• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: André Luiz Machado

    A while back I posted about the tune Sonnet by André Luiz Machado and Manos Charalabopoulos. Now it’s time to get to know the first of the two composers a bit better!

    What’s your name? 
    André Luiz Gomes Machado

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    My artist name is almost the same as the real one. I’ve just removed the middle section, nonetheless it was too late when I realised there were so many André Luiz Machado’s in other professions while searching on google, but at least, not a second composer or musician.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Brazil and currently live in my hometown called Goiânia, centrally located in the heart of the country, in the State of Goiás. I have lived for two years in the UK where I met Manos during our master’s degree at the University of Bristol, and in 2020 I’m heading further to the West, moving my home studio to Vancouver, Canada.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 14, but I don’t consider myself a pianist, but a very passionate composer who use these magical keys to write music for film and games, and concert music for great performers such as Manos. So, it’s been 23 years since I started studying piano. I also studied classical guitar and my main performance instrument is the voice; I’m a Classical singer, too.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing music when I was 10, studying Classical guitar and dreaming about becoming a famous rock star on a great heavy metal band and afterwards, on a top progressive rock group. Prog rock music brought me to the world of Classical music, and believe it or not, my first contact with Debussy’s works was through a 70’s prog group called Renaissance. Debussy’s prelude La cathédrale engloutie opened one of its songs and absolutely amazed me, and there I started to be influenced by an impressionist aesthetic. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since the beginning of my piano studies I loved to improvise on the instrument, but my first written and complete work for piano solo dates from 2003 I guess.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It is funny to mention that. When I was 13, I was already playing in rock bands, but my taste was being driven towards a Classical music approach present on some melodic heavy metal bands and progressive rock groups. I started feeling rejected on the band I was playing for some of these individual differences in taste, and so I started foreseeing me in the long future sitting alone in a room, playing the keyboard and completely writing music on my own. So I got a keyboard, and music has started to flow. However, only some years later that I decided to become a Classical and Film music composer, and joined the university to the study composition and singing.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Debussy and Villa-Lobos are my favorite composers for the genre, followed by Eric Satie, Ravel, Chopin, Liszt. Currently, I am very impressed with the works for piano by Tigran Hamasyan as well. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    The songs I have not put down on paper yet… : ) Actually, the piano score to the film Atonement by Dario Marianelli, one of my favourite film scores from all time, is set on the piano for a month already, and I love to play some of its music these days before my studio work time. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Many people is eager to fit their own music and from others on a particular genre or style, and many times they even get lost when they are not able to classify them. Sometimes this needs to be broken, in my opinion. Studying and understanding the rules are also of extreme importance not to be strictly followed but to guide oneself to find and polish his/her own voice.

    How do you record your music?
    It depends on the work and budget for each project. We had a great recording and production team for the album Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror (Works for Piano Solo), which was recorded in a theater in my hometown in Brazil using a great German Steinway, too. Next year I will also be releasing the soundtrack for a lovely game called Josh Journey: Darkness Totems that was recorded on a great studio with a Medieval and Baroque musical group playing post-modern music with some Celtic and Brazilian folk influences. But there are many low budget short-films and documentaries I worked on that I needed to rely on samples, mostly, such as the music present on the album Dialogues Between the Sound and Moving Picture (2015), which most of the tracks I recorded and produced myself. Actually, this album is a compilation of music I had composed for film, media and games by that period. I have also written music for the label The Library of the Human Soul in the UK, in which a beautiful result is achieved while mixing a live strings quartet recorded in Vienna with other sampled orchestral library. There I only compose the music and perform the sampled instruments, not making the final mix myself. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    It is a very important tool that can convince a live performance really well when it is greatly produced, but it lacks the organic feeling, spirit and fine touches by a real and great performer. If the project budget allows, I always opt for live recordings but since this isn’t always the case, I truly love my sampled friends and treat them well.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Thank you, Johan and all the team at Behind the Piano, for this interview. I hope everyone enjoys our new album Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror (Works for Piano Solo) and please, follow us on social media and on Spotify to keep updated with future releases. Also, Manos and I will be presenting the album on a launch tour in the UK in March 2020. So, come and join us in London, Manchester or Oxford. Dates available on Manos’ Spotify profile.

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

    Tricky one. Each song has a particular story, but sometimes it emerges from the sound of the ocean, from an abstract concept, from a book, a film, or even from a mathematical idea. Some nights, there are musical voices that wake me up and whisper on my ear strange musical suggestions. It’s all there on Espelho Duplo – Double Mirror to check out.

    Thank you very much for this interview! And by the way; the team behind this blog is just me 😉

    For more information about André and his music; check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Piotr Wiese – Somewhere Behind

    Today I’m introducing you to Polish composer, pianist and producer Piotr Wiese. Piotr have played the piano since the age of 8 and started composing music when he was about 14.

