Behind the piano: Umeå Bodø

Behind the piano: Umeå Bodø

I have previously posted about songs from the composer Umeå Bodø, and now it’s about time to get to know the person behind the name a bit better.

What’s your real name?
Udo Peter Mike Mechels

How did you come up with your artist name?
Since my music is inspired by beautiful landscapes, pure nature and the sea, I chose two Scandinavian cities as an artist name. And just for fun: when you combine the first letter of Umeå and the last two of Bodø, you can form my first name. 

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from Brussels, living in Antwerp.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I started playing piano and clarinet when I was 8, but my main instrument has always been my voice.

Tell us about how you started playing music.
Like most kids, my parents sent me to a music school, but I was more interested in sports at the time. I really started playing the piano and singing 3 or 4 hours a day when I was 16 years old.

How long have you been making piano music?
I wrote my first song Sunken Dreams some 3 years ago during a rehearsal of a play about suicide. I played the song to my wife (who is an actress), her fellow actor and the director. Since they burst into tears, I knew I had something there… 

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
Oh well, I guess I wrote my first songs and melodies when I was 16 or 17. The first time I put real emotions into a song, was when my dog and best friend died. Until now, some 25 years later, that’s still one of the things I do; putting emotions into songs.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I met Joep Beving on a tv-show and his music and his personal story inspired me to write and release piano music myself. I could easily list some popular names like Yiruma and Ólafur Arnalds, but I have to say that since I have a Soft Piano Spotify playlist, I discover a lot of talented people from all around the globe.  

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
No. I write a lot of pop music for different artists, so I always play new themes. Though I have to say that sometimes I play some boogie woogie stuff from the sixties, haha!

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think that writing music is about feelings, about instincts, so there shouldn’t be any rules. Even when you try to write commercial music, you are allowed to break rules (progressions, structures, tempi,…) and invent new ones.

How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio?
Both. For my next piano EP, I would love to invest in recording on different acoustic pianos.  

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
It’s common in commercial music. Don’t forget that youngsters learn to make music on their computer and that plug-ins are getting better and better. Some young talents make incredible music based on samples.

Anything else you want to share?
I just want to wish everybody a good health in these special times. Keep the faith, keep making music and stay safe!

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Haha, that’s the best question! Well, I have a secret room in my heart, where all kinds of tiny melodies are living. Sometimes I open that door and when a melody comes out, I will give it all my love and play with it the whole day. We make a lot of fun, we eat chocolate and cake and we drink a lot of milk so the melody can grow into a beautiful new song. 

Thank you a lot for participating in my Behind the piano series!

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