Behind the piano: William Philipson

Behind the piano: William Philipson

A while back I posted about some of Williams music, and today we go Behind the piano to get to know him a bit better!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I live and was born in Wellington, New Zealand. I studied at the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī in Wellington, and have found work working on music with the local film industry and the national Symphony Orchestra, which is also based in Wellington. So I feel quite lucky, as there few other places in New Zealand where I could do the kind of work I enjoy.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
I first started on the piano as a young kid and I hated it! I never practiced, until I found a love of rock music as a young teenager, and I picked up the guitar. As my love of music grew and became more diverse, I found myself coming back to the piano when I started studying music theory at University. Since then I haven’t stopped! 

Tell us about how you started playing music.
I distinctly remember a friend of my older brother showing me Metallica when I was 12 or 13, and being enthralled. I picked up the guitar immediately afterwards. 

How long have you been making piano music?
Towards the end of high school I became very interested in writing Orchestral music, I followed this through at University. At University I gravitated towards film music, and I became more and more interested in smaller ensembles and intimate sounds. The piano started to become a centre of my compositions. 

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
Writing my own music, is something I’ve always had a fantastication with. Even as a total beginner, I was writing my own terrible beginner songs. 

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Erik Satie is a composer I absolutely love. His music has such simplicity and beauty to it. 

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? 
Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes No.1 every single time. 

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I would like Universities, Conservatories and the classical community to able to talk about melody, emotion, and simplicity without contempt. Complicated music is not better than simple music. It’s just wiggy air. 

How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc. 
I record, edit, and mix all of my own music. I mostly work from a setup in my bedroom.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I love sampled instruments, I actually make many of my own. To be able to take any sound and to hold on it and to turn it into a unique personal instrument, is such an amazing tool for a composer. I am a part of the online community, where we share our own sample instruments with each other for free. The amount of free or cheap quality sample instruments out there these days is incredible. It is making it possible for an entire generation of composers who would have never had the opportunity to have their pieces played in a concert hall, to make music. 

Anything else you want to share?
Check out my website at to see and hear my other projects. I am primarily a film composer, feel free to browse my projects and have a listen! 

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 
All of my good melodies have come from play. The only way to come up with a good tune, is to feel it under your fingers. 

Thank you very much for your participation William!