Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Philip Campbell

Today it’s time to get to know Philip Campell a bit better! You can find the spotted post about him and his song Seeking here!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’ve lived in the small, coastal town of Larne in Northern Ireland all my life.  It’s the perfect blend of town, countryside and views of the Irish Sea.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I was sent to piano and violin lessons at age 8 and I’m now 34 so you could say that I’ve been playing piano for over 25 years.  In reality though my obsession was guitar, bass and banjo in my teens and 20s and it was only in the last 3-4 years that my main focus has come ‘full circle’ back to piano.

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
At school a few friends and I formed a 5 piece rock band, we played a few gigs when I was at university but ended up going our separate ways.  After that I actually ended up playing 5 string banjo in a bluegrass group for a few years.  Both a far cry from the ‘solo piano’ genre!

How long have you been making piano music?
I’ll never forget hearing Ludovico Einaudi perform ‘I Giorni’ on youtube in 2016.  It was unlike anything I’d heard or seen before.  One artist, one piano, one simplistic arrangement that was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’d ever experienced.  I immediately fell in love with solo piano and was inspired to try composing a few ideas myself.  That’s a long way of saying 3 years!

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
A few years ago my wife and I started the adoption process.  I remember sitting at the piano one night after hearing that things hadn’t worked out with an adoption application and feeling totally frustrated and disappointed.  Playing piano always relaxed me and I remember just repeating 2 single notes over and over again.  All of a sudden a simple melody came into my head; I added a few chords on the left hand and that became my first solo piano composition. (Here’s a link to the song Almost Home).

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
It’ll be no surprise that Ludovico Einaudi is first on the list.  I also love Goldmund, Joep Beving and Olafur Arnalds.  It’s great that Spotify playlists allow you to continually discover new artists; recently I’ve been listening to Anna Yarbrough’s albums ‘Divided’ and ‘Softer Sessions’, they’re fantastic.

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? 
That’s an easy one – ‘Berlin Song’ by Ludovico Einaudi.  I just love the chord voicings and dynamic variations he uses to produce the melody.

How do you record your music?
It’d be my dream to have a row of grand pianos lined up in a large studio but unfortunately it’s just me, a piano and a laptop at home. 

What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
For me solo piano as a genre already breaks the rules!  You don’t need 20 layered tracks, 40 instruments and an insanely technical arrangement to make amazing music.  One pianist and a carefully crafted, simplistic arrangement can create some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear.

What’s your take on sampled instruments?
I don’t think there should be any restrictions in creating music.  If sampled instruments are what you have available to you and enable you to create music in a way you enjoy, I say – go for it!

Anything else you want to share?
It ties in with the previous question about ‘rule breaking’ but I’ve found the ‘community feel’ among solo piano artists really challenges the competitive arena of mainstream music.  Sites such as ‘Sleepy Songs’ greatly help with this!

And the very last question from my son:
Where do all your songs come from?

(Tell your son, great question!)  I’ve found the hardest part is coming up with the ‘start’ of the song.  Once I’m happy with a few starting notes or chords, the rest of the melody seems to follow naturally.  Whatever mood I’m in or whatever has happened that day will help shape that melody.

Thank you very much Philip for these wonderful answers!

For more information, please check out any of these links:
Website / Spotify

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