Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Luca Mazzillo

A while back I posted about the track Love Waves by the Italian composer an piano player Luca Mazzillo. Today, it’s his turn to step into the light of the Behind the piano series!

Here we go!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I live in Italy, in Rome, not downtown but near to the sea. Every day I drive along the seaside towards the company where I work as an electronic engineer.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
The past 8 years I have dedicating most of my spare time to the piano. Until that I played occasionally keyboards. I also play drums in the dance music revival 80-90’s band called conrispettoparlando. For a little while I also tried to play acoustic and electric guitar but at the end I gave up: too hard on my fingertips!

Tell us about how you started playing music.
I think I started when I was something like 10. My little brother received as a gift an old electric organ: it came with sheet music using numbers. Who can recognize this? 5653 5653 997 885 etc. I’ll tell you the answer later!

How long have you been making piano music?
I wrote my first composition at school, I was 13. The middle school music teacher, even having only one hour a week, managed to transmit me the basic notions to let me create music. Around 18 I wrote a lot of songs, mostly ballads, with lyrics and music arrangements. The piano was only one of the ingredients of those (unpublished) compositions.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
8 years ago, I was sitting in a cinema, near to my future wife, watching Intouchables, a beautiful French film with an incredible soundtrack. Einaudi’s piano tracks as Una mattina and Fly entered immediately in my head. In that exact moment, I realized I could make and publish piano music. 

What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
No doubt at all: the artist in my genre that I prefer is Ludovico Einaudi. I’ve been influenced a lot also by George Winston, Yann Tiersen, Yiruma. And in these days, I listen to music from Roberto Cacciapaglia, Olafur Arnalds, Dardust, Alexandra Streliski.

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Can I reply with 3 songs? If not, consider only the first one 🙂 Tree of Life suite (Oceano & Wildside mashup) from Roberto Cacciapaglia, Porz Goret from Yann Tiersen and I giorni from Ludovico Einaudi.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Honestly speaking, I think the only rule to follow in music (like in all arts), is producing something that is a pleasure to play and a pleasure to listen to. 

How do you record your music?
Luckily, in my home I have enough space for a grand piano, a digital upright piano and a digital portable piano. Nevertheless, digital piano and notebook are my favourite tools to record my music. Last EP Evolution has been performed on digital piano, and the sound is a modelled piano, an algorithm, not a sampled instrument. In previous albums I used the native sound of my digital piano: probably this sound was too perfect and “clean”. Of course, the principle reason of this home studio electronic setup, is for economic and time reasons. 

What’s your take on sampled instruments?
I’m absolutely positive about sampled instruments! Recently I found out about a software instrument that excellently reproduces acoustic pianos. I can edit tons of parameters to personalize the sound as I prefer: tune, hammer, pedal, strings, keys noise, effects. For me the result is absolutely realistic. All the technology that can help leading to result in less time with good quality is for me always welcome!

Anything else you want to share?
One of the bigger problems for a pianist when playing around is finding a piano. For some years I mounted my keyboard on a stand and performed my compositions. Although the sound of digital piano is quite good and realistic, you can’t say this about the aesthetics of an electronic keyboard. So, I decided to build by myself a lite furniture that could replicate an upright piano!

And, the question from my five-year-old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
For me is very simple: there is a precise moment when I’m inspired. Then I sit at the piano and notes flow by their selves through my fingers! The important thing is having possibility to record, in some way, this music, otherwise is lost forever: fortunately, nowadays, in our smartphone there is always a recorder handy.

By the way, the song in numbers mentioned above is Silent Night!

Thank you very much for this interview Luca!

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