Behind the piano: Samplehound

Behind the piano: Samplehound

A while back I wrote a little something about Samplehound and the track Rebuilding and today we go behind the piano to get to know the person behind the name a bit better. Let’s go!

What’s your real name?
My name is Richard Townsend, I’m known as Rich

How did you come up with your artist name?
I use a lot of sampled instruments in my music, and I have a dog! I put those together to suggest someone searching for the best sounds I can find.

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m from Colchester in the UK, and I live in London

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I started lessons when I was about 7 and I’m now 60. I’ve kept up with the piano almost all of that time. I play percussion instruments too, and I used to play drums and a bit of guitar, but not for quite a while

Tell us about how you started playing music.
My mum told me that I used to love playing along to records on pots and pans when I was very little – especially a track called ‘Have I the Right’ by the Honeycombs.

How long have you been making piano music?
I wrote a few things in my teens, but got serious about it in my 20s.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
The first time I thought I had written something good was in the mid 90s. Yes, I did have a moment when I though, Ooh I can do this!

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I like Nils Frahm and Ludovico Einaudi, and I get a lot of inspiration from Chick Corea, Lyle Mays, Debussy and Chopin.

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, not really.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
That’s an interesting question. For me, all the rules can be broken apart from two: the music must be emotionally engaging, and it must have a good architecture – by which I mean a good structure, arrangement and flow.

How do you record your music?
I have a small studio at home based on a laptop running Cubase and Dorico.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
They have to be used with care and they do have limitations. It’s very easy for sampled instruments to sound as if they are played by musicians who just don’t care. And certain types of music for strings are still pretty much impossible to render with samples. Sampled pianos are very good these days, and I use them in my music. The downside of recording sampled piano is that there is always latency to cope with, which does affect my playing. The upside is that it’s easy to edit the performance if it wasn’t quite right!

Anything else you want to share?
I think a great thing about the piano is that it likely to be around for quite a long time, and its sound doesn’t date. I enjoy using electronics in my music too, but I have to accept that electronically will sound of its time and eventually dated!

The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Sometimes I feel that a piece of music is ‘there’ and needs to be written. That’s more about an energy that needs to be expressed than it is about having any particular ideas. I generate most of my music by playing and some pieces are improvised. The music comes from inside and I can’t really describe how I write it. A lot of it uses internalised harmonic and melodic patterns, particularly jazz ones.

Thank you very much for sharing with us Rich!