    At that time I inherited an old piano that my grandmother used to play. I never meet her though, as she passed away a long time before my birth. Anyway, the great and noble sound of the instrument enabled me to compose piano miniatures in a style similar to old masters such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and beloved Chopin.  Later on, I developed my own, subtle piano style deeply connected with modern way of piano playing with the use of felt between the strings and hammers.

    The track Somewhere Behind was released as a single in January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Somewhere Behind!
    Once I discovered a very specific piano sound, produced by putting a felt between the strings and hammers, I immediately fell in love with its ethereal quality. This fascination and love for my old Petrof upright piano that I have in my home studio, inspired me to record this piece. I tried to give the music some of its deep, intimate, and noble character. 

    Thank you for sharing your track with us Piotr!

    For more information, please go to any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Synchronicity

    Today I’m introducing to to the latest track by Thomas Hewitt Jones, the British composer which I have written about before here!

    This track is taken from the album Neoclassical, which was released late 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Synchronicity!
    This was written with the idea of two moving objects, perhaps two fast cars or two competitive cyclists, travelling alongside each other in gentle competition. It was based around the idea of built and sustained momentum.

    Thank you Thomas!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: We Dream Of Eden – Walk on Water

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Kirk Smith, who makes music using the name We dream of Eden. Kirs is from Massachusetts but has lived in Memphis for the past 30 years. He has played the piano for as long as he can remember; it’s been on an off for his entire life.

    My grandfather played the piano and it always mesmerized me… so I guess thats where it started.

    The track Walk on water is released as a singles but will also be featured on an upcoming Ep/album.

    Tell us something about your track Walk on water!
    The track started as experiment to use water and boat sounds for a more ambient piece. I was listening to a lot of Jonsi & Alex at the time. I love playing with the textures and dynamics of music. I have a beautiful sampled felt piano that I regularly use for these types of pieces.. it has such a delicate sound but its also very full and intimate… I just love to play it. Once I have a sound texture and a musical theme, a story seems to emerge and the piece takes shape. Sometimes I see stories while I write. This time I started to think about the Biblical story of Peter getting out of the boat to walk on water… hence the titles name. 

    Thank you for sharing this piece of music with us Kirk!

    For more information, please check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Stories

    About the song: Februari

    This song has both been recorded and released before as a part of my EP Piano pt. 6.

    This song is kind of a co-write by me and my buddy Dan Sigurdsson (the guy who wrote the song Begravningsauran from this album). I was working on the “A part” and needed a “B part”. I tried to come up with something for a while, and then came to think about my piano part from the Broms Friskusen song Ögon. It worked like a charm!

    For the previous recording I used a lot of synths, strings and effects for the song. But I really liked the piano part, so that’s the reason why I wanted to try to record the song again but with piano only.

    It worked out great I would say!

    Enjoy!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Natalia Johansson – The Dance

    I sence that a new star has been born in the piano world. I just recently wrote about Natalias first tune Winter (which was released on Christmas Eve 2019), and here’s the single to follow up that song. The Dance.

    This song was released as a single on the 17th of January of 2020.

    Tell us something about your song The Dance!
    This piece is my second release so far, and it is one of my personal favorites. The tune was inspired by the beautiful little moments in life, love, and nostalgia. I pictured an old couple in an old castle, dancing a waltz and reflecting on life and all the moments they’ve shared together. 

    Thanks for the music Natalia!

    For more information, please check out any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jeremy Cullen – Arabesque

    Today I’m introducing you to composer and pianist Jeremy Cullen from New Zealand. Jeremy has worked in the film, TV and media industries for nearly twenty years as both composer and sound designer; one of his most prestigious works was on Peter Jacksons The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies where he did work as a music editor.

    The song Arabesque is released as a single but will also be featured on the album Scenes Vol. 2 which will be out in February of 2020.

    Tell us something about the song Arabesque!
    My track “Arabesque” was composed for a film about ballet, to accompany scenes of the dancers, and the nerves and excitement that go along with preparing for opening night. It didn’t actually end up being used in the film but I liked it so much I had it played and recorded by the Kiwa String Quartet from Wellington, New Zealand.

    Thank you for this track Jeremy! Looking forward to hear the album!

    For more information about Jeremy and his music; please go to these sites:
    Facebook / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Klinger

    I have previously posted about the German composer Klinger, and now it’s time to get to know the person behind the name a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    My full name is Christoph Klinger.

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    It´s obviously my last name. In German language ‘klingen’ means ‘to sound’. So if you are a musician and you´ve been born with a name that means something like ‘the one who sounds’ it´s a pretty obvious choice, isn´t it? 🙂

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I´m from Bavaria in the south of Germany, near Austria. Now I live in Hamburg, in the very north. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I play everything I get my hands on, but not very well. In my work as a pop music producer and arranger it´s very helpful to have a basic understanding of many instruments. But the piano has always been my main instrument.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    When I was about six my parents got a piano. I think we borrowed it from relatives. I was hooked from the first moment, so I took lessons. But soon I realized that playing sheet music was nothing for me. Luckily my teacher was very open and supported me with playing by ear, improvising and making up my own stuff.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I play the piano for a very long time but I began only recently to release my own piano compositions. In 2018 I started to post little microcompositions on Instagram. They are just one minute long (because that´s the limit for videos on instagram) and recorded with nothing but my mobile phone. The idea is to make something quick and easy without going through a complex recording process. Just focus on the plain composition and keep it very short and basic. Also it´s a good practice to create something on a regular basis. Then in the beginning of 2019 I released my first full length song on Spotify and everywhere else.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    That was very early. From the moment I discovered the piano I made my own little pieces. As a child I recorded them on tape. I would love to find those old casettes again someday. That could be a hell of a flashback. 🙂

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I really like ‘Lambert’. His pieces sound very easy, just like pop music. But beneath the surface you find extremely well crafted compositions. Not just the purely diatonic monotony you often find these days. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Actually yes. It´s ‘Death With Dignity’ by Sufjan Stevens. The original doesn’t even feature a piano. But somehow I weirdly love to play this song on the piano. Once I even recorded my own version.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    As far as I´m concerned there are no hard rules in music. Every rule can be broken if it makes sense for your composition.

    How do you record your music?
    In my own studio.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Depends on the instrument. There are some incredibly well sampled pianos on the market. I use them a lot when I make layouts and later I decide if I exchange them with a real piano. In many cases the sampled pianos are already perfectly doing the job and I don´t need to change anything. But still nothing inspires me like sitting on a real piano. Especially very old old ones that already have a story to tell. And when it comes to pure piano music I will of course use a real piano.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    No more words. But two years ago I made music for a little film about the refugees stuck in Idomeni at that time. I´d like to share that because its message is still relevent today. Idomeni is closed but there are many other camps like this at the European border. We should think carefully if this is something we want to be responsible for as European citizens.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    That´s an excellent question. The true answer is that i have no clue. They just pop up somewhere in my head. In a way it´s a complete mystery. But my best attempt to explain it would be this: A composer is in fact something like a ‘mixer’. You throw a lot of stuff in – all the music you listen to, but also other things, everything you see or hear. Then you push the button, everything gets ripped apart in tiny pieces and then somehow all those little fragments get mixed up and combined to something new and eventually beautiful. So we don´t create something from nothing. We just rearrange things we´ve experienced before . Of course that does not mean that the composer doesn´t have an influence on his work. Each ‘mixer’ has his very own algorithm by which he tends to combine the bits and pieces in his mind. And very specific ingredients for his mixture. There is a good reason that Beethoven sounds like Beethoven and Steve Reich like Steve Reich. And that Klinger sounds like Klinger.

    Thank you for participating Klinger!

    For more information about Klinger and his music; check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Kepa Lehtinen – 16mm

    Today I’m introducing you to the latest track by Finnish composer Kepa Lehtinen, from Helsinki. You can read the full interview with Kepa here!

    This track is a bit special with double bass, piano and theremin. A bit strange composition with instruments which I’m not used to hearing!

    The song 16mm is released as a single but will also be featured on the upcoming album It is OK to be sad and dark, which will be released in the spring of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track 16mm!
    I have chased this sound for a long time” “retro but ultra hi-fi, the dark sound of the past modernized. The sonic equivalent of the way 16mm movies look.”

    Thank you Kepa for sending me this track!

    For more information and updates, check out these following links:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Pierre Oberkampf – Ostinato IX – piano solo

    Today I’m introducing you to French composer and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Oberkampf, living in Paris. His main instrument is the piano, which he studies from the age of 6.

    I have always had a lot of trouble reading music. I learned all the scores by heart, with the help of my mother and my two grandmothers. My difficulty in reading music paradoxically encouraged me to compose music from childhood.

    The track Ostinato IX – piano solo is the last track of the album OSTINATI, released December 6th 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Ostinato IX – piano solo!
    Ostinato IX – piano solo is the last track of my album “Ostinati”. After 10 compositions which brought together many instruments (winds, strings, percussions…), I wanted to finish the album with something very simple and minimalist. In fact, I first recorded the orchestral version of Ostinato IX (which is also on the album), then I realized that by keeping only the piano track, my composition had a different, deeper color. In conclusion, I would say that sometimes, less is more !

    Thank you so much for sending me this Pierre!

    For more information, check out these following links:
    Instagram / Website / Spotify