Today I’m introducing you to the composer, piano player and harmonica player Ross Garren from Los Angeles, in the United States.
The track Pitter-Pas is part of the EP Taggart Vol. 2 which was released on the 7th of January, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Pitter-Pat!
Inspired by Chopin’s Op. 25: No.1, this work is a humble homage to that seminal work. Matching Chopin’s harp-like orchestration with a contemporary harmonic perspective, this work was originally composed as part of a set of miniatures, each a tribute to a historically significant pianist-composer. This wonderful performance by pianist Naomi Sumitani was recorded and engineered by Chris Sampson.
Thank you very much for this Ross!
Today I’m presenting you with the American composer and piano player Julie Hanney and the track Peace Hymn. Julie started playing the piano at early on but got more serious in high school.
The track Peace Hymn was released as a singe on the 8th of January, 2021 and will be part of the album Where the Ocean Meets the Sky on January the 22nd.
Tell us something about the track Peace Hymn!
I wrote most of this song a couple of years ago and then set it on the shelf for a bit while I worked on other projects. My mom passed away in January of 2020 and while grieving and healing, I picked this song up again and finished writing it, as a gift to her and to all who experience loss, pain, grief or stress and need solace. I hope this song brings a bit of calm and tranquility to the listener.
Thank you Julie!
Today I’m introducing you to the track Saoirse by the British composer and piano player Jasper Kwant. Jasper have played in different bands for the past 15 years but recently started recording some piano compositions he’s been collecting over the years.
Most of my compositions come about from just sitting at the piano when I need a bit of time to myself. I just start playing to reflect my feelings and sometimes the outcome is worth keeping and writing down.
The track Saoirse was released as a single on the 1st of January, 2021 and will hopefully be part of an album later this year.
Tell us something about your track Saoirse!
Saoirse was composed during the pregnancy of my daughter. I felt it should be soft, peaceful and tranquil. My daughter turned out to be the opposite. But a true joy never-the-less.
Thank you very much for this Jasper!
Today I’m presenting you with the track Back Home by the Australian composer and piano player Lucy Graham (aka Luminem) living in Melbourne. When she was a kid she could stop “banging around” on the piano, so as any good parent would do, Lucy’s parents signed her up for lessons. Lucy started composing about a decade ago; mainly for her own enjoyment. During the Corona pandemic she decided to start releasing music under the moniker Luminem.
The track Back Home was released as a single on the ???? of 2021, but will also be part of the debut EP set to be released mid 2021.
Tell us something about your track Back Home!
Back Home was a piece I wrote around 8 years ago which captures the feeling of returning to Melbourne after living in London, and being back in my family home. After adventuring overseas there’s a bittersweet appreciation of returning and seeing familiar things in a new light. Ironically, I am back living in my family home temporarily again at the moment as I release this! Funny how life turns out sometimes. I have dedicated this song to my father Lindsay Graham, who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease in 2018. Dad used to get such enjoyment from sitting and listening to my music, especially in his latter years. He was my number one fan! And Back Home was one of his favourites.
Thank you for sharing Lucy!
Today is the premiere of my new Deep/Melodic House project JEGELA. The first single is called All of the time. It’s not solo piano music, but the piano is indeed there!
Please check it out!
Today we’ll get Behind the piano of the German composer and piano player Matthias Krauss!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from a small town near Frankfurt, but I am living since nearly 30 Years in beautiful Cologne / Germany 🇩🇪
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I startet as a kid playing piano and guitar…first on a little keyboard with an organ sound and the old little nylon guitar of my father. After a while, thank god, my parents bought me real upright piano and a „better“ acoustic guitar. I started taking piano lessons when I was 9 years old…
Tell us about how you started playing music.
I remember the moment when I discovered this little organ like keyboard at the age of 4 or 5 – I was so excited and I played it the whole time. Same with the guitar – a good friend showed my the first chords and I was practising a lot to get it in my fingers. After I started to have piano lessons I realised that I had the gift to play music that I heard on the radio – something my classical piano teacher could not understand, cause he was used to play „only“ with scores. At this point I realised that for me the piano is something to express myself in music – not only to play music which is already written by someone. I found it always more interesting to find some own melodies or chord progressions…
How long have you been making piano music?
Making piano music was always a big part in my music career – I had some band projects in my school time where I was writing songs on the piano, but my first solo piano piece that I released on a professional record was in 1991 with my jazz rock band called „Matalex“ – we toured a lot all over Europe, made 5 albums and did some nice collaborations with big jazz stars like Randy Brecker, Steve Smith, Jean Paul Bourelly. In this period I learned a lot about playing, improvising and also producing. On every album was one dedicated piano Ballad which was for me the start of the actual „Improvising Silence“ Project.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
As I said I was able to play songs I heard on the radio – that was for me the inspiration and the starting point to write my own melodies. I also startet very early to work with Keyboards, Computer and 4 Track Tape recording machines…so I recorded a lot of song ideas, some instrumentals, some with vocals. The piano was always the center of my musical life and still is. I love playing on an acoustic Instrument – there is a something magic about sitting in the center of the sound of a Piano.
My first Solo Album was not even planed. I was producing a Pop Band in a very nice Studio in the south of France (Studio Miraval) – there was this unbelievable Boesendorfer Imperial grand piano in this Studio, and every night when the production time was over I played on this magic Instrument – so at one night a recorded a lot of my ideas – just to have it – at home in my studio i listend to the recordings and my first „Improvising Silence“ Album was already there !
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
During my classical piano lessons I realised that I like Chopin, Schumann and Debussy the most – later, I discovered modern Jazz pianists like Chick Corea, Keith Jarret, Bill Evans or the beautiful playing of Herbie Hancock, also a big Inspiration for me was to work with Jon Jord (Deep Purple) – I was blessed playing in his Band for a few years and did some recordings and Concerts with this outstanding gentleman. I learned a lot about composing and bringing the both worlds of classic and pop together.
In our days there are many of really good piano artist/composers – in the neoclassical genre to name a few like Max Richter, or Olafur Arnalds – I love the creativity of those guys !
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?
No, there is not the one song – music or composing for me is to be open and to let it flow, I always try to find something new, the first seconds sitting on the piano are the most valuable for me, cause I am not thinking, I am just playing.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think every rule is there for a good reason, but also that every rule needs to be broken to go further…This is a very personal process that every creative mind has to explore. Sometimes I change my recording setup in my studio or I travel to another place which inspires me and compose / record there. Since a few years I did many productions in a very nice studio in Ireland – in the middle of nowhere – things changes when you leave your „normal“ setup, you get inspiration from the environment or the people you meet an your travel…when you start to feel to comfortable – go to a different place, find different Instruments, talk to other artist and composers – how are they working ?
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
I have a big studio where I write, produce and record, this is my main base where I work as a producer with many artists, but I also have a small (Laptop based) recording setup, which allows me to record also in many different places.
Im my studio I have this wonderful upright piano which I used for the „Improvising Silence II“ album – I do everything by myself, recording, editing, mixing – only for the mastering I have a good friend who works as a mastering engineer, I like to have this second opinion !
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I bought so many sound libraries the last 15 years and I am still exploring them ! I love the Libraries from „Spitfire Audio“ – I think they are doing a fantastic job ! I also use „8DIO“ or „Toontrack“ – Samples to name a few.
Anything else you want to share?
It is fantastic to have the possibility as an artist to be heard in nearly every country on the planet and for a listener it is even more exiting to explore all the different kinds of music. I really hope that some of them will enjoy listening to my music 🙂
And the question from my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Wherever the songs come from, they are accepted with gratitude. I feel like a medium through which the songs evolve. I regard it as a gift that I have the possibility to channel certain powers at certain times, and at the end of this chain a song emerges that wasn`t there before. Sculptors always say that the sculpture itself already exists somewhere in the stone and they only need to carve it out. Writing songs is similar. Strictly speaking, all of them already exist!
Thank you very much for this Matthias!
Today I’m introducing you to the composer and piano player Timo Zobel and the track Hazel Eyes. Timo started playing the piano at the age of six, but often refused to practice the songs his teacher wanted him to play.
I’ve always rather enjoyed to “try it myself” and play with my own melodies. Even though I continued with my classical education, I collected many songs over the years.
The track Hazel Eyes is Timo’s debut track and was released as a single on the 5th of January, 2021.
Tell us something about your track Hazel Eyes!
A while ago, someone told me I had hazel eyes. What I felt in that moment is hard to describe. Up until that point, I had always assumed that I had some kind of blue-green-ish eyes, plus a brown ring around the pupil. When I was asked about my eye color, for example for my ID card, I never really knew what to answer. It was similar with the song! I’ve always been into classical and jazz, especially at the university, but haven’t really felt at home anywhere. With Hazel Eyes, I knew that was mine, that was me. Hence the name of the song.
Time and time again, my closest friends and family have encouraged me to release this song. They said it offered room for so many emotions. And now I hope that you all find yourselves in it as well. And that you’re reviving the song through that, like I was playing it live for you.
Thank you for sharing this with us Timo!
Today I’m presenting you with the track Better Days by the Dutch composer Sacha Hoedemaker. Sacha works at a local theater in Amsterdam and is specialized on improvising music for theater. In 2020 he started recording his own music and has been releasing one track each month since then.
The track Better days was released as a single on the 30th of December, 2020 but will also be part of an album in the future.
Tell us something about your track Better days!
It was time for me to write a track and I had a strong nostalgic feeling. With that in mind the term Better Days came to mind and I started dreaming about the Better Days of the past. Especially now more than ever, we are all longing for the ‘better days’. We long for better days from the past and those yet to come. Our rising from the pandemic into a society that’s more connected mentally starts soon. Saying hello to strangers, or a hug from a dear friend. Until that time, we can think about how we can shape the future. Create Better Days together. This track has both a piano version, as well as an orchestrated version.
Thank you very much for this Sacha!
Today I’m introducing you to the Lebanese-American singer, songwriter and classical pop pianist Leila Milki and her track Peaceful Midnight Vignette. Leila is based in Los Angeles, California and has played the piano since the age of three. She received her degree in classical music from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
The track Peaceful Midnight Vignette is taken from the album Holiday Improvisations which was released on December 18th of 2020.
Tell us something about your track Peaceful Midnight Vignette!
“Peaceful Midnight Vignette” is a part of a mini improv series I recorded from home this winter (using Spectrasonics Keyscape). I simply lit a candle (in total darkness), set the timer to 1-minute, and played the first notes that came to mind! I’ve always loved exploring improvisation as a meditative tool and an out-of-body creative outlet…my hope is to share such moments of healing and transcendence with others during these difficult months.
Thank you very much for this Leila!
Today I’m presenting you with the track Dichotomy by the American composer Marcus Mack, aka. Maam from Tulsa OK. Marcus started playing with the piano at the age of three and later went on to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music. He started getting really serious about piano a few years ago when he was temporarily gifted an upright piano for a year and a half by a friend of his.
The track Dichotomy was released as a single and was also featured on an album which came out on January 8th of 2021.
Tell us something about your track Dichotomy!
Dichotomy is a melancholic exploration into everyday contradictions and opposing realities held simultaneously, highlighting the beauty and wonder present in the mundane even in the darkest of times. Dichotomy was written on Juneteenth in the midst of all of the racial tensions and Covid. I was struck by how gorgeous the day was outside and the stark contrast of what was going on in the world and knew I wanted to create something imbued with hope, but that kept track of this melancholic feeling. Melancholy meaning keeping track of the tragic while also maintaining an unwavering hope about the present and future.
Thank you very much Marcus!