Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Starr Parodi

And so the week continues! Today I’m having a talk with American composer and piano artist Starr Parodi!

What’s your real name?
A lot of people think Starr is not my real name, or that my parents were hippies when they named me :-). Starr is a family name and my grandparents last name – so it is my real name after all.

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I was born in Los Angeles California and I have lived here most of my life. I love it here, there is so much beauty in Southern California and so many creative people.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I took piano lessons for 1 year where I was about 7years old, and then I quit because I had a terrible teacher who I was scared of! I started playing again when I was 14 and took it very seriously, practicing 6-8 hours every day. I went away to Interlochen Arts Academy (a music/arts high school) and surrounded myself with the piano and music from that time forward. I also play keyboards, and percussion, and drums (kind of).

Tell us about how you started playing music.
I was inspired by listening to friends in bands and started playing piano and writing as a bit of an escape from the world. It took me to a different place that I could really lose myself in and express my emotions. I had some wonderful teachers who also understood me and really inspired me to be creative and to see pictures in my head as I play – which I think lead me to be a film and tv composer as well as a pianist.

How long have you been making piano music?
I’ve been making music ever since I was a young teenager, however, I got a lot of gigs playing synthesizer in many bands and didn’t have much chance to play the piano as a solo instrument other than practicing, I am also a film and TV composer and In 2006 I was recording some music for a film project I was working on, and just started playing the piano and improvising, My husband Jeff Fair (who is also my writing partner and an amazing producer and engineer) said, let’s record this and see what happens and that’s how my first solo piano album “Common Places” came into existence. I feel like I really found my “voice” on the piano recording that album. Since then, I have continued to compose cinematic music for film & tv and I always try to feature the piano when it is appropriate. I have also recorded other solo piano albums and have always experimented with finding new timbres and textures that the piano can create, whether its using electronics * filters on the acoustic piano or piano preparation with fabrics and felt to give it a unique sound.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I think I was very young and have always written songs, ever since I can remember. I hear them in my head first.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
There are SO many artists who I love in this genre, and in many styles within the piano genre. Olafur Arnalds is one of my favorites, Dustin O’Halloran, Ludovico Einaudi, Christine Brown, David Nevue, and in the jazz realm, Billy Childs, Keith Jarrett, Michael Wolff, Herbie Hancock

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?
Memories of Tomorrow by Keith Jarrett (the version from the Koln Concerts live album)

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
All of them!!!!

How do you record your music?
I have a really beautiful recording studio at my home and I’m so blessed to have a1928 Steinway B piano that was actually on the MGM soundstage during the late 1920’s thru the 1930’s,. It is rumored that the Wizard of Oz was recorded on this piano. It still has the MGM tag from the soundstage on its leg.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I love the synthesizer when it sounds like a synthesizer – all the amazing interesting sounds it creates, but when it comes to sampled instruments that are emulating live instruments, I feel like the live instruments really breathe and have a life that sampled instruments just don’t have the capacity to have. Samples still sound great, but I truly love the real thing more.

Anything else you want to share?
Music brings healing and peace and light to the world and I feel so fortunate to be someone who creates music.

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
I love this question – you have a very insightful son! They come from a place I think beyond myself. Sometimes I feel like I am just channeling what is coming through me. Inspired by God, spirituality, my ancestors, pieces I heard long ago as a child and forgot them may find a way into my songs, emotions that run the gamut of highs and lows, all those things are in my songs.. That’s about the only answerI can think of about where they come from.

Thank you very much for this Starr!

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