decided then to pursue music properly in my teenage years, taking piano lessons and later, beginning to compose my own pieces.
How long have you been making piano music?
I wrote my first composition for solo piano at around 15 years of age, which featured on my debut EP ‘Things I Couldn’t Say’ back in June 2019. After this it wasn’t until early last year, when I was approached by Blue Spiral Records that I decided to write and release my own music properly.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
It is a great feeling to be able to convey an emotion, a thought or a memory through music, without the need even for words. I suppose at first it was a form of self-expression for me, a personal way of giving life to my innermost thoughts and feelings; and then over time allowing myself to become comfortable enough with myself and the music to share these most vulnerable parts of myself with others. Composing gives me a sense of belonging, when I write a song I really connect with it’s almost like coming home, arriving at a place I was always meant to be.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
My first and main influences are Olafur Arnalds and Ludovico Einaudi, but recently I have had the opportunity to connect with many great independent musicians of the modern classical genre and have discovered great music from the likes of Jesse Brown, Sophie Hutchings and many more.
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?
The first piece on my fingertips without fail is always Olafur Arnalds’ Saman. There is something so calming about this song, I find its simplicity incredibly relaxing, and the melody timeless.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think the great thing about modern music is that there are no rules. Music takes on so many different forms now and can be expressed in infinite ways, and so the boundaries are constantly being redefined by the many great independent musicians of today who continue to reinvent themselves and create their own unique and signature sounds.
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
For me the composition part of the process takes place at home, on my acoustic upright piano, generally at night when the rest of the world is quiet. I find the nuances of a real piano; the pedal sound, mechanical noises and feeling the weight of the keys under my fingers are very inspiring during the creative stages of writing music. Depending on the sound I wish to achieve, I will then either record in a studio or at home using a library of sampled instruments.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
There is of course, no comparison to the experience of playing an acoustic grand piano in a beautiful concert hall, but I do believe that the great quality of sampled instruments today provides independent musicians like myself a good opportunity to be able to compose and share our music with others without the constraints of being both time and financially limited. And especially during the recent Covid pandemic, being able to work with sampled instruments from the comfort of your own home, it’s truly never been easier to be a musician!
The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Sometimes, I hear a melody in my mind and use it as the main theme for a song, embellishing and recreating it in different ways to create a full piece. More often than not though it begins as nothing more than a feeling, an intrinsic urge I get to sit at the piano and see what flows naturally in that moment.
Thank you very much for this!