Behind the piano

Behind the piano: Voga

What’s your real name? How did you come up with your artist name?
My real name is Owen Vaga. I was brainstorming about what to call myself before my first release – a friend, knowing that I disliked coming up with titles and names, commented that I should just swap out a vowel from my last name and it ended up sticking.

Where are you from? And where do you live?
Born and raised in Toronto, where I’m currently living.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I’ve been playing piano since I was five. For other instruments, I also play synthesizers on my tracks. Clarinet was my secondary instrument, and I’d love to start playing more guitar.

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
Growing up, we had a piano at home that many of my older siblings played. It quickly became a want for me to learn how to play as well. I mostly practiced classical music, as well as some pop songs and soundtrack transcriptions that I liked.

How long have you been making piano music?
I attempted to write piano music starting from when I was a teenager – I was too shy to let anyone to hear my pieces so I would always put down the felted pedal that some uprights have. I guess it’s funny now that felted pianos are something I use to record with today.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I don’t know if there was a specific moment, but taking the music away from manuscript paper and just starting to improvise really helped my writing process. Before that, I’d always jot down ideas on paper and try to perfect each bar before moving on. I found it difficult to complete anything this way.

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Too many to choose! I find myself always returning to minimalist classics – things that have stood the test of time and influenced the next wave of artists. Arvo Pärt comes to mind. I also have to mention my frequent collaborator and friend Alaskan Tapes. He was one of my first introductions into the world of contemporary classical piano and ambient music, and I can always pick out his style when I hear it.

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Anything by Chopin or Debussy.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Everything! Taking risks and experimentation should always be a part of any art form, even if the result isn’t always successful.

How do you record your music?
The recording locations range from studios to apartment bedrooms and everything in between. Sometimes I’m by myself, but I prefer someone else to record while I focus on the producing, composition/arrangement and performance. I often work with audio engineer Dennis Patterson from “Big Smoke Audio.”

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
They have a time and a place. It depends on what sound you’re going for, what genre, how you decide to manipulate them, etc. Personally, I’ve never used sampled pianos or strings for Voga releases.

Anything else you want to share? 
Thank you so much for all your questions! I’ve got many more projects planned for this year that I’m excited to share.

The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 

I think my music just comes from ideas or moods I’m thinking at the time. Many themes I enjoy exploring, identity is a big one, things that are constantly shifting and I use music as a way to figure it out and articulate it. It’s an evolving process.

Thank you for this Owen!

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