Behind the piano: Shawn Kerr

Behind the piano: Shawn Kerr

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the track Fluke by the Canadian composer Shawn Kerr. And this weeks it’s time to step into the mind of Shawn!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m from a small town in Canada called Parry Sound. I moved to Toronto to dive into the vibrant music scene and have been loving it. Although Parry Sound will always be my home.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
Piano is something I’ve been picking back up pretty recently. It was the first instrument I learned when I was about 7, but it never really stuck. Drumset was my first love when I was about 13, I joined some bands in highschool and played all throughout University as well. I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 18 and after going through phases of one instrument or the other, it feels like now I find joy in playing piano, guitar and drums whenever I can.

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
Growing up I followed most things my older brother did. Music was definitely one of them. My brother bought a drum set and I would make frequent visits to his room to smash away on them. It became a nightly habit that stuck for a while. 

How long have you been making piano music?
I’ve been writing piano music for a couple years now but my new track “Fluke” was the first piano composition I made that fit into my EP “Blue Light” I was working towards. Right now the piano seems to fit quite well sonically in everything I’m working on so it’s here to stay for the time being.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I can’t say I remember a particular moment, but it’s more of a feeling I chase after. I remember in the early days how stoked I would get when you finally get that lyric or that riff you’ve been hunting for. Most of the time it feels so out of my control. Wait for that wave to come and catch what you can when it comes your way.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
A few of my biggest inspirations I would say are Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and Niklas Paschburg.

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
I love reworking some of my older songs, transposing them from guitar to piano. There’s this song I used to have called,” Waves” and I’m really enjoying the arrangement on piano.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think you should break whatever “rules” you want if those rules are holding you back from fully realizing your vision. I think “rules” in music are only useful if you know how they serve a purpose and knowing when that purpose may not be beneficial to your idea.

How do you record your music?
I have a small studio set up in my bedroom in Toronto. It’s pretty DIY and I love it that way. If I ever need to record drumset, I’ll rent some studio time for the space. I also only have midi keyboards in my room but for writing and recording piano, but there’s a café down the street that has a beautiful upright piano. The owner has been kind enough to let me in after hours and do some writing and recording. 

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
Whatever can get your idea from out of your brain and into the computer fastest is extremely valuable. For writing, sampled instruments are such a practical solution for trying out ideas when you are a solo artist or you don’t have the means to have the real thing at your disposal. I do feel differently towards releasing something with heavy sampled instruments. It’s completely personal though. If you love the way your sampled strings or sampled drums sound, go for it! There’s far too many reasons people don’t release music they are working on and only having access to sampled instruments shouldn’t be one of them.

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 
That’s a great question! One I ask myself most of the time haha. Whenever I get back from a trip or some kind of grand experience, the juices are flowing and I’m just trying to grab whatever I can that flows out.  

Thank you Shawn!

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