I have written before about the music of Michael Koch, and today we ge Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the music a bit better!
What’s your real name?
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I was born in Gütersloh, a small town in North Rhine Westphalia in Germany. with several stopovers in Bielefeld and Cologne my journey led me to Paderborn.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing the piano since I was 8 years old. And yes, I play guitar and besides my piano studies I also learned to play double bass.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
My mother also played the piano, and I wanted to create those beautiful sounds when I hit the keys like she did. When I was 13 I played keyboards in my first band, the guys were all 2-3 years older than me, so I was already allowed to deliver. This is how my music career started and my love for keys and sounds continued to develop
How long have you been making piano music?
As I said, I started playing the piano when I was 8 years old. I then had classical lessons until I decided to study music. So I had piano lessons almost continuously for about 20 years. I always played in bands at the same time, mostly keyboards. With time came more studio jobs, I also worked as a composer and producer in studios… I didn’t stop playing the piano, but since 2 years I have the strong feeling again to study it intensively.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
A giant universe opened up. Especially with the technical innovations that came along a little bit later. Suddenly you could write complete songs with a computer and sound modules, and already work with cool sounds. That was a great time, where you didn’t need the music paper and the pencil to express yourself musically anymore.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
One of my favourites since I was young was Keith Jarrett. That was more jazz, of course, but his free way of improvising fascinated me. Otherwise such amazing artists as Chick Corea, Esbjörn Svensson, Chilly Gonzalez, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds and many 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?
No. First I want to capture the moment and bring it to the piano. I take my time to gently break the silence with some first sounds. When nothing comes up I play some of my tracks, depending on the mood I’m in.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Let the music speak. I think we live in a time with no hard boundaries. We can use any genre and transform it. We should just be unbiased and just merge what comes to our mind, not paying attention to what others are doing, just following ourselves.
How do you record your music?
I do both. For my new album, I recorded in a big studio, Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Before, I tried to do it on my own, but I failed because of my perfectionism and got into a real orgy of editing and recording. Otherwise, I record in my studio.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
It doesn’t make a big difference between samples and recorded files.. The main thing is that it sounds authentic. You can also make samples sound natural. For strings, I like to use some as well to support the recorded ones. Percussion, for example, I also like to use samples, as I said, if they sound authentic to me.
Anything else you want to share?
For me, music is a language that can speak directly to the soul, if we are ready for it. We are living in very challenging times at the moment. I believe that we find most of the answers to the questions of our time within ourselves. I see my task in helping people with music to dive into their inner self and to recognize themselves, and maybe in this way I manage to make our world a little better place than it was before.
The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Thank your son for this really wise question. I wonder how old he is.
For me, the music comes out of the silence, and the moment. Silence is for me the source of all being, in which lies my inner voice. And when I hear it and I’m in the flow like that, it’s a wonderful feeling, which I then try to let flow into the keys.
Thank you very much for this Michael